Hopefully you've all had a very happy Easter, or a 'Frohe Ostern' as they say auf Deutsch.
There are of course certainly worse places to be during a time of year celebrated with chocolate than in Switzerland and as they go for chocolate rabbits rather than eggs over here we've had a bit of a confectionary bunny massacre on our hands - it's been a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate factory meets Watership Down.
Religion is important to the Swiss also, and so the christian nature of the festival is very much celebrated. The Swiss churches love to toll their bells for any religious occasion (it was hard to get to sleep when the new Pope was chosen) and so the regular chimes for the frequent services have served as a nice reminder of the true meaning of Easter.
Eggs are still very much a symbol of Easter time in this part of the world, though more traditionally it's the hard boiled variety which are worth hunting for. You can buy them pre-painted in bright colours from the supermarket. The Swiss sprinkle them with 'aromat' which is like bouillion powder (the stock cube is a Swiss invention) before devoruing them.
We've had a relaxing long weekend despite the weather being pretty dire, popping into Zurich on Saturday to do a bit of shopping. The Swiss continue to find new ways to impress me with their efficiency and Saturday was no exception, with the major department stores providing machines that 'bag' wet umbrellas to stop them dripping on the shop floor.
We took shelter for lunch at 'Hiltl' - the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world having opened in 1898. Now, both Zoe and I are far from veggies, and I was a bit apprehensive about a meat free meal. I am, however, a fan of the 'pile it on your plate buffet', so I got stuck in.
It's a bit like vegetable pick-and-mix as you pay depending on the weight of the plate. Lots of the options are indian style in spicy sauces and the samosas and paneer cheese were real highlights. It was all delicious and the exotic flavours provided a moment of sunshine on a very grey Zurich day.
On Easter Sunday the weather wasn't much better but as the rain held off we headed off for a walk in Zurich's academic district. Using a fancy app which offers a number of routes around the city, we strolled among the buildings of the famous Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETH for short) which is one of Europe's top science and technology institutions. It's buildings nestle among those of the University of Zurich and the University Hospital. This district of brainpower nestles on the hill just above the city centre, offering great views of Zurich's impressive church spires.
At one point during the walk we came across the original ETH observatory. Now surrounded by tall buildings it is hard to imagine that when it was built in 1861 it was nestled among vineyards and pastures. It seems the astronomers spent so much time gazing up at the stars that they missed the city of Zurich sprawling towards them. The observatory was closed in 1980 as light pollution from the surrounding buildings made planet spotting impossible.
It was a lovely stroll and the perfect way to work up an appetite and I didn't need to consult the stars to know that our roast lamb dinner was going to be delicious.
When people think of Switzerland, chocolate is normally one of the first things that comes to mind. And after 6 weeks getting to know this place I am proud of how Mike and I are doing our upmost to sample different flavours and overall take great pleasure in choosing the next brand we should feast upon.
With this chocolate mission well and truly underway we were very excited to discover that this weekend, not a 5 minute walk from our apartment, was the Salon du Chocolat – code for, an afternoon of chocolate induced sugar highs and lows…
Walking into Zurich’s large conference and exhibition centre I had big hopes for the afternoon ahead. With live music playing Mike and I wandered throughout the chocolate stands and as we picked up speed we also sharpened our elbows and put on our best smiles to push our way through and blag as much free chocolate as possible. We did ourselves proud.
The choice was phenomenal. Coming from the UK I was always bowled over by the variety in Hotel Chocolat found on many UK highstreets but today raised the (chocolate) bar. To name a few highlights we had…
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.