This trip takes us to Switzerland, the land of mountains, skiing and secret bank accounts. They also have great food, and as I explain later, fantastic chocolate. This time, we were visiting the city of Zürich with our daughter Colleen, exposing her to her first taste of European markets. When planning this trip, as always, I was concerned with cost, which in Switzerland can get very high. I finally discovered a modest little hotel in Zürich that was within our means. It was in an ideal location, very close to the Lake, and a park area called Burkliplatz.
When we arrived at the main train station from the airport, we took a taxi to our hotel. At first I was little surprised because the driver was not familiar with our hotel. (probably didn’t deal with the cheap ones). But, he had a modern GPS navigator in his vehicle, which managed to coax him through the streets of Zürich, and up a little one-way street by our hotel, the Hotel Villette.
Throughout Europe, a visitor can enjoy the ubiquitous weekend markets that set up for everyone’s shopping pleasure. In some areas, like many in France, the markets are not always on weekends, but travel from place to place throughout the week, so they are in this village on Wednesdays, and maybe the next village the next day, and so on. If you are staying in the area, you can catch up to these markets to buy that ‘special something’ you saw yesterday, but forgot to buy it.
In the beautiful city of Zürich in Switzerland, the markets are held at one end of town, right beside the lake, at an open area called ‘Burkliplatz’. These markets are held in the square on Saturday and Sunday, but rather than all together, Zürich does it a little differently. Saturday is for produce and flowers.
The entire ‘platz’, or square is covered with colourful displays of goods, carts of fruit and vegetables, cuts of meats and various sausages (Würst), dozens of cheeses, the biggest selection of mushrooms (Steinpilz), and magnificent collections of flowers and plants of all kinds.
The next day, Sunday, the entire area is a flea market, filled with every kind of bric-a-brac, antiques, miscellaneous used goods and the largest collection of ‘junk’ imaginable.
Some of this ‘stuff’ was most likely common cast-offs in Switzerland, but back home they would have commanded top price in our local flea markets and garage sales.
At this location, near the lake, is a large clock, built into the garden as part of the park landscaping. It is a massive flower bed, called the ‘Blumenuhr’or Flower Clock. I included this Flower Clock as a meeting place in my recent Jake Prescott novel,‘Vengeance’, when Jake and his buddies need a well known but confidential place to meet.
Zürich is a beautiful and very interesting city to visit. Besides being a Swiss banking centre, it is located in a strategic spot for use as as travel hub, as you can fly, drive, or train in and out of it . . . even boat, if you are arriving from other cities and towns further up Lake Zürich. One of the main streets, Bahnhofstrasse, runs from the train station (Bahnhof) all the way to the Lake, close to Burkliplatz. A well known sight in Zürich is the large clock on the steeple of St. Peters church. It can be seen almost everywhere in the city. The church dates back hundreds of years, and the clock face is 8.7 metre across, the largest in Europe.
About halfway along Bahnhofstrasse is the ‘Sprüngli’ Patisserie, where for 165 years the Sprüngli/Lindt company has been making delicious chocolate goodies. (Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG).
Diana & I made a point to visit this Confiserie/Conditorei, while in Zürich, a place known world-wide for enjoying a deluxe coffee and a pastry. Apparently, this was a traditional meeting place for the elderly ladies of Zürich’s upper class. Local folklore has it that young men who attended the cafe alone would signal their availability to those well-to-do women by turning over their coffee spoons in their cups. This has been disputed as a myth by the company’s director, who says it reflects Zürich’s more puritanical past, when the Sprüngli cafe was one of the few places where upper class women could talk to strangers without risking their reputation.
How times have changed!
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