I can't really describe the feel of Zurich without mentioning the trams. They're always on scene, gliding past in a rhythmic whooosh. I've only lived in New York and Los Angeles, so I found the vibe here tranquil and slow paced. My production assistant grew up in a small Swiss village, however, and he thought that life in Zurich was hectic and nearer to lightening speed. I guess it's all relative.
I took advantage of the tram service. If you purchase a Zurich Card at the start of your trip, it'll buy you unlimited tram service and entry to museums for a proscribed number of days. This is a tourist friendly city.
The first few days of filming overseas are always a little bit of juggling act as I try to navigate a new culture and probably commit a few faux pas in the process. Working in a foreign country is definitely an immersive method of travel. When I'm wearing my producer hat, I'm fairly gregarious, a little loud, and I smile a lot. Basically, I'm very American. The German speaking Swiss have a reputation for being more reserved, so I tried to be respectful of this. There is definitely an air of formality Zurich, especially when you first meet people. They warm up quickly though, and I found the Swiss to be friendly and down to earth. They're also extremely solicitous - I've never had so many strangers (women and men) offer to carry a bag or stop to help if I looked lost. On the flip side of this, I was scolded by a stranger for letting my car idle.
One of the neighborhoods I featured was the Schipfe area of Old Town. This was the headquarters of the silk industry in the 16th century and a transfer point for merchandise throughout Zurich's history. Today, it's a laid back, craftsman paradise. We stopped into two shops and met some local proprietors, both of whom were extremely welcoming.
Here's Susanna Ruttiman - she's a sculptor. Her studio is full of lovely female statuettes.
Vladimir Pusec, owner of Zur Kristall-Hohle, collects all the crystal you'll find in his shop. He spends weeks in the Swiss Alps mining for quartz, amethyst and other gems.
But back to food. While you're in Zurich of course you have to sample some fresh chocolate and pastries. I went to the Sprungli flagship store on the Paradeplatz.
It seems like the recipe for making delicious food is the same everywhere: keep it fresh and pay attention to detail. It sounds simple, but when you come across a world class confectioner (and Zurich is home to many world class confectioners), you realize how special this is.
Sprungli makes these delicious sweets called Luxemburgerli. They're like French macarons only lighter and more delicate. They're made fresh each day. If you buy a box, refrigerate it right away. They'll keep for three days. Or do as I did, and eat it right away.
More yummy food. Here's the traditional Swiss dish, Zürigschnätzlets, veal in a mushroom and wine sauce, with Roesti, fried potatoes.
I enjoyed this meal at the Zunfthaus Zur Waag. This restaurant is an old guild hall (zunfthaus) established in 1336. The rise of the trade guilds in the 14th century gave the emerging middle classes more political clout. It's an important part of Swiss history.
The Zunfthaus Zur Waag was and still is home to the linen weaver and hat makers' guilds. You can check out the crests of the founding families on the building's stained glass windows.
The last segment of the shoot was the Zurich Opera House. You should definitely try to catch an orchestral, opera or ballet performance. People dress to the nines when they come here (I saw some ballgowns), so don't show up like I did in a khaki skirt and jean jacket.
All in all, Zurich is beautiful, charming city. Its mix of contemporary elegance and historic beauty make it a wonderful destination for shopping, sightseeing and whiling away an afternoon.