Sunday, 31 July 2011

In Zürich

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. 


  1. What a wonderful place to visit. I love the picture of the alleyway.

  2. oh man, i wish i could get some proper muesli here.

  3. I enjoyed reading about Zurich through your experiences.
    It would be great to walk along those narrow streets and come across such interesting shops.
    A crazy watch ... 'keeping an eye on the time'?

  4. Hello Jenny:
    It is rather reassuring to know that Zurich has much to offer which is not necessarily expensive and, unusually, in good taste. We have been rather put off visiting Switzerland recently on account of the very strong Swiss Franc and either the weakness of Sterling or the Forint. We shall, in the light of all you say here, reconsider!

  5. Jenny, you showed interesting various aspects of Zurich. What I had known about Swiss are the landscape with the backdrop of the Alps, a permanent neutrality country, superb watches, the long tradition of bank secrecy, etc. I’d like to stroll around a little alleyway in person like in the photo. Have a nice week.

  6. That alley looks so mysterious. The carrots look a little mysterious as well.


  7. Zurich is a splendid city ...and even the Swiss can have a sense of humour! Never judge people on appearances...hahaha :))

  8. Looks like a very interesting city. I love the alley with the clock in the background.

  9. I'm going to be doing some armchair traveling it looks, and some fine places to visit through your eyes. thank you. Very intriguing places and things to see here. I love alleyways. They always look worth exploring.

  10. So far, I've only ever been through Zurich by night in the car, with my first husband, on our way down to his hometown on Sicily, and once or twice waiting at the airport for a connecting flight. But from what I see here and what others tell me, it is well worth a visit.
    The picture of the narrow road leading up to the Fraumünster reminds me of Prague.

  11. Interesting city. Of all those photos, the multi-coloured carrots had my attention. ;p

  12. it's not a town i feel drawn to, but wouldn't mind discovering rare bits of it on my way through.

  13. I've not been to Zurich, so this was an especially fun post. I've not seen multi-colored carrots before, either. Wonder if they taste the same as regular carrots?

    Re your comment about followers...I'm sorry you had a problem with that. I checked the blog and there is a "gadget" for followers which you can check and become a follower...perhaps Blogger was acting nasty when you looked previously as Blogger is wont to do!

    Let me know if you have a further problem...I could maybe get you on from here...

  14. Last photo really good and interesting.

    The multi coloured carrots looked like worms at first glance.


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