Chronicles of a writer abroad

Die stadt ist sehr schön


I went for my first run in Zürich today. I’ve been busy since we got here, and yes, a little lazy too. If I knew what was in store for me, though, I would have gone much sooner.I started along a lovely footpath beside the river Sihl, one of two rivers in Zürich which  join and lead to Lake Zürich, or as it is called in German, the Zürichsee. The way in which the river opens into a lake is quite dramatic, and the lakefront itself very inviting. Before today, I’d only been on the east side of the river, which has a very nice promenade and view of the west side of the city. Today, approaching the western shore of the lake, looking east, I got a sudden view of the Alps which nearly took my breath away (what little breath I have to spare when I’m running, that is). There they were, crisp and bright with snow, crowning the lake, on whose morning-golden surface some sailboats bobbed serenely. I have vowed to return to this spot soon, with a camera.

Just when I was starting to think that Zürich’s beauty lay mainly in its architecture, today’s 10-km jaunt proved me wrong. I read somewhere recently that of Zürich’s 91 square kilometer area, 20-some square km are forested area. So there is a lot more of “natural Zürich” to see. While this week has been intense, it has also been fairly limited geographically. Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to expanding my mental map of this city and country in which I now live.

One of my loyal readers (hi, Dad! Thanks for reading all week) suggested that I should do a feature on Swiss German words, perhaps a sort of “word of the day,” obsessed as I am with vocabulary. Well, my knowledge of Swiss German (a topic I’d like to discuss more fully in a later post) remains pitiful at this point. The one word I can share with you now is “Grüezi.” This is the word used to greet a person politely in German-speaking Switzerland. And oh, if only it were as easy to say as it is to spell! The “r” must be rolled, the “u-with-umlaut” pronounced in a manner foreign to English speakers, and the whole thing wrapped up in a playful lilt (at least, this is how Swiss German sounds to me: like a bubbly, chatty, somewhat childlike version of German — but maybe don’t tell the Swiss I said that). Anyway, before you come to visit, prepare yourself to say this word many, many times — it is how you would greet essentially any person that you come across. And try to convince yourself, as I do, that saying it with a horrible accent is better than not saying it at all.

Lastly, a picture of yesterday’s dinner is here, so that Mom can satisfy herself that it contained no bicycle parts. This is our favourite cabbage dish, made even better than before by the excellent cervelas (the nationally prized Swiss sausage). I wasn’t a huge fan of sausage in Canada, but it looks like I could be here.

Have a great weekend!


5 thoughts on “Die stadt ist sehr schön

  1. This fall I hosted a Swiss teacher in my class for a month. English-immersion for her, fun for us. We had many laughs as she tried to teach my students (and me) her language, while we gently corrected her. Lots of tongue-twisters for us, that’s for sure! She shared many pictures of life in her small village, and they were beautiful. She lives in the village of Nesslau, pop 3000. I can pass along contact info should your desire for wanderlust take you to the Eastern part of Switzerland looking for foothills/village life.

  2. Thanks, Paul! We’ll definitely keep that in mind. Hope all is good in BC — that was a hard place to leave behind.

  3. What a wonderful surprise to see the Alps from your new city, even if it does require a b it of a run! In spite of Paul’s (late) guess about the price of milch, I claim the prize for the closest guess :-). It is such a joy to read your daily posts, dear – it’s like having a private tour of Zurich and in a language I can understand to boot!

    Elegant dinnerware you have. Is it part of the furnishings of the apartment? If so, I might be tempted to liberate some of it when the time comes but maybe not.

    • Thanks, Nana! I am going to try to keep the blog going pretty consistently during the weekdays. It’s been fun to write so far.

      I agree that the dinnerware provided in the rental apartment is rather nice-looking. A little fancier than anything we’d probably own ourselves, though. Since these are the only dishes we have at the moment (until our seafreight arrives), even our cats are eating off of the gold-plated dishes. They’re becoming little Swiss Aristocats 🙂

  4. “The city is very beautiful” and your abendbrot (?dinner) ist sehr schön. The food looks delicious and I look forward to trying Swiss sausage some day!

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