[1D0N] Zurich, Switzerland: My First Time in Europe

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As I was going to start my semester abroad in Singapore in January, I decided to book the longest trip to get there ever. Joke, but not really. I thought that my trip to Singapore would be the perfect opportunity to travel a bit around the world before starting the semester. I hence booked with Swiss Airline and Tiger Air such that I would get 1 Day in Zurich, Switzerland and 6 days in Hong Kong. This post is about my short, but fun 10 hours itinerary in the beautiful city that is Zurich. Fun fact: Zurich is known as the city with best quality of life from 2006 to 2008. It is also known as the most expensive city in the world.

[May 2017 Update] As I had another layover on my way back to Canada, I added a few more pictures of Spring in Zurich at the end of this post! Hope you are going to enjoy them!

My plane ticket to Hong Kong included a 16 hours of lay-over at the Zurich Airport. Excluding time to go through the customs, save the luggage, etc, this leaves me with about 12 hours to visit the city. I landed around 6:30AM and had to be back on my second plane by 10:40PM so this left me with a full day to explore the city! Yeah~~ When I landed, my job was to first change some money to CHF  (I asked for about 80 CHF). Then, I went to the luggage storing place to save my carry-on. For 12 hours, that comes down to 6 CHF, and if you go beyond that time, it will cost you 9CHF (see their website to make sure you get the right price). I then bought a ZurichCard for about 24CHF which will give me access to nearly all the museums in the city as well as free traveling on all the bus/trains. It also includes discount to local restaurants and shops, which can be pretty useful. If you only need a ticket to travel, that will cost you 13.20CHF. Afterward, I took the train (which has a station connected to the airport) for a 10 minutes ride to downtown, at the HB station.

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Zurich in the morning:

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Since it was still dark outside, I decided to start my visit by going to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) and University of Zurich, which are close to each other. I took the bus number 10. (By the way, their public transportation system is so modern and mostly automated, I am really impressed) The campus is beautiful! It has that old historical feeling, but is still really well maintained. The Computer Science building had a very pretty gate, but I mostly liked the Hauptgebäude’s architecture. The University of Zurich was also extremely pretty, especially the entrance. I wanted to visit their university museums, but they were all closed because of New Year celebrations.

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After visiting the campus, I went back near the HB station and took a two-three hours to visit the famous Swiss National Museum. I couldn’t really take pictures inside, but let me just say it is beautiful. Probably one of my favorite museums ever. I love how they use technology to animate and present the presented facts and items. It is the little details that made this exhibition so awesome. Swiss has a long history and they presented it perfectly. As one of the oldest city and being part of Europe, I am not surprised to see such a rich history. Fun fact: did you know Red Cross originated from Switzerland? Yes! That’s why the red cross is basically .. the inverse of the Swiss flag. #mindblowing.

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After such a full morning, I was totally (and understandably) tired. @_@ So, I headed to the famous restaurant Zeughauskeller for lunch. The place was packed with locals enjoying their meals before the upcoming New Year. I ordered Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch  which was really good, but a bit salty for my taste. I needed my water badly. This dish was recommended online, but at the restaurant, I saw that most locals ordered the sausage+vermicelli combo, so maybe that could be an even more authentic dish to try there. Also, thanks to my ZurichCard, I got free dessert. And OMG do Swiss people know how to make desserts: this was delicious!! I was so full at the end of this meal.

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After the meal, I tried to go to more museums such as the famous Kunsthaus Zurich. Sadly it was close. I then moved on to my next destination, the famous duo churches: Grossmünster (male church) vs Kloster Fraumünster (female Church). The churches were just across each other from the Zurich Lake. From outside, they both look outstanding although Grossmunster is the most famous one. I went to the Kloster Fraumunster church which costs 5CHF to enter. However, since I had my student card with me, it was free (always have your student card with you guys!) The inside was beautiful, but also very humble. I stayed there to pray for a better year and visited around. You can actually get one of the audio earbuds to listen while visiting. After that, I went to visit the Grossmunster church which was sadly closed to the public because of a wedding.

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After so much walking, I decided to go buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks to warm myself up since it was so cold (I had a lighter jacket compared to what I wear in Canada). This also gave me some time to go online as I can’t stay unconnected for the whole day! After a 15 minutes break, I was outside again.

Since I realized that most of the shops/attractions were closed for New Year’s Eve, the rest of my day ended up being walking around the Old Town, the Zurich Lake and in downtown. Old Town was beautiful and reminded me a lot of our own Old Port in Montreal. Walking next to the Zurich Lake/River gave me the most beautiful view of the city, especially when it gets dark and they open up the lights. The downtown area had so many luxurious brand shops and it was funny to see so many shops for watches and chocolates (we are in Switzerland after all). If you are looking for such pleasures, I did some research on good cafes and confiseries to go to. It was recommended to buy chocolate at Confiserie Sprungli and macaron at Luxembugerli. For coffee, you may choose to go to one of the following: La Stanza or Café du Bonheur.

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At night:

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Zurich was soo pretty!!

May 2017 Update: The city was even more amazing when visited in Spring so I had to add a few more pictures to this post. Hehe, enjoy!

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