My first visit to Europe was almost 20 years ago, and it was Zurich that I came to love the most at that time. I still do. I went back to Zurich 3 years ago for the Annual Summer Street Parade. Comparable to Berlin's Love Parade, the Street Parade is one of the largest techno parties in the world.
Kelvin, an old friend of mine who lives in Zurich, greeted me at the arrival hall in Zurich Airport. After he handed me the keys to his apartment, he left for his job at the airport. His apartment is at Kempfhoweg, which is about 30 minutes walk to the city center. It is a beautiful apartment with a large outdoor veranda good for barbecue.
The same day I took a walk along the Limmat River toward the city center. Nothing much has changed in Zurich. But I noticed a few new Starbucks establishments in the city. Bahnhofstrasse is the main shopping area in Zurich. The residents enjoy one of the best qualities of life in the world, and here, you'll find the latest luxury and international brands as well as major departmental stores such as Jelmoli and Globus for the general affluence where shopping is their favorite pastime. Uniquely Swiss-made are the fine chocolates, cheese, Swiss Army knives, watches, embroidery and handmade clocks.
On the top floor in Jelmoli, you'll find delicious cuisines which are self-service and charge by weight. It's a good way to enjoy an afternoon lunch without breaking the bank.
Kelvin and I went shopping (again!) the next day. We took a walk to Old Town, a cobblestones streets with many specialty and antique shops adding to its charm. The three old churches in Zurich are clustered around this area: The Grossmünster ("great minster"), Fraumünster (Church of Our Lady) and St. Peter's Church. St Peter's Church is the oldest. It has the largest clock face in Europe with the minute hand 12 feet long!
After a day of walking, we went home on the tram.
Public transportation is extremely popular here, and it is one of the bests in the world. Here, you find S-Bahn (local trains), trams, and buses. Tickets are purchased on vending machines which are located at every stop. Like most cities in Europe, ticket agents occasionally check the passengers with valid tickets. If you do not have one, you pay a fine.
That night we stayed in to watch the opening of the Summer Olympics 2008 in Beijing. Zhang Yimou choreographed the spectacular opening sequence. It was an eye opener to the rest of the world. China is finally here to stay.
The following day was the Street Parade. We went out early to Odeon Cafe off Bellevue. A popular hangout among locals, Odeon Cafe has a classic art-nouveau interior with outdoor sittings as well. The cafe was already packed when we got there. Crowd was jamming the streets, and people were dressing up to their favorite characters. It reminded me of Halloween in America. Parade of floating trucks moved slowly along the road by Lake Zurich with people dancing and drinking with techno music blasting away from the speakers on each truck.
After hopping from one place to another, we finally ended up back at the apartment for a barbecue. And to end the night, we proceeded to the bar to drink. It was fun as we bumped into some old friends that I have not met in years.
Zurich is a leading global financial center in the world. Most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zurich. According to several surveys, Zurich is constantly ranked among the wealthiest cities in Europe with the best quality in life. I can't think of anything unsatisfactory about the city. As I left the city the next night to Ljubljana, I was already looking forward to my next trip in Zurich.