Party on Time: Zurich

National Post - DEC 2010

National Post - DEC 2010

I come here to clear my head,” tourist Eric Allen says with a sigh, gazing out the window of the tour boat as it cruises along the shoreline of Lake Zürich. Ironically, outside a band of fog hangs over the mountains obscuring the view and casting a gray filter over the homes that cling to the hillside. “In Zürich, everything runs on time, everything is organized and orderly.” 

It’s a cold day in mid-November so, not surprisingly, the air smells of snow. Regardless of season, every now and then, Allen, a gentleman in his early sixties who resides in London, escapes the pressures of his job in the dairy industry and big-city living by hopping on a plane and heading to one of his favourite destinations. Sometimes it’s Nice, sometimes it’s Bergamo, a small town outside of Milan, but most often it’s Zürich. 

“Have you noticed that when you move something in a shop here, a piece of clothing or what have you, that someone quickly comes and puts it back in its place? That is the Swiss way. Everything is where it should be. Everything has been well thought out.” 

Indeed, visiting Switzerland’s largest city is like attending a perfectly planned party. It’s as if, over the centuries, the organizers have paid close attention to getting all the details right from venue to guest lists, from mood to food to activities. 

A 92-square-kilometre area ought to do it, they may have said, when considering the city’s size. No need to turn the place into a sprawling metropolis — we’re not trying to be Paris or Rome. And let’s contain attendees to around a couple of million visitors per year (including 50,000 or so Canadians) with about 380,000 residents to keep the wheels turning.  Read more...

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