Well I had a better night’s sleep last night after I figured out I could open the window to let some of the cool Swiss air into the room. The air conditioning either isn’t working or is intentionally turned so low that it barely pushes any air, and that made the room extremely hot the first night.
Today I booked in to a city bus tour and Lake Zurich cruise. It was scheduled to leave at midday so I had the morning to wander around looking at more of Zurich. I decided to head in the direction I accidentally started heading after arriving in Zurich. Did some train spotting at the western end of Zurich Central Station and wandered the back streets of Zurich. It was here I finally found my first Macca’s, after seeing six Burger King’s already. I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to see one until I reached Chur where I know there is one (you will see when I get there later tomorrow).
As it was getting close to the tour time I made my way back to where the tour bus departs from and attempted to check in with the organisers. I had been advised that the ticket would come to me via email but I had not received anything. Assuming the information was also sent digitally to the organisers I mentioned that I was here for the tour. “Do you have a ticket?”, oh dear this is going to be a problem isn’t it? “No I never received a ticket, I purchased it from the info centre in the station”, he rather abruptly responds “No ticket, no tour”. Okay, so I hightail it back to the info centre. The representative there can’t find any record of my booking. She calls both tour companies in case I was booked on the second one I didn’t speak to, nothing. Nobody but my bank account had an record I had purchased the tour. She asked me if I still had the receipt, which I did but it was back in the hotel and it was 11:50 at this point. There were two options. Book the 12 o’clock tour and leg it back there in time to board. Grab the receipt and organise the refund later. Or go back to the hotel, grab the receipt, and transfer the booking to the 2pm tour. I opted to do the latter.
Once I had the receipt the booking transfer was easy and despite me saying not to worry about it I received a packet of Haribo’s for the inconvenience. Now I had another hour to kill and I’d already had lunch before the original tour time, so I decided to just hang out at the Starbuck’s across the road until the tour start time.
This time booking in for the tour I handed the ticket over to the chap in the booking office and he said “ah, you have ticket now”, as I explained that the info centre made the mistake and never actually booked me in he nodded and said “it happens from time to time, but you are ready to go now.”
It would have been ideal for the 12 o’clock tour to work out, as it started raining part way through the bus tour as you will see in some of my photos below. I have a lot of things to look up to cover some of the history of Zurich but to cover some of the basics (and hopefully I’ve got all of this right but I’ll fact check later), the city is in one of 26 states of Switzerland, each state is run by a Caton that formulate regional policy and tax laws. There is then an overall federal government that address wider national and international issues. The city started as a gateway for trade coming from upstream on the lake. The Roman empire established a trading port that would later become Zurich. The city started with fabrics, specifically silk and cotton, before moving heavily into building Switzerland’s infrastructure. A man named Alfred Escher established many things Zurich is now famous for. He pushed legislation to allow the establishment of private rail companies that resulted in rapid and widespread development of Switzerland’s rail network. To help pay for all of this, he established Schweizerische Kreditanstalt which later became known as Credit Suisse. As the rail projects started to grow in number more workers were needed with engineering and science skills, so he established the Zurich Polytechnic (now known as ETH Zurich), and to help pay for insurance for the workers established Swiss Life, the largest life insurance company in Switzerland. So this Escher chap did earn the title of “Founder of Modern Switzerland”.
There’s a lot more to talk about regarding the history of Zurich and its role in Switzerland history as a whole. But we leave it with this, the mascot of Zurich is the lion, and it is used in almost all major structures as part of Zurich’s heritage. As you can see here on RHI Insurance headquarters (an insurance company that insures insurance company), and the Kunsthaus Zurich (Art Museum, with bonus bronze statue of “the Gates of Hell”), as well as the lion statue on the waterfront of lake Zurich.
Tomorrow it’s time to leave Zurich and head south towards the Alps to a town called Chur. I feel like there is definitely a lot more to explore of this city so if I’m ever back in Europe I’d like to spend some more time here.
More photos to share, I’ll get to them when I reach Chur. Cheers!
Update: Some History
A bit more from the tour that I’ve remembered. The Bahnhofstrausse shopping street used to form part of the moat that protected the main village along with a city wall. The moat was filled in and turned into the walking shopping strip with tram lines running down the centre (another similarity to Melbourne to add to the list) in1867. The other part of the moat still forms the Schanzengraben through parts of the city centre. The wall was torn down during the Helvetic Revolution in the late 1700’s.
If you think our rental market is bananas at home, Switzerland’s home ownership rate in some cities sits at 10%! Geneva is the worst with 10%, Zurich sits at approximately 28%, the capital city Bern sits at just under 40%. The majority of Swiss simply don’t have the capital required to purchase a home. Rental laws are sufficient to protect tenants from sudden eviction, with the legislation stating that homeowners must allow their tenants to find a new property. A process that, due to how hot their rental market is, can take years!