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All Aboard in Zurich

by Tori Ward, Cruise and Resort Specialist, ROX Travel

We recently started a train journey across several countries beginning in Zurich, Switzerland. The central rail station is a wonderful artery within about an hour’s journey to picturesque Bern, cozy Lake Lucerne or artistic Basel.

However, you may get distracted by the plethora of restaurants, shops and unusual sites you’ll encounter at the station. Hello lady carrying a spinning wheel on her head!

Zurich is a global banking center, and much of the city reflects its gold standard of luxury. However, as we previously had been to Zurich, this time we skipped the museums, churches and designer shopping. Instead, we concentrated on outdoor activities in that tiny window of time before the heavy snowfall and skiers descended.

A walk from our hotel within a block of the station led us to Viadukt Arches, an eclectic urban area created under 36 railway arches originally built in 1894. It is now home to boutiques, delicatessens and studios.

At the far end, and close to Limmat River, is the Market Hall — or Restaurant Markrhalle to keep it Swiss. We collected our lunch from one of the delis, but stopped to make reservations for dinner that evening. Fondue was on the menu.

Then, on to the Limmat where we sat in the chilly autumn watching the last leaves fall from the giant sycamores and linden trees lining the river. Benches placed along the Platzspitz made resting, eating and people watching a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

As someone raised around the warm Florida waters, though, I could only stare in wonder at the cold water swimmers. If you’re there at the beginning of December you won’t want to miss the Samichlausschwimmen, a charity event involving about 300 swimmers paddling across the freezing cold river.

After dinner we stopped in at Widder Bar, a piano bar between our hotel and train station that was a little quieter than some of the nightclubs that appeal to a younger crowd. Zurich has a vibrant late night scene that caters to all demographics.

Since many venues are closed on Sunday, we opted for a walk along the banks of Lake Zurich with the backdrop of snowcapped Uetliberg Mountains in the morning, again marveling at the nonchalance of those taking to the
glacial water.

There is a promenade that borders both sides of the lake for several miles with dedicated lanes for bikers and skaters. Small cafes and coffee shops present an opportunity to fuel up after a brisk morning walk. There are many boat rental venues available as well as charter boat rides from Zurich itself, but we opted to get out of town and up into the mountains for the afternoon.

We traveled along the coast of Lake Zurich about 15 minutes to Meilen where we boarded a boat for a short ferry ride to the other side. From Adliswil we took a cable car up 2,630 feet to Felsenegg. And, although we took the ferry, it’s easy to get to Felsenegg from Zurich’s main train station. After we exited the car we took the path up the mountain for a 20-minute hike to the restaurant. Sundays are a busy time, so reservations are definitely recommended.

The following morning, we walked the short block back to the train station and boarded the train for our trip across the Arlberg Pass, through Innsbruck and to Salzberg.

Next in the series I will take you through the Alps by rail to Austria.

Tori’s Tips:
• Download a translation app if you aren’t familiar with German. English is not always translated on signage and menus.
• Watch out for electric scooters that are quiet, quick and everywhere. Pay attention to walking paths versus those for other modes of transport.
• Train transport from Zurich airport to the heart of the city is fast and inexpensive.
• Switzerland’s currency is the Swiss franc, not the Euro, and the best exchange rates are usually through a bank ATM. Avoid street kiosks or airport exchange shops if possible.