Sunday, November 17, 2013

Get To Know Me: Zurich in Pictures, Pillow Fights, and Sirius

Hey guys, as I said yesterday in my Stacking the Shelves post... it's been a while. The reason is a combination of going to concerts, my master thesis that needs to be written in half the usually alotted time if I want to graduate this summer, general course work, and me not feeling very well. I spent last weekend in bed watching series( I wasn't sick, just listless). I also didn't get much reading done in the last two or so weeks, though I finished Crash Into You yesterday and will hopefully write a review once I finish this post (heads-up: it's amazing!).

I know I promised a shelf- and apartment tour, but I need my sister to film that during daylight and she had to work all of today and yesterday. Besides, I still want to hang up some posters etc. before I show off the apartment. So what I'll give you instead is a couple pictures I shot of Zurich, my Wahlheimat (according to my dictionary that means 'adopted home' but I'm not happy with that translation. It's more like 'chosen home'). They're from different years, and if you like them I can post many more. Most people associate only banks, fancy rich people and a stressed, unfriendly atmosphere with this city, and that's not true at all. It's a very multi-faceted place.

At about 396,000 people, it's also Switzerland's biggest city. I know this must seem ridiculous to many of you Americans, but I really like the size. It makes me feel that if there's something I want, I can get it in this city if I know where to look. At the same time, I can walk many places (or just jump on the Tram or bus real quick - you're better off without a car here) and I always know where I am.

All the following pictures are my own, so please don't take them without asking/crediting me. Click them to make them bigger.

Views from the river bridges in the summer. The Limmat river always has such a clear color then, I'm always tempted to jump right in (as some people do near the lake).

Zurich main station. It looks fairly empty now, but it's packed during rush hour and in a week or so, the space will be taken up by Europe's largest indoor Christmas market.

This is the Bahnhofstrasse. It goes on all the way to the lake. After a few hundered meters, I can't afford anything anymore. Chanel, Dior, Luis Vuitton, Armani, Burberry, Jimmy Choo... you name it, they have a shop there. The closer you get to the lake, the more people in suits and expensive cars you see.

See that store on the left? That's Orell Fuessli The Bookshop, the largest English-only book shop in town. Now you know where my money goes :P The alley on the other side is the Rennweg. I can't afford things there, but they're pretty to look at.

Lake Zurich. On a clearer day, you could see all the way to the Alps.

This is the town center. If I did a 180, you'd  see the lake again. There are a lot of beautiful old buildings to the left and right of the river. So let's go there. The following shots are from the old part of town, the Niederdörfli. There are a lot of small shops, bars, and pubs there. People live there too (if they can afford it or have been living there for decades when it was cheaper).

 The Konditorei Schober is very expensive (and yummy) and has got tradition. If you like your tea and cake - go there.

 This work of art is hidden in a side-alley.

 If you follow this alley, you get back down the river.
So... that's one side of that part of town. At night, there are parts of it full of cabarets, strip clubs, brothels. There's a small square where you've got a tiny Starbucks and a candy store right opposite a porn cinema. The seedy and the traditional and the commercial all right next to each other.

And one time, there were camels. I don't know whether they came from the circus or the zoo...

 Probably not Harry Potter related, but it made me grin ;)
 I have also participated in National Pillow-Fight Day. Everyone had a lot of fun! You could either bring your own pillow or buy one for five bucks.

On to some university life! This is the English Department building. Small, but cozy. Everyone knows everyone. The floors creak when you walk on them because it's so old. We have a 'Kafistübli' though, which is a room with sofas, a couple computers, and tables where everyone can relax, chat, or study (not many departments have those). There's even a piano. Sometimes we also have cake sales and other events there.

 Behold the library entry. It's small but it's great if you're looking for something quieter to work. I've now got my own table there, which is great because I can leave some books there and don't have to lug that many around with me.

 This little piece of lawn is next to the main building. Everyone's chilling out in the garden during lunch period in the summer. Or, you know, sometimes also a little longer than just lunch ;)
This is the Lichthof (light court). It's got a glass ceiling, so it's always light (and loud) down there. It's the heart of the main building. You can get food from the cafeteria - if you're quick enough to get a spot to sit. I like to sit in the arches with the pillars you can see on the other side. It's quiet and you can watch everything.

Winter view from the window of my old apartment. It was at the edge of the woods of the Uetliberg, but as you can see it was also close to the city. I loved watching the lights twinkle. No more of that now, but I can step out onto a court with trees now. That'll be nice in the spring.

What you haven't seen here: pictures from the Langstrasse and the Trams. I really want to shoot a couple of those. The Langstrasse is kind of a 'problem' area because of all the bars and... other establishments. In the 90s, there was also a huge drug problem. But now it's where a big chunk of the 18-25 or 30 year-olds go on a Friday or Saturday night.

Hm... I actually wanted to tuck a short story into this post, but I think it's long enough already. What type of things would you like to see in the Get To Know Me posts in the future? More pictures of Zurich / other cities I've traveled to (Prague, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Milan, Florence, Dresden, London...)? Me blathering about movies or music? I'd also kind of like to do a post about cultural differences between Switzerland and the US. It could be fun to talk about weird habits/preconceived notions (and how they're maybe wrong) but I'm also a bit scared of stepping on people's toes. An alternative would be something about weird Swiss German words - I could make a video of that so you could actually hear them.
I could also post more short stories, if people want to read them. Basically I'll try to keep these Sunday posts varied.
So what do you think of 'my' city? Do you like it? Any questions? Where are you from, and where do you want to live one day? P.S.: kudos for making it all the way to the bottom ;)


  1. Sigh! As usual, I am a HUGE fan of these posts, I love learning about different places & looking at your stunning pics is a big bonus ♥ The city I lived in for over 10 years, and now live about 20 minutes from was only a town of about 100 000 people. HUGE cities kind of freak me out o.O, I could never live there permanently.

    I love how the river seems so prominent throughout the city! The buildings are all really appealing and I especially liked the street-art hidden away there! My favorites though? Sirius Street ♥ *grins* and National Pillow-Fight Day!! Thanks for sharing Carmen ^^

    1. A huge city like NYC or Tokyo would also scare me, I think. But with Zurich, it's all spread out over a rather large area and the center where you actually go isn't that big. The village I'm from has about 700 people :P At some point I just wanted out...
      There are actually two rivers, the Limmat and the Sihl, and Limmat happens to flow through the center/touristy part of town. I like being close to the water, that's why I take so many pictures of it ^^'
      There are actually quite a few places with cool street art! There are areas where people can spray paint legally. Doesn't stop them from also doing it illegally though... especially during demos.
      And Sirius street! I lonly came across that because I was early for a job interview and decided to take a look around the neighborhood to kill the time XD I couldn't believe it!

  2. I always love these posts from you, Carmen! So many beautiful make me completely jealous that I live out in the country and that my nearest big city is Dallas, which is just gross. :( So I love experiencing the world through your eyes. :) That Sirius Street is an awesome find!

    1. I like both the country and the city, I'm from a village with a population of 700 so whenever I go home, I'm out in the sticks.
      Never been to Dallas, but my sister and I might pass through on our road trip next summer...
      And Sirius Street was an awesome surprise!
      Thanks for commenting, and don't worry, I'll post more pictures :)