Zurich – Day 1
The day after we returned from the camping trip was my first real day spent in Zurich. Emi had said he’d meet me at the UBS office in the city. Actually, the office I was visiting was 15mins outside the city center in Altstetten (on Flurstrasse). There are a LOT of UBS office locations in Zurich though… and lots of UBS ATMs. Seriously, it’s ubiquitous here! Meanwhile, the average American probably hasn’t even heard of UBS. At any rate, I set out to arrive at the office around 11:30.
Obstacle #1: I didn’t have enough change to buy a tram ticket. Those damn machines don’t accept bills, sooooo I had to walk down the street until I found a little shop where I could buy a cheap snack and get enough coins back as change.
Obstacle #2: I didn’t realize you had to press a button to open the tram door when you want to get off! The tram stops automatically at each stop, but you need to press the red button on the poles to open the door so you can get out. These buttons are used to signal the driver to stop on buses in NYC so I figured that’s what they were here. Nope. So I missed my stop and had to get off at the next one and walk back. Wow I rule.
So I was a wee bit late to the office, but it worked out because Emi texted me to say he was just about at the stop, so I just waited for him. I called Daniel (my team lead and Emi’s former boss) and he came down to let me into the building. Boy was he surprised to see Emi! I hadn’t told him he’d be coming, so it was an inpromptu reunion. Daniel showed me around the office while Emi went around saying hi to people he used to work with there. It was actually very similar to the London office — small, quiet, simple layout with tables rather than cubicles. Daniel’s office was massive though, way bigger than the offices back home.
We had lunch down the street with the two other Swiss guys on our team and it was really nice! They’re all so nice and gentle and seemed eager to talk to me. Most of us had a curry dish for our meals and then followed it up with coffee. I found it interesting that every single one of them licked their plate cleanâ€¦ literally not a crumb or splotch of sauce left! They asked me a lot of questions about how I was finding Switzerland and what I was seeing/doing there, and then some comparison questions about America. But aw, such nice Swiss guys. And after lunch, we went back to the office and one of the guys sat out on the terrace with me while I waited for Emi to finish up visiting people, and we just talked about traveling and places we’ve been and would like to go.
So finally we left the office and headed back into the city center. Emi walked with me for a bit as we went into several stores looking for an adapter for me. I cannot believe how difficult it is to find a simple adapter in Switzerland!! I looked in so many places for an adapter witih a flat surface (as opposed to the ones with the raised edges where the plug goes right into it) and of course no one had it. I finally found one later in the week at Lake Geneva (Vevey), and then saw a whole bunch of them at the Zurich airport when I was leaving. Figures.
So, Zurich is not exactly a tourist destination, but maybe that’s a good thing. There aren’t as many young people around, and the tourists that are here are mainly roaming around the Old Town and dining at expensive restaurants. It was a cloudy, overcast day, but I spent the afternoon wandering around to nowhere in particular. Zurich seemed very… quiet and chill. The Bahnhofstrasse is the main street running from the train station to the lake, and it’s lined with expensive stores and banks (helloooooo UBS and Credit Suisse). Good for window shopping I suppose. Then branching off from that toward the east are side streets leading into the Old Town. East of that is the River Limmat, which flows into the lake. Several bridges run across the river. On the other side of the river (further east) is the other part of the Old Town. Swiss cities always seem to have an Old Town, which is basically the quintessential cute little European alleys with cobblestone roads, shuttered windows, and tiny shops. Then the rest of the city is more modernized with chain stores and banks.
So I meandered through the Old Town by myself and ended up on the eastern part of town, up by the university. I explored one of its buildings and took in the city views from campus. Then I went back down into the Old Town to see the Grossmunster (Zurich’s famous church) and Fraumunster (famous for its gorgeous stained glass windows). I loooooove old churches, but Zurich’s aren’t that ornate or popular to see.
I got back to the apartment by 7pm and helped Emi make a gigantic salad for dinner. He and I both LOVE eating salads, smoothies, and other healthy foods, and we’re both into keeping fit (that’s one of the things we bonded over whilst chatting the past 9 months). Then I basically spent the night editing pictures, chatting with people from back home, and packing for my upcoming 3 days at Lake Geneva. Emi gave up his bed for me again since I still didn’t have an adapter to blow up my airbed, and I felt bad but he insisted. He has a full bed, but the mattress felt much like a futon so I didnâ€™t find it that comfortable. Better than the floor or couch though!