Short trips: Zürich
Known for it’s over population of bankers, strange variation of the German language and damp, drizzly, grey weather, Zurich is unexpectedly a quietly achieving cultural hub. With multicultural restaurants from Vietnamese to Spanish, more design and concepts stores than Greenwich Village and enough historical architecture to give Prague a run for its money, Zurich’s wins are far greater than their losses.
Beautiful countryside, mountain ranges and rolling green hills aside, the urban landscape beyond the hedge fund houses and banking headquarters is quaint, picturesque and full of flavours. With the scenic lake splitting the city in two, the skyline of church steeples scattered across both sides invites an exciting trail of winding cobbled roads filled with foot traffic and sports cars leading between the old part of town through Hochschulen completing a loop over the Limmat towards the Hauptbahnhof and down to St Peter.
For a late night snack or light meal, Tapas & Friends is a great stop. Sourcing local ingredients the Spanish staff and chefs are dedication to traditional flavours with a large variety of options on the menu from four varieties of croquettes, five different tortillas, a range of jamon, cheeses and cooked meat dishes as well as a sizable wine list and fantastic indoor and outdoor atmosphere. In a quiet neighbourhood, Tapas & Friends is close to nearby bars and pubs.
If you are only passing by Zurich or even if you intend on staying a while, the Viadukt is the one place you should go. Concept and designer fashion shops for miles in the bowels of the infrastructure, Food markets and a markethall, restaurants, open garden spaces and a highline style overpass using sections of the original viaduct and you’ve got a whole day planned. From fashion, home design, fancy bike stores to gourmet foodie delights, the refurbished complex is a hub of urban culture where old-traditions meets new, conceptual designs mixing food, gardening, high end minimalism and raw materials all in one place.
The only third wave, speciality coffee bar in Zurich has to be Benzin & Koffein in Wiedikon. Whist the café is still finding its feet headed up by Swiss coffee royalty, and using their own coffee – Gipfelstürmer Kaffee – the café serves up the usual coffee options, from Aeropress, Chemex and cold brews in summer from the brew bar and offers a variety of espresso bean options and standard milk based coffee. The coffee is well balanced, light – like most European roasting methods – and bright. On the food side of things, bagels and muesli are your options, which are tasty additions to pad out your coffee consumption. Sadly service really drags the quality down but hopefully, with a little more interest and practice, they can get it together.
Home of chocolate, Sprüngli is above and beyond the best when it comes to chocolate-ring. With a successful worldwide reputation, the megaplex store in the heart of the city centre offers a café, restaurant and chocolatiers for all your dining in and takes home needs. With thousands of hand crafted individual chocolates to choose from as well as the full range of pre-packaged items the chocolatier floor is a buzz just as if Charlie were in a chocolate factory.
A vegetarian’s paradise, Hiltl is an institution in Zurich’s seen-to-be-seen society and is a franchise that is rapidly taking over the city. Arguably the first vegetarian restaurant ever, the concept has been run by the Hiltl family since 1898 – as it says proudly displayed on every piece of crockery to leave the kitchen. Building an empire, the concept of fresh Singapore-Indian style vegetarian food has developed to include not only the restaurant, but also stores, nightclubs, cooking studios and a series of food services across eight locations. With the option of a la carte, Euro style buffet and take away options, there is no shortage of choice. Using traditional fusions of flavours from mixing Thai Panang curry with Singapore Noodles to Asian style croquettes, the experience at Hiltl is certainly unique.
A day trip within itself, the Kunsthaus Zürich is three stories of important moments in art from classical – Old Masters, Swiss Masters, classical modernists, right through to contemporary post modernism. The gallery showcases pop art favourites including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein through to the impressionists and contemporaries, Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh and Cèzanne and not to forget Kandinsky, Picasso, Munch and Degas. With all this name dropping there is still more. Moving from the permanent collection to travelling shows, throughout the summer the Kunsthaus is displaying a special exhibition dedicated to the Dada movement featuring travelling works for Andre Breton’s collaborations and influences to the movement as well as a collection of works celebrating German Dadaism. Finally, and the pièce de résistance, the special exhibition on the collective lifetime works of Francis Picabia is a sure show stopper this summer.