Summer Nights in Zurich

It’s not often that the travel to get to a place is just as good as the time you spend there. This could definitely be said for our trip from Milan to Zurich however. Although quite a long journey (about seven hours in total and three different trains), it didn’t feel it at all.

We took the spectacular Bernina express whose train carriages have special panoramic glass windows to allow you to see more of the views of the stunning swiss alps. And views we saw. Imposing mountains, melting glaciers cascading down into aqua lakes, wildflowers, winding paths, cows, forests, quaint Swiss towns and the list goes on. We were both in awe the whole time.


Even as we pulled into Zurich alongside the lake on our final train (and supposedly the least spectacular part of the journey), everything was still stunning. We got a small taste of what was to come for our few days in Zurich – people lazing about in the sun, swimming and enjoying the unusually warm weather.

We arrived in Zurich at about 7:00pm. We were staying with Tim’s step sister Miranda and her husband Martin. They met us at the station and rather than going home, we headed straight down to the river bank for a swim. Right in the middle of the city, the river running through Zurich is the perfect spot for a dip. For all you Melbournians I’m sure this must seem strange given how unswimable the Yarra is, but this river is a different story. Clean, clear, warm and abuzz with action on a hot summer evening.

The great thing is, you can hop in up stream and let the current carry you down. I’ll hand it to the Swiss, they have organised the area perfectly too: Showers, change rooms, food, beer, diving boards – and all free. There are a few different spots in Zurich to do this. We ended up swimming every evening we were there and on our second night enjoyed a picnic with Miranda and Martin and some of their friends.

On one of our days in Zurich Miranda took us for a walk in the mountains and forest. This is one of the things I love about Zurich – nature is right at your doorstep. We took a train maybe half an hour up to a place called Egg and spent a couple of hours (including lunch) walking back down to the lake.

It was just so beautiful. I’ve always been in love with the lush green of Europen forests (on my bucket list is to spend some time chilling out in a cabin the woods). It was just so magical walking through them: beautiful canopies of emerald leaves, clear, babbling streams, meadows of grass and flowers, piles of wood stacked high and birds chirping. We stopped off for a home packed lunch in a little clearing. Someone had been there earlier and made a little display of forest paraphernalia on a log. Probably a child, but I like to think it was fairies.

The more time I spend in Europe, the more I am loving being outdoors: hiking, swimming etc. I’m finding these are the experiences I’m enjoying the most. Museums, galleries, churches, restaurants and bars are great – but nothing beats nature.

Having already done most of the Zurich tourist activities when we were there in 2008, we spent our second day in doing more ‘everyday’ stuff. We went with Miranda and Martin to check out a second hand bike sale, wandered though a local trash and treasure, headed down to the ‘hipster’ area of Zurich and browsed some interesting shops (I loved this – it was very Melbourne North Side), had brunch at a cafe (which made me appreciate the Melbourne breakfast scene even more) and then went mountain bike gear shopping. Then in the evening we had a lovely dinner at a Moroccan restaurant.

One of the best parts of Zurich was just getting to hang out with Miranda and Martin. It was a rare occasion where kids were not in tow (they were off at their grandparents’ in Slovakia) and it was a great couple of days of enjoying the city, the outdoors and great conversation.