Zurich, Switzerland that’s where. Last weekend I went to Zurich for the first time. Before going there the only thing I knew about it was that Switzerland on a whole was known for being expensive and having a lot of nature. Well of course in my head I knew all about Geneva because I have watched Princess Diaries 2 a million times and as you may or may not know half the movie is based in Geneva.
I did a little research before arriving in Zurich and had some idea of what I wanted to do but for the most part I was going in blind but I was excited to see what Zurich had to offer.
The flight to Zurich was pretty uneventful but I had a whole row to myself so that was exciting. I slept the whole 2-hour flight and woke up just in time to see the amazing views. Looking out the window I was able to see the most luscious green landscape ever. I was getting more and more excited looking out the window. Honestly, if the views looked that amazing thousands of feet off the ground I could have only imagined how amazing it would be once I was on the ground.
Zurich’s airport is something else. First of all, supposedly your boarding pass has the code/number to get wifi so don’t lose it else you won’t be able to get on. If you have questions about the area skip the information desk on the second floor, go straight to the tourist office on the floor you purchase your train tickets. The young lady who helped me there was amazing. She set me up with a SBB account (the train system app), my ZurichCard, and just general information about the place. She also helped me decide which other city I would visit; in the end I decided to visit Lucerne as well. Most importantly she gave me clear and concise instructions on how to get to my hostel. (especially since I had no internet to check for myself)
So normally check-ins is after 3 for hotels and hostels and since I got to my hostel around 11:30 I knew I wouldn’t be able to check in but I would at least would be able to drop my things off. My hostel was clean and safe but extremely weird, no reception area, no keys (but the outside door had a pin to enter), and no verification process (like showing your passport).
Once I charged my phone and looked at the map to see in what direction I needed to go, I left to go exploring. Zurich’s metro system is very clear and easy to follow. Also, surprisingly on the map, they have the stops labeled so it’s really easy to know what route to take or where you need to transfer. The most difficult thing about the metro and Zurich on the whole, is that barely anything is translated into English so you really have to be aware and diligent to not miss your stop. A major shocker about the metro is that nobody checks your ticket; you can get on the train or bus with no fuss. But I would recommend getting the pass/ticket because on the off chance someone checks, you don’t want to not have it. Swiss people are very honest because I saw locals buying passes and tickets. One of my hostel mates was Swiss and when I asked him about it he said if a conductor comes only a small percentage wouldn’t have their pass. That would never work in the USA or Madrid.
Anyways, onto the sites. Surprisingly, Zurich is really small you can practically walk everywhere. Even though Zurich has a city feel and tall buildings it is extremely clean, like seriously clean barely any gum on the sidewalks and no cigarette buds on the ground period. Also, you are surround by mountains, forests, and the lake; just extremely beautiful. The architecture of the churches and buildings had a gothic/gargoyle vibe but on the inside was breathtaking.
My favorite thing to do while there was to sit by the river/ocean and watch the ducks fight for scraps thrown at them while enjoying the scenery around me. Honestly, you can see all that Zurich has to offer in a day if you just want to hit the sites. From churches, clock towers, panoramic views, a street full of different types of restaurants/bars you can find it all.
Saturday, I decided to go to the outskirts of Zurich to two of the lookout points. 1st stop was Zurich’s own mountain Uetliberg. Uetliberg is 2,875 ft above sea level where you can enjoy views of the lake and city, with the snow-capped Alps in the distance. There are a lot of different trails and hikes; you can even hike from the city center to the base of the mountain. But you know ya girl definitely didn’t hike from the city center. I took a train to the base of the mountain and walked about 10 minutes and got to a landing and was able to see some views and take some pictures. Afterwards, I walked another 5 minutes and got to the landing with amazing views. It was truly incredible on one side was the lake, city, and the Alps; on the other side was the most green landscape you would ever see.
Heading back to the city center you are able to see more of the landscape. Once back, I headed to the other look out point, Rigiblick. So it’s a very steep hill to get to the top but luckily there is a tram if you are not feeling up to it. This view is different because it is pretty much a little town within itself with many homes. You do see the city but no lake and not a great view of the Alps. If I were you, I would see Rigiblick first before going to Uetliberg.
Before heading back to the hostel for the evening I went back to the lake and had an amazing time. This group of guys were there, chilling and drinking. I guess someone dared one of the guys in the group to jump in the water in nothing but his underwear. The kicker was his underwear was a bright green g-string that sat on his shoulders.
Y’all this was one of the highlights of my trip.
The weather up to this point was really nice, clear skies warm days and around 7 or 8pm the skies would open up and it would rain for quite some time. Sunday I went to Lucerne and boy oh boy was the weather completely different. It practically rained from when I got there at 12 until about 4:30. Of course, there were times it stopped within but pretty much it rained the whole time and I was cold and miserable for quite some time. (I mean who wouldn’t be, walking around in the rain in a cold place) Other than the rain it was a really cool place. I liked here more than Zurich but it definitely didn’t have the nature vibe like Zurich did. I was able to see all the sites the city had to offer and just walk around aimlessly in the 7 hours I was there.
Don’t get me wrong I tried to leave around 4 but because of the ticket I bought (a ticket saver) I wasn’t able to catch an earlier train. But I was definitely glad I stayed because the sun came out and it stopped raining. I was able to see and walk the Musegg Wall and climb one of its Towers. Since I still had a little time to kill before my train, I got an applestruddle and you guessed it sat by the lake people watching and enjoying the view.
Lets talk money, if you had any doubt Switzerland is expensive but a lot of things are similar to American prices (especially New York or Los Angeles). Also, if you are from the islands, then the prices won’t shock you too much. Yes, in all of the fast food places, normally nothing is under 12 CHF, which is 11 euros or $12.34. Luckily, or so I thought, both McDonald’s and Burger King was having promotions. Ya girl had to try McDonalds out and their special was 8.90 for a burger/chicken sandwich, fries, and a drink. So I order a chicken meal thinking I am doing good and my bill came out to 11.70 CHF. Y’all they charged me almost .50 cents for each pack of ketchup (I got 2). Besides buying ice cream and my applestruddle, McDonalds was the only meal I bought, the rest of the time I made sandwiches (which majority of the locals do, pack meals and bring their own drinks and sit around the lake or park). Overall, you don’t have to spend much money to enjoy the city. I spent 80 CHF for my 72-hour ZurichCard and my roundtrip ticket for Lucerne, about 40 CHF on food and drinks, and 13 CHF on souvenirs (I got a ‘gold’ rimmed mug and a glass that had different Swiss things on them). My hostel was $117 and my flight was 74 euros. I spent about $350 for my 3-day trip to Switzerland. So no place is off limits you just need to be budget conscience and spend your money wisely. Granted, I didn’t eat at any restaurants but I was able to do a lot.
Overall, what an amazing place to visit. If you love nature and hiking, Zurich is the place to go and if you just appreciate the views and zen-like feeling like me you can also appreciate Zurich.