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Z is for Zurich

Anyone who’s a fan of the British clay animation series Wallace & Gromit knows that they’re just nuts about cheese. I used to love that show when I was younger, so its not much of a stretch that as I was walking through the streets of Zurich, enjoying the sweet smells wafting through the air, all that kept popping into my head was Wallace exclaiming “The cheeeese, Gromit!!” And some cheese it is!

Even if you haven’t been to Switzerland, you are probably still familiar with their love for cheese. As we just had another set of finals (4th set in 6 months!), it was time for our obligatory celebration weekend getaway and so a few of us hopped on the train to Zurich. I was also fortunate enough to be reunited with a close college friend who was in Europe on business, so celebrations were most definitely in order. And for our first official order of business: fondue, of course!

As they set the giant pot of cheese in front of us, I had my doubts about whether or not we could finish it. The typical Swiss fondue is pure cheese, even though it is possible to get other things in it. We opted to try the classic style (when in Zurich!) which is a mix of cheeses and it generally only comes with bread to dip.  Fondue is seen as the main course, not the appetizer. I’m quite proud of us for handling it like champs though, it was delish albeit ridiculously filling. Other than the fondue, the fan favorite of the night was the gruyere mac and cheese topped with fried onions and with a side of apple sauce. Perfection! Also to note – chocolate fondue is definitely not a common thing there, unless you include tourist restaurants which may serve it.

All cheesiness aside, Zurich is really a lovely town. Coming from Milano where, even though its awesome the streets are pretty dirty, it was a real treat to be able to walk through Zurich’s pristine streets and quaint cobblestone streets. No graffiti, no dog poop, no trash – amazing! Zurich is pretty small (we even ran into people that we met on Sat night the following day), you can walk everywhere, and their tram system is very efficient as well. Don’t worry about trying to stay in Old Town either if you can’t swing it – it’s generally pretty pricey. We opted for an Airbnb choice located close to the artsy nightlife area of Langstrasse. We were only a few stops from the main train station and with the tram stop right outside the door we were well connected to check out the old town area, walk along the river, go do some shopping, etc. That being said, I would avoid the business areas as well because things shut down pretty early and it’d be pretty dull. The downside of Zurich is of course the ridiculous prices – I don’t even want to admit how much I paid for my Starbucks! But the people we met were very cool, the town (and its architecture) is awesome and the atmosphere is very easygoing. All in all, it was a perfect spot to unwind for a few days.

Oh, and don’t forget the Swiss have a different currency so prepare for that if you visit (you know foreign currency is my favorite!)

Fun fact: Zurich has clean drinking water since it gets its water from the nearby mountains, and throughout the city you can find fountains where you can fill up your water bottle. Very cool!

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