An urban pearl with a line-up of chic boutiques and exquisite restaurants.
Remember that tune from Walt Disney’s
“Jungle Book”, when Baloo the bear sings to Mowgli the man-cub: “Look for the bare
necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your
strife ...”? Disney’s song was composed in Zurich’s miniature urban jungle.
Okay, admittedly that’s not true – some people here in Zurich like to talk big.
But no other song captures the atmosphere in the aspiring mini-metropolis better
than “Bare Necessities”.
This urban pearl – with its sparkling lake and clear
river water, the mountains just a stone’s throw away, with its line-up of chic
boutiques, its exquisite hotels and restaurants and rich cultural scene –
actually does chase away the worries and the strife. While other cities around the
globe experience gridlock on their city streets, travellers reach their
destination smoothly and speedily here in Zurich.
Some of the creative minds in
this financial hub have even quite explicitly devoted themselves to conviviality: Shooting star Nenad Mlinarevic, for example, awarded two Michelin stars in
2017, now works his culinary magic in a neighbourhood restaurant in downtown Niederdorf
rather than at a luxury hotel.
Entrepreneur, restaurant owner and artist Dieter Meier, who achieved international renown as one half of the famous techno duo Yello, recently opened a shop selling flavourful chocolate produced by his own company.
One of Zurich’s legendary nightclubs, the Kaufleuten, not only attracts the hippest DJs, but also some of the world’s smartest writers and politicians. Author Julian Barnes will be reading there in June.
It is perfectly possible, by the way, that you bump into Tina Turner while strolling down Bahnhofstrasse or spot Roger Federer at the next table during dinner. While their success undoubtedly makes them shine, it is also Zurich’s unhurried friendliness that lights up the faces of stars and tourists alike.
"Zurich is wonderful"
Mr Meier, what is it about your home town Zurich that makes travellers want to stay?
The lake, the view of the Alps, the medieval buildings, the restaurant Kronenhalle, where the walls are decorated with important works of art. The Kunsthaus, the hotels Dolder Grand and Baur au Lac, the coolness of the woods in summer. The list goes on forever. Zurich is wonderful. The Grossmünster cathedral with its stained glass windows by Sigmar Polke, the central station, and the pano-ramic view from the Uetliberg are all must-sees.
What puts you in a romantic mood?
The Pfauen theatre. I went to school nearby and would hang around trying to strike up a conversation with one of the young ladies from the girls’ school.
As a world traveller with residences in the Engadine, on Ibiza and in
Argentina, you are constantly on the move. Do you ever get homesick?
I grew up on Hottingerplatz and explored the city from there with my kick scooter. Whenever I’m in Zurich, I walk along those same streets and immediately become that inquisitive little boy “à la recherche du temps perdu”.
Each major city has its own sound: Buenos Aires has the tango, Paris its
chansons, and Zurich has Yello. Your music is very technical, the compositions
are rhythmically perfect, but there are no extreme highs and lows – the same
could be said about Zurich, home of the famous reformer Zwingli. Would you
Yello’s music evokes images and moods. It is a kind of soundtrack to your own internal film.
How would you express your love for your home town?
The place you grow up in burns itself onto your inner hard drive like no other. Certain atmospheres, longings, the smell of rain on hot tarmac, the bakery on Hottingerplatz, where I would get broken pieces of pastry when I went to pick up bread and strawberry tarts, the sandpit in Artergut park, elegant Mrs Zwicky from Kasinostrasse who always wore a little hat and drove a dark red Studebaker, Sturzenegger the carpenter, who taught me some woodwork and told me his favourite proverb “easy come, easy go” every time we said goodbye. Police constable Zingg, whom I admired in uniform but hardly recognised when he wasn’t wearing it. My first bike, a Cilo, like the one Hugo Koblet rode. I always look forward to Zurich. When I am in New York or Los Angeles and step into a SWISS plane, I’m almost home.
The chef and owner of restaurants in Tel Aviv, Paris and Vienna explains his straightforward cooking.
Who could possibly clothe frequent travellers better than someone who travels frequently herself?