No Dada in Zurich

We found the parking garage easily and then had a bit of a shock when we saw the cost of 45 CHF for 24 hours of parking.

The hotel was across the river, only about five minutes walk from the parking lot. It is old fashioned, somewhat deliberately so, with decorations and nick racks in assorted locations around the hallways. The room was fairly spacious (and setup for disabled access) and we spent about five minutes in it before heading out to find some lunch.

We walked along one of the streets before stopping in Café Henrici for some food. Our next stop was Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum at the top of one of the peninsulas threaded through the city and we found it easily walking along the river in the blazing heat.

The museum is large, perhaps not as large as the National History Museum in London, but not far off, especially when they reopen the parts being refurbished. Whilst not entirely one one level, the museum tries to keep you on a single path looping through the exhibits, something I approve of.

The initial rooms are temporary exhibits. Four artists exploring the nature of what it means to be Swiss through old documents, topography and augmented reality, its a really interesting way to start and helps cement in your mind how widely Switzerland is culturally divided. Perhaps even more so than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island.

Following that; there was an exhibit on the founder of Swiss Air and a pioneer in arial photography who also had a bad habit of altering photos to make sure the ‘natives’ looked purely native rather than influenced by western culture.

The rest of the museum was focused on Swiss history, starting with an impressive set of neolithic archeological finds, along with some really great interactive tools for kids to get an understanding of the changes and moving into recent history. It didn’t follow a strong timeline, but more in a series of themes. Politics, manufacturing etc.

After the Swiss National Museum, we jumped on a nearby bus and headed to the Fifa World Football Museum. The cost to enter was somewhat eye-watering, 24 CHF each, and you can see the wealth of FIFA in the custom construction of the building. More like a mini-theme park than a museum, there is an arc displaying all the member teams shirts and a timeline of history. Highlights from games are projected on walls or displayed on huge LCD screens. The lower floor had information on the World Cup and the Women’s World Cup. I’ll reserve comment on that phrasing. There were numerous interactive displays and booths where you could send a selfie from a World Cup Final stadium (1966 was an option) as well as narrate a game and learn a goal dance. For a huge or young fan it would be a multiple hour event. We breezed through fairly quickly. 

There is a regular film, about ten minutes long, and your only way up to the top floor is to watch it and go on the lift. In order to give people waiting somewhere to sit, they have chairs from the various world cup venues to sit on and experience the different seating.

The video was 180 degrees, in theory, but only a small amount of the footage actually could maintain that aspect ratio so most was fairly standard. It was well cut and exciting, covering goals and near misses from various world cup finals. We then took the lift up to the top floor where there were memorabilia from different world cups donated by fans (a smart money saving way to build up exhibits) and a series of active football ‘pinball’ challenges which I might have tried had the area not been swarming with kids trying to play with them. Largely unsuccessfully. The scoreboard showed a top score of over 500,000. As I saw one person doing quite well and getting about 30,000 on one machine, there have been some impressive people playing!

We stopped for a well earned drink in the sports bar which is part of the FIFA Museum, weirdly showing cycling on the screens rather than Football and decided as most things were closed to walk in a leisurely fashion home.

We quickly found that IRONMAN Switzerland was ongoing in Zurich, we’d somehow missed it on the way in, but it was now the through town run, and on our walk we had to cross the course more than once. The athletes were looking exhausted by this point as they were reaching the end and as the winner came in at 9 hours start to end, it is hardly surprising!

We crossed the road to see the Geiserbrunnen. a Bear that is also a fountain and then walked down to the first of two famous churches we were looking to see in Zurich. Kirche Fraumünster is more modern looking that we expected, but still quite impressive. 

We then walked into a nearby courtyard to see the Centralhof Monument, a fountain with a lovely display of flowers around it before crossing the bridge to see the Grossmünster Church, a 16th Century Protestant Church with twin towers rising up and visible from much of the city.

By this point it was fairly late in the day and we were near the hotel, so we stopped back to drop off my camera and collect our laptops so I could update my journal and we could plan our next visits. We stopped at PLATZHIRSCH Bar for a couple of drinks and got a great little table right on the corner facing the square.

Once we were up to date with everything we headed out to the Butcher a nearby burger place and had a fab Halloumi Fries and a solid Chroizo burger. Whilst eating, i happened to stumble on the fact that the Cabaret Voltaire was 2 minutes walk away, the home of Dadaism, and should be open and serving including Absinthe. I made sure i finished up pretty quickly and by 9:10, we were heading over to the bar.

It was closed.

I was so disappointed, its such a significant place and one of my favourite things on any journey is finding out, by luck or destiny about somewhere important to see. Everyone knows about CERN, or the UN building, but to have had absinthe where Dali would have sat would have been amazing. The location keeps odd ours, the Bar and the Museum are rarely open at the same time and had I known about it earlier we walked passed it before the Museum closed. It is a disappointment.

We walked back and knowing the hotel was very warm with only a fan to move the air around, we noticed our regular table at PLATZHIRSCH Bar was free. The barman welcomed us back like old friends and I began to wonder if Zurich should become one of my 12 cities in 12 months just to see the Cabaret Voltaire.

As we were finishing up, a performer arrived in the courtyard. he set four corners ablaze with fire starters and then started dancing with his fire sticks. double ended, about four feet long, he s[pun them past us for fifteen minutes. It was quite remarkable and I once again learned a lesson I’ve faced to take to heart. Never leave your camera somewhere else. I was reduced to a phone camera to follow him, knowing in my heard I could have captured it in detail with my DSLR. I may have to buy a replacement for my Canon G11 to keep on my belt at all times.

We were on the road out of Zurich by 10am. It is more or less motorway all the way to Lichtenstein. Quite quickly, we noticed our sat-nav adding more and more time to our likely arrival and suggesting it take us off road to fix the problem. We checked google maps and saw there was congestion ahead but only about a ten minute delay so we ignored the sat-nav and carried on through the imposing countryside. 

There is something strange about driving through the alps, the motorways cut through the valleys between tall mountains and triangular hills and so often on both sides you have no sense of distance, only height. On this leg of the trip we were following the south end of Lake Zurich.When we were not in tunnels we had sunlight reflecting off the azure blue lake.