Saturday, April 8, 2017

[ZURICH] Don't Go to Switzerland They Said

It’s freakin’ expensive, they said. Well, they were right, but what I love about Switzerland, or maybe just Zürich, is how you can survive here cashless. Visa took care of everything. I’ve never really appreciated Contactless technology until now. Getting out of the airport, we keyed in our destination on the ticket kiosk thingy, waved the magic plastic and voila! Ticket. I’m not saying that it’s hard to find decent money changers in the city but if you’re like me and you’re a bit allergic to cash, then you’ll like Zürich.

Another rumor that I was able to confirm is how multilingual the country is. While either French or Swiss German is official in most cantons, there are some where Italian and Romansch are also spoken. Many written announcements and ads in Zürich are in four languages: German, French, Italian, and English. So are the lottery tickets you find at convenience stores. Now whoever said that gambling is all bad hasn’t been to Switzerland, where you get to practice four languages while taking a shot at a million euros.

Another plus point for Zürich? The airport is not that far away from the city center. 15 minutes on the S24. Fast and easy! An impromptu stroll along the Limmat followed suit. I mean, once you get off at the Hauptbahnhof, it’s really difficult to snob that river. It’s already there! So inviting. So calm despite the crowd of tourists. So chill. For a city that is this expensive and modern, it still manages to evoke a small-town kind of feel. Throw in all the creature comforts and wow, you get an actual livable city.

But then again, we go back to prices. A one-way ticket is CHF 6.80 (~PHP 330) as opposed to Berlin’s EUR 2.80 (~PHP 150). A plate of fried rice with coke at a Chinese resto will set you back CHF 17.50 (~PHP 855) while in Berlin I can get the same thing, albeit a bigger ration at just EUR 8 (~PHP 440). And so I was, why, Zürich? What the fuck? Even my Airbnb costs were doubled which is why I was glad I only stayed for one night. But why are we comparing it to Berlin? Because I’m currently based there. Doh?

So yeah. I guess that’s the price you literally have to pay to take part in Swiss Ordentlichkeit. Nobody said life here was cheap, bruh. But let’s not focus on Zürich’s price tag. Is it actually worth the weekend trip? Well, I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t score return tickets on EasyJet for less than a hundred dollars. The weekend can be too short if you are keen on details. If you are like me and you just love to take a stroll and take photos, then I think two days is enough for gallivanting purposes.

I’d even go as far as to say that the city is walkable, but of course this depends on where you are. A leisurely stroll along the Limmat is not exhausting at all. If not for that cold breeze, it would have been perfect! One side of the river hosts many cafes and restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world. The other side is where many of the tourist attractions are, narrow cobblestoned alleys and all. And did I mention clocks? The Swiss are rather obsessed with time. You see it almost everywhere you go!

The anorexic church towers sporting the pointy neon green elf hats have clocks on every side. Well, yes, you find the clocks on the church tower façades, mostly. But I assume the most popular one is displayed at the glass window of a popular luxury watch retailer on Bahnhofstrasse. I think it’s a tourist custom to stop in front of Rolex and ogle their CHF 15,000 (~PHP 700,000+) timepieces, after which you proceed to sit on one of the benches to process everything and promise to come back after winning the lottery.

Don’t hold your breath. For those of you who don’t have CHF 15,000, don’t be sad. There are many free attractions in Zürich and one of my favorites is Quaibrücke. Basically, it’s the bridge along the quay. You can hop on a boat there and sail away. I can’t remember the fare but it’s not something that would break the bank. If not, you can always opt for yet another lovely stroll and sit on one of the benches along the river, of which Zürich has no shortage. On a quiet Sunday afternoon, it was playtime for the birds, a rather hypnotic sight.

From there you can see the red Ferris wheel which easily stands out from the old-world motif of the architecture surrounding it. There was a marathon when I was there so it was also fun watching locals and tourists alike cheering people to achieve their fitness goals. And because it was already spring, the tulips and other flowers were already in full bloom, lending a sense of natural beauty to the overall visual appeal of the city. Zürich, Zürich, Zürich. If only you weren’t expensive AF.

Feeling like I’ve already reached my photo and video quota on Saturday, I felt like I no longer had anything left to do on Sunday. I discovered that Liechtenstein is less than two hours away by train. Unfortunately, I was already low on funds so I just dropped the idea. At least I already have an alternative and another country in waiting to add to my country count the next time I find myself chilling in this city. You can always do Zürich and Vaduz in tandem if you feel like it. It’s totally doable.

And so, mission accomplished! My map of Europe had a gaping grey hole in its heart before I set foot in der Schweiz. Now it’s all bloody red. If plans go through and I end up in Freiburg for a month in September, then there will defo be more Switzerland for me. I already checked FlixBus, the travel times are short and the tickets are affordable. For now, it was good to check out what the country has to offer despite the bitter taste the hefty price tag left in my mouth. Maybe I’ll already have won the lottery by the time I get back. Right, Rolex?

[ZURICH] Don't Go to Switzerland They Said

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