Lakes and Boats, Trains and Trams

As we woke bright and early to the usual Church bells at 7am, I found myself excited for the next few days and the field trips to Zurich and Freiburg.  Our trip to Bern was great, but I was eager to see what Zurich, the global city had to offer. Once we departed with our oversized bagged lunches from beloved Riva, several of us quickly dozed to sleep, leaving others to gossip on the train to Zurich about UVa secret traditions and the mysterious Hokie stones. As our discussion drifted from talks of back home to our excitement for the day, I couldn’t help but notice the changes in topography from Riva across the Alps. Snow-capped mountain tops surrounded valley,s filled with German style homes and pristine lakes. This reminded me of our discussion yesterday about the difference between Ticino and northern Switzerland, though both equally as beautiful.

Arriving at Zurich HB, we were greeted with three new faces, Thomas Goetschi, our tour guide, and Professor and Mrs. Buehler, who had arrived to join our group from Germany. The views and sounds in Zurich are completely different form Riva. Zurich seems to be filled with sleek businessmen and high-end boutiques and restaurants. As we took a tram from the train station to our hostel, the streets remained filled with bicycles, trams, and pedestrians, reminding me of Bern, but on a larger scale. Quickly dropping off our bags, Thomas suggested we grab our swim suits and guided us to beautiful Lake Zurich– the most exquisite lake I have ever seen, right next to the city. The water remains just as crystal clear as in the mountains even though the lake sits right next to a large metropolitan city. Afternoon sunbathers enjoyed the lake, along with friendly dogs and families. This park seemed to be the perfect meeting place, reminding me of the “third places” we discussed previously in class.  Some of my peers even decided to take a dip, and then without too much pressure, some of us decided to stick our feet in as well.

Next we took a bus, our third mode of transportation that day, to downtown Zurich to meet with city officials Daniel Kurz and Dr. Heinrich Gugerli to give us a presentation on the 2000 Watt Society and its role in Zurich’s sustainable development.  When we entered the meeting area, I saw the most outstanding model of a city I have ever seen. The room was filled with an enormous wooden model of each building, tree, and waterway in the city of Zurich, an impressive piece of work. The two city planners presented unique ideas to reduce household energy use and how to think creatively about building reuse and renovations.  After the presentations, our little group got a chance to explore the old and new town in Zurich.

I was impressed with the way both the newer and older parts of the city fit in so well with each other. The architecture was a unique style, distinctly Swiss, giving Zurich its impressive style as a global city. Ryan, Cullen, and I made our way along the river walk, reflecting on the beauty of both the built and natural environment.  We took a 6pm boat ride back to our hostel, while others chose to take the bus. Both were equally efficient. However, I think the boat ride showed a different side of Zurich as an afternoon paradise for workers, students, and families. Paddle boats, sailboats, and jet skies covered the lake, leaving me jealous and eager to jump in the lake after dinner.

Our dinner at the hostel was true to Swiss cuisine, full of flavor and nutritious value. After dinner, we settled into our rooms and spent the evening sitting on the shore of Lake Zurich, enjoying its beautiful scenery. Overall, our first day in Zurich really impressed me. I found the city to be both sophisticated and comfortable, as well as filled with impressive transportation options, something we are learning about more and more in the coming days. Off to Freiburg tomorrow night to see a new country and a whole new transportation system!

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Kelly Clifton, UVa Undergraduate, Government and Planning


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