06 January 2010

Churches, cigarettes and chocolate

The last proper day of our Zürich adventure was spent wandering around town - visited the Grossmünster (which was refreshingly austerely Protestant after the rococo intensity of the St Gallen cathedral yesterday) and walked up to the top of the tower for some impressive views of the city then walked up and down the streets on either side of the Limmat River that bisects the city.

The Grossmünster was variously filled with tour groups of Italians (loud), Greeks (louder) and Chinese (clueless)
which all spent no less than five minutes in the building, which seems such a waste. In the hushed lulls between the tour groups we got to admire the stained glass of which the newest windows are most impressive: the most recent 'windows' were only installed in September 2009 and are by the artist Sigmar Polke who, rather than using glass in the windows, has used very finely sliced slivers of agate and other stones, which looks amazing.

Away from the Cathedral we went for lunch at the Cafe Odeon, which is a place I've wanted to visit for a while, and sat among the small tables that were once frequented by James Joyce, Lenin, Mussolini and Einstein (when he was a student at the local university). The ambiance of the place was nice but, like everywhere else it seems over here there were smokers filling up the place with full of cigarette smoke, which comes as a shock after smoke-free Sydney. It's quite odd: the Zürichers are so sensible in everything else yet suck away on cigarettes like there's no tomorrow.

The only other vice of the Zürichers I can identify is chocolate. There is so much here that you barely walk past one chocolatier before finding another. The local chocolate icon, Sprüngli (one half of the Lindt-Sprüngli company) has dozens of stores all around town - two in the railway station alone. We walked down Bahnhofstrasse and took photos of no less than ten chocolatiers - five Sprüngli shops alone. The main Sprüngli store, which has been going strong since the mid-nineteenth century, was amazing: one half of the ground floor sells chocolates and other confections, the other half has a cafe in it (which, when we visited, at around lunch-time was full of bankers and very well-dressed ladies) and the first floor up above has yet more chocolate. We bought a box of Luxemburgli (pictured) for the train trip to Barcelona.

In between all of that, we really milked our free transport passes in the city, catching half a dozen trams, the 'Polybahn' cable railway up to the university and 'Dodlerbahn' cog railway up to the Grand Dolder Hotel, which is where the really wealthy chose to stay in Zürich and it's not hard to see why, it's got a 180 degree view that takes in all of Lake Zürich, the Alps beyond and the whole of the city. And out bac
k, nestled in the Dolder's private wooded estate, there's a large ice-skating rink. Of course.

Some pictures of the days in Zürich ...

Day 1: View of St Peters with its over-sized clock-face, Zürich

Day 2: The red Rathaus of Basel

Day 3: Downtown Liechtenstein

Day 4: Snow in Arosa

Day 5: The 'Penguin Parade' at Zürich Zoo

Day 6: The Abbey church and library of St Gallen

Day 7: View from the top of the Grossmünster, Zürich


kaye said...

happy birthday to you happy birthday to you happy birthday dear sikeli happy birthday to you love and kisses aunt kaye (i trust you note the use of the AUNT as opposed to that tacky aunty!!!!!)

kaye said...

i know its early but its the 7th down here in the antipodes

kathryn said...

Hope u had a wonderful birthday Sikeli!
Ur trip sounds amazing!!! Take lots of pics!!
Enjoy n have fun!!!
Xx frm kathryn!

Anne said...

Was wonderful to speak to you yesterday and wish you happy birthday. I'm glad to hear you're having a great time - the photos say it all. Have just looked at weather forecast for Berne - v cold ...in minus territory! Florence weather warmer but raining next few days:( Hope it fines up for your sojourn. x