Visiting Zurich: Day Two (pt 2)

This is a continuation from Visiting Zurich: Day Two (pt 1).

After cycling around the city and finishing at about 1pm it was time for lunch. Since some of the party were vegetarian we wandered off in the direction of Hiltl, Europe's oldest vegetarian restaurant -- founded in 1898 it's been going strong for 111 years. We took advantage of the buffet, which is priced by weight. You load up your plate, weigh it, and if I remember correctly hand over CHF 4.50 per 100g.

As J pointed out, this is something of a contrast to the UK, where any sort of buffet option normally limits the number of trips you're allowed to make, requiring a careful form of structural engineering in order to maximise the amount of food you can get away with on your plate.

This was a very important skill during our student years.

Lunch was very tasty, and quite filling, but turned out to be lacking that certain something. Discussion determined that the certain something was ice-cream, and with a Mövenpick stand one street over it seemed rude not to...

Suitably sated we strolled over to the Grossmünster for some more sightseeing. I say strolled, "Hopped on a number 11 tram" would be a more accurate way of putting it.

The church interior is quite plain, in large part because of the Swiss Reformation in the 1500s. Accordingly, there's not much in the way of internal decoration -- what is there being largely limited to reliefs on the stonework (note: it's been a while since I was last in the Grossmünster and it seems that in the intervening time they've banned photography inside the building, so these photos are from when it was allowed1).

Architectural detail

The north-west end of the church also boasts two very impressive stained-glass windows.

Stained glass in the Grossmunster

I recommend clicking on that to view the image larger, and properly appreciate the colours in the glass.

At the south-west end of the Grossmünster is the crypt, first consecrated by Bishop Gebhard III of Constance in 1107. Pride of place is afforded to a statue of Charlemagne, which dates to around 1450-1475. This statue was originally sat in a niche approximately half way up the Charles Tower of the Grossmünster (the one nearest the river) -- the statue currently in that niche is a copy of this one.

Statue of Charlemagne

Why Charlemagne? According to legend he built the first church on the site now occupied by the Grossmünster.

The two towers of the Grossmünster dominate the Zurich skyline, and for CHF 2 you can climb most of the way up the inside of one of them for some stunning views. The climb up is somewhat cramped, which poses a bit of a problem for me at 6'6", but the view is definitely worth it.

View from the Grossmunster

After pausing to catch our breath at the top of the tower and take in the view we moved on to our next destination -- the Fraumünster, just over the river Limmat.

ProphetsApproximately 200 years older that the Grossmünster, it was founded by Louis the German, a grandson of Charlemagne, for his daughter. Like the Grossmünster the interior is sparser than you would expect, again that's due to the effect of the Reformation.

Today the Fraumünster's main claim to fame is probably the five stained glass windows that were installed in 1970. Designed by Marc Chagall and 10m high the five windows represent the Prophets, Jacob, Zion, Christ, and the Law. To the right you should see a panaroma of the "Prophets" window (again, taken before photography in the church was banned).

...the red-orange "Prophets" window depicts Elisha watching Elijah's ascension in a fiery chariot. Above that is a blue area in which Jeremiah sits above, head in hands, lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem. At the top is a multicolored God in heaven, sending beams of enlightenment to his prophets. This window is lit artificially, as it's on an interior wall.

By this point we were starting to get a bit peckish again, and P had already picked out an appropriate venue for afternoon tea -- the Sprüngli restaurant at Paradeplatz. And good choice it proved, as we managed to bag the last of their gluten-free (or, as I discovered "glutenfrei" auf Deutsch) treats as a little restorative.

Next on the agenda (following a 3 hour return home to freshen up and get ready for the evening after the morning's exertions) was dinner, and I'd booked us a spot at King's Kurry at Wiedikon. Since I've come to Switzerland there aren't many home comforts that I miss, but being able to wander in to the centre of more or less any town and get a decent curry is one of them. King's Kurry is one of the very few decent Indian restaurants I've found in Zurich and the surrounding area. The Swiss seem to have an aversion to spicy food.

Anyway, the meal was great, although, note to self: opting for a table outside by the tram tracks is not necessarily conducive to uninterrupted conversation. And then on for cocktails. For what evening would be complete without a cocktail to round it off?

So we jumped in a number 14 tram and probably 20 minutes later were walking in the door of the Safari Bar, where Long Island Ice Teas, Mai Tais, and Apple Mojitos awaited us.

We did, however, drink sensibly, and in moderation, as we had another exercise-filled day ahead of us...

1 Possibly interesting footnote. I took these the day after I interviewed at Google.

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