I wouldn't say I like traveling during the heat of summer, but since my 18-year-old son Max would be in Zurich, Switzerland, for a few weeks on his very first parentless European adventure, I decided to crash the party.
[Cue copious amounts of sweat.]
I'd never been to Zurich, and with only a few days in Geneva more than two decades before, I thought I'd give Switzerland another try.
Clean, Safe, and Easy
If I had to summarize Zurich, I'd say it's a clean, safe, and easy-to-navigate city. Also expensive. Because Switzerland is not part of the European Union and therefore doesn't use the Euro, prices in Swiss Francs can get pretty astronomical. I didn't spend less than $25 on a meal, and that was a steal!
Zurich is a very safe city. I never worried for my safety. And it's easy to get around. We walked a lot (and sweated), but public transportation is simple to use. There's an app (ZVV) that makes buying tickets easy).
Even its street festivals are clean and not overwhelming. We ended up in the middle of the Street Food Park Fest as well as I believe other festivals that brought tens of thousands of visitors to Zurich. I noted how clean the streets were; every few blocks, there were city employees emptying out the many trash cans and recycling cans!
Getting a Dose of Art Culture
Given that my teen is prone to sleep in, I had half my day free, so I headed to the Kunsthaus art museum.
I was delighted to discover that some of the world's most treasured works of art were on display, including Monet's Water Lilies and my long-time favorite sculpture by Edgar Degas, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.
The museum also had an impressive exhibition called Re-Orientations about the influence of the Islamic world in terms of culture, art, and immigration.
The Hills Are Alive...
Another morning, I hiked on Uetliberg mountain, located above Zurich. The two-hour hike was well-shaded and relaxing. The views were spectacular. When I reached this Sound of Music scene, I had to stop and take it in.
After I finished the hike, I dined on raclette (melted cheese) with killer views at Restaurant Felsenegg, then took the funicular back down to the train station. (The funicular is included in your day pass if you buy a ticket through ZVV!).
A Few Quirky Activities in Zurich
Given that Max isn't a kid anymore, a science museum wasn't going to cut it for him, so I found a few fun things he enjoyed.
The first was the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, located in the basement of a very fancy watch store. The museum was small but packed with clocks and watches from every era.
We also visited WOW Museum, Room for Illusions. We laughed so hard taking funny pictures of ourselves and figuring out puzzles. The entire museum is digital, so once you connect to their wifi, you can activate selfie cameras by scanning a QR code and have a folder of them to download at the end of your visit.
I enjoyed everything I did in Zurich, and that I did with my son, but the real treasure was seeing him transform from the shy child to the curious adult. I'm so proud of him and excited for him to start college in the fall!