26Cantons52Weeks: Zürich

Beautiful Zurich

Canton: Zürich

Destination: Zurich (and beyond!)

Interesting thing: You’ll see it spelled Zürich, Zurich and Zuerich, all are correct. Zurich (without the umlaut) is the English/international spelling – easier for the internet and is commonly adopted since it’s a multicultural city with multinational companies as well as institutions such as ETH University that mostly deal in English. Zuerich is the German-non-umlaut way to write it and is often used in web addresses (ü is pronounced ‘ue’). Although a local friend recently mentioned on hearing Nick Cave’s “Hello Zurich” at a concert that I’ve been pronouncing my adopted city name wrong all this time… I guess you can take the girl out of Australia…

Special guests: practically everyone I know here?

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I’ve saved the best til last: it’s Zurich!*

What do I say about the canton and city I’ve called my home for nearly four years now? Four years is a long time. Thinking back, while I lived in the cities of Sydney and London for longer, our flat in Zurich is probably the longest house I’ve lived in continuously since becoming an adult. I feel pretty at home here, although various circumstances mean it’s still sometimes hard to feel settled.

Despite hitting an average of one Swiss canton every fortnight throughout the year for #26Cantons52Weeks, the bulk of my time has been spent in good old Zuri. We had a great summer with lovely weather, lots of swimming and what now feels like a regular influx of visitors from abroad – always a pleasure and a great excuse to explore further afield.

I have travelled a fair bit in the canton of Zurich too – discovering new things, visiting friends who live either side of the Zurisee (Lake Zurich) and in the hinterland of Winterthur, Dietlikon etc. But I guess my main focus has been on the canton’s capital city and my small corner of it.

I went in the Limmatschwimmen for the second year in a row. I wrote a Love letter to Zurich in a local publication. And, aside from #26Cantons52Weeks and other writing successes, perhaps my biggest, unexpected personal achievement this year has been that I started running in summer, which has been kind of a revelation and saver-of-my-sanity. For me, this culminated in participating in the annual Zurich Silvesterlauf winter 10km run. From the name, the Silvesterlauf should be today (New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester’ in German, lauf = run) but it was actually a few weeks ago, for reasons you can read about on their site.

It was my first-ever official run. The weather was utterly appalling – snow, sleet, rain and -5 through the day. I didn’t have a companion runner and by my start time of 17.30 it was already dark so I told my husband and kids to skip it and stay warm and dry at home. And, I guess maybe that’s what I’ve come to love about Zurich. I know it well enough that I can head into town after dark on a shitty day and run 10km by myself and feel like I’m ‘part’ of something.

Another lone-runner asked me to snap a finishing pic of her so I got her to return the favour. I wished I’d given her a hug, or at least a high-five. But that’s quite Zurich too – people aren’t all up in your shit. There was no participator medal given at the end, just the standard bottle of Swiss fizzy drink Rivella. I slushed home through the city, soaked to the skin and on a huge high.

So here’s to another big year of my life in Switzerland doing and seeing things that surprise and impress me all the time. Love Switzerland. Love Zurich. Roll on 2018!

Silvesterlauf – success!

*best-known anyway!

AND THAT’S A WRAP PEOPLE: I have achieved my self-imposed project of visiting every canton in Switzerland in 2017!! I must be insane. But I feel a huge sense of achievement.

Thanks again to all my Clairevetica readers, whether you came for the poetry or the travelogues (or whatever else) and especially those who commented, encouraged and made suggestions both on and off the blog.

I’m going to take a bit of time in January to take stock of where it all goes next so you’ll be hearing from me again very soon.

Happy new year! 🙂 🙂 🙂  Love, Claire x


Cantons visited in  2017’s #26Cantons52weeks


Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden
















St. Gallen








Tunnel Vision

The $250 view (only seen once crisis averted)

When your kid is sick, your whole focus narrows down to a fine point. P was really unwell on Thursday so I had to do an emergency dash to the the Kids Medi Centre in town. I tried calling a couple of local pediatricians (you don’t take children to normal GPs here apparently) but none would see a “new” patient at short notice. I guess I need to get him on the books at one of these places for future situations. I am a bit rubbish with doctors though. Neither myself, HI nor P has been ill very much, thankfully, so we generally don’t think about it until it’s almost too late!

Anyway, I’m really glad this place exists. It is right at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) so involved an unexpected tram trip into town. Usually this would be a pleasure, but tunnel vision meant I barely noticed my surroundings. Running around Bahnhofplatz like a crazed mother-bear trying to find the door to the bloody place before P spewed. The little gem held it in until we got to the reception, making for a dramatic entrance. ha ha ha – oh I have vomit on me.

We are still in the process of setting up our medical insurance here. Everyone legally has to take out health insurance within three months of arrival/ living permit being granted. The irony is, I had spent that very morning filling out the forms for ours. But since it’s not yet in place and I don’t have a Medical Card, I had to pay upfront for the doctor. CHF 218! (roughly = AUD / USD). OWCH. Then another CHF35 for the medicines, which I would also be able to claim on health insurance if we had it. Luckily, it will be backdated to 1 April, so I should get some of the money reimbursed.

Anyway – once P had thrown up and squirmed through the examination, he perked up a lot. So much so that by the time we were leaving the doctor, he didn’t want to go (because they had a cool fish tank in the waiting area). I was relieved, seeing the light at the end of the sick-toddler tunnel, so figured w’d hang out a bit and get our money’s worth by snapping some pics of the view. I guess their prime pozzy adds to the cost of treatment? And maybe there’s a charge for vomiting? Whatever. He is much better now, and that’s all I care about.


UetlibergOr Swiss Hospitality… Am I taking this too far? 😉

We had friends here over the weekend, which was lovely. I talked myself hoarse (I’ve missed chatting to people!) and explored some previously known and unknown bits of Zurich. It’s all still so new to us that even the things we’ve been to before have fresh aspects to discover every time. Niederdorf  is lovely and it feels like I’ve only just scratched the surface of the cool stuff that’s there. And Uetliberg has been improved since my last visit with a new kids’ playground.

I took my first trip out to Zurich airport on the tram – a very easy, 16 minute journey. In fact I went twice because we were so excited about seeing each other that we left a bag behind, so we had to go back for it. I was pleasantly surprised that said bag was just sitting calmly at the information desk and the smiley ladies handed it over after we’d identified the contents (a beautiful housewarming gift, so glad we found it!). They said they would have held onto it for 24 hours before sending it to the official Lost Property. Now, I may be wrong here, but I reckon a mysterious bag abandoned at a UK airport would probably be removed and destroyed, not returned with a smile.

Another first was paying a babysitter so the adults could go out to dinner. I think this was more of a big deal for myself and HI than P. Life with a baby/toddler/child is a series of milestones and this was one. It was fine, of course. We had a cheerful, traditional Swiss meal at Zeughauskeller where we shared a table with some business traveller-types who were talking watches (we figured they were enroute to BaselWorld watch fair). Ironically, it seems the Keller is one of Zurich’s few family-friendly dinner spots, with babies/children at many surrounding tables! Still glad we left ours at home though…

I think we need to get our mojo back with choosing bars. The places we went for cocktails after dinner were not great. The Jules Verne was too crowded and Hotel Rivington looked amazing but the bar staff were complete cocktail amateurs and the setup just wasn’t right for a cocktail bar (I have since read it’s “great for brunch”).  Oh well… now we have a babysitter, we can continue our exploration of Zurich nightlife and hopefully find some really excellent places. All it costs is money. A lot of money. Woh

Industrial Oerlikon

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Didn’t have much time to write this week due to various factors. After temperatures up to 20 degrees last Friday, on the weekend it snowed! But today it’s fining up again so I went on a long walk with P round the industrial part of town. Fascinating. Can’t wait to explore more.