Over halfway through our day in Zurich I realised that I hadn’t taken any photos. I began to look around and wonder what I should take photos of – everything seems so normal to me. I moved here when I was 19 and stayed for a year and a half as an au pair in this beautiful city. I have made friends that are family and returning is more like coming home in so many ways. Every other Christmas since living in Ireland has been spent in Switzerland.
After a great breakfast of pancakes and spicy sausages at the house we walked to the bus just in time for it leaving. The honour system here seems to work well but I can’t imagine it lasting in Ireland for too long. Not having your ticket checked would be an invitation for an optional ticket more than personal obligation and ownership of public transportation. Within 17 minutes we were back in the city with one main objective – shopping. Zurich is a city for the elite to find all the best shops within a 10 minute walk: Channel, Cartier, Tiffany’s, Burberry, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, to name just a few. Zurich is either the best destination in the world for holidays or the worst, depending on what you are hoping for or expecting. I really think that you need to have lived here to know how to survive and find affordable … well, everything. I took Eric down to some of my favourite places to find a bargain. Many of these are just off Bahnhoffstrasse, neighbouring some of the most expensive shops in the world. Unique, trendy, quality shoes can be found for bargain prices at any time of year. One of our shopping missions was to find something really nice for Leanne, my sister-in-law. Shoe shopping is particularly fun because we share the same shoe size (if she doesn’t like them, she can always give them to me!). The best time to come is in the summer or just after Christmas when the sales are on.
By lunch we had a couple of bags in hand and headed down the escalator in St. Annahof Coop City for some bread and cheese. Choosing a bread is difficult when I have so many favourites here with so little time to eat them all. We took our picnic back to the street and found a place to eat before moving over to the other side of the city in search of a Brockenhaus. We walked down the concrete spiral ramp into a dark and dusty room full of the most beautiful junk you could possibly find. The dark room is also filled with people as unique as the items displayed on the shelf. English is the main language heard from the Swiss and internationals that crowd the aisles. For me it represents the other side of Zurich that is often not heard about or acknowledged – the peoples who find their home tucked away from where others have to interact with them. And yet, they too are as beautiful and valuable as the crystal lining the shelves.
As we made our way back towards the Niederdorf to make a stop at a rare gem of a tacky tourist shop, filled with cowbells, beer steins and knickknacks for every collector, I realised that I am a very bad tour guide in Zurich. It is too familiar to me. I’d rather just take people to the places I love and spend time with the people I love. Who really wants to visit a museum and spend hours sitting outside at a cafe while watching the world walk by? Who would want to find a Swiss restaurant in the main thoroughfare of the Niederdorf and eat fondue on a warm day? Zurich isn’t really a city for tourists looking for Heidi’s Switzerland with alphorns, meadows and fields ringing with cowbells.
With that in mind, we make one last stop in the city before heading back to my friends’ place – Sprüngli. It sort of transforms your chocolate world! We picked up a couple Truffes du Jour and Luxemburerli that we enjoyed on our bus journey “home.” Home it is too. Although my birthday was just over a week away I was surprised with a singing of toddler’s rendition of “Happy Birthday” and a gift. B. came home from a day of cooking and hit the kitchen again, making us an amazing Swiss meal: Caprese salad with truffle oil, Züri Gschnätzlets and Berliners for dessert. The four of us take our time at the table enjoying conversation and the relaxed evening. Tomorrow we are off to my church and then out for a mountain hike.