ZURICH: “Malgre Lui” is a French term that was mentioned in a famous play by the French dramatist, Moliere (Le Medecin malgre lui). That what I felt when I visited the city of Zurich. Tour operators in the GCC region still recall the days when Middle Eastern vacationers were reluctant to visit Zurich because it is located in a German Speaking territory. That old myth was shattered when I toured Zurich streets and old town lanes to discover that the Zurichoise are friendly, warm, cordial and multi-lingual.
Emince de veau Zurichoise is regarded as a national Swiss culinary heritage that we had for lunch at the classic Jules Verne eatery and former observatory. Boris Magrini, our veteran local tour guide escorted us through the old town where we inspected the foundations of the historic settlement since Roman times.
You will fall in love at first sight with the Old Ville for its antique shops, diverse cuisine and fashionable boutiques. Gustav Gull (1858 – 1942) the renowned architect has left outstanding landmarks that echo the new classic style he created and gave the city an aura of grandiose and serenity. Visitors to Fraumunster church are captivated today by the stained glass windows created by master artist, Marc Chagall in his eighties.
Avant-garde. It seems that the industrial quarters are going through a process of rejuvenation and face lifting. Numbers of plants and factories were relocated, some survived the turbulence of economic depression while the rest transformed to museums, Music halls, busy restaurants and vibrant show rooms. That Quartier is known today as the avant-garde Zurich-West. Boris led us to the blue Prime Tower where we landed at the Clouds restaurant & bar that enjoys breathtaking views of the town that lies at 400 feet high.
Famous city bars. We enjoyed a casual dinner at Frau Gerolds Garten and met Mischa, the aspiring entrepreneur who runs the food outlet with a zeitgeist sentiment. The surroundings looked relaxing and we had a chance to chat with cool Zurichoise diners, whom we caught displaying gifts and exchanging hugs and roses. Checking out famous city bars was the icing on the Foret Noir. We hopped from Ole Ole tavern to Helsinki lounge to Land at Dante Alighieri inferno. A good night sleep was a must after a lingering troubadour tour.
Day two: The next day we were allowed to discover the hidden treasures of the historic city. I opted to visit the international school of tourism management directed by the capable Frau Hanna Reychener, whom I met briefly at Josefstrasse institute.
We moved by train to Uetliberg mountain overlooking a panoramic view at 2850 feet above sea level. The fashionable Uto Kulm hotel and restaurant offered us a delicious meal with an impressive view. “Happiness do not stay forever” is a famous quotation by Tolstoy. That what I felt when our guides led us for 2 hours walk on Planet Trail from Uto Kulm to Felsenegg. It seems that the model of the solar system welcomed us warmly where we hiked in the open fields and twisted trails. Finally I was thrilled to ride The Cable Car for the first time in my life.
Wide range of options. Zurich founding fathers, from pagean times to Roman era and stretching as early Christianity to reformation eclipse must be turning in their graves if they witness the liberal, tolerant ambiance that the sophisticated metropolis is enjoying for the moment. A contemporary visitor has a wide range of options from Chopin symphonies at the opera house to unique art galleries and provocative fashion shows.
It is not only a beacon of research and glamour but also a hub for world-class travellers seeking Epicurean pleasures while savouring good, mellow times! Let the music play on!
Text by Yahya Kader, Hospitality Media Consultant, Bahrain