Our path back to Paris to see Kirsty also took us through Switzerland, so we figured we may as well have a few days there to see how the country is functioning these days. My most vivid memory of our last visit to Switzerland in 1983 (pre-kids) was of walking into a Swiss bank (no, not to access a secret account!) and being told by the teller that Australia had just beaten the USA for the first time in the America’s Cup Yacht Race! This was a victory for the world, or so it seemed. And Bob Hawke was famously all over TVs across the world telling people that anyone who sacked their employees for not turning up to work that day was a bum!
30 years on and Switzerland still had the appearance of an affluent country with a strong currency. We stayed in Zurich for three days and had an enjoyable time. But Zurich does lack the colour and vibrancy of many other European cities.
Just about everything is expensive, just like in Australia! In every place we have travelled in Europe we have been pleasantly surprised by how far our money has stretched. The same basket of goods I had bought in Stuttgart a few days earlier would have cost me 3 or 4 times more in Zurich.
Our highlight in Zurich was catching up with our old friend Tina, who looked after us in Zurich 30 years ago. She and her partner Urs took us out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant near the opera house. We dined on some delicious traditional swiss cuisine including some beautiful venison, accompanied by some Italian wine. Urs and Tina are great company and have also travelled to many interesting places and plan to do more travelling in the future.
The bus trip into Zurich was entertaining. As well as taking in the sights of rural Switzerland we were part of amazing scenes at the border crossing out of Germany. All of our passports were collected and several passengers were interrogated. But then the funny part came when we were all finally summoned off the bus to have our passports returned. One of the policemen accidentally dropped one of the passports and it fell through a grid into a fairly deep drain. It took some Swiss ingenuity and a pair of tongs off the bus to finally recover it.
Walking and tramming around Zurich was fun. There are lots of interesting little shops and alleyways to explore, with no shortage of watches, Swiss army knives, chocolates and other nicknacks on display. Consumerism is alive and well and the locals love to wine and dine as well. The area around the lake is beautiful too, especially on a blue sky day with some warmth in the sun.
On Tina’s recommendation we travelled up into the hills where we had stunning views over Zurich from the Restaurant de Waid. In the vicinity of the hotel there was a deer park (previous night’s dinner?), forests and a great little community garden, where lots of locals have small huts and grow their own fruit and vegetables.
We were pleased to be able to revisit Zurich after an absence 30 years.