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September 23rd 2019

Nice raclette at Monika and Olivier’s and a trip through the heartland of Switzerland

Hotel Plattenhof is a nice hotel in a quiet neighbourhood, near the University. Yesterday morning it was even more quiet, because it was Sunday morning… Hotel Plattenhof calls itself a design hotel and that is true. Everywhere is trendy, but especially functional design, also in the hotel rooms. Even in the corridors and in the stairwell was multi-coloured design!

Breakfast was being served in a design area, functioning as a lunch café, a bar and as the reception. The breakfast was well-cared for with marvellous Bircher-Müesli and good coffee (from “What else?“). That gave me a good start into the day and a few minutes past ten o’clock I set off for the inner-city with the ultimate goal Zurich’s “house mountain”, the Uetliberg, 873 metres high, to the north-western side of the town. From there one has a phenomenal view, not only over the city and the Lake Zurich, but also on clear days over the entire northern part of the Alps – so that was something I could look forward to!

I descended on rather steep streets into the direction of the lake and I understood why I had been panting Saturday evening coming from the railway station – the first part of the street wasn’t named “Zürichbergstrasse” (Zurich mountain street) without a reason…! Continuing downwards, via the Kantonschulestrasse and the Hirschgraben, I just turned into a street which led further downwards, the Kirchgasse. This obviously was part of the real late-medieval town centre: there were old buildings along the narrow street with beautifully laid pavement. Also here were plaques on the walls, like at the house which had been the official residence of the church-reformer Huldrych Zwingli, or Ulrich Zwingli as he also was called. This originally catholic priest (1484–1531) had been deeply impressed by Desiderius Erasmus’ (±1467–1536) writings and ideas which he had learned while studying in Basel. He had set his mind on reforming the Roman-Catholic Church, because he didn’t agree with its basis anymore: he thought that one should base himself on the Bible and not on the uses in the church. His reforms had been successful with the population: he had got many followers. In 1519 he was appointed minister of the Grossmünster Minster in Zurich. In Zurich during this year 2019, much attention is paid to 500 years Zwingli. He really wasn’t a pacifist and in 1531 he went into battle with an army of soldiers from the protestant cantons against the catholic cantons, during which he fell in Kappel, a place to the west of Zurich. On the plaque at the house that was his last official residence is written “von diesem Hause zog er am 11. Oct. 1531 mit dem Heere der Zürcher nach Kappel aus wo er für seinen Glauben starb” (from this house he went on Oct. 11th 1531 with the army to Kappel, where he died for his faith).

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Zurich: plaque on the former official residence of the Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) at the Kirchgasse

Walking on I came closer and closer to the Grossmünster, of which I had seen earlier on already a small, pointed turret, that proved to be the ridge turret. What an impressive building is that church when one is standing on the Church Square. Especially the two imposing church towers of 64 metres high, with the neogothic spires, are real eyecatchers – at close range, but also from a distance. The oldest parts of the church date from the 11th century – the consecration has been held in 1220. The two church towers have been brought up to the same level between 1470 and 1492. Originally they didn’t have spires, like at the Nôtre Dame in Paris: only in the 19th century the two domes have been placed on the towers. Over the centuries many often drastic renovations have been made to this church… When I was walking near the Grossmünster, the bells started to ring – what an overpowering experience that was… The sound just penetrates deeply into the body! Sunday service would be starting just later on and a host/warden was standing at the entrance gate to let in only the “real” church-goers, who carefully dressed, came walking on and to stop the groups of tourists (yes, already in this hour!). They were probably told that they could come back a few hours later to have a look inside the church…

Nearby the Haus zum Loch is standing in a lower area: this is the spot that according to legend Charlemagne would have had his quarters when on horseback he had chased a deer that kneeled on the graves of the two saints of Zurich, Felix and Regula. The Emperor’s horse and his hunting dogs did the same… Therefore Charlemagne decided that a chapel should be erected on that spot, where later the Grossmünster would be built. One of the many other legends tells that in the Haus im Loch Charlemagne has been acting as a judge for a snake on whose eggs a poisonous toad had settled. Above the entrance gate this legend has been illustrated. Above the window the emperor himself has been depicted. However the Haus im Loch has probably been built only about the 12th century…

On the southern part of the church square with view on the river Limmat, three statues of Zwingli had been placed: they are part of a project by the Reformierten Kirchen of Zurich to honour Zwingli and to let him return after 500 years as it were to show us his astonishment about certain (thorny) themes in modern society and to engage into a discussion about it. What would Zwingli think about the fact that not everybody has become a protestant (the statue of Zwingli dressed in white as a clerical leader), or that all inhabitants of Zurich always are in such a hurry (the blue statue of Zwingli as a “de-stressor” with a clock on which the cyphers on the clock-face have all shifted to one side) or that he doesn’t understand the phenomenon of climate change (the silver-coloured statue of Zwingli as “climate activist” with a small solar panel under his arm and a net full of plastic rubbish). The statues are part of a larger series and have been placed in other districts of the town. Later this year they will be put up for auction and the proceeds will go to good causes.

Around the Grossmünster there are still some eyecatchers from the past of the city. A large boulder has been put up on the corner of the Kirchgasse and the Münstergasse: the “Findling vom Geissturm“, a boulder that has been walled up in the Geissturm tower, one of the towers in the defensive wall around Zurich which has been at place until the 19th century. On June 10th 1652 lighting struck the Geissturm tower in which the gunpowder was stored, because it was the most remote from an building. By the impact the tower was completely destroyed and this boulder of 1800 kg was flung away 230 metres to the spot where it is now situated… When I descended the steps of the Zwingliplatz near the Grossmünster to the Limmatquai and the Münsterbrücke I spotted in the show window of Musikhaus Hug, the music shop, not only beautiful Steinway pianos on display, but also an old panel of sandstone with the coat of arms of Zurich that has been found at the shops renovation works in 1990. In the 16th century the Kauf- und Salzhaus has been standing on this spot: the panel with the coat of arms recalls the days of Zurich’s salt monopoly.

Once at the Münsterbrücke en de Limmatquai I noticed at the waterfront a ship’s bollard in the pavement, but one with large eyes like a cartoonlike animal. A large information sign with the title “Zürich Transit Maritim” mentioned that it is about “artistic intervention in public space”, and about “the archaeology of the future”. In 2010 archaeological finds dating back to 2000 years would have been made, which would prove that Zurich had had plans for a maritime harbour, and not a harbour at Lake Zurich… When later on I spent some time on research, because I was fascinated , it proved to have been one major joke, that had cost a lot of money, and that in the run-up to the Harbour festival in July 2014 has caused a lot of controversy in politics and with the inhabitants of Zurich. The bollards are still anchored in the Limmatquai, but the old, half-rusty and unsafe cargo crane from GRD-times that the organising artist collective had transported from Rostock and built up again in Zurich, had because of the temporary planning permission to be pulled down again. The crane has been demolished in 2015 and sold as scrap.

Amid a large group of picture-taking and selfie-making tourists I walked across the Münsterbrücke. The bridge has been built in 1836–1938 according to the plans by the South-Tyrolean engineer and pioneer in the construction of railway and bridges Alois Negrelli, who has also participated in the construction of the Suez-Canal. The view in easterly direction over the Lake Zurich was rather hazy, but with the backlight the Quaibrücke liked elegant with the vague contours of the mountains behind it. Once at the other bank of the Limmat I had a nice view again on the Grossmünster – also on this distance it is a very impressive building! On this bank also the Fraumünster, a church originally meant as a convent for ladies and that has been founded at the end of the 9th century. According to (again a) legend two daughters of a king, Hildegard and Bertha, were led from the Borough of Baldern (which nowadays doesn’t exist anymore) near Zurich to a spot at the Lake Zurich, where the graves of Felix and Regula, the saints of Zurich, by a white deer with burning candles on its antlers. They understood that they had to build a place of worship there. Nowadays the church only has one tower; at first one tower was built to it in 1150 and in 1250 a second one, but in 1728 the northern tower was demolished again and the southern one built higher in 1732. This year is mentioned in large gilded cyphers on the tower, underneath the clockface. Nowadays the church is famous because the stained-glass window panes by Marc Chagall (from 1967 and 1978) and by Augusto Giacometti (das himmlische Paradis, the celestial paradise, 1945). I didn’t see these windows, because also here a service was being held: loud organ music could be heard through the closed doors (the organ of the Fraumünster is the largest in the Canton of Zurich).

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Zurich: view on the Quaibrücke bridge towards Lake Zurich from the Münsterbrücke bridge

Also in the 17th century Zurich has played an important role as a town with much freedom of religion – this is shown by several plaques on the churches. One of them hangs on the Grossmünster: the plaque mentions that the Hungarian protestant congregation anno 1977 shows its gratitude for sheltering in Zurich of 30 “von den Galeeren befreiten” Hungarian protestant ministers (freed from the galleys) in the years 1676–1677. Another plaque hangs on the Fraumünster and also shows gratitude by in this case the French protestant congregation for the opportunity that has been offered in the course of time by the authorities and the population of Zurich to the thousands of Huguenots to practise their religion in freedom. It was unveiled to the occasion of the three hundred years’ existence of this bond: 1685–1985.

The closer I got to the Bahnhofstrasse, the more “faith” was pushed to the background and had made way for the world of “big money”: the head offices of internationally renowned Swiss banks were standing one next to another. In front of the Zürcher Kantonalbank, which had stayed somewhat more modest, a large rhinoceros made of rusty steel has been placed in 1982: it has been created by John A. Tobler and it appears to be the most photographed object in town! I was asked by someone who obviously was a tourist, whether I would like to take a picture of him in front of the rhino – no problem of course! Walking down the Bahnhofstrasse towards the lake I passed the Kurt-Guggenheim-Anlage a small green park with a marble memorial, probably dating from the 19th century, with pillars decorated with acanthus leaves and with a marble relief on top of which a Bible citation had been engraved: “Da lief ihr den Knecht entgegen und sprach, lass mich ein wenig Wasser aus deinem Krug trinken und sie sprach trinke mein Herr, und eilend liess sie den Krug hernieder auf ihre Hand und gab ihm zu trinken” (17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink.). This is a text from the Old Testament, Genesis 24, 17 en 18. I quite liked the statue, but I haven’t been able to discover the why and especially the why of this specific text on this memorial. In 1999 the alley and the small park have been named after Kurt Guggenheim (1896–1983), a well-known Jewish writer from Zurich: he was born not far from this park. A statue that in the course of time has led to many discussions because of its homo-erotic content, is “Ganymed” – the saga from Greek mythology about the young man Ganymede with the eagle that on Zeus’ orders had to abduct him to the Olympus. This group of statues made of bronze has been designed in 1945–1952 by the Swiss sculptor Hermann Hubacher (1885–1976).

A trip with one of the ships on the lake didn’t appeal to me – the visibility wasn’t optimal and after all my plan had been to go to the Uetliberg. I took the Talstrasse that runs from the lake almost parallel to the Bahnhofstrasse into the direction of the railway station and where big hotels and beautiful, expensive shops were next to each other. There I saw in the shop window of Lalique (the firm that has been founded by the world-famous glass artist from France René Lalique, 1860–1945) a wonderful piece of art of a shoal of fish made of glass in the colours blue changing into green and yellow in a graceful, waving movement. I loved it very much – only to watch it, not so much to possess it. The price tag showed too many zeros before the decimal point anyway… Furthermore I was haunted by the thought that if one of the fishes would break off during dusting I would have to throw the entire composition into the glass recycling container.

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Zurich: in the show window of the Lalique shop is a beautiful piece of art of a shoal of multi-coloured fish in an elegant undulation

Amid all modern buildings I suddenly spotted two building that obviously were much older. These four-storied buildings, dating from the 17th century, are called “Zum Schanzenhof” and “Zur Weltkugel” (to the world globe). They have been built against each other. Originally they had been standing 65 metres more to the east at the other side of the Talstrasse, but in the 1970s they have been moved, because office buildings had were planned on that spot… They are now used as annexes to the Folk high school and a group for youth theatre and literature. They form a nice variation to the large blocks of offices in this area. At an apartment complex further down the street I noticed again something quite playful: a covered courtyard with a circular cavity above a water pond with in a planter a small maple tree with fine leaves.

More “green” would come next, because where the Talstrasse passes on into the Pelikanstrasse there is a beautiful old entrance gate to the Old Botanical Garden of the university of Zurich. This Alter Botanischer Garten has been founded in 1833 op a natural elevation in the area which has been called “zum Katz“. It is part of the city walls with defence posts which have been built between the 13th and the 18th century. The canal or moat, the Schanzengraben, formed another hurdle, but offers nowadays opportunities for i. a. water sports clubs. This garden has been up to 1976 the official Botanical Garden. In 1977 a new botanical garden has been opened at the Zolligerstrasse at the north bank of the Lake Zurich. The Old Botanical Garden is created by the Swiss landscape architect and plant breeder Leopold Karl Theodor Fröbel (1810–1893) and now forms a beautiful and precious arboretum in the centre of the busy city.

At the entrance of the garden a statue in pretty pinkish-red has been placed for Oswald Heer (1809–1883), a famous biologist and alpinist, who has also been a director of the Old Botanical Garden. He was a contemporary of Charles Darwin (1809–1882), but as a deeply religious man he didn’t agree at all on his “progressive” ideas around the evolutionary theory. A tour through the garden had been put together as an exhibition in the footsteps of another famous Swiss botanist Heinrich Zolliger (1818–1859) who had been member of the Supervisory Committee of the botanical Garden from 1850 to 1855 and who had done research on plants in the former Dutch Indies for years, where he has also collaborated with Dutch researchers. Because he died so young, he hasn’t got to know the rise of Darwin’s evolutionary theory and of the “biogeography”.

Nowadays the Ethnological Museum of the University of Zurich has been established in a tall building from the 19th century, standing in sight of the entrance gate. Near the entrance and next to an enormous northern red oak a modern sculpture has been placed with in a frame a stylised human head that stares at you with huge eyes. Further on in the park there also is an antique Chinese lantern of stone.

A special building is the Alte Palmenhaus (Old Palmery), that in 1877 got its present form: the glass panels are fitted in cast-iron frames. There is a ventilation dome on the roof. Inside opening and shutting of the upper windows can be done with a chain, operated by a handle. It was pleasantly warm, but also quite humid in the greenhouse… Nowadays exhibitions etc. are held in this listed building. There are still many plants ‘though growing in the narrow planters on high legs, that are watered though metal tubes. Outside orange trees were growing in wooden containers and comfortable sitting benches were placed everywhere. It was nice being there!

In the park huge forest giants are growing; beautiful Lebanon cedars and large pines of several varieties, but anyhow large in size – with one of them it was difficult to see which of the two trunks was the main trunk: the one had been attached to the other in the top by cables and a rubber band. Against both trees a lot of ivy was growing. A wonderful weeping beech (Fagus silvatica f. pendula) stood along the footpath near a lawn with comfy lounge seats. Only at a few occasions the noice of the busy traffic around this oasis could be hear. Another variety of beech I haven’t ever seen: it is the fern-leaved beech (fagus silvatica aspelifolia). From the colossal trunk many low branches had been growing which had attached themselves to the ground, so it looked as if they were new trees. To me the leaves looked more like those of the northern red oak (but then more slender and dark green) than like ferns. On the southern slope a new small tree of the Magnolia officinalis f. biloba had been planted – on the panel was mentioned “In Erinnerung an Maurus” (to Maurus’ memory). In the background a much older specimen was growing!

At many spots special plantations had been made, like the thick bamboo on both sides of the path, so it looked as if one walked through a dank tunnel. Visitors hadn’t been able to resist the urge to carve their initials etc. in the green stalks! It was cool and shadowy, a luxury, because the weather had become quite warm and sunny. Further on an “Alpinum“, an alpine garden, had been created including a waterfall, which now was dry. Such a stone garden had been much appreciated in the Baroque period, and when landscape architect Fröbel made this one in 1837/1838 it has been the first in its kind in a botanical garden in the Swiss Lowland. Everything looked very well-kept, although also here the drought of last year has hit quite hard, so here and there some sawing and pruning have had to be done… A large tree had been cut down, whereby a small brass plaque had become visible: “Julius Klaus 1849 – 1920, Gönner der Universität” (Patron of the University). Hopefully the Christmas rose, the Helleborus niger, with the broad leaves can endure so much light… On another marble plaque that was a bit hidden underneath the ivy, Dr. Joh. Hegelschweiser was remembered because of his merits to the research of nature and the founding of this garden.

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Zurich: in the old Botanical Garden a plaque to commemorate the founder of this Garden is hanging in hiding

The season already was rather advanced, but besides the normal “weeds” and here and there some autumn crocuses, special plants were still growing and flowering, like the Mormon-tea (Ephedra chilensis), which has long woody stems with knots and some red fruits. The yellow crocuses stood quite out as well. On a south-facing slope several plants were standing, that actually are shrubs, with large corollas consisting of many small, pinkish-red and purplish tubes: the Glory bower (Clerodendrum bungei). In Dutch this plant is sometimes called “Peanut butter shrub”. The plants appear to spread a peculiar smell when bruised.

During my tour through the Old Botanical Garden I had at moments also caught a glimpse of the Schanzengraben, the old defence canal. To the north a part of the water had been barred: the Männerbad beim Wasserturm (the Gentlemen’s Bath) from 1863 – like the name already suggests, this bath is only for men… There is a Frauenbad (Ladies’ bath) on the banks of the Lake Zurich: it is a beautiful Jugendstil building, but the bath itself already exists since 1837!

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Zurich: view from the old Botanical Garden on the “Männerbad” (Gentlemen’s Pool) near the Wasserturm tower at the Schanzengraben canal

Around noon I arrived after these long detours at Zurich Main Station: it was very busy and I struggled to buy my Zürich-card which would be valid for 24 hours, at the ticket machine: many possibilities to get special offers. But in the end – with some assistance from a friendly lady employee of the railway company – I got my Card, allowing me to use the public transport in and around Zurich for free until this afternoon. To begin with however a trip with the Sihltal-Zürich-Uetlibergbahn had been planned. The part of the Main Station has a modern feel to it, ‘though still with its classical high arched roofs through which daylight enters, but the railway station for the S-bahn with its shopping malls looks hypermodern! The right track was quickly found and not long afterwards I sat down in the Uetlibahn, that runs underground at first, but then continues with quite a gradient uphill. This line has long been considered as Europe’s steepest “normal” railway track: with a gradient of 7,9%. There wasn’t much to see , because many trees were standing along the track. It was quite busy in the train – it was in fact a Sunday and the weather was fine too. This obviously was a favourite Sunday trip!

On arrival the crowd from the train spread out. I had been looking forward to the view over the “alpine landscape” from my privileged position on the Uetliberg mountain, but that wasn’t unfortunately the case… Although the sun was shining, the contours of the mountains as indicated on the information displays were “shrouded in the mist”. Better chances next time! I went on – with many other visitors and passengers from the train – to the restaurant “Gmüetliberg“, a witty pun with the phonetical pronunciation of the words “úúètliberg” and “gemütlich“, cosy. After a bowl of mixed salad (just the thing I liked!) and a cup of coffee with apple-pie I walked uphill to have a look from great height over the city of Zurich – but unfortunately also here the view was rather hazy… Otherwise I would have had a glance on the Alps of Canton Glarus!

Taken along with the Sunday crowd along the “Planetenweg” (the Trail of the Planets), which to my opinion wasn’t as nice as the “Planetenweg” above St. Luc on the way to Hotel Weisshorn in the Valais… – one of my absolute favourites in recent years! But anyhow: for many others, especially with families, this was a real day out! So we moved on at the pace in a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon to the Broadcast Tower, which also is visible from the town and from there to the accessible viewing tower from which one has a marvellous view over the city, the lake, the mountains in the background. There was a queue, so I decided to leave the view for what it was worth…! Halfway the broadcasting tower and the viewing tower I had spotted a plaque on a piece of rock, on which was indicated the location of an outer wall of a prehistoric settlement on the Uetliberg mountain, approximately 1000 BC. The inner wall and a ditch had been situated closer to the top. There are still more traces of occupation in earlier times, like a burial mound.

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Zurich: on the top of the Uetliberg mountain is a plaque indicating the spot where the inner wall of a fortress has been around 1000 BC

The lighting of the wide road to the top of the Uetliberg mountain, on which also a hotel is situated, Hotel Uto Kulm, consists of stands in the shape of a deer with on each of its antler two light bulbs: the Leuchtende Hirsche (the lightened deer), made in 1991 by the artist from Zurich Bruno Weber (1931–2011). This artist belongs to the surrealism movement after the Second World War (like Carl Willing in the Netherlands); he started as a painter, but discover later in his life three-dimensional art. Here he has depicted the legend about the deer and the two king’s daughters. Other of his works can be found in e.g. park of 15.000 m² nearby with his name and in which he has created an entire own world: Bruno Weber Park. It is the largest sculptures park (of a single artist) in Switzerland! Looking at the anatomy of the deer it occurred to me that the body has rather more features of a woman than of a (male) deer… Near the viewing tower also sitting benches shaped like a resting doe, which were quite in demand yesterday.

On the train ride to the Uetliberg mountain I had noticed that at the second last railway station, at Ringilkon, the train takes a large turn uphill. Because the weather was still warm and I had plenty of time before I would be expected at Monika’s and Olivier’s place for a “raclette”, I decided to go to Ringlikon by foot. At first I went on the paved road, but at a certain moment I passed a side road with an arrow pointing to a burial mound and a second arrow pointing to “Jurablick” (view on the Jura).That was what I would like to see! The burial mound itself was hardly noticeable because of the vegetation, but a rather faded information panel indicated that it had been a Celtic royal grave from the 4th century BC, from the early La Tène culture. In 1900 a burial mound had been discovered almost on this spot. The “hill” that has been created is “a free reconstruction” – the original mound had a diameter of 20 metres with a height of three metres. In the centre a vault of approx. 3 to 3 to 1 metre had been dug out, and that soil had been used as a kind of wall. The vault had been orientated from southwest to northeast. Unfortunately the vault had been robbed… Only some charred bone fragments and a few shards of ceramic. It seems that the grave has been robbed rather soon after its installation. Near the vault however e.g. some golden fibulae (round clips for clothes) and a chain necklace of bronze have been found. By comparing these finds with those from another Celtic royal grave to the north of Stuttgart, Germany, the researchers have concluded that this would be a grave of a lady, probably of a Celtic King’s wife.

The road was winding through a nice beech forest. On a clearing at the west side of the slope there was a free view over the surrounding area and the start of the Jura mountain range. The sun was shining, but because of the poor visibility not much of the landscape could be seen. So I continued, downhill towards the next railway station, Ringlikon. Trains from Zurich and from the Uetliberg mountain were passing on a regular basis (there is a half-hour service). That gave me the opportunity to take nice pictures, especially of a train that slowly makes its way uphill and turns around the corner. I took the 14.10 hrs train back to Zurich. It has been a nice trip!

About half past five I took the bus, Line 31, leaving from the bus stop near my hotel, and taking me directly to the railway/bus station of Zurich Altstetten in the western part of Zurich. Monika would be waiting for me there. At 18.00 hrs I arrived and we went on by another bus, which took the “scenic route”. I passed through the suburb of van Altstetten. Until 1934 Altstetten has been an independent village, but then it had been incorporated as one of the “Kreise” (suburbs) of the city of Zurich. This part has been expanding, but there still are very old buildings, like the old protestant church. The foundations of this church go back to the 11th century – thereafter many alterations have taken place. In the 15th century the major changes have been made – the refurbishments from the 18th century have been undone in 1938–1941. During the Second World War the decision was made to build a new church: the famous Swiss architect Werner Max Moser (1883–1970) has been asked. He was well-known as an architect of high-rise buildings (influence from the time he spent in the United States with Frank Lloyd Wright), but also of churches. He was awarded the project for building the new church, because according to his plans the old church would be integrated in the newbuild. The old church is white with a reddish-brown tiled roof on the church itself and on the spire – the new church is also white, but angular with a very high, slender tower, in open-work with large square openings looking almost filigree. A large church clock with a golden clockface adorns the top. It is a fascinating sight to see these two churches, being so different, standing side by side. The bus continued further uphill. Monika’s and Olivier’s house dates from the early 20th century: it has been built by Olivier’s grandfather on a spot that in those days was situated far into the rural area (“Wo Fuchs und Hase einander gute Nacht sagen!” – literally where the fox and the hare bid each other goodnight, meaning in the middle of nowhere…).Now the semi-detached house is completely surrounded by other, much more modern houses. We sat down outside on the patio, newly made by Olivier (he is a real craftsman!) with a glass of Prosecco in the warmth of the evening sun – quite a luxury. Later on we went inside to have a good raclette: molten (special!) cheese with gherkins, silver onions, cooked (or baked) potatoes, Bündnerfleisch and “Senffrüchte“, fruit that has been candied first and then refined with mustard – comparable with the pureed version mostarda from North-Italy. That tasted excellent, especially that small mandarin, which had got extra aromatic by the preparation process! A white Heida-wine from Visperterminen was served to the raclette – also very good. It was nice to drink that wine again, because I had passed by these vineyards last year during my trip to Visperterminen! After many good conversations and a cup of coffee I return to Zurich city centre, by bus and also by train this time. It still was that warm, that I could even go without a cardigan.

This morning it rained cats and dogs! Quite a difference to yesterday… After again a rich breakfast I set off packed and bagged, because I had another meeting with Monika: we had arranged to meet at the railway station of Zürich-Hardbrücke. From there we went by foot to the Prime Tower: on the 35th level is a restaurant from which one has a stunning view over Zurich, the lake and the surrounding landscape. Despite of the rain that clattered against the large bay windows, it was quite an experience: especially the view on the enormous railway complex around Zurich Main Station was fascinating. Also the large Hardturmviadukt, a railway viaduct of over one kilometre long that has been built over industrial zones, tramway tracks and eventually over the river Limmat, looks impressive. Amid this well ordered lines a kind of anarchistic area is situated, with small scale activities. Here the meanwhile famous handbags of the brand “Freitag” are being designed. A tower made of shipping containers, which is accessible, the “Freitag Tower“, has been created… From an altitude of 125 metres everything looks like a miniature world!

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Zurich: view over the city, the area around the Main Station, the Hardturm viaduct and the Freitag-area from the Prime Tower

When the rain stopped around 11.00 o’ clock and the sky cleared, we decided to go into town. From the Main Station we went over narrow alleys, just to the west from where I had been passing yesterday morning. Here Monika showed me her favourite restaurants and shops. We also passed the house where the Swiss author Gottfried Keller (1819–1890) had spent his youth: in the “Haus zur Sichel“. He is one of the most important authors in Switzerland.

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Zurich: the house in the old town where the Swiss author Gottfire Keller (1819-1890) spent his youth – the “Haus zur Sichl”

The restaurant “Öplerchammer“, where according to the website Gottfried Keller had liked to come in for a glass (or two) and which was one of Monika’s favourites because of the traditional dishes, was unfortunately closed on Mondays. The bistro, a part of the small Theater am Neumarkt, was open, so we went in to have lunch. There it was cosy and for the time of the day already quite busy.

But all good things come to an end: around 13.00 hrs we left for the Main Station, where I said goodbye to Monika. I got on the train to my next destination, Andermatt in the Canton of Uri. This meant a trip through the heartland of Switzerland, an area that I actually don’t know: via Zug and the town of Schwyz to Erstfeld and to Altdorf (next time I will have a look at the famous Tell-memorial!)

In Erstfeld I changed trains to Göschenen. On that part the train had to conquer quite a difference in altitude, so we passed through a spiral tunnel and we could see the village of Wassen twice from different heights… From Göschenen, where the train I was travelling on would pass through the Gotthardtunnel towards Airolo, the train trip to Andermatt only took 10 minutes, but this little train had to work hard on the gradient! That can only be done with cogwheel support. The trip was spectacular, because we went through the Schöllenen Gorge. In the next days I will explore this gorge by foot.

In Andermatt I walked to my hotel, the Drei Könige und Post, where Goethe had been staying too according to a plaque at the entrance! It feels quite right here and I am looking forward to the days to come.