Friday, May 9, 2014

Zurich, Switzerland

Executive summary by Darmansjah Godjali

Why Go? With its river, lakeside location and Alpine views, Zurich is a pretty city – much of the old center including its winding lanes and church steeples remains intact while urban regeneration has transformed the industrial district into the epicenter of the city’s nightlife.

When To Go? June to September offers the most pleasant climate for walking and outdoor pursuits but spring, while having lower temperatures, is a cheaper and less busy time to go – March is Zurich’s driest month.

How to Go? Fly Singapore Airlines direct from Singapore to Zurich. Malaysian visitors can take Turkish Airlines, Oman Air from K.L. to Zurich.

BEST FOR CHURCHES the blue-spired 13th-century Fraumunster is renowned for its distinctive stained-glass windows, designed by the Russian-Jewish master Marc Chagall. The multicolored windows are around 10 meters high (00 41 44 221 2063; 10am-5pm daily).

BEST FOR ART zurich’s impressive Kunsthaus, an art museum, celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Its permanent collection includes Alberto Giacometti stick-figure sculptures and Swiss artist Ferdinant Hodler (00 41 44 253 8484; Heimplatz 1; Sat,Sun,Tues 10am-6pm Wed-Fri 10am-8pm; US$17).

BEST FOR THEATRE turned from a factory into a huge theatre with three stages, the Schiffbau retains its industrial feel thanks to tall windows and exposed brickwork. It’s also worth checking out the on-site jazz den, Moods, one of the city’s top music spots (00 41 44 258 7070; prices vary).

BEST FOR WALKS to visit the Alpine countryside for panoramic views of the city, lake and the Alps, try the two-hour walk from Uetliberg to Felsenegg, known as Planetenweg. Trains to uetliberg take 20 minutes on line S10. The cable-car stops at Adliswill from where there are regular trains back to Zurich ( day pass Us$15).

BEST FOR SHOPPING Niederdorf lies in the Old Town, where alleys burst with boutiques, bookshops and street performers. Bars and nightclubs abound here too, making it a favorite spot for night-owls (Niederdorfstrasse).

SPHERES is an intimate, barcum-bookshop. In the mornings tuck into croissants, or enjoy little plates of tapas in the evenings (00 41 44 440 6622; Hardturmstrasse 66; breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; from US$16).

Sit down for cakes, chocolate andcoffee at CAFÉ SPRUNGLI, in business since 1836. Don’t fail to check out its chocolate shop around the corner on Paradeplatz (00 41 44 224 4711; bahnhofstrasse 21; breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; from US$5.60 for cake).

CAFÉ ZAHRINGER serves mostly organic food with plenty of veggie options. Dishes include pumpkin ravioli with sage butter and wild boar with spatzlie dumplings and red cabbage (00 41 44 252 0500; Zharingerplatz 11; dinner Mon; breakfast, lunch and dinner Tue-sun; usd17 – usd30).

LES HALLES is the best place in town to eat moules mit frites (mussels and fries). It’s one of several chirpy bar-restaurants in formerly derelict factory buildings (00 41 44 273 1125; Pfingstweidstrasse 6; lunch and dinner, closed sun; US$24).

As you sit in the one-time corner bistro SANKT MEINRAD, you can watch the action in the partly open kitchen run by Tobias Meinrad buholzer. Dishes include Swiss fillet steak in cocoa-bean sauce with carrots and parsley dumplings (00 41 44 534 8277; Stauffacherstrasse 163; lunch and dinner Tue-Fri, dinner Sat, closed Sun; US$27-US$50).

The Hotel Alexander is in the centre of the Old Town. Rooms are pretty nondescript although the bathrooms stand out with their huge showers (00 41 44 251 8203; Niederdorfstrasse 40; guesthotel/hotel form US$166-US$198).

Rattan Furniture and vintage tourist posters give Hotel Seegarten a rustic Mediterranean atmosphere helped by its proximity to the lake and the on-site restaurant latino. Rooms afe fairly palin but cozy, and some have balconies. Breakfast is not included (00 41 44 388 3737; Seegartenstrasse 14; US$278).

Hotel Plattenhof is in a quiet, residential area and has low, Japanese-style beds, Moteni furniture and walk-in showers. The dark-brown and red Sento bar offers snacks and coffee during the day while evenings call out for cocktails (00 41 44 251 1910; Plattenstrasse 26; US$300).

Located on the promenade overlooking Lake Zurich, the 1920s exterior of the Steigenberger Bellerive au Lac is mirrored inside with a floor-to-ceiling marble lobby and a wood-panelled piano bar. The rooms have huge beds and you can unwind in the sauna and solarium. Try to book a top-floor room for excellent lake views (00 800 784 68357; Utoquai 47; US$320).

The Romantik Hotel Florhof, located on a cobbled lane, has a flower-filled garden and an ornamental baroque fountain in the courtyard. The best two rooms are the twin set of suites tucked beneath the eaves; the ‘Red’ is the larger of the two and sports a Jacuzzi (00 41 44 250 2626; Florhofgasse; US$352).

Value Hotel We stayed at Hotel Rothaus – its rooms are pretty basic, not too big, but nice and simple with a modern feel. The beds are very comfortable, and our room had windows to the courtyard, so it was quiet. The staff are helpful and friendly , and there’s a little bar within the hotel as well. On top of that, it is only about 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre, and about 10 minutes from the train station (00 41 43 322 1050; Sihlhallenstrasse 1; from US$128).

Water Relief When you’re in Zurich in the summer, it can get incredibly hot, and there are several fantastic places to go far a refreshing swim. Jump into the beautiful Lake Zurich after a walk, or, within a short tram ride of the centre, somewhere I guarantee there will be no other tourists is BAD ALLENMOOS – an oasis in the city wit ha 50-meter outdoor pool and park-like grounds. Take tram number 11 (00 41 44 315 5000; in German; Ringstrasse 79; daily mid-May to mid-Sep; US$6).

Through the ages forum users rate a tour through Swiss history from prehistory to the present at the cream cake of a building that is the Swiss National Museum (00 41 44 218 6511; landesmuseum, museumstrasse 2; Tue-Sun; US$4).

You can log on Visit Zuerich.Com ; The annual Street Parade brings in the throngs every august; 14 August 2014). And you can learn to tango beside Lake Zurich during

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