Still Finding New Ways to Love Zürich
During the first few years I lived in Zürich, my husband would lovingly mock me each time I gasped with childlike glee, grabbed his arm with one hand and my camera with the other… The view was just too spectacular, I had to take a picture. He would giggle, knowing I had already taken that same shot, of the same glorious view, saying the same thing, perhaps one hundred times. But to me at that very moment, with the clear outline of the Alps, the colors and lighting and everything looking just so perfect, it was simply too gorgeous to resist.
In retrospect, I probably do have hundreds of the same photos, those quintessential Zürich shots of the lake, the river, the mountains and the old town. Truth is, I still can’t quite get over how unbelievably picturesque this city is, nor how much I love it, this magical place I have now called home for five years.
I’ve shared with you here this love for Zürich, in every shape and form, in all its seasons, rain, shine or snow, through all its diversity and extraordinary beauty. But what I decided to do, for my fifth anniversary, was to see Zürich through fresh eyes. Photograph it in ways I hadn’t before. Visit places I may not have been to, or for that matter, even knew existed…
And what better way to do that than take a private, customized Insider Tour with my friend and encyclopedia on all things Swiss, Katrin Gygax. It was fascinating to spend an afternoon with her, hearing her share so much and so passionately about Zürich’s history and its hidden gems. She says it best: “These are not your run-of-the-mill tours.” There were places I had heard of, but simply hadn’t gotten to: I stared in awe at Augusto Giacometti’s brightly painted murals on the walls and vaulted ceiling of the city’s police headquarters (once an orphanage, but no photos allowed). I gazed down at a model of Zürich as it was in 1800, in Haus zum Rech, an 800 year old building, home to the city’s archives of architectural history. And I walked around the cloister of the Grossmünster Church, spotting the ornate details, sometimes odd and even eerie creatures on the capitals of the columns (a few even reminded me of Fasnacht‘s Waggis characters). Then there were the totally new discoveries, including the city’s music library, reconstructed from the choir interior of a 13th century church, as well as hidden ruins of the city walls, accessed only with a special key.
There has always been one particular building whose architecture I admired, but I never actually knew what it was. Wonder no more. Turns out, it’s a primary school ! Not only did Katrin tell me more than I could have hoped for about the Schulhaus Hirschengraben, but we even took a little peek inside (shhhh). This incredible school could very well be the set for Harry Potter movies. Warthog etchings, strange colorful mosaics, grotesque water fountains and oversize marble fireplaces included. This was a real highlight for us both.
What a thrill to continue to learn about Zürich, understanding and appreciating it even more, from historical details to miscellaneous fun facts. So what did I do with all this new information in my head… I took a long peaceful stroll along the water and snapped away, certain that each view and each photo were more beautiful than ever before.