Zurich, Switzerland for work in the middle of December. My meetings started bright and early on a Monday which means that I needed to fly in on Sunday to be ready on time. It didn't really matter what time I flew on Sunday so I picked the earliest possible flight to ensure that I had some time to poke around and add a bit of bleisure to my trip. I arrived mid-afternoon which essentially gave me half a day on Sunday plus before and after work on Monday and Tuesday to see what Zurich had to offer in the wintertime. Here are twn things that I discovered during my short stay.
Cocktails at Kronenhalle
A colleague took me out for drinks when I arrived. He recommended Kronenhalle for an upscale cocktail or an Australian beer bar. Hmm...let me think about that. I'd pick the expensive cocktail with local ambiance everytime. Kronenhalle features a heavy wood bar and expert bartenders in white jackets crafting perfect cocktails. They'll even offer recommendations based on your preferences. I tried two sake based cocktails, one with citrusy lemon and one with chartreuse. It was fun watching the action at the bar while sipping and noshing on premium almonds and chips.
The next morning, I needed to walk off those cocktails so took a detour along the Zurich See on my commute from the area near the Opera House to Enge. In the dim morning light, I saw tons of birds swimming by serenely. It was an ideal way to collect my thoughts before the business of my trip began.
Canal walk to Enge
I try never to take the same walk twice when I'm commuting to the office on a business trip. With this in mind, I veered away from Zurich See on my second day in town and followed a quiet canal to the Sihl River. En route, I discovered an early morning farmer's market, a rushing waterfall, and a path lined with stately old growth trees.
The Singing Tree Christmas Market
The weather may not be the nicest in Zurich in December, but it's the perfect time to visit for a little festive cheer. I had a chance to stop at a few Christmas Markets in the evenings including the Singing Tree Market. Various choirs and even some randomers would mount the decorative tree and belt out a selection of Christmas carols. You can't beat that for Christmas spirit.
Old Town Glühwein
Old town Zurich also featured a festive market with plenty of glühwein. Located amidst a warren of narrow streets, this market was ideal for those doing a bit of last minute Christmas shopping as there were plenty of arts and crafts on display which were complemented by deals at local retailers lining the street.
If you like your holidays a bit upmarket, then the Christmas Market at the Zurich Train Station is ideal. This market was incredibly crowded with each person jockeying for position to get a perfect photo of the Swarovski Crystal Christmas tree.
I enjoyed walking the streets of Zurich after dark. The city was all aglow with holiday lights to celebrate the season. This was one advantage of the sun setting so early.
City in a Spotlight
Zurich has a large number of eye catching spires. The city looks simply magical when viewed from any number of the bridges crossing the Limmat River.
Communal Cordon Bleu
Food in Zurich can be quite pricey, especially their signature dish, Cordon Bleu. I popped into Rheinfelder Bierhalle where I found a 'normal' size Cordon Bleu offered for less than 20 CHF (~20 USD). They also offered a larger size for nearly 30 CHF but the small one was plenty. I downed my meal with a pint of local beer while attempting to converse with an elderly local gentleman at the communal table where I was sitting. I speak very little German and he spoke no English. The experience was slightly awkward but memorable at the same time. I highly recommend the communal cordon bleu experience.
On a cold winter's day, it's always nice to see a bit of heartwarming love in the air. There is a tradition in Zurich of attaching a lock to one of the bridges across the River Limmat as a declaration of never-ending love.