Zurich is a city for all!
(Photo above: Scenic Zurich has plenty for everyone)
Arriving in Zurich after a short inter-Europe flight, I was pleasantly surprised that a 15-minute train ride was all it took to reach the city centre.
Upon check-in at my hotel, guide Yvonne Rimle awaited to escort me on a full day of sightseeing; but before I share my first day in the Swiss city, let me give a shout-out to the Ambassador à L’Opera Hotel.
Located just steps away from the majestic swan-adorned Lake Zurich and Opera House, the property is ideally situated, close to many galleries, shops, restaurants and the exclusive Bahnhofstrasse shopping street.
Rooms are stylish and elegantly appointed, and the hotel offers free WiFi, late check out, upgrade to the next available room category, and an apple treat! The cozy lounge area with complimentary still and sparkling water and the charming Opera Restaurant is the icing on the cake.
On to sightseeing! My first stop was trendy Zurich West, an area that reminds me of Toronto’s distillery district where industrial buildings have been converted to chic restaurants, boutiques and galleries. Under the arches of the railway viaduct built in 1894, Zurich West boasts a variety of delicatessens, galleries, sport and fashion boutiques, and market hall, where farmers and food vendors from the area offer their products.
My favourite spot in Zurich West was Frau Gerolds Garten – a former temporary beer garden launched in 2012 that has become a permanent institution. More than just a beer garden, it has become a vibrant institution with full kitchen, shops, art stands, and a refuge for garden aficionados.
After touring Zurich West, exploring the city by foot is the only way to really capture all that the city has to offer. My favourite excursion was along Lake Zurich, which is nestled in the heart of the city, past the ubiquitous swans that adorn the lake and local boats sailing to neighbouring regions.
I wasn’t sure that my visit could get any better, but it did, as I continued to the Old Town stopping for lunch at AuGust, a boucherie-brasserie that serves meat and sausage specialties and other delicious local cuisine in a fabulous streetside patio setting. The Old Town’s medieval architecture, cobblestone narrow lanes and town halls from the Renaissance period provide an unparalled backdrop.
A tour of Zurich wouldn’t be complete without a boat trip on the lake to a nearby town. After two hours, we ended up at Rapperswil, which is particularly quaint and truly breathtaking. Patio restaurants line the streets with a variety of culinary delights and perched high on the hill is Rapperswil Castle, overlooking the town and its medieval charm. Who knew that the town boasts a garden of over 16,000 roses within the Capuchin Monastery and on the “Schanz”?
Back in Zurich, a popular LGBT hangout is the Cranberry Bar located near the Rathaus Station in the heart of the city’s vibrant nightlife scene.
Zurich is a city for all and offers LGBT travellers special events throughout the year. 2017 pride festivities will take place June 9-10. Highlights include a demonstration march and open-air concerts at Kasernenplatz and on the Zeughauswiese. (www.zuerich.com/en/visit/events/zurich-pride-festival)
For more information on LGBT Zurich, visit: www.zuerich.com/en/visit/lgbt-zurich.
(Armando Mendonça is a tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist supporting HIV/AIDS charities and LGBT travel expert. He can be reached at: [email protected].)