The next morning we woke up early to make our 945AM Covid test appointments on an otherwise lowkey Zürich day. The COVID tests were administered all over Switzerland, with ample testing centers throughout Zürich that one could schedule in advance. Our appointment was at the National Museum, although there appeared to be a test center in front and back, and we weren’t sure which one was ours. We arrived early to sort that out – saw the one in the front immediately – so then checked out the one around back, which turned out not to be there. Right on time at this point to the location in the front, we waited for about 15 minutes, despite having appointments in a line to order and pay. We thought it was ironic that as people waited for their test results, they smoked. Like the two concepts just don’t register as being connected. The registration process went smoothly, but we were nervous that we missed our appointment time. Luckily, all went well and we picked up two rapid antigen tests, proceeded to get called and swabbed, waited 15 minutes for the results, and ultimately tested negative. With papers in hand, we never felt so free! It was almost as good as the feeling of throwing our masks away once we were in for the night. We felt lucky we were flying home out of Switzerland, a country with such a robust COVID eradication infrastructure once the regulations changed. We went back to the hotel to deposit our paperwork in a safe place for the flight the next morning.
Now, the whole day was open to us and we had no plan, and enjoyed a lowkey Zürich day. We vaguely knew we wanted to take a monster walk, check out Christmas markets and souvenir shops (we were still looking for a Zürich specific ornament), and maybe go to the museum, while of course ending up at Bar am Wasser again. And that’s exactly what we attempted.
We started off by heading to Uetliberg, a little mountain near Zürich where you could see the city, the mountains, and Lake Zürich itself. The waiter from Bar am Wasser actually recommended we check it out. We took the train from the central station, after checking out the Christmas market in the terminal. It was packed, but not much different from the others we experienced.
A short 30 minute train ride later on our lowkey Zürich afternoon, with a lot of families, we ended up at Uetliberg station. We still had to summit, so this is where the walking came in. Both a stairway (although taped off), and an uphill paved path were available to us – we decided on the path. After a lovely 20 minute walk (the conditions were icy and treacherous so you have to go slow this time of year), some art along the way, and tons of greenspace with integration parks, we reached the top. At the top, a lodge welcomed us, with beautiful outdoor areas, adjacent to the panoramic viewing area. The viewing conditions were actually quite good, and there was a rare break in the clouds. Uetliberg is not high enough (2,850 feet) to have permanent weather conditions and clouds, fortunately. Unfortunately I buggered up the settings on my new camera, so here are some of the best shots we captured together:
Rather than hang around and drink hot chocolate or beer, we decided to make our way back to the city to continue our lowkey Zürich day. It was easy to buy a train ticket back to central station from Uetliberg.
Back in the city of Zürich , we decided to check out the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, located nearby our hotel on the “new” side of town. Reviews said it was a hidden gem, and it was on our way to the old city, and thusly we entered. We walked through a high-end Beyer watch store, as several greeters directed us downstairs to the basement, where the museum was located. At this point, we were skeptical that this might be a tourist trap.
Surprisingly, it was nothing of the sort. Once downstairs, we were greeted by an enthusiastic elderly gentleman who handed us an iPad and taught us how to type in exhibit numbers and view multi-media material and narrations. We thought it was a little odd allowing a device play audio in public earshot at a museum, but went with it – other people were! Luckily, it was not at all packed, so we could pick and choose the route we wanted to take and how long to linger. Oddly, the natural course of walking was counter clockwise. We bopped around a little bit, but mostly tried to follow the chronology. Not only was it informative and showcased the progression of timekeeping over the millennium, but it incorporated scientific explanations of technology advancements as well as the time pieces themselves, often demonstrated in full working order. While neither of us are horologists, we thoroughly enjoyed the 2 room museum (densely packed), the knowledge of the staff, as well as the time-keeping devices (or should I say works of art!) themselves. It was really quite something and worth 60-90 minutes. I believe entry was 10 CHF per person.
After the museum, we decided to return to Bar am Wasser. We were hoping they were open because it was early still on Sunday (maybe 230pm?). However, they were not. Not so much because of the time, but because of the day. For a secular people, we were surprised by this. Then again, Sundays are still probably culturally leisure time for Europe, adapted from religion to family time. We continued our lowkey Zürich day, but with a small pivot.
Sad that we wouldn’t get one more go at Bar am Wasser, we spotted the huge tourist-trap beer hall in the old town area that we had passed several times and turned our noses up at, and decided to partake in some beers. It was called Zeughauskeller, and it was just what the doctor ordered at that particular moment. To be clear, beer, beer, beer. We told the waiter promptly that we only wanted to drink, so as to not lead him on (it was a full restaurant as well). We ordered the large Chimay Grande Reserve (one each), and hunkered down. Over the next few hours, we were pretty much left alone, had a great table away from others, but still enjoyed plenty of stimulation given the general buzz of the place.
A few hours later, we realized we needed to start getting ready for dinner, so we made it back to the hotel for a quick freshen. I had booked (or so I thought) a Swiss Fondue placed called the Swiss Chuchi Restaurant at around 645PM, and we made our way across the bridge into the old town for one last time to Hotel Adler. When we got to the restaurant, they didn’t have our reservation. I was sure I booked it, but I couldn’t find the confirmation, so we ultimately decided I never booked it after all. Later, I went back through the booking workflow and determined what happened – once you click reserve, rather than it being completed, it takes you to a final verification splash screen. Thinking it was done, I closed my phone and went to sleep. Long story short, I never booked it.
Fortunately, they were still able to seat us, but it had to be outside in the cold – so the unstructured, lowkey Zürich day continued into night. We accepted their offer, thinking that we were just lucky to get in. It did come highly rated. The food was good, but quickly got cold and it was quite chilly outside. The service by our main waiter was terrible – he seemed to have a chip on his should that day – and I made things worse by accidentally knocking a drink over just after another guy had knocked a drink over (it was contagious apparently). The manager, however, was exceptionally nice throughout the meal and in particular handled the glass breaking incident without making me feel worse than I already did. He even brought me another Aperol Spritz on the house even though I had basically finished it before knocking it over. This was the third restaurant in a row where we noticed the wait staff were Indian, which we found interesting but never got to explore it further.
The food was good but not great, as mentioned. We started with the pumpkin soup, following by the house special cheese fondue – Fondue Adler mit gereifteren Käsesorten with beef and vegetables. It was good in the moment, but we were gassy and hot all night prior to flying – be warned. In retrospect, we should have gotten the Raclette, which is a hot, small grill where you cook your food on tableside, and it also included a variation of melted cheese. We passed on dessert in favor of just being done – plus we still had dark chocolates from Brussels in the room. While a somewhat lackluster “wah wah” ending to an otherwise exceptionally lucky and productive trip, we were happy to pack, go to bed early and take some time to decompress before flying out. Our last lowkey Zürich day was a little lackluster (the dinner!), but also a little surprising (the clock museum!).