Oh...wow... that's a city.. Believe me, you need truck loads of money to live there.. And enjoy its markets.
It was a Saturday. 17th Dec 2005 when I went to Zurich for a day trip. Left Winterthur at about 10 in the morning with a day pass and reached there by 10:30 or so. The forecast was for snowfall and that was my biggest expectation, apart from the city...
When I left Winterthur, it had already started snowing. And I felt very good within. I like going out in snow... and taking photos... and playing with snow balls. Unfortunately my wife is not with me, so I couldn't expect playing snowball, but I still wanted to go out in snow and enjoy.
The train station at Zurich is big. And has a complete shopping complex within it. I mean, if you are not careful enough, you might as well lose yourself. On top of that, all the Christmas shopping rush (both of people and makeshift shops) gets you even more confused.
I got out of the place to meet a very sullen lady at the tourist counter. She helped (?) me with a city map and started doing whatever she was doing. So, with that map in hand, I was on my own.
I had already bought a rucksack in the day (35 SF) . The BahnhoffStrasse is probably the biggest fashion street in the world. I could name any fashion brand out of my mind, only to find the shop somewhere around me.
A colleague told me earlier that since Switzerland has very lower taxes (about 7.5% as against about 35-40% in rest of European countries), I expected that the routine items would be cheaper. I have love for wrist watches and cameras, So I looked for a Tissot shop to start with. I was amazed to find that the prices were not so interestingly low. Rather, they were on the higher side. Perhaps the collection I was looking at was actually more costly. But, I got a shock of my life to see a 23000 SF wrist watch from Rolex. NEVER imagined something so costly. Never. Perhaps one could buy a Mercedes for that kind of money....
So I went on. The idea to convey is, every brand worth something was present there on the shopping street. Having one (or more) showroom in the kilometre or so long shopping street. All this while it was snowing slowly... making it even more "experience of life" situation for me.
Then I left the main shopping street and went looking for the river Limmet. Sounds like a Jewish name to me, but can't say. I found that it’s a very shallow river. A few feets only. Actually while photographing the ducks in the river, I could spot the riverbed. And that's how I figured that out. There were two - three high rising churches... Gross Munster, Frah Munster and one more.. Later I learned that "Munster" means church or ministry in german.
The Grossmunster is perhaps the tallest of the three and has two towers. One of them is open for public to go up and enjoy the city sight from that point. As I always like, I went up there. And I liked what I saw. It was a fabulous view of the city bathing in light snowfall. On one hand I saw the city buildings, houses, streets, the river and on the other hand I saw the monstrous Zurich Lake. It was snowing so I could not spot the other shore of the lake, but I guess, it would have taken some effort for me anyways, once I realized how big the lake was.
From that point I realized that the Zurich city is actually in a sort of valley. On both sides of river Limmet I saw high rise mountains, almost white by now. Perhaps the lake was also part of the valley only. Having said that, the realization brought even closer the sense of being in Switzerland, country of mountains…
I took a few photographs, covering almost all the directions. I am not sure I covered it good enough or not, but there was a certain view , where the sun rays were pouring out from behind of the clouds and were falling down on the lake. I hope the photo comes good. J
After Grossmunster, I continued my walk towards the lake head. The point where the lake cruises start. My day-pass included the boat trip price as well. While crossing one bridge en route to the place, I saw a lady feeding pigeons and ducks. The birds were thronging the place like anything. It was having about 80-100 birds at that place at once. I took some more photos there. For feeding there, the pigeons flew to the fence and stood there in a queue like formation. More photos there.
Then I took the boat cruise through the Zurichzee (Zurich See) as they call it. Funny thing is the imagination of scale of these people. A lake as big is that, and they call it a see, go to other places of world and you would see lakes times as big as that. I would say, that this scale problem exists with the complete Europe as a culture. The people here really lack that vision that there could be something as different or big from their own country. E.g. in Brussels, I spoke to a colleague who was amazed to know that the complete country of Belgium can be fit in one of the larger cities of India or a larger city of Delhi.
The trip thorough the lake was made even better by the snowfall. There were moments when the snow fall was so thick that vision was impared to a few meters and then it was better to a few kilometres. Amazing for me to see that kind of weather change in a matter of minutes. It was a ride worth taking while it took about two hours or so.. I actually took a little nap while on board.
I can’t ignore to mention the family I saw. There was this elderly man, a young boy in his teens, and two little girls (about 6-10) and a lady good enough to be their mother. The girls were frolicking like it was their home. Father was admonishing the younger one and the mother was saving her.. it was fun to watch. J
When we got back to the shore, the snowfall had stopped momentarily. The place was full of snow cover, everything was white. Just like that. Fun to watch.
Then I started my walk again. This time I took the little trip through the shopping street again.. on the other side of road. I found a camera shop… and it was a very expensive one. No discounts in the name of Christmas period etc. EOS 350D was still 1398 SF as advertised from Canon. Further on the walk I found rare presence on super market Co-op and Inter Discount. Both of them are big discount shop chains across Switzerland (so I have learned in the previous week). I went inside Inter discount one, looking for… nothing.. basically. Electronics being my craze. I looked around for USB storage sticks. Found some very interesting ones there. Swissbit, 2 GB was about 220+ SF while Sony were selling their 512 Mb (with password protection) at about 100SF. Then there were local ones as well.
I looked around the camera section, and found EOS 350D priced at 1200 SF. Suddenly, it was interesting for me. Then I asked and found out the actually it was a catch, since there was no standard packages along with it. And the standard deal from Canon (the photo printer, priced at 150 SF) was not with the deal. And I dropped it… J Anyways I was only looking for stuff.
Then I went back to look at the Framunster. This church boasts stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. Having heard the name a lot, I was curious. I went in and found it a bit anti-climex. Nothing special for me.
Further, I walked through the other famous shopping streets. Renwegge and another one (name.. missing). Interesting walk though. Since I didn’t had to buy anything , it was just casual walk for me. On the way I encountered the Lindenplatz ( a high point facing the river). Good for views and more photos followed.. J
That quite summed up usage of my leg strength. So I headed back to bahnhof for going back to hotel. I took a tram (they are pretty old trams here, from the look, but are well maintained). When I got down, it was all illuminated and snowing very heavily. Then I realized that on the main shopping street, they have this lighting system installed. It was such a magnificent view that I was just dumb stuck.
On the main street, there were cylindrical lights installed vertically. And, they were not standard tube lights. They were actually synchronized lights, with patterns flowing along the street. So, if you watch it for a few seconds, you would realize that a pattern is flowing from one point to other of the street. Each of the tube light was working in the combination. Marvellous.
Then I went inside and took the train to Winterthur. It took me about 30 minutes to reach Winterthur station. There had been heavy snowing in winterthur city. Till the next day morning, an inch of snow is still remaining.
I hope to go out again in the day and shoot some of Winterthur as well. J