on 07 August 2010

Being Bourgeois is not a Crime (2010)

Irina Nikitina is the originator and director of the «Musical Olympus» international festival. She graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory in piano and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague with a degree in harpsichord, and became known for her distinctive performing style.

I know Zurich well as I have lived in Switzerland for nearly 20 years already. It is a very comfortable, respectable city. And it’s a sterile clean city: it gives the impression that everything around is washed with shampoo. Starting from the Zurich airport, you feel the quality of life here – which perhaps still remains the highest in Europe.
The Swiss are very democratic, polite and calm; they do not like to put their wealth on display. They pay attention to pleasant things and details — that’s why everything here is designed to please the eye. I love Zurich in spring in bloom, and in summer, when they mount a Ferris wheel at the Bellevue, and the famous family circus of Circus Knie performs on the square in front of the Opera House.
Where to stay at:
1. Dolder Grand Hotel.
An aristocratic hotel with stunning views of the left bank of Lake Zurich. It has just been restored: the old building is upgraded with all the technical novelties of the XXI century.
2. Widder.
A boutique hotel in an old building with a modern interior. Each room is individually designed; levels and floors were planned in an uncommon way. Try and spend one of the evenings in the hotel bar — the pianist in a black tuxedo is just marvelous.
Baur au Lac.
Here reigns the traditional atmosphere of Switzerland — it’s right at the heart of the old town overlooking the lake.
Where to eat:
3. Be sure to take a good breakfast in the confectionery of Sprüngli right on Paradeplatz. Taste the famous Swiss muesli, sweets, desserts, have a cup of coffee or chocolate.
The restaurant Hummerbar of the hotel St.Gotthard on Bahnhofstrasse is perfect for a business lunch or dinner. The hotel is more than 100 years old; it’s now owned by Mrs. Luba Mantz-Lurie – the welcoming hostess of Manz Privacy hotel chain and the legend of Russian Switzerland. Luba and I have known each other for more than 20 years. She’s an absolutely unique person. In her time she shocked the whole Zurich with the sumptuous way she dressed, completely ignoring the Swiss restraint.
Another gastronomic place of interest – «The Buffet at the Main Station» (Bahnhofbuffet Zürich), a popular lunch place for the inhabitants of Zurich’s business district, a classy gourmet restaurant with excellent food and wonderful service. There is an unknown to Russians «railway station culture» in Switzerland: you can just come here and have a good time, as the station itself is an exceptionally beautiful architectural construction of the XIX century. The Swiss like to travel by rail, making it as comfortable as possible. Many prefer the train to travelling by private car.
By the way, the transport system of Zurich itself is so convenient that a taxi is almost not needed.
4. A landmark location, a next must-visit place after the Opera, is Kronenhalle, one of the oldest restaurants in Zurich. This is a peculiar academic canteen, a huge trattoria. I advise you to order the place’s specialty, the favorite dish of regular visitors – Half a Chicken Roasted. The house is also notable by the fact that the waiters who work here are exclusively Swiss – believe me, this is very rare.
After the concert in the Tonhalle I recommend to have a dinner at the Intermezzo in Kongresshaus. The restaurant is believed to be Italian, but it includes a French bistro as well.
5. In the evening you can take a pleasant stroll along the lake on the outskirts of Zurich, Küsnacht. Among the many local restaurants and cafes the most famous one is Petermann`s Kunststuben, whose chef Horst Petermann possesses two Michelin stars.
What to see:
6. Of tourist sites I would recommend the Fraumünster church with stained glass windows by Marc Chagall and the Kunsthaus Museum of Fine Arts famous for its Gates of Hell by Rodin.
7. Some come to Zurich to visit the renowned Zurich Opera, famous for its impressive cast and innovative ideas. In my opinion, it is the most innovative opera theater in Europe. A music lover will also be interested in visiting the Tonhalle concert hall.
To shopping lovers I recommend paying a visit to Bahnhofstrasse shopping street.
Here, in addition to well-known brands’ stores you can go to the «most Zurich» shops like Frontline Fabric which belongs to the silk king Andy Stutz (they sell the best silk, cashmere and bed linen), and Bang, which presents the world’s best fur designers, including Helena Yarmak of Russia.
To fans of Swiss clockwork I would advise a distinctive brand of Maurice de Mauriac, little known in Russia as yet. The workshop produces no more than 15 clocks per year, truly unique pieces, whose subtleties perhaps have no equal.
8. If you’ve come to Zurich with kids, be sure to visit a dear Botanical Garden Zürich (Alter Botanischer Garten) or the zoo, real pride and true joy for the locals, with its Masoala Rainforest, which contains not only animals, but insects and vegetation of Madagascar as well.
9. The private museum of Bührle family, one of the richest families of Zurich, is completely amazing. The collection of Stiftung Sammlung E.G. Bührle comprises masterpieces ranging from icons of Italian altar paintings to the rich collection of impressionists.
Every Saturday from 8 to 11 at the lake on Banhofstrasse the flea market (Flohmarkt) is open. There you can find flowers (well, what’s Zurich weekend without flowers!), vegetables, fruits and antiques.

Media: Rossiya InFlight
Interview: Varvara Glazunova
Date: August 2010