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









Jucker Farm Photos

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We went to Jucker Farm for brunch last weekend.

About a 20 minute drive from our apartment in Zurich / Oerlikon, this place is somewhat of an institution for family days out. The jury is divided on whether people love or hate Jucker (yes, their logo font makes it look like it’s called Fucker, haw). As far as I can ascertain, the hate is mostly due to parking nightmares – even the Jucker-lovin friends we went with mentioned that in summer the whole nearby town becomes an extended parking lot with long walks up the hill for the unlucky.

But we were there on a snowy Sunday in February and parking was no problem!

Our friends had booked brunch in the Hof Restaurant, which was great. A big, rustic table that would have comfortably sat eight for us four adults, one toddler and two babies. We were right by a large glass door and windows with impressive panoramic views down over snowy fields to the half-frozen Lake Pfäffikon (Pfäffikersee) and the mountains beyond.

Have I talked about Sunday brunch in Zurich before? It’s A Thing here. Perhaps even more so because the shops are closed. Most places seem to do similar brunch arrangements with a fixed-price, all you can eat buffet. Food comprises:

  • hot stuff: bacon and eggs, wurst (sausage), plus Jucker had fried eggs on rösti – which is a traditional Swiss farmer’s breakfast, I’m told.
  • several kinds of bread: proper loaves that you slice yourself including the tasty Zopfli (a buttery braided loaf) and gipfeli (croissants).
  • There’s deli meats and a plate of different cheeses – what European breakfast would be complete without?
  • Then there’s a load of jams – in this case all homemade Jucker farm products.
  • A range of fruit juices. Here, they were Jucker juices too.
  • Cereals including another Swiss specialty, Bircher museli – I’m a convert to this healthy wet dish!
  • There were also tasty cakes, which I was almost too full to eat. Almost. Mmm. (Thankfully, breastfeeding makes you ravenous and you can eat what you like. Not that I usually stint myself anyway!)
  • You order coffees separately but they were included in the price (as many as you want).

It cost chf32 per adult. Our toddler’s meal cost chf2 per year, so chf6 because he’s three. Most places do this kids’-age-price thing and I reckon it’s a nice touch.

So far, we’ve been to a few brunches in Zurich and I look forward to many more. This was the fanciest yet and just lovely. The room was stylish-rustic, lots of wood with delicate touches, vases of branches and classy gauze table runners, tea light candles in glass, vaguely “woodland”-themed decor. And not too crowded. Our friends had warned the staff we’d be arriving with two buggies so they had kindly put us to the far side where both prams could sit easily by the wall and be out of the way. It’s so nice to have room to manoeuvre, rather than extra tables shoved in where they barely fit just to maximise profits. I do love Switzerland for this (the restraint of easy affluence!?)

Afterwards we had a wander round the farm grounds. Himself and P-boy went further afield than S-baby and me. As well as three separate-but-together function rooms making up the restaurant, it’s a proper working farm with fruit orchards, animals, kooky straw statues (!!) and a prime lakeside position close to Zurich. Apparently “they” tried to buy it several years ago for redevelopment but the owners held on and now it’s a popular and profitabile attraction. It was fairly uncrowded when we went but you can see how it would be rammed in spring, summer and autumn when they also have demos and kids’ activities such as showing how cider is made etc.

I’d definitely book brunch again, particularly for a special occasion such as a birthday or with visitors in tow. As stunning as the farm was under a light a blanket of snow, my pals assure me it’s even lovelier in warm weather. And the farm activity days sound fun if you can find a parking spot. Roll on spring!

So long slackers!

My homemade cupcakes

Today was the last lesson in my “slacker” German class before Sommerferien (Summer Hols). I was planning to write a short profile of my fellow students anyway, and today we had a little farewell party where we brought food and sat around chatting. I found out more about most of them than I had in the previous six months!

I think I’ve mentioned what an international group it is. We started off with about 18 students but have dwindled to about ten… so, not meaning to be offensive in any way… here goes!

Ms Bulgaria – Looks like a cliche “eastern European” with stripper shoes, tight sparkly jeans, loads of makeup, big hair, fake nails with designs and diamantes (I’m jealous), possibly a boob job. I actually wondered if she was a prostitute for a while, but I don’t think that now. She is a singer – not sure if professionally or not (must look out for her on future Eurovisions!). Speaks v decent English and is pretty diligent with the German. Not a slacker.

Ms Croatia – Sits next to me. Scrappy and a bit tough. A real talker, if not much of a written-word sort of lady. She reminds me of some people I’ve known through the years, seems like she’d be fun to get drunk with. Has a son around P’s age and another one who’s much older (in his teens). Works in a shop I think. I like her. Although she sometimes seems slightly insane and Ms Somalia inferred/asked me once if I thought Ms Croatia had a drinking problem?! A bit of a slacker.

Ms England – Nice girl from Nottingham. She rides horses and is quite sporty with pilates classes, walking up mountains etc. on weekends. Works as a nanny for a Swiss family with two girls aged 6 and 8 (who she says “hate her speaking German” and ask her not to do it in front of their friends because it’s so embarrassing!) I targeted her early as a native English speaker and we exchange homework/notes if one of us misses class. Not a slacker.

Ms Algeria – I always thought she was a bit snippy. She’s one of the younger ones in the class (22?) and doesn’t speak English, which must be a bit difficult (she speaks good French and Arabic). But today she said her husband has told her “no babies until you learn Deutsch!” which made me angry and sorry for her. Also that she’s doing school/uni here studying mathematics and all sorts, which is impressive. Not a slacker.

Ms Sri Lanka – This lady is really lovely. And pretty good at German. She has young kids and wears a headscarf. I asked her if she was not eating today for Ramadan but she said there’s no fasting when you’re menstrurating. Good timing! Not a slacker.

Ms India – Don’t know much about her, she’s pretty good at the Deutsch. Is Hindu so doesn’t eat meat (Ms Sri Lanka made vegi samosas for this reason, sweet). She said she’s not continuing the class because she’s going back to Bangalore for 2 months for her brother’s wedding and then her husband says no more classes. Didn’t quite get the full story on this – if it’s financial, or he doesn’t want her to study, or to learn elsewhere or what. Not a slacker.

Ms Eritrea – I really like this girl. She’s also pretty young – early 20s I would say – and has children (one at least, more? not sure). She’s savvy and a bit gangsta in that she wears mull-leaf leggings, Lady Gaga T-shirts and a leather jacket (fake, I think, but who am I to talk with my Topshop model?!) I thought she was one of the queen slackers, but today she revealed that her husband laughs at her whenever she attempts to speak German or even gets out her homework book at home so she “gets nervous” and doesn’t do it. Fucking hell. What’s with these husbands?! A slacker, but with extenuating circumstances.

Ms Somalia – Sits near me. Didn’t know how to tell time on an analogue watch/clock – I said “dude, you’re in Switzerland!” Next class, she had a watch and asked me to set it for her and show her the ropes. She also took great interest in my German-English dictionary. Surely she has seen a dictionary before? I dunno. Plus there’s a funny relationship going on between her and Ms Croatia that I can’t quite work out. Not quite sure what to make of her. A bit of a slacker.

Ms Switzerland (the teacher) – She’s a funny lady with a somewhat whiney tone of voice that does her no favours. She is actually quite nice and friendly but I find her a bit small minded somehow. Eg: she gives us these needlessly fiddly little games to play, that I’m not sure really help us learn. Oh well…

Ms Australia – That’s me.

Absent today:

Ms Turkey – Reserved mum of three (or was it four?!). I don’t know her that well. One class she had to bring her 4 year old son and he was quite sweet. Might be a slacker, more likely just a busy parent.

Ms Indonesia – Tiny powerhouse with 2 kids who completely mangles all German words when she speaks. It can’t be easy – there’s surely no correlation between Deutsch and Indonesian (Portugese?!) at all. She has perfect English though. Might be a slacker.

Ms Peru – Used to sit next to me but hasn’t been seen for a while. I think she’s pregnant. Really struggled with the Deutsch. I think it’s a much bigger leap from Spanish to German than English to German. Plus most of us speak some English and can discuss/explain stuff to each other so she was pretty isolated. A slacker due to circmustance.

Ms Cuba – I almost wasn’t going to mention her as I think she’s attended about 7 classes in total. Was very friendly and smiley and always made an effort to chat for a while to Ms Peru. Slacker? Or is she doing another class? Very odd…

Ms Nigeria – Sits on my row. I’ve had some good convos with her in the breaks. She’s got 2 kids similar age to P. Has been in Switzerland 3 years and bought a house here (points! She said it was difficult because it’s difficult AND because having dark skin). She is a beautiful lady with a large diamond ring. She wants to go back to work (in HR) but says it’s nigh impossible with the language barrier and skin colour a bit too (her words). She’s a slacker, but blames the class.

I was thinking that now I’ve started my new faster-paced German classes that I might not go back to finish the module in the slacker class (we have 5 weeks off, then another 3 weeks to finish up). But actually I’ve grown quite fond of these women, although I don’t know if I’d quite call them “friends”. And now I’ve written all this, I realise most of them aren’t really slackers after all. Funny how your assumptions catch you out sometimes.

PS: My cupcakes were a roaring success, even the Ramadan-ers took one home for later 🙂

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.