Zürich two years later.

Facebook reminded me that we were in Zürich two years ago - to the day. So, I decided to bring the girls back to Zürich to celebrate their first train ride and the first European city they explored. Two years ago we were in route to Nicosia, Cyprus, for our first international housesit. We lucked out by having a long layover in Zürich and so we made the most of it. This summer our house sit is in Switzerland so why not head back to the city where it all began?!

To get around Switzerland, Germany, and Liechtenstein thus far, we have been driving. After all, the family here left me their car to use and I brought car seats so it's been nice driving. Gas (petrol) is crazy expensive here but the convenience of hopping in the car has many perks I enjoy. However, I wanted to give proper tribute to our Zürich anniversary and so we did a bus and train trip.

In Schaffhausen, there are bus stops everywhere!!! There is also the main train station a short distance away. Seems this country has maximized public transportation, which makes it incredibly convenient to get around without a car.

For us, we simply have to walk down the street to get to the nearest bus stop. And, making things even simpler, there is an SBB app for purchasing bus and train tickets. It is convenient and makes it easier to not have to worry about a printed ticket or purchasing a ticket on the bus.

The buses here have a digital sign that lets you know what stop is next so even if you don't speak the language, you just have to know the direction of travel and the name of your stop (preferably the one before your stop as well so you're ready to get off or press the "stop" request). We moved from the bus to the train platform and enjoyed a beautiful train ride to the city of Zurich. The train platforms are well marked so it's easy figuring out where to go. Just remember to pay attention to the ticket you buy -- 1st class or 2nd class. That makes a difference. There are also "quiet" carts and family carts. The family trains are marked with "FA" on the SBB website/app so you know that it's extra convenient for families. (yay to European family- friendly awesomeness!!)

It had been two years since I was here last but I remembered much of the city's layout. Yay!! It's useful having a sense of direction and good recollection of the city layout.  There are a few key features that makes it easy to remember areas in the city - starting with the river that flows through it. Just follow it down to the river's opening (toward the lake), crossing the bridge to be on the other side of their main train hub and you'll see a nice area to walk around on foot and enjoy some insanely overpriced swiss food. Seriously, the prices here in this city are crazy.

I usually pack a lunch but only brought some snacks with us so we stopped for lunch. OMG. A mistake. LOL My daughters weren't a fan of it so I ate mine and theirs cause there was no way I was going to waste a dime on uneaten food when it cost so many dimes to buy the dish. LOL

Anyway, walking around Zurich is wonderful. It's an easy city by foot, beautiful architecture, fountains abound, sit by the river and put your feet in ... it's all quite chill (and clean!).

Starting with the arrival. You'll most likely arrive by train to the main hub: Zürich Hardbrücke (known as Zurich HB for short). 
In this train station, there is always some cool art displayed. This art feature was something of yarn that you could walk into, take off your shoes and have a bit of a zen break from the train station hubbub.

To use the bathroom, have some francs. It cost us 2 francs (that's 2 dollars / 2 euros respectively) to use the freaking bathroom. However, the toilets are clean and there is a very convenient and clean baby changing table room as well. For backpackers, there are also showers there to use for about 12 francs (if I remember correctly).

When you leave the train terminal, remember to look out for the train trolleys while you cross the streets. When you exit, I suggest heading to the main touristy walking area: the east side of the Limmat River -- you can GPS this main protestant church as a reference point: Grossmünster (Address: Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zürich). In this area are lots of cafes, restaurants, bakeries, flower shops, etc.

There is a very different vibe across the river if you are looking to drop some serious francs on clothes and accessories. Search for Kirche St. Peter and you'll end up among the shopping elite. Stores like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc.  Even if you don't want to drop a lot of money shopping, the area is still worth walking around. It's beautiful and much quieter than the other side of the river in the uber-touristy area. Plus, there are some lovely restaurants on this side that might actually be worth the francs you spend eating. We stopped by a juice shop and got a smoothie. Ten freaking dollars for a rather small smoothie. Absurd. LOL!

What I love about cities and towns in Switzerland is that there are fountains everywhere. You refill your water bottle, splash water on your face on hot days, rinse your hands, etc. It's a wonderful feature! So, even on hot days, you don't have to worry about buying a drink if you're thirsty. Just have a bottle and fill it up with chilly water in their fountains.

Missing this year was something I was really looking forward to though. Just south of the Quaibrücke bridge, you'll see on the east an area called Quaianlagen -- where people sit along the river's edge and where swans gather. Two years ago, there was also a swimming area here with a super high board where you could watch people jump. It had to have been about 30 feet high or so. It was awesome to watch and planned to watch them again ... but, alas, it wasn't there this year.

People were jumping off the bridge (not in a suicidal kind of way) and into the water. Were they allowed to? No clue. As a tourist, I'd rather not find out the hard way what is and isn't legal. LOL

If you are looking to not spend a fortune on food and just want to pick up a snack, you can stop at a Coop (grocery store) in the city just south of the train terminal and north of the elite shopping area. There may be some other grocery stores as well. Honestly, no need to spend a fortune on food there. And, for a family with kids, the money racks up pretty fast.

The city is fairly stroller friendly but you'll have to leave it outside the stores for the little stores that don't allow the maneuverability of a stroller. I babywear my youngest for a few reasons. (1) I don't like leaving a stroller in "stroller parking" because as trustworthy as the Swiss are, I'm not sure the tourists are up to the task (2) it's just easier not having to push around a stroller. My kiddo stays on my back and so she stays comfy and safe that way.

When you travel by train in Switzerland, have a Swiss converter. It's a two or three prong converter. The seats on the trains have charging outlets and at most cafes you can plug in as well. Download the SBB app on your phone as well so you can easily buy a ticket for a train or bus without waiting in line. Create an account for you and those you are traveling with (in my case, my kiddos) and it's just one extra way to simplify traveling. Kids under 6 travel for free so YAY! Something in Switzerland is free / cheap. LOL!!

Zurich is different than some of the smaller towns, of course, and they are more used to tourists but I can tell you that kids are expected to behave and keep a low volume in public. Seriously, this entire country (minus the city of Zurich) is pretty damn quiet. So just be prepared with the kiddos for best behavior possible.

And now for a few extra pictures ...

I'm not sure how friendly swans are so we don't go near them ... but they are super beautiful and add to the beauty of the area. 

No filter - seriously. The water is just this blue under the bridges. So pretty!!

The current art installation at the Zurich HB train station. 

The current art installation at the Zurich HB train station. 

On the train, the seats have tables and power outlets and a shade to pull down if it's too sunny. 

The Limmat River is soooo pretty!!! 

Not the most flattering photo but it captures how I travel with my youngest.
I love carrying her on my back. It's not easy but it's soo convenient. 


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