This scary looking creature above is in Zürich. Not a name to conjure with, perhaps - I expected to find this Swiss city serious, overpriced and full of grey people in suits, with Rolls Royces blocking all the parking meters.
But Zürich was a revelation, and a little exploration revealed many hidden and (to me, anyway) unexpected quirky things, such as the surreal ring-watch, below, which is is from the private collection of the Beyer family.
The collection fills the large basement of the Beyer shop at Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich 's main shopping street, but it is not heavily advertised. So, good! Its relative obscurity means it was not crowded. Keen clockies know about it, and some of them make the pilgrimage to see elaborate rarities like the "Griffin" Renaissance Automaton Table Clock. or the Breguet sympathetic clock pictured here.
Zürich is of course a city of bankers, and there is a lot of money around. Many of the little shops hidden away in the old medieval streets sell the most fabulous jewellery and antiques, at fabulous prices. But it is pretty tasteful - there was little of the vulgar, snobbish conspicuous consumption that makes certain "upscale" destinations elsewhere so unpleasant. The canny Swiss respect the value of money, perhaps?
Staying in a hotel and getting reasonable food, though not exactly cheap was not specially expensive, and it compared well with costs in London, Paris and New York. The city has some very good snack places, and I became a fan of the tubs of bircher muesli which are sold all over the place for a few francs. I also found a large indoor gourmet and organic market under the railway arches near the Zürich West district where there was all kind of locally sourced food. I thought these multicoloured carrots were interesting in their dusky, earthy way.
And here, below, is a little alleyway in the old town, with the spire of the Fraumünster looming above. I enjoyed getting lost in thie medieval section's dark, narrow alleys which usually open into squares and vistas. The Fraumunster has a set of huge Chagall windows which look how his paintings would look if they were lit inside by the sun. It's an exceedingly old church even though, like so many other old places in Switzerland, it has been renovated to look almost new.
As for the scary looking creature at the top of this post, it decorates a large 17th century sleigh which is in the Landesmuseum, an eye catching Gothic building in the centre of the city. I liked the sleigh, though I wouldn't want to own it - I'd feel too much like Cruella de Vil sweeping along through the snow, scattering bankers as I went.