I can sleep everywhere and I absolutely love the variety of the places I normally stay: In 5-star hotels, in 2-star hotels, in mountain huts, in tents, in a sleeping bag on the beach, and not forgetting Swiss Youth Hostels. Some of them are amazing. I’ve written about it before and lately I’ve found a new special Youth Hostel. The one in Davos in the Swiss alps was at around 1913 a sanatorium. Built in the golden age of Belle Epoque.
The view of the village of Davos is fantastic from the balconies. By the way: a lot of rooms include a balcony. This is great especially on sunny, nice days. In normal hotels you have to pay a big extra amount of money to get this kind of room. Not in the Youth Hostel Davos – the surcharge is only around 3 to 5 Francs – which is called Palace because of its grandeur. Small are not only the prices for an overnight stay (single room with balcony and shower for example is 110.50 Swiss Francs) but you can also eat dinner for little money in the Youth Palace. A three course meal costs 17.50 Francs, which for Switzerland is an absolute bargain.
I’ve read reviews in newspapers and magazine about the new Restaurant Piu from the Swiss Bindella Group and didn’t expect a lot more than a pseudo-stylish Italian place with overpriced food.
How wrong I was! Shame on me. The decoration of the restaurant is really cool and cosy. Old telephones and signs remind the guests that they are sitting in a room of the former Sihlpost (a well-known post office in Zurich). But more than the interior design impressed me was the food. I don’t know where else you can get as big a plate of high quality parma proscutto with grisini for only 19 Swiss Francs. The same I can say about the beef carpaccio and the red tuna. They cost as a starter as well only 19 Swiss Francs. The portions are huge and again: the quality amazing.
Another highlight of the restaurant is the delicous wines and the fair prices. We drunk a bottle of Maestrelle for only 41 Swiss Francs. A bottle of wine in a Zurich restaurant for only a bit more then 40 Swiss Francs is a rarity.
Next time I will try the pasta and the pizza. And their coffee. If they are as good as the starters, Restaurant Piu will be my new favourite place in the city. I can’t wait to go there again. It doesn’t happen often that I’m so fond of a restaurant!
The other day we invited friends over at 4.30 pm on a weekend afternoon in Zurich. To a Brit, obviously this means having tea and cake, and if you’re being really traditional, cucumber sandwiches too. But no, Sonja said we were having an ‘apero’. I thought she was just using a different word for having tea and cake and possibly sandwiches. I mean, what else are you going to serve at 4.30pm tea time on a Saturday? Yet in the event wine, soup, bread and snacks were served. She explained that the time for tea in Switzerland, as in tea and cakes, is nearer 2pm – as lunch is generally nearer 12 noon.
Noon would generally be too early for lunch for a Brit, and many Brits have a late lunch around 2pm, so the idea of tea at two would almost never be on the agenda.
But on weekends in Switzerland, it is common to have simple gatherings as early as 4.30 with alcohol, soup and savoury snacks.
It never ceases to amaze me how it takes just minutes to get from Zurich’s bustling city centre to a rural wilderness. One such outing ends at a lovely little tea hut stuffed with Swissness, and costs just a few francs, something that’s a rarity in Zurich.
You take the Ueitliberg train from the Haupbahnhof (Zurich main station), which is covered by a Zurich 24-hour ticket costing only around eight francs (£5.40), depending upon what zone you’re in. You can use this ticket as much as you want on Zurich’s trains, buses and trams during the 24 hours, and it is surprisingly good value, when compared to the cost of public transport in many other cities.
After the 20-minute train journey you walk up for a few minutes to the peak, the Uto Kulm. There’s a viewing tower and cafe here where you can have a typical Zurich tipple, such as gluhwein (mulled wine to you, pal) in winter, or Aperol Spritz or a Hugo (elderflower syrup, sparkling water, Prosecco, mint leaves and lime slices) in summer.
Walk just past the cafe, down the steps just to your right, and follow the signs for Baldern. After about a 30-minute walk along the forest track hopefully you’ll come to the sign for the tea house, the Teehütte Fallätsche. The website has a map. It’s open on Sundays and bank holidays from around 10am to 4pm.
As you approach, the hut, built in 1906, looks rather deserted and plain, apart from its pretty red shutters. But walk inside and you’re transported to a cosy little dark-wooded candle-lit mountain hut with simple benches and tables, a cow bell and a few other bits of paraphenalia. It’s really plain and simple – the menu even moreso – but that’s the key to its charm.
All that’s on offer is a herbal tea (CHF 1/67p), punch, apple juice, Swiss gingerbread (biberli) or broth soup with bread (all CHF 2.50/£1.69) and a couple of Swiss sausages (Landjager and Rauchwürstli) and a Swiss salami, salsiz, costing just a bit more. These are all prices from about 1960 in Switzerland.
It really is a delightful, low-key day out from Zurich.
Are you looking for an unusual place to hang out over that long stretch of Christmas days that are sometimes a bit boring or overloaded with family visits? Then check out Photobastei in Zurich at Sihlquai 125. Although it will be closed on the 24+25th of December the good news is: Photobastei is open on the 26+27th of December.
The group behind the Photobastei calls it Zurich’s biggest photography art walk. But it is more: it’s a very relaxed, cool and trendy gallery with a nice little bar on the 3th floor. Entrance is free and you can walk around the up to 30 exhibitions at a time with your coffee or beer in your hand. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the bar and gallery are open until midnight. This fact transforms it to be a place for artists, hipsters, musicians, the coolest people of Zurich (and some more ;). The atmosphere is always very relaxed and inspiring. A dj is playing music.
Photobastei 2.0 will only exist until August 2018. Like the first Photobastei which was based in the city centre at Bärengasse, it is a temporarily project in a building that has not been used for a long period. We call it “Zwischennutzung” in Switzerland. I know it already: I will be very sad to lose this fantastic place. Zurich needs this quite “freestyle” and very Londonish meeting point for all sorts of people.