Tom and I are currently on our first big European adventure together. He did a solo Euro trip back in 2010. But other than our magical three-day getaway to Porto in 2014 we’ve not had the opportunity to explore this incredible country together. The trip came together as the result of a housesit we scored in Lugano, Switzerland. Once we knew we’d secured the assignment (right before Thanksgiving) we started frantically searching for flights. Lugano is located near the Italian border, about an hour from Milan. However, we found much cheaper flights into Zurich, a two-hour train ride from Lugano.
Sadly, our first flight out of the U.S. was cancelled, and we ended up having much less time in Zurich than we’d hoped. It was nearly dark by the time we arrived.
We were amused when our Lyft driver pulled up to the airport in a slick, black Tesla. It was my first time riding in an electric car, and definitely the most luxurious “cab” ride I’ve ever taken.
He dropped us off at the Motel One, a sleek boutique hotel close to Zurich’s old town and the Bahnhofstrasse. As with all long-distance, economy flights, we’d gotten next to no sleep during our travels. But we were excited enough to finally have arrived that we didn’t notice our exhaustion right away.
The hotel’s location was excellent. We were able to head straight to the Bahnhofstrasse after dropping off our bags and freshening up. The Bahnhofstrasse is Zurich’s main street, lined with restaurants and high-end shoppes.
The area around the Bahnhofstrasse boasts dozens of bars and restaurants. But for once we’d done practically no research on where we might want to eat. We first popped into D-Vino, a wine and tapas bar that seemed like a hot spot among locals. Later, we went to Da Capo by the train station for a more traditional Swiss dinner.
Our first brush with the food in Zurich didn’t really knock our socks off. Tom liked his veal dish at Da Capo. I ordered a raclette dish, perhaps the most coveted of Swiss cheeses, melted over a potato pancake and topped with an egg. Sadly, it was a bit too rich for my taste. We’ll be back in Zurich for one more night before going home, so I’m hoping we can redeem ourselves then. (Any suggestions? Drop them in the comments!)
We walked around in the crisp evening air until we about fell over from exhaustion, and then went back to sleep for a few hours in our hotel.
Our night was a weird one. We went to bed at 10 p.m. Zurich time, but woke up at 2 a.m. to watch the College Football Playoffs. This is the fourth time in five years that one of our football teams has lost in the first round of the playoffs. Needless to say, I was not pleased.
However, it seemed somewhat fitting considering the fact that Tom and I originally connected over three things before we started dating – food, travel and college football. And since we were about to embark on an epic adventure combining those first two things, I took the loss a little easier. The game ended around 6 a.m. and while I tried my best to fall asleep afterward, I could see it wasn’t going to happen. The jet lag was raging, and instead of fighting it I got up and went for an early morning walk around Zurich.
As a life-long night owl, this chance to see a city before it woke up was something special. I didn’t have any particular destination, but walked over to the old town and wandered aimlessly for a couple of hours.
Of course, I didn’t know much what I was looking at. I was in a completely foreign place with no one to ask for anecdotes or suggestions. But that somehow made the walk more enjoyable. The old town in Zurich is charming with cobbled streets and winding, narrow alleys feeding one into the other. It was one of those simple travel moments that I know I’ll remember for a long time.
Hardly any of the shops or cafes were open during the first two hours of my journey. But finally around 9 p.m. doors started to unlock and people trickled out onto the streets. I found a nondescript restaurant with a few patrons inside, and went in to warm up with tea and muesli – my favorite meal in Zurich funny enough.
After breakfast, I walked back to join Tom at the hotel, passing the Limmat River, which had been too dark to see the night before.
By the time we checked out, the city was fully awake and the streets were crowded once again. We ate a quick lunch before catching our train to Lugano, where I finally snagged a few hours of sleep.
I hope I’ll have more time to explore Zurich again in the future, but this rushed and delirious introduction was a nice start.
Have you been to Zurich? What were your thoughts?
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