Outside Zürich, Zürich
Another idea to escape the hectic city - as beautiful as Zürich might be, it *is* very busy - is a day trip to the Alps. They're actually not *that* far away, you can see the Alps on a good day from Bürkliplatz.
Sonja, Holger and I decided we wanted to go to the really *high* Alps, see some glaciers, cows, get the full experience. And ride some gondolas, chair-lifts ... So we booked the special offer from www.railaway.ch called "Four lakes hike". You get a reduction of about 20% on the fares with that special offer (they are changing from month to month).
That was the plan: Taking an early train from Zürich to Luzern where we changed for the train to Sarnen. From there we took the Postbus (the first one broke down, LOL, which resulted in a 20 minutes delay) to Stockalp in the Melchtal valley. Gondola up to Melchsee-Frutt (the 1st lake - Melchsee). I had never been there and was a bit shocked by how much (and ugly) overbuilt the place is. Anyway, we set off toward Tannalp and the lake of the same name (2nd lake). Along the way we visited a nice chapel, met some cows and just enjoyed ourselves. At Tannalp we saw a guy preparing and selling raclette to the hikers and afterward we regretted we had not bought some.
We continued to Engstlenalp where we had lunch on the very nice shady terrace of the traditional Hotel of the same name. Yummy.
Fondest memory: After we were done with lunch we continued the hike and passed the beautiful Engstlensee (3rd lake). Great photo opps with the glaciers above. We didn't mind at all that there was a chair-lift that took us up to Jochpass ... at 2207 m it was the highest elevation for us that day. We even found some remains of snow from the recent poor weather there. Down to Trübsee (4th lake) by chair-lift, walk around the lake and down to Engelberg by another gondola.
We took the train to Luzern where we changed for the train to Zürich. All in all it was a full day - despite the official hiking time is only 3 or 4 hours you must calculate much more time if you are a photographer or want to have a break here and there to soak up the beautiful vistas. And of course the trains, gondolas and chair-lifts add up to the time also.
It was a fantastic day that I wouldn't want to miss. What's better than hiking with friends in the Alps? And for once the weather co-operated.
At times one gets tired of the bustling city and needs a quiet time to relax. My suggestion is to hop on one of the boats that cruise on Lake Zürich and to go to Rapperswil. You might want to take a train if your time is limited (boat 2.30 h vs. train 0.40 h) or take the boat to and the train back - that's what I did. Both have their charm. The trains run right through the cute small towns and the vineyards along the lake while you only get a vague impression from the boat. A boat ride is a whole different thing, though, as you know.
The modern boat that I took was quite comfortable with a restaurant (I had a good glass of wine), upper deck was first class (I didn't splurge). As it was a Sunday it was quite busy, but not crowded as passengers got on and off at each stop. I had to pay a surcharge of CHF 16 in addition to my Zürich Card to get to Rapperswil and back (also valid on the S-Bahn trains).
Fondest memory: Rapperswil is absolutely picturesque. Its setting on a peninsula, with castle and church above the medieval old town, promenade along the lake dotted with trees that provide shade and restaurants/cafes with outdoor terraces ... my God! Spectacular. I walked around the peninsula, then climbed up the stairs to the castle, enjoyed the views (Alps!) and then strolled along the cobbled alleys, visited the churches and saw the rose gardens and took lots of photos. A perfect half day. Highly recommended.
The trip from Zurich and Davos will take tourist through several tunnels. This is because the journey is trough a predominantly mountaineous region. It is very interestind and I took several pictures such as the one that could be seen in this picture, given a very unique view.
Fondest memory: What is unique is the outcome of the pictures which is taken when you are almost comming out of the tunnel.
Zurich is interesting, however, there are spectacular towns and villages outside Zurich that makes Swiss a delight for tourists. A drive from Zurich to Davos is what I would recomend for any one planning to go to Zurich.
It is about two hours during winter, as you must drive with utmost care. The hotels here in Davos are a little expensive, so I recommend you base in Zurich and make a day run and back.
Favorite thing: There is lot's to see and do nearby to Zurich. You can take the train, car, ferry boat or your bike and see the surrounding cuontryside or cruise along the shores of the Zurichersee. Whatever the year, just grab you camera and get out and see it. Have fun.