Day 1,623 of Traveling the World | Zurich, Switzerland | July 13, 2022

One of the reasons we love having reservations and plans that are cancellable is getting an email from friends saying, “Hey! You should come visit us in Zurich!” We had not included Switzerland in this trip, but we looked at our itinerary and figured we could spend a few days in this gorgeous country. So we cancelled our previous plans, made reservations in Zurich, and headed this way. Driving from Colmar, France, on the back roads as we love to do, we passed through the High Black Forest. In addition to farms and villages, we also drove through an area with crystal-clear lakes and, because we were so high in the mountains, several ski lifts. It was spectacular.

So, for those views, and for a wonderful evening of lively conversation and delicious Lebanese cuisine, we have to thank our friends Yasmine and Onur. They struck up a conversation with us on a subway in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2019, and we saw them again the next day while we were on a tour in the city. We have had an email correspondence since then, so it was great to meet up and talk the night away. They are so interesting and knowledgeable! And, of course, they speak multiple languages fluently – their English is as good as US natives! We told them that we are just the opposite. We have studied several foreign languages, and can get by reading signs and menus, etc., but don’t truly speak any of them.

As is true with most of Europe, Zurich was occupied/founded by the Romans (although settlements 6,400 years old have been found here), who called the city Turicum. You can see the small leap between that name and the present name of Zurich. We found it to be very youthful, open, and utterly delightful. The Old Town is divided by the River Limmat, and the two most ubiquitous flags around town are the Swiss and the Ukrainian (even though Switzerland, of course, is neutral). A free walking tour filled in some extra interesting details that we had been unaware of. We wouldn’t mind coming back for a longer period of time. One note, though – Switzerland is the most expensive country we have been to in the world. You may have seen on the news that because of concerns about the world economy, the dollar has been rising with respect to many foreign currencies. For the first time in 20 years, the euro and US dollar are at par and the Swiss franc almost the same (about $1.02 today). So, a BK fish sandwich combo in France costs 5 euros. Here, the fish sandwich combo is 18 Swiss francs! It is bordering on four times what you will pay elsewhere. Most common meals are in the area of 30-50 Swiss francs, which is eye-popping. But for a few days, we don’t mind at all, as life here is so great. Just advising our readers to be ready for sticker shock!

Old Town Zurich lines both sides of the Limmat River, which empties into Lake Zurich just a few blocks from this site, which features St. Peter’s Church clock tower.
Swans on the river at night.
The Fraumunster Church, with its striking tower, is one of the four primary churches in Zurich, built on the site of a former abbey for aristocratic women.
The Fraumunster’s cloister, known as the Kreuzgang. The wall frescoes depict the history of the women who lived here.
The Kreuzgang has this lovely arcade.
More of the frescoes.
Zurich’s Opera House, which sits adjacent to the lake.
In front of the Opera House is this fountain and sitting areawith the water attracting children happy to get wet in the heat of day!
Lake Zurich! It is so pretty, with lots of ducks and swans and a marina farther down with many docked boats.
Heidi the Zurich Cow overlooks the Niederdorf district, and either side of her body depicts painted scenes of buildings along the Limmat River.
Grossmunster (the men’s counterpart to Fraumunster), whose twin towers date to 1492. They are one of the city’s landmarks and are commonly called the “salt and pepper shakers.” Locals make plans to “meet at the salt and pepper!”
The most striking feature inside the Grossmunster is this trio of intense, gorgeous stained glass windows, which are front and center behind the main altar.
In the crypt downstairs, under the main altar, is this parade of ancient Roman columns and a statue of Charlemagne.
There were more metal hanging signs in Zurich, some of which were very complex, like this one.
This one features the doubled-headed eagle, associated with the concept of Empire.
A grasshopper!
We were told several times that Zurich’s public water fountains have drinkable, pure (and delicious) water. THIS small fountain periodically has the water turned off, and the City hooks up wine, instead, so that everyone can have a free drink – they just don’t announce the times of day it will occur!
A view of the river from an overlook. You can see the City’s salt and pepper shakers, of course!
On this street in Old Town, many centuries ago there was a competition to build better, more elaborate balconies after the first one (the one in the photo) went up! They are enclosed to shelter residents from the cold that sets in around September/October and often lasts until the following June, according to Yasmine and Onur!
The tower of St. Peter’s Church, with a clock larger than Big Ben!
The Swiss flag is popular on this street.
Lights festooning this store at night made for a pretty alcove.
The eyes are watching you!