Zurich: Cheese, chocolate and other amazing things!
My Second Home
Today I’m writing about city which I was lucky enough to call home for one year as I explored my family background while improving my second language. Zurich has played a major part in my personal growth and I will always remember it as a culturally rich land of opportunity, cheese and chocolate. Yes, the food is hefty but too good to pass on. I really made the most of the Swiss culinary world while I was over there, but I’ll elaborate on the deliciousness later. The people I met became some of my closest friends and I miss them every day. It’s just bad luck that Australia and Switzerland are on opposite sides of the planet; having both my homes together would make things a whole lot easier. I’m writing about my experiences in Zurich to share my discoveries of the city’s hidden gems and give you an idea of what it is like to travel there. I’ve been to many crazy cities in my life and Zurich is definitely one not to be missed.
One of the first things I learned during my time in Zurich is that that the majority of people enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. I wasn’t used to it coming from a small town in Far North Queensland, but I quickly learned about the way of the Swiss when I began working in a small café in the city centre. The economy over there is very good and regular wages were far beyond any kind of wage I had worked for before. While I was stoked about my new wage, I quickly realised that everything else was pretty pricey in Zurich. There’s a sophisticated, upper-class air to the city that I could feel every day as I walked the busy streets. I loved it. It seems like everyone is out there, doing their thing and winning at it. I found myself surrounded by successful people. From talented jewelers to young bankers, the people are worldly, interesting and hardworking.
Zurich’s Diversity and Culture
As Switzerland is located in central Europe, you’ll find people from all sorts of backgrounds gathering in Zurich. The city has such a diverse population and still holds a significant Swiss culture. Traditional food such as Chaes Fondue and Zuri Gschnatzletz (two of my personal favourites), are enjoyed by everyone, no matter their cultural background. Some of my best nights have been spent with friends around a Chaes Fondue (cheese fondue) during winter. I love the cosy feeling of sitting around a hot pot of melted cheese with some wine or cherry liquor as the snow falls outside. The fireplace would be crackling in the background as everyone at the table dunks their bread into the cheese. Some of my most memorable conversations were had over Chaes Fondue. The Swiss know how to feast!
Swiss culture is not only strong in the food, they throw a wicked party for numerous special dates which are significant in the evolution of Switzerland. I remember the night we celebrated the Swiss National Day in Zurich. On the first of August each year, the city goes crazy with elaborate costuming, live music and endless amounts of Swiss food and drinks. We danced, ate and danced some more beneath fireworks by the Zurich river.
The city itself is very picturesque, not to mention the smaller town surrounding the city centre. For the first half of my year abroad, I lived in a town called Waedenswil which a half hour train ride from Zurich. I lived there with a friend who I met in Australia while she was on exchange. From the house, we would walk through the adorable neighborhood and down to the riverside where restaurants and bars awaited us. The town was like a picture-book illustration where little gnomes and fairy-tale creatures lived. In winter, snow would pile up high on the rooftops, and I’d watch snowflakes fall onto my window in the ceiling. I loved my room in Waedenswil, it had a tiny balcony and was right up on the third floor of the house. In the summer I would wake up early and step onto the balcony to welcome another beautiful day. All the flowers and trees were filled with colour and everything smelled amazing. There’s something magical about all the seasons in Switzerland. Each one has its own charm and special feeling.
Exploring the Cobblestone Streets
In the second half of the year right in the city centre with a classic lady who I met through a friend of my father. Again, I was very lucky with my room. We had a small roof top garden which was extremely romantic. It provided the perfect spot for relaxation and reflection after my big days of working and exploring. It’s ridiculous how quickly I felt at home in Zurich. The city is quite small but there are loads of little short cuts and hidden pathways that take a while to get used to. After spending a week alone in Zurich I knew these short cuts like the back of my hand. It’s really just about taking the time to check out the old town properly and wondering through the cobblestone streets with an eager mind. I find that this eagerness to explore comes naturally while travelling. I’d take a sketch book with me and walk through the entire city. From the river to the famous Bahnhoff Strass and up to the Gross Munster towers. There are so many aesthetically impressive sights and buildings in Zurich, I never got tired of spending time in the city.
If you’re looking for a place to experience fantastic food, gorgeous architecture and a lively folk, please put Zurich down on your list. It really is a spectacular city that has a ridiculous amount of charm. I could go on and on about this place, but I don’t want to ruin all the surprises. You really have to be there yourself to understand its beauty. I know that I’ll be on a flight back to Zurich very soon because I haven’t stopped thinking about going back since I left.
Wishing you all fulfilling and safe travels!