I never had a desire to go to Switzerland. It looks like Montana but comes with a shocking sticker price (see Don’t Date in Switzerland!). Like everywhere, I had to go on my own to see what it was like. Like a tourist, I decided the first city I would visit was Zurich.
Streets of Gold?
When I think of Switzerland, I think chocolate, banking, watches, and wealth. I expected Zurich to be a cultured version of Dubai, a city not as gaudy, but one where wealth was evident. As it turned out, Zurich looked like most European cities. It was clean, had nice architecture, an efficient public transport system, but it wasn’t full of Rolls Royces. Apparently, I had to go to Geneva if I wanted to see that.
Walking around Lake Zurich provides for a nice afternoon. Too tight in the wallet to pay triple the price for champagne, I picked up a bottle at the grocery store and enjoyed the view.
Credit Suisse and UBS are right next door to one another. The days of secret banking are not what they used to be but they’re not dead either.
I’ve tried macaroons in Paris and now Zurich. They are good but I still don’t see what the fuss is about nor why they cost so much. They do make for pretty photos.
Frauenbad at Stadthausquai is a bathing area on Lake Zurich for women only. I found that a bit odd.
The transition from glamour to grime began slowly and escalated quickly. Things were still tame at the Bauschänzli beer garden.
TPOL’s TIP: Stadthausquai 2 8001 Zürich
I doubt you’ll find this place in a guidebook. Leave it to my friend living in Zurich to take me to this peep show inspired bar. There was no turning back from grime after that.
TPOL’s TIP: Stüssihofstatt 14, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
You want to see the real world of male modeling? The one they don’t show you in magazines or the E! channel?
If you want to see the real Zurich, head to Langstrasse Saturday night, a street of bars, pubs, punks, pimps, and prostitutes. Indeed, Langstrasse is the former redlight of Zurich. While there are upscale bars and restaurants in Zurich for those with discerning taste, those won’t give you the grime experience your heart desires. Think Koh Sahn Bangkok or Wan Chai Hong Kong. All three make Old Town Scottsdale look tame.
Langstrasse is a real shithole and the exact opposite of Switzerland’s picture-perfect image. Like Singapore, Switzerland is not the sterilized society portrayed on TV. For that, I was thankful. I went to a few bars and clubs. I cannot recommend one over another. But fear not, you’ll encounter filth anywhere you go.
Well that was unexpected. My time in Zurich descended quickly from glamour to grime. If you’re lucky, yours will too.