Saturday, 31 October 2009

Crossing the Alps into Zurich

After several days of enjoying the delights of Montreux, we are off to Zurich, following the ‘Golden Pass’ railway journey through the picturesque Swiss Alps. What a scenic delight … it’s like being a part of a giant model railway with its picture perfect landscape that has not a blade of grass out of place. As we peer out the window, we see stunning mountains dotted with Swiss Chalet’s and perfectly groomed cows complete with shiny brass bells hanging around their necks.

Eventually the spectacular landscape begins to give way to the familiar sights of a big city as we change trains at a town called Wiessman then head toward Zurich. Of course the city of Zurich is now a major European metropolis, but the centre of the old town hints of how it might have been several centuries ago. It’s now one of the best locations for shopping and indulging in a wide range of culinary sensations. It’s here we taste some traditional Swiss fondue for the first time and later lunch at the Odeon Bar, which was once the favorite haunt of famous figures such as Lenin, Mussolini and James Joyce. We both really enjoyed the atmosphere of Zurich, reminding us of Melbourne with its network of trams that take you all around the city. However, for the best view of Zurich we boarded the funicular to the ‘Polyterraisse’, which is an open air courtyard adjoining the university. From here we admire the old town and it’s winding river surrounded by its classic architecture. Returning to ground level, I head off to ‘The Kunsthaus’ (art gallery) while Jules can’t resist the shopping at the’Bahnhofstrasse’, which is said to provide over a kilometer of ‘retail therapy’. The lovely thing about Zurich is that it is all so compact and after a short walk I am enjoying a wonderful exhibition of Seurat drawings … it’s all very inspirational!

Just when I think that Zurich can’t get any better, Jules provides the ‘piece de resistance’ by organising tickets to the 50th anniversary concert of Miles Davis’ classic jazz LP ‘Kind of Blue’ (our all time favorite record). The celebration of this album nicely coincides with my own 50th birthday, so the timing is just perfect! Headed by the legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb who is the last of the remaining members of the Miles’ 1959 band, it is a rare treat to hear indeed. He had carefully selected the musicians, which includes Wallace Roney, who was the only trumpeter to be personally mentored by Miles Davis until his death in 1991. Needless to say it was a simply fantastic concert … certainly the best jazz performance I have ever seen!

Apart from some slightly grey weather, our time in Zurich had been perfect! We found it to be a city with so much to offer. It had clearly adapted well with the times and had somehow managed to strike a happy balance between it’s historical past and the needs of a modern urban city. In more ways than one it will always remain one of our most memorable, not only as a destination, but also the journey getting there.

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