The Finest Things In Life.
its transformed former industrial district, contemporary Zurich is no
boring banking capital. We catch the vibe over one buzzing weekend. By
The weekend mood is setting in--I can sense it, as I step out of the train and tumble onto the famed Bahnhofstrasse of Zurich in search of my tram No. 6, 7, 11 or 13 (as instructed), which would deposit me at my Sorell Hotel Seidenhof. There is a wonderful buzz in the air and it is showing all signs of building into a crescendo by the night. It is glorious weather--blue skies, bright sun and just that teenie-weenie nip. Our hotel is in a side-lane, off this popular 1.2-kilometer promenade that links Central Station and BE-rkliplatz. As we quickly check-in, shower and get out, Zurich has already begun to party on its Friday night!
Dinner is booked at Zeughauskeller. This is one of Zurich's biggest beer halls and is located a couple of lanes down, off the Bahnhofstrasse, situated in a mediaeval arsenal. The main doorway has an anti-aircraft gun overhead. We enter into a massive hall....it is busy (to put it mildly), packed to the elbows and full of laughter, noise and bustle. I fall in love with the mood instantly. Zurich is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, near the Austrian border, and the myriad influences make it a great town for pleasure. In Zurich, the beer halls have a different image from their counterparts in Munich. The emphasis is more on dining than on drinking, and, we can see this as we weave our way inside, avoiding well-stacked plates and tables groaning under the weight of sausages, Schnitzel, Rosti (hash brown potato cakes fried in butter), and other Swiss-German comfort foods that are the mainstays of beer hall cuisine. The building is a former armoury, which is at least 500 years old, and has featured a beer hall on the premises since 1926. History melts beautifully into atmosphere as we order food and beer and settle in for a wonderful night out, surrounded by stone columns, massive roof beams and old military devices which include William Tell's bow and arrow! The place is known to offer over 20 varieties of sausages and we try some bratwursts with a side order of their house potato salad; they are finger licking good! The veal with mushroom sauce and rosti comes well recommended, and the wienerschnitzel, or Viennese Cutlet, are fantastic too. The best part is that the menu is half in English so you can understand what you are ordering, and the servers, though often harried thanks to the huge crowds, speak English besides a language you cannot understand!
The mid-morning walk the next day takes us to the famed Widder Bar at The Widder Hotel. The bar is known for having the largest collection of whiskeys with over 250 different types of single malts. The selection of drinks is pretty much endless. Not on the menu No problem, they will try to get it for you. We peak inside the bar and see a huge wall of bottles that extends right up to the carved wood ceiling, behind a glossy wooden bar. This is their "library of spirits," and it contains more than 600 different libations, about 450 of them being whiskies, including a $1,560-a-glass Ardbeg 1965 40-year-old (Only 261 bottles were released for sale)! Markus Blattner, manager of the Widder Bar and its spirits library is always at hand to be a friend, guide or advisor... A laid-back man but with refined sensibility, he says there is no room for snobbery in a space where people come to relax and unwind.
Our walking trail then takes us inside the Migros Supermarket located round the bend from our hotel. The top floor of the complex is an interesting restaurant with several counters offering daily or weekly menus, buffets, snacks and desserts. You can pick a plate, fill it up with what you want from the various counters and then pay by weight. The salad buffet looked so fresh... almost as if hand-picked just that very moment! They have hot food too, not just cold. And this really is a great way to eat within 10-15Sfr on the go. The Migros and Coop supermarkets have several branches all over the city and are good places to eat on a budget.
We then hop into the train and head to the transformed former industrial district of Kreis 5 in Zurich West. Our lunch destination is Restaurant Viadukt located, set under an elevated train bridge amidst a medley of studios, ateliers and shops that are trendy and quirky. The antithesis of the idyllic Switzerland, this abandoned industrial quarter has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent decades, from conservative and sleepy to trendy and modern... offering some of the best after-dark party hotspots in town! Part of an integration project to get under-privileged people back to work, the Viadukt offers a limited but neat selection of food. The menu changes according to the season, but you can always expect meat, fish and quite a few vegetarian combinations. Get a seat on the balcony-like upper floor for a more quiet and romantic atmosphere. On the weekends it often features concerts. We opt to sit outdoors under an arch of the railway viaduct. A public park spills out in front of us. It's a lovely day. Families are out with children... life feels good as we dig ravenously into pumpkin curry served in pancake pouches, spaghetti in a tomato basil sauce and grilled duck breast with orange juice, fried potatoes and glazed carrots.
Our post-lunch walk is around an eclectic mix of businesses, flats, art galleries, hip restaurants with lovely parks randomly squeezed in between. We are totally fascinated by a tower of containers, which turns out to be the flagship store of the cult label Freitag that makes unique bags out of recycled material. We wind our way to the tall Prime Tower on the top floor of which is housed Clouds, a bistro and bar. The view is quite pretty from the 35thfloor, especially overlooking the train tracks. We order coffee, slices of some delicious cake from the patisserie and watch the sun set over Zurich, as it shimmers in the fading glow of the evening light...
Bahnhofstrasse 28 at Paradeplatz ZE-rich Phone: 01 211 2690 www.zeughauskeller.ch Approx cost per dish: 19-40 Sfr
Widdergasse 6, 8001 ZE-rich Phone: +41 44 224 24 11 Hours: Open today 11:30 am-1:30 am Expensive
Viaduktstrasse 69/71 Phone: +41 43 204 18 99 www: http://www.restaurant-viadukt.ch Tram station: Schiffbau Approx cost per dish 22-39Sfr
Maagplatz 5, 8005 ZE-rich, Switzerland Phone: +41 44 404 30 00 Hours: Open today 9:00 am-11:00 pm Pricey
It was Saturday night. After dinner we decided to take a walk and tumbled upon a rocking street party in the Old Town, on the left bank of the River Limmat. In the evening, apparently Niederdorf changes into a nightlife district with its bars and street artists. Do remember that the popular "DE[micro]rflifEnscht" takes place here at the end of August, with many DJs, Bars, stages, food stalls and restaurants all out in the streets!
Reproduced From India Today Travel Plus. Copyright 2014. LMIL. All rights reserved.
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