zurich by the river

Warning: Dumb American moment alert…

My geographically challenged brain first thought Zurich was in Germany. I didn’t realize until I had to call the IR of an insurance company based in Zurich and was researching time zones. Imagine my surprise when I found that Zurich was located in the south-west of Germany’s borders. To my credit, Zurich is based in the Swiss-German region so I wasn’t that far off. That being said, Swiss-German is about as close to German-German as Mandarin is as close to Cantonese. In other words, they’re completely different.

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We headed out from Geneva early on a Friday morning. Like 6am early. We arrived in Zurich by 9:30ish. It’s roughly a 3 hour train ride from the border of France.

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Upon arrival, Gurpreet was starving. Not surprising. Neither was it surprising that I left my guidebook at home so I didn’t have the list of recommended eats. Instead, we wandered around for a bit. We were super lucky to have the sun on our side that day.  Zurich is such a lovely city. Characteristic of most European cities, there are small bridges that connect the two sides of the Limmat river. Walk a few yards in any direction and you start hitting cobblestone paved streets. That’s how we randomly stumbled into Café Weggen. It’s tucked in a narrow downhill cobblestone alleyway and if it weren’t for our curious wandering, we would never have found it.

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Breakfast: Croissant/Toast, Jam, Gruyere Cheese, Espresso, Butter  (CHF 10.00)

Let me tell you. We stumbled into a jackpot. Café Weggen, in Viennese style, is what you would picture any quaint cafe to look like. Slightly mis-aligned paintings, slightly mismatched colors, mirrors, and worn leather booths. The lady, who both ran the cafe and served all of her guests, was so sweet. She not only spoke English, but also Swiss German, Italian, and French. Yeesh. Because we couldn’t understand most of the menu, she happily translated it for all of us.

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We ended up all each getting the set breakfast, which includes two pieces of croissant (she ran out of croissants to gave us thick slices of toast), gooseberry & raspberry jam, packaged Gruyere cheese, a cup of fragrant espresso served with cream on the side, and sticks of butter all for a whopping total of CHF 10. Even in America, this sounds like a decent deal. But in Switzerland, this was a steal.

For us, breakfast was plenty. My favorite was definitely the croissant, which had the hallmark flakiness that all croissants should embody. There was also a raisin bread that was also decent, but the croissant won hands down. It was whole wheat too.

cafe!

It took me literally a second after sipping the near black liquid before I realized that the “caffe” as labeled the menu, which she translated as coffee, was not at all coffee but actually espresso! And then that cream? Oh man, it was divine! It’s such a treat to have such simplicity in a cup.

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The lady would stop by every so often to make sure we were doing alright. She also gave us suggestions as to where to go. We were so taken aback by her kind gestures and it totally made our day. After spending a bit over an hour in the cafe, we headed off to see Zurich.

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There are a few must-do’s in Zurich. First and foremost is the Grossmünster, or the Great Church, which was the start of the Protestant Reformation in Zurich. You can’t miss it. It’s nearly the only church with two towers looming over the city.

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The church is free, but shell out CHF 4 and you can climb the towers to get a specular birds-eye view of the city. If you’re a student, flash your student ID card and get in for only CHF 2.

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You have to admit- those are some damn spectacular views. I didn’t want to leave.

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above!

swans!!!

After, we headed over to the river for a cruise around Lake Zurich. There was a bit of mix up where we landed on the wrong side of the river, but eventually we made our way to the docking site. We had purchased EU rail tickets, which are available solely for non-resident tourists. The rail tickets included a free ride on a boat cruise, operated by ZSG Zurichsee. The cruise lasted for 2.5 hours at a moderate pace and stopped at various stops along the way.

boat!

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As expected, the ride was spectacular. At each turn, you could glimpse views of the towering mountains. Totally worth going on if you have time in Zurich.

By the time we got off the boat, the sun was setting, which meant the temperature started to drop. We had hoped to find a cafe to grab a cup of coffee while we waited another hour for the train. We almost lost hope and nearly wandered into one of the 50 million starbucks in Zurich but luckily, we stumbled upon Henrici Cafe.

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Unlike the Café Weggen, Henrici reeks of a young and indie vibe. It reminded me of Think Coffee in NYC. The tables are made of strips of thick wood and the lighting is dim yet inviting.

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Luckily, there was an English menu. Given that most drinks were in the CHF 5-7 range, I decided to just splurge on an Affogato. Best choice ever!

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Affogato con Sahne
or Affogato with Cream (CHF 7.50)

Angela got the Affogato con Sahne, and it came with a flourish beautifully piped whip garnished with specks of chocolate shaving. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Affogato, it’s simply a scoop of ice cream sitting on top of a shot of espresso. Angela chose vanilla. You can get either vanilla, chocolate, or mocha flavored ice cream.  The extra whipped cream will set you back CHF 1 at Henrici.

While Angela’s Affogato looked absolutely enticing, I have to say that mine won out in the end by flavor. Nevertheless, it’s a preference thing, and some people at our table thought Angela’s was the best.

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Affogato with Mocha Ice Cream(CHF 6.50)

I ended up opting for the mocha flavored ice cream. If heaven were made out of coffee flavored clouds, this would be it. The espresso was deep and flavorful, with a hint of bitterness. That was totally countered by the sweetness from the mocha. YOU MUST GET THIS IF YOU GO.

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Bicerin (CHF 6.80)

Gurpreet got the Bicerin, which is a traditional drink native to Turin, Italy. It’s made of espresso, chocolate syrup, and whole milk layered in a rounded glass. The handiwork on the surface was just breathtaking. It looked like a spider weaved a chocolate web. Gurpreet loved it. From my sip, it tasted like a grown-up hot chocolate. It seems like a great choice for anyone with a sweet tooth.

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Caffe con Panna or single shot of espresso with cream (CHF 20)

Last but not least, Jenny and Antara both got Caffe con Panna. Despite its simplicity, it was presented elegantly with a beautiful whip along with shaved chocolate. However, I’d recommend going with either the Affogato or the Bicerin if you go here.

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The total wasn’t terribly bad. It could have been much worse. Given that some people pay over $5 for an overly sugared down version/Venti at Starbucks, this was well worth every penny. And truth be told, this is how real coffee should be served- in a single serving cup; not in a super-sized cup that is the equivalent of a week’s serving.

Café Weggen
Weggengasse 4
8001 Zürich,
Switzerland
Phone: 044 211 66 08

Henrici Coffee
Niederdorfstrasse 1

Zürich, Switzerland