Zurich is Gorgeous

I’ve been in Zurich for the last 5 days, visiting the Google Zurich office together with some co-workers. I’m supposed to fly home tomorrow, but it’s such a beautiful city that I don’t want to leave! It’s my second time in Zurich, but I got to explore it more thoroughly this time and really fell in love with the place. Every time I visit other Google offices, I get the urge to relocate. It feels like everywhere else in the world is more glamorous, interesting, and urban than Mountain View.

Zurich is situated on an alpine lake. Apparently the lake water is clean enough that you can drink it. The city is full of old, historical buildings, including Romanesque and Gothic churches with spires that poke up above the cityscape. Beautiful European architecture everywhere.

Some of the above pictures were taken from the top of the Grossmnster Church tower. To get to the top of the tower, you have to climb up an extremely narrow, super steep corkscrew stairwell. It’s barely wide enough to fit a single person, yet people are going up and down in both directions. It’s a 10-15 minute climb, but luckily the stairs start to widen at the top. And the view makes it all worth it! Here’s a photo of the Grossmnster Church tower.

Here’s my co-worker Elizabeth going down the wider stairs near the top of the tower. The corkscrew stairs were 1/3 the width of these stairs — extremely claustrophobic.

There’s a section of Zurich called Old Town that’s all narrow, winding cobblestone streets, filled with a treasure trove of interesting little shops. We stumbled upon a candy store that sold exotic-flavored gummis and licorice in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I bought 2lb of spicy chili pepper gummies. We also found a “distillerie” that brews its own alcohol, including absinthe, cognac and chocolate liqueur. Here’s a photo of all the alcohol in glass bottles with spigots, neatly arranged on wooden racks.

Zurich has a great public transit system. I took the tram everywhere. But I was pretty confused the first time I got on the tram. First of all, there was no place for you to insert your money when you got on/off the train. I realized later that you’re supposed to buy tickets *before* you get on the tram from ticket machines at the stops, but that you aren’t required to show your ticket to the driver. It’s an honor system. Tram cops sometimes board the trams to do random inspections for tickets. If you’re caught without one, it’s an 80 Swiss Franc fine (about US$60).

The second surprising/confusing thing about the trams (and about the trains too) is that the doors don’t automatically open at stops. The door swon’t open unless you push a button. The first time I had to get off a train, I thought the door was broken but luckily a friendly bystander helped me out.

The weather was nice and sunny today, so I bought myself a bikini and went down to the lake to sunbathe and swim. The grassy areas near the lake were filled with people sunning and playing soccer. I went into the water but it was a bit too cold, so I spent most of the day on the grass reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner ).

Another great thing about Zurich is that it’s really international. It seems like a lot of people from different countries are working here, kind of similar to Hong Kong with all its expats. My co-worker Sandeep and I randomly ended up having dinner and drinks with some Englishmen and Croatians from Goldman Sachs and KPMG.

Also, all the food I ate in Zurich was great! Swiss food seems to be very rich, creamy and full of cheese, exactly what I like. On my way to work every morning I’d get a coffee and a croissant with proscuitto and cheese. I found that the bread here is really good.  I also got to try traditional Swiss fondue with mushrooms. The only food problem was that I couldn’t find good dark beer anywhere. The Swiss seem to like weissbiere (white beer) a lot.

The only bad thing about Zurich is that it’s really expensive. All the same shops cost more than they do back in the US and everyone has a nice fancyass car. Even the McDonalds here is more posh. I bought some hot chocolate and a McCabrese burger, which is a burger with fresh mozzerella and tomato. They use real foamed milk for the hot chocolate.

All in all, I had a great time in Zurich. Thanks especially to Berni for taking us out every night and showing us around! 


#1 paranoia1980 on 07.14.07 at 5:56 pm

Zurich is really beautiful, I hope that I can be there sometimes :)

#2 soulgrifter on 07.15.07 at 10:36 pm

Wow, very clean and meticulous. The waters look awesome… I want to go fishing there. :O~~~

Did you get to visit the Alps?

Did they have the weird work hours in Switzerland like Germany (everything closes early)? -_-

Chocolate… I hope you brought some back to share with all of us.

#3 macpea10 on 07.16.07 at 6:47 am

Wow!  Looks awesome!  Make me want to visit Zurich!

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