Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day 2: Zurich, home of the Dadaists

Day 2: Zurich

A beautiful looking loaf, too big even for THB

Weather:  Very hot in Zurich (90s) and a bit hazy/smoggy, then drizzling and cooling off, lovely in the evening followed by a thunderstorm

Well, my heart's in the highlands, gentle and fair
Honey suckle bloomin' in the wildwood air
Bluebells blazin' where the Aberdeen waters flow
Well, my heart's in the highlands, I'm gonna go there when
I feel good enough to go.

THB and DB get a semi-decent night’s sleep (though THB is dragging as he starts this post). Decide to get out early, before 7am, for a walk along the lake; it’s already in the mid-70s. Breakfast at a nearby bakery, John Baker: a chocolate thing, a crunchy dark braided role, and a walnut loaf and two café au laits, $12.

Meet up with SC at 9:30, she’s got her I-phone all set up for navigating! We purchase all day transit passes at the front desk ($8 for 24 hours) and head to the train station, catch a local train (not tram) for one stop and then start exploring:

Gerton Gardens

Stores tucked into each viaduct slot (with a "highline" passing overhead)

DB and SC window shopping

A stop to rehydrate at a market hall (markhalle) and to rest for a bit. A short walk to a gallery that has an adjacent “museum” that has dedicated an exhibit to the Dadaist Kurt Schwitters (and a few pieces by Arp and Miro). SC is a big fan of dada, and recommended a great biography of Marcel Duchamp by Calvin Tompkins to THB years ago (highly recommended!!).

See: Travesties, a play by Tom Stoppard, based on Lenin being in Zurich around 1917 and intermingling with the Dadaists (true!)

like Nick Cave sound suits: worn by current Dadaists for street theater improvs

A short tram ride to an area that is a long pedestrian street full of restaurants, outdoor cafes, and the Cabaret Voltaire, considered the original home of Dadaism. The ground floor is now a shop featuring Dadaist-like items, the cabaret is upstairs. THB uses the Duchamp piece in the WC.

Two of the best in Zurich

It’s past noon and we’re looking for a café for salads and quiche: by happenstance (a true Dada moment), just up the street is a place recommended by DB’s nutritionist, Conditorei Schober (the name of the place, not the name of the nutritionist). Now why a nutritionist would recommend a place dedicated to cakes, pastries, and “the best hot chocolate” is something THB wonders about. Maybe THB should be going to a nutritionist too.

Instead of having desserts for lunch, we show tremendous restraint (we appear to be the only table with such will power): THB and DB share flatbread with ham and cheese and arugula and an omelet and salad while SC has a piece of quiche and salad. With one hot and one cold chocolate, $72.

The "walls" are actually faux insets inside the gallery

More strolling to Galerie Gmurzynska which is having a Kurt Schwitter show (with some items for sale) and furniture by the late architect, Saha Hadid (THB and DB saw a winery tasting room of hers in Rioja, Spain, in May). The gallerist gives us a great tour and explains more of Schwitters involvement in the Dadaist movement and how Saha Hadid was influenced by Dadaism (and Malevich) and was preparing the pieces for this show when she suddenly passed away earlier this year.

DB and DC decide to run some errands, THB returns to the room to rest up. As DB is returning the weather breaks and the temperature drops while it starts to drizzle (the drizzling stops almost immediately).
The hotel seen from the back

Dinner tonight at Hotel Zurichberg, up in the hills above Zurich, near the zoo. We’re meeting the nutritionist, S, and her partner R, fresh off a 13 day TdeF style bike ride, complete with many mountain stages, followed by a few days of recuperation in Sardinia. S is Swiss, both work in E-ville, and they are fascinated by physically challenging vacations.

We tram up to the Hotel, arriving a bit before 7, and are guided by a fellow tram rider (male, skinhead haircut, jeans, t-shirt, maybe in his 50s or early 60s) to the hotel hiding in plain sight up the hill. In the two minute walk, we find out that he is a “gang relater” who works with municipalities like LA and Portland to bring groups to the table to find ways to scale back on violence. How did he get into the field (after growing up in London): his family trained him well! All this in less than 2 minutes?

It is nice enough out that we’re the first of the diners arriving to request an outdoor table. Dinner is lovely, S guides THB to the regional specialties: veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce and roesti potatoes (like a hash brown patty, the real reason THB ordered the dish), and a first course of salmon tartare and a bit of salad shared with DB. DB goes for the lamb loin (without bones): excellent. A shared bottle of Sardinian red, and one scoop of Movenpick coffee ice cream and pear schnapps for the table, $150/couple.

Lots to discuss: local (i.e., E-ville, Zurich) and national (Trump) and international (Brexit) politics; the thrill of a long bike ride followed by the growing awareness that the hotel for the night is actually a bit further uphill; Sherwin-Williams development; food and wine; local customs.

Hours have gone by.  It’s getting dark. The lights of Zurich start showing up below us, ringing the lake. Lightning appears. Thunder follows 10 or 15 seconds later. More time passes. Lightning appears. Thunder follows immediately. We scurry inside, along with the 7 or 8 other tables dining outside.

As the rain starts, still enjoying the schnapps, we decide to cab back to the hotel; we’ve left it a few minutes too late, a large business group dining inside has broken up, and they are 3-4 cabs in front of us. After a while, as the rain relents a bit, S&R put up their umbrellas and stroll off towards their VRBO place.

About 25 minutes after calling for a cab, one appears and we jump in: $25 for the ride down the hill to Hotel Ambassador.

Pics from here and there:

Another view of the restaurant from last night
Houstonians were going to be offering "vampire" facial, it may already be here in Zurich

The poster for Manifesta, a biennial of contemporary art now underway in Zurich

The exhibition on the lake right across from our hotel

Is triggerpunkt related to steam punk?

THB now an expert on Ferrari logo


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