I really didn’t want to like it. It would make life so much easier if I didn’t. But thanks to the sterling effort of a few friends, I must confess that I do like Zurich.
What I do like:
Zurich has character – the verges are not always neat and tidy, the buildings are not all perfectly painted and repaired. There is some peeling paint, some crumbling plaster and a mish mash of architecture. As the Germans would say , “it has Macken” – it has had a couple of knocks. I like that it is not sterile clean and “perfect”
Zurich is has a mountain almost in the city. Ok, a hill. And yes, it might be 700m, but it only starts at 500m… but still, there is a rise you can go to right from the city. I miss that from Cape Town, and don’t have it in Munich.
Zurich has a river IN the city. This totally changes the feel of a city in my opinion. While I love the Isar (and we”ll get to that in a bit), it is slightly outside the city centre. So there are lots of pedestrian and other bridges over the Limmat in Zurich.
The town and setting is beautiful. So too are the men.
The city is a lot more multi-cultural – lots of nationalities, and businesses and languages. I saw little shops in the west where men were sitting in a garage watching the soccer – and it could have been in Africa somewhere – all crowded around 1 TV. This brings a wide variety of shops and restaurants with it.
There is a lovely large lake nearby – perfect for swimming and walking along and so on
There is good culture – open air opera and museums and theatre and cinemas.
There are lots of little restaurants and bars – and a lot of prosecco J
What I don’t like so much:
The city is very small – I feel like I saw most of what the city has to offer in these 4 days. I know my way around the map – got a feel for it all quickly. I fear that I will get claustrophobic…
Nature is not as accessible as I would like or am used to…. Let me explain:
In Cape Town the mountains and the beach are right on your doorstep – you can disappear into nature and solitude very quickly. So too in Munich – the English Garden is 10-20 minutes from anywhere, and you can disappear into silence and nature very quickly. The Isar river has kilometres of riverbank where you can lie, walk, cycle, BBQ, swim. Lots of space (and also lots of people at times, of course).
In Zurich you do have the Limmat river and the lake – but there is a lot of concrete on the sides of it. Parts of it are canalised or inaccessible. Sure, they have created some suntanning decks along parts of it (must be like sardines in the summer!) and a little park in the north where you can suntan and swim in a small portion. There’s even a nude section (which we didn’t check out). But it seems less easily accessible, less natural. Hard to explain. (Interestingly, my friend from London says that she feels a lot closer to nature there… interesting, eh?).
It is expensive. Whatever you have heard is true. I did a price comparison of a usual shopping basket of mine, and some usual restaurant / evening expenses. And the prices are on average 100% more than Munich – a normal grocery shopping trip would cost 82% more… of course salaries would be adjusted, but that needs to be looked at closely.
On the whole I was very pleasantly surprised with Zurich, in no small part to the wonderful hosting and generosity of A and J. Even if I don’t move there, I will be back.