Midsummer Night’s Knitter asked me a while ago if I had any advice for someone moving to Zurich. While I certainly don’t feel like an expert on the subject, I suppose I might have some useful things to suggest after 2 years here. At least I should, shouldn’t I? I mean, it would be pretty pathetic if I had spent all this time here and not learned anything useful. So here’s what I came up with:
Read Living and Working in Switzerland: A Survival Handbook. It has its faults (like how it perpetuates scary myths about Swiss apartment house rules) but overall it’s pretty useful info to help you feel more prepared.
If you plan on exploring Switzerland by train (which I highly recommend), consider getting a GA card. This is something I wish we had done, but we didn’t consider it soon enough. It’s an investment, but it pays for itself if you’re a frequent traveler. Plus the money goes to a good cause (Swiss public transportation counts as a good cause in my book – I love it so much I once wrote a poem about it). Plus no buying tickets. Plus when you know the trip is already paid for, you’re more likely to jump off the couch and go get to know a new city or Alp on any given day. If you don’t get a GA, definitely get a half-fare card. These things pay for themselves with one or two trips.
Random grocery advice: sign up for a Migros card right away (they send you coupons for free money!); get outside the big chain supermarkets some and shop at the outdoor markets, your local Reformhaus, and specialty shops such as Asian groceries and El Maiz.
Zurich things to see/do at least once: Street Parade, Sechseläuten, a movie on the lake, the Kunsthaus, the food basement at Globus (the cheese counter has cheddar), the Limmat Swim, the Uetliberg, the zoo, the Christkindli Markt, ice skating, swimming in the lake, a Laughing Lemon class, museum night, the Blinde Kuh, Expovina, an evening stroll down Langstrasse.
Things to see/do on day or weekend trips from Zurich: a cow parade, Murren, Fribourg, Lucerne, Bern, sledding, skiing, Basel, Art Basel, the Matterhorn, Bellinzona, Lugano, Rapperswil, Milan, Strasbourg, Colmar.