Designer labels, $20 burgers and 2 hungry Aussie travellers….
Ok, so the rest of Switzerland was expensive, but Zurich is STUPIDLY expensive. Like 110CHF (about $120AUD) PER PERSON for dinner expensive. This town is all designer labels and silver service restaurants; and with our well-worn, unironed attire, it was very obvious we ain’t from around here! Everyone we saw on our walk around the city today was impeccably dressed and looked like their shoes alone were worth more than all our possessions combined. Given how well off everyone seems to be, and how expensive everything is in this town, we almost resorted to pan-handling for people’s spare change so we could afford a decent lunch!
Zurich often ranks #2 on the list of “World’s Most Expensive Cities”, just behind Oslo and ahead of Tokyo and Geneva. With a Big Mac costing around 13CHF ($15 AUD), this is one costly town. We knew this coming here and had budgeted accordingly, but it’s still a bit of a shock when 2 coffees and a couple of ham and cheese toasted sandwiches sets you back 28CHF ($32AUD). Ah well, that’s the price you pay for visiting one of the world’s largest financial centres and being able to admire views like this…
Zurich joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1351 and was, for a short time, the capital of the Swiss Confederation* in the mid-1800s. It is one of Switzerland’s oldest cities, with traces of habitation dating back 6,000 years. The old town is home to Roman ruins, medieval fortifications and beautifully restored buildings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries. All of that sits in juxtaposition to the ultra-modern financial heart of the city where global giants have their international headquarters and the billionaires of the world store their untold wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts.
*This is actually Switzerland’s “official” name. Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin, hence its abbreviation CH. This confederation of 16 cantons is quite unique in the world in that every canton retains a high degree of independence. For example, each canton determines what language(s) are used in the region and taught in schools.
It’s a pretty enough city – wide, clean streets; lots of trees and greenery everywhere; the sparkling blue waters of Lake Zurich and the Limmat River never far away; and lots of great architecture on display. We spent our whole day strolling through the altstadt (translation = old town), admiring the best that Zurich has to offer. Not a bad way to spend the day, even if it did cost us an arm and a leg.
Today was our last day in Switzerland as we move on to Liechtenstein tomorrow. It’s been an amazing 2 weeks in the land of holey cheese, cow bells, watches, chocolate, epic mountains and green hills alive with the sound of music. The natural wonders of this country are incomparable; we expected the scenery to be great but it surprised us how truly stunning Switzerland is. Yes it’s a bit expensive, but it’s also very small so you can see a lot in just a couple of weeks. We’ve zipped through the country pretty quickly, but with everything we’ve seen and everywhere we’ve been, I think we’ve seen a fair representative slice of the Swiss pie. Certainly we’ve seen more watch and chocolate shops than any human being needs to see in their lifetime, and more mountains and lakes than we are likely to ever forget. All in all it’s been a fantastic visit and we will leave Switzerland with some of the most amazing memories and a collection of photos that bear witness to how truly spectacular nature can be.