Switzerland Zürich 2000.08.17 - 08.20

The Swiss City of Youth

If it weren't for Hernan and Tim's 3 day visit to Switzerland, we would have bypassed this fabulous city. Tim and Hernan flew in and out of Zürich for a two day hike with us between Switzerland and Austria (see The Rhätikon Höhenweg Trek). We decided to accompany them to Zürich after the hike.

Before visiting, we guessed that Zürich would be a sterile, orderly city without substance. We figured it had several watch manufacturers and banks but little else. How different impressions and reality can be.

Zürich is first and foremost a university town. Restaurants, bars, trendy shopping, risqué outfits, and second hand stores cram this vibrant night-life-filled city. Although the rest of Switzerland dines early and goes dark by 21:00, Zürich parties well past midnight. Red hair, blue hair, tattoos, and pierced bodies mingle the streets with fashionable black dresses and neckties parking their Porsche or BMW. Music on the street ranges from technopop blasting speakers to symphony orchestra caliber live strings. And surely, Zürich must be the only Swiss city where normal looking people venture into a cool drizzly night in the middle of the city clad in a bathing suit to jump off a bridge into the swiftly moving river below. Night swimming seems to be an accepted practice.

We originally planned to stay in Zürich one night, but it extended to 3. The prime reason was Japanese food. We found a list of Japanese restaurants, and one happened to be authentic. Named after its founder, Sala of Tokyo is a 5 minute walk from the main train station. Sala-san moved to Zürich from Tokyo 22 years ago and started her restaurant in 1980. She grows many of the ingredients and whenever possible, makes everything - including the sauces - from scratch to "avoid chemicals and preservatives found in canned and bottled foods". Other than her own place, only 3 Japanese restaurants in Europe meet her quality standards - 1 in London and 2 in Paris.

Sala of Tokyo
Limmatstrasse 29  CH-8031 Zürich
Tel +41 (0)1-271-5290
Open Tuesday - Saturday for lunch and dinner.

Fortunately, Wes and Masami find value in similar things. We'll skimp on lodging and splurge on good food. After 3 nights and 3 meals at Sala of Tokyo, our Japanese food bill was double our hotel bill.

Gulls line the posts in the Limmat River where we fed bread to swans and ducks. Further down stream in front of the Marriott Hotel, swimmers jumped in at night.

Our picnic spot (and Masami's afternoon siesta spot) by a cafe on the Zürich University campus overlooked the city. From most places in the city, one or more clock towers can be seen - good for Wes who hasn't worn a watch since age 12.

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