maandag 17 augustus 2009

Züri Liebe

Zürich!!!!!! It got under my skin and not only because my sis L now lives there. Nope from the moment the plane made its touch down till we left it took possession of my hardest spot to invade. After six days tasting the Swiss life in all its dimensions I felt that this city for sure belongs on my city hot list.

While wandering around in a town where my sister already knows the hot spots and the hidden corners I did feel something that you want to feel when you are traveling. It is the rare sensation that this place could be your home where you can come to peace with yourself. The one spot where you can put life in the right perspective and where you want to pour an extra glass of that magical potion.

I had been to Switzerland before and I have to be honest Zürich was not on my wish list of places that I want to visit before I die. Thanks to my sis who decided that working there could be a real investment in life-experience I booked a flight. On top of that I was able to convince my mum to hop on the plane with.

So there we were two Belgian tourists who were going to check out this place. The moment we got out the train where L was going to meet up with us, it hit us! While sitting in one of the green city parks I became aware of how quiet this city was. Around me were tons of people sitting and you can be sure, most of them were not tourists but locals who were taking a break from work or taking the kids out for a day in the park.

While life was passing by all I could do was taking a deep breath of Swiss air and feel at peace. I did most of the stuff that my travel guide advised me to do. According to them you can manage this town in a few hours! Yes, you can pass by and just take a dip of the Zürich salsa or you give it the time it really deserves.

So this Belgian girl walked her shoes off, awed at the Chagall window panels of the Frau Münster Kirche, drank tons of fresh mountain water, sat down at borders of Zürich lake with a tasty ‘cervela’, paid a fortune for two scoops of sorbet, took tons of pictures with her tiny digital camera, tried out the superb public transport (it is even scary how punctual they are!), pulled herself together while passing by bakery Sprüngli (did spoil myself on the airport with buying the tiniest box of ‘Luxemburgerli’, sorry to break the news to you but I am not sharing those with anyone!!!), checked out unknown supermarkets with names like Migros or Coop, lost her sense of time while wandering through one of those Swiss temples of art, the Kunsthaus.

Furthermore I dipped my hands in the many colorful water fountains of Bern, taped my mother and sis while discussing the quality of the Swiss bread, got some make-up at the Swiss Harrods Jelmoli and got a nice make over by a really nice sales person (believe it or not but in Zürich every customer is considered important!!!), walked into numerous churches and caught the last sound of some splendid organ music, went for a day to Bern (calling it Basel half of time), went BIO at the Junkart farm, smiled at some nice looking bankers or stockbrokers who just seemed to have walked out of Hugo Boss add, checked out the oldest vegetarian buffet of the restaurant Hiltl, broke a huge (but fortunately) empty glass in the middle of the cafeteria at my sister’s work, helped my mother to escape the Kunsthaus after she touched the ‘Olivestones’ from Buyse and was covered in the olive oil, tried to cross the streets of Zürich like my sis (who trust every Swiss driver to stop for a pedestrian!!), took a break in the park to see Swiss Life pass by!

So ladies and gentlemen by day tree this Belgian girl was totally hooked! It did not matter that half of the time I did not understood the German they speak. And this even after some months abroad in Austria! Once a city finds a way into your heart and you feel the vibes you feel at home!! That is what happened right there at the banks of Zürich See. Can’t describe this very specific feeling but globetrotters will for sure know what I am talking about.

Suddenly it is not enough to be a tourist you want more, you want to fit in. Blending in with the landscape, do what the locals do and for sure talk like they do. But it is hard to keep up with the Swiss who seem to know where they heading for even if they wear high heels or speed by in a spic and span bloody red Ferrari! Believe me, I tried but my accent (like always!) gave me away in no time! So with sorrow in my heart I did board the plane heading back home.

I now try to make clear that Zürich is really worthwhile to stop at instead of ignoring when driving to your annual skiing trip or summer holiday! It seems so ordinary and rather dull. That this country is so clean is not thanks to the 7 dwarfs! No jokes allowed about dwarfs in Switzerland because this nation is proud to be that spotless.

And they should!! One look at the average highway you pass by in this tiny nation you know that we can better then the present result. Lately we not really turn up in any best list what so ever unless it is the worst. My sister pointed out that according to her own experience many Belgians work more effective and get done more in less hours but that there is not as much stress. According to many tourists Swiss are not easy to approach but that is not completely true. It just takes a bit more energy but once you managed to crack the ice they love to talk about many topics and things.

One of the very surprising things that I experienced was that they consider me talking Flemish!! Some people pointed out to me that we should be proud of the language that we speak and that it is not the same then Dutch. It is always strange to be pointed out by others that your own cultural heritage is worth while to cherish and take care of.

So what are we waiting for let us get all the rumble out of the way and make sure that there are more trashcans all over the place so that we at least can see clearly all the beauty. In Switzerland I did see some splendid views, art, landscapes, buildings, monuments and people and was I able to take deep breaths of fresh air!!

Okay, thanks to having my sis L over there it helps to feel more at home but I do consider Zürich now one of the big surprises in the list of places that I have visited on this globe. That Monocle, a well known traveler’s magazine , put Zürich first place on the list of best places to live and to start a business on this globe, is no surprise to me anymore. I do think that Chagall, James Joyce, Carl Jung, Tina Turner (according to my sis she walks through Zürich wearing a wig!) and even Lenin will still agree with that verdict.

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