Alpine view

All the Alps in one view.

Zürich woke to yet another cloudy morning, as the sun rose on winter solstice. On this, the shortest day of the year, we hopped on a plane to Washington, DC, following the sun to the west. Flying high above the clouds, we enjoyed daylight for 15+ hours, though inside the plane we never really got to enjoy the sunshine. When I checked out the window, soon after we reached cruising altitude, I was blessed with a grand panoramic view of the Alps – the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps – spread out beyond a sea of clouds.

The Alps, seen from the airplane leaving Zurich… with low clouds covering all the lowlands.

Zurich departure

Scenes from the past week.

After 10 days in Switzerland it is sad to leave, hard to part with the opportunity to explore both new and unexplored areas of the city and the country. It was a pleasure to be back, to revisit old colleagues, to return to my favorite shops and viewpoints and morning walks. I certainly hope I can return again soon! Today’s gallery includes snapshots from various days and scenes in Zürich, including several from the Christmas markets and from the illuminated evenings.

St.Peter’s church seen from across the Limmat river, Zurich.

Zurich again

Our final day in Zurich.

On our final full day in Zürich, I took my usual morning walk to Zurichberg. The sky was cloudy and the valley foggy, once again, but at least this time the fog was a bit above me and I could see across the lake. Not much to photograph today, but as I lingered at the viewpoint and was passed by every morning jogger and dog-walker, I noted a familiar sight approaching. An old gray lady, and her even older gray dog, approached slowly along a parallel path. I recognized them immediately, having encountered them almost daily on my walks two years earlier… but not yet on this return visit. The woman now needs a walker, and moves slowly while the old gray dog follows even more slowly behind. I admired their persistence in their daily outing, and am glad I had a chance to see them again.

On my way downhill, picking my route randomly through the residential streets while aiming my internal compass toward Honold for my daily dose of heisse schokolade and butter gipfeli, I noted this little gnome standing by a tiny little tree, on a curb near trash and recycling bins.

A gnome and a Christmas tree, left out by someone’s trash bin.

It is not uncommon for people to put items out for free use by passers-by; indeed, we gave away many things when we were preparing to leave in July 2020. This little fellow seemed lonely, so I decided to bring him home.

Later in the day, Andy and I made a pilgrimage to Sprüngli chocolatier, on Bahnhofstrasse, for a stay at their sidewalk tables and for a taste of their grand cru hot chocolate, which comes with a mousse light enough to spoon on top but rich enough to sink you for the afternoon.

Sprüngi hot chocolate, grand cru, with accompanying chocolate mousse.

Despite the chilly weather, the outdoor tables filled quickly; it is a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a warm drink as the holiday shoppers bustle by.

Skiing Zermatt

Glorious scenery, fabulous weather.

Three days of skiing in Zermatt, surrounded by gorgeous scenery and in perfect weather. Sunshine, no wind, temps around the freezing point. Good snow conditions. 40 open lifts, 211 kilometers of open slopes. No crowds, no lines. The Matterhorn in view nearly all the time, flanked by incredible snow-covered peaks and dripping with ancient glaciers. It doesn’t get much better than this. Read on, and check the photo gallery!

The Matterhorn, seen late afternoon from the ski slopes at Zermatt.
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Zermatt

It’s hard to beat this scenery.

I’ve never been anywhere with mountain scenery as stunning as in Zermatt. When we were first here, two years ago, it was snowing hard and I feared we’d leave without a glimpse of the Matterhorn. But it made an appearance later that day, and the next day was brilliantly beautiful. Today we are back, and the results are just as incredible. Read on.

A view of the Matterhorn from the high ski slopes; Zermatt is deep in the valley where you see brown cliffs.
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Raclette

One of my favorites.

One of the favorite Swiss foods to be found at every Christmas Market is raclette – potatoes covered in melted cheese, sprinkled with spices, and served with pickles and pickled onions. It makes a very filling snack!

Raclette – potatoes covered in melted cheese, served with pickles – is a classic Swiss snack, especially in winter.

Honold’s bakery

One cannot just pass by.

Ok, there seems to be a common theme emerging in my posts from Zürich this week: food. My walk today began as another foggy morning, and indeed the day never shook off the fog. Perhaps it is all the snow sublimating in these just-above-freezing temperatures.

So when my downhill route took me near Honold, I just had to stop in. Had to. I’ll bet there is even some Swiss law about cold foggy mornings, and excellent chocolate/pastry shops, that requires one to stop in for a heisse shoggi (hot chocolate). I used to visit this very shop at least once a week when I was living here.

I enjoyed the hot chocolate for the rest of the walk, though I did somehow get out without succumbing to the other tasty treats!