If you need to use the toilet when you are in Zurich's Hauptbahnhof (or Luzern's, come to that) be warned that the 'McClean' toilets on the lower floors are......
...absolutely beautiful, pristine and truly sparklingly clean (with showers available as well as loos).
And the toilets will cost you 2 Swiss francs to use! The pissoir is only 1.50 francs, but even that is a heck of a lot.
Other public toilets in Zurich (steel cubicles,in the main) cost 1 franc (not cheap) or 1 euro.
So if you want to save money, save yourself for the loos in your hotel, or the pub/cafe/restaurant or museum (or the train, if you're travelling in or out). :-)
Be aware of the red light cameras in and around Zurich, which are are pretty good hidden.
The ticket will be around 200Sfr.
Just stop the car if the traffic lights go yellow.
Some of them are even enforce speed limits.
Be aware of the speed cameras in Zurich, which are pretty good hidden (see picture).
The margin for speeding is just +3km/h!
Watch your speed and don't overtake the locals (license number plate ZH). They know where the speed cameras are :-)
Just to give you a roughly estimation of the ticket price:
Within cities limits:
1-5km/h to fast = 40Sfr
6-10km/h to fast = 120sfr
11-15km/h to fast = 250sfr
over 15km/h "ohohoh" (Driver license of Swiss citizens will be stored for several days in conjunction wit a huge fee)
Outside of cities limits:
1-5km/h to fast = 40Sfr
6-10km/h to fast = 100sfr
11-15km/h to fast = 160sfr
16-20km/h to fast = 240sfr
over 20km/h ohohoh (Driver license of Swiss citizens will be stored for several days in conjunction wit a huge fee)
1-5km/h to fast = 20Sfr
6-10km/h to fast = 60sfr
11-15km/h to fast = 120sfr
16-20km/h to fast = 180sfr
21-25km/h to fast = 260sfr
over 25km/h ohohoh (Driver license of Swiss citizens will be stored for several days in conjunction wit a huge fee)
1. Parking lot at the opera house in 2005
2. Opera house with cars and RVs in 2005
3. Cars right in front of the opera house in 2005
4. Construction site at the opera house in 2010
5. Walking through the construction site in 2010
Most cities that have an elegant nineteenth-century opera house tend to have some sort of elegant public square in front of it.
But not Zürich.
Here for decades when you came out of the opera house you immediately stepped into the middle of an ugly twentieth and then twenty-first century parking lot.
Even people who do not share my aversion to automobiles usually agree that this is inappropriate, and in fact the authorities in Zürich have been talking for years about making changes here.
In 1999 they announced an international architects' competition to design a new underground parking garage and "a new square for Zurich". In 2001 the Zürich architects Zach + Zünd won the competition. Their plan, which is known as "Opus One", was approved by the citizens of Zürich in a referendum held in May 2003, and then for several years the project supposedly went into a phase of planning and determining the costs.
The results of this had not yet been announced when I visited Zürich in 2005, and no one knew if or when they would actually start building.
Update 2010: Believe it or not, they have actually started building an underground parking garage for 299 cars in front of the opera house, so instead of a parking lot you can now wend your way through a construction site to reach the entrance. But only the parking garage is being built, not the entire Opus One project which would also have affected the opera house. In 2007 the Board of Directors of Opernhaus Zürich AG decided to abandon that part of the project because costs had gotten out of control and the revised subproject would have failed "to create the required operational advantages" for the opera house.
(People in Zürich like to make jokes about how slow the Bernese are, haha...)
GPS 47°21'55.36" North; 8°32'47.29" East
Traditionally all trams and buses of Zurich's public transportation network aren't in service between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the 1st of May (Labour Day). Only the urban railway (S-Bahn) can be used.
This is to allow the drivers to attend the traditional Labour Day parade. So please keep this info in mind when visiting Zurich around the 1st of May which is often a popular long weekend for city trips.
In June 2006 I found out the hard way that the city has turned most of the major roads into speed traps. Using cameras or automatic velocimetry controls they have turned foreigners and tourists into cash cows to supplement their budget. Obey the posted speed limit or pay up. But make sure you are guilty. We did a stop over in Zurich on our way to Bernese Oberland, Interlaken and .The Jungfraujoch Experience. About a month after I got back to USA, I got sent a speeding ticket from Zurich police department stating I had been five miles over the speed limit and the fine was $160 USD. I am the first to admit I sometime have a lead foot, but when driving in a foreign country I am very conservative. Especially in Europe where these types of camerfas are very common. If I had just been passing through Zurich going some other place I would have figure I had a momentary lapse and guilty as charged. I would have paid the fine.
The only problem was for the date and time listed, the car I was driving was parked in front of a hotel and I was standing in the lobby trying to check in. I pointed that it was physically impossible to be in two places at the same time. Although it took three letter including one to the Mayor of Zurich, I have hear nothing further.
My advise is if driving in Switzerland don’t be a targeted victim just because you are a foreigner or tourist . I would avoid Zurich if possible. Make your hub Geneva, Basel or Bern
Whereever many people are, you also meet "longfingers", especially in crowded areas like main stations, shopping streets or even in restaurants. This year I saw this illuminated longfinger in the main station of Zurich, warning you of pickpockets.
This tip is rather for the government, and as you would see in this picture, they are always very concerned about this danger. For me, I always love to take my destiny in my hand. Drive yourself if you can. Snow always cover the rail tracks. However, there was no recent history of derailment in this region.
Weekend snow slides killed at least five people — including three Canadians — and seriously injured about 10 others who strayed off-trail in Austria's Alps in search of adventure despite warnings that conditions were ripe for disaster. Officials had raised Austria's five-step avalanche alert to level four in recent days after a combination of heavy snowfalls, strong winds and subsequent mild temperatures made snow cover unstable and prone to breaking away.Austrian authorities recently launched a new service that delivers up-to-the-minute avalanche warnings via text messages. But frustrated emergency workers say technology is useless to those who ignore conventional warnings and take unwarranted risks just to descend mountains atop virgin snow. “If they lack knowledge and the necessary background information, then it's just carelessness — pure and simple,” Roland Mattle, an alpine gendarme helping airlift victims to safety, told Austrian television Sunday.The recent avalanche was estimated to have spanned the length of three football fields laid end to end, and struck at an elevation of about 2,300 metres in an off-trail area popular with thrill-seekers looking for deep, untouched powder. Experts regularly warn that skiing or snowboarding off-piste in unstable snow can be dangerous and triggers many of the hundreds of slides that annually claim scores of lives in Austria.Officials monitoring avalanche conditions in the Alps issued a statement Sunday warning people anew not to venture off trails known to be safe, to avoid skiing or snowboarding alone and to approach all areas “with the greatest respect.” They also urged people to wear avalanche transmitters, which emit a high-frequency signal that can save rescuers precious minutes to locate victims buried in heavy snow and dig them out before they suffocate. A transmitter helped rescue workers on Sunday swiftly locate a snowboarder buried in an avalanche in the resort of Zell am See, officials said.
Try to avoid the Rush Hour (7am - 9am and 5pm - 6pm) at the Mainstation and Bahnhofstrasse. Trains and Streets are packed with Bankers, Students and bunch of other people.
Dear Tourists, just try to go there between 9am and 12am or petween 2pm and 5pm.
Keep careful track of your receipts when using a credit card. Your entire credit card number is printed on it. (It will be listed as Eurocard). Can you imagine what could happen if some unscrulpulous person happened upon it?
The main station is a hub of constant activity and lots of people moving around. Be on guard here (especially by the phone and internet kiosks) as there are several groups of both young men and women who are looking for easy, distracted prey.
The men are especially difficult to rid yourselves of. When accosted, I was very direct in stating that I did not need a tour guide or want them near me. If they got more aggressive (or even grabbed me), I simply got louder and made a bit of a scene.
One of the many things I found great about Zurich is that when that sort of thing takes place, people stop and take notice. They don't ignore the situation like in most big cities. Often the unwanted attention from others was enough to scare the cowards off. Especially since they are there everyday and can't afford to be recognized as troublemakers.
Travel by train in Switzerland is so easy it is a joke.
But you have to be aware of two things:
(1) the trains come into stations at top speed and do not start to break until the last possible moment. Do not stand close to the edge of the train platform .
(2) when you change trains at a station you have only three minutes to get off your train , find the next platform , and get on the next train with your luggage . This transfer is all timed and the Swiss show no mercy for tardiness. If you have left some of your luggage on the platform when the doors close , TOO BAD .
Zurich is a safe city, that's out of question. But there are some areas where you have to watch out and be carefull.
Langstrasse (Long Street) is probalby the most international street in Zurich and attracts a lot of Tourists. But you also have to watch out as crime is higher in this area.
Old Town (Niederdorf) is a great Nightlife Area but people get drunk pretty often and also kinda agressiv sometimes. But don't worry, just enjoy and try to avoid those guys... or have a drink with them.
There are some other small spots, which are kinda scary at night, but it shouldn't be a big problem.
Even though the social system of Switzerland is excellent and the unemployment rate is fairly low, we do have a bunch of Beggars. You can run into them almost everywhere. I never got in trouble with them. Just stay nice and say that you don't speak german or say that you don't have any coins.
That should work to get rid of them...:-)