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Lost and Confused in Zurich


Our trip to Switzerland got off on the wrong foot. We were supposed to fly from Paris to Geneva and then take a ride share to Zurich to meet up with my friend who was going to be traveling with us for the next two weeks.

Two days before our flight I was checking the flight time and Dave just happened to notice that the flight seemed to be booked for the correct day but 2 months in advance.

I had somehow managed to book our flight for August 16 instead of June 16 (cue banging head against the wall).

Naturally, by the time Dave picked up on this error the flights for June 16 were obscenely expensive. And so we arrived in Zurich by train.

I didn’t have high expectations for Zurich – thinking it would be more of a business/working city, but I was in fact pleasantly surprised. The prices, on the other hand we were completely unprepared for. Though we had already spent a month in France we were still blown away by Swiss prices. $13 for a kebab, $40 for a fondue, you get the idea.

With my friend Ilona as a new addition to our traveling duo we set off to explore the city, starting with Uetliburg Hill. Our plan was to take the train up there and then walk down into the city.

View of Zurich

Our walk down started to get complicated. We were looking out for signs to point us in the right direction, but all we saw were signs towards Wanderweg.

Wanderweg signs

But we didn’t need to walk in the direction of Wanderweg, we wanted to get to Tremoli (or something of that name). Knowing that we definitely didn’t want to follow the trail to Wanderweg I took us down the mountain bike path. It seemed to be going in the correct direction and so we followed it part of the way down, sprinting down the narrow and steep mini hills, hoping to dodge a mountainbiker if they passed us.

Eventually the path to Wanderweg intersected the bike path and we followed that down, realizing that Wanderweg was the only destination indicated by the signs so we would have to follow it down.

Eventually we made it down the hill and hopped on a train to get into the center of the city. Our plan was too ambitious. The paths from the Uetliberg Hill were too difficult to figure out and it simply is too far from the city center, so note for the future – just take the train up and down the hill.

We didn’t realize this at the time, but days later we saw signs in other places pointing to Wanderweg. How could this be? Why would the signs be pointing to Wanderweg back in Zurich?

Well, as it turns out Wanderweg simply means walking trail. All that time we deliberately avoided walking in the direction of the wanderweg thinking it was a name of a place.

As you can imagine we got a good chuckle out of this as did every other German speaking person we encountered who we shared this story with.

Our Zurich excursion continued in the city center. With a bratwurst from a street stall and a few canned beers (got to love the legal public drinking in Europe) we were re-energized and ready to go.

Zurich city center

We strolled past the Grossmünster, Fraumünster, Bahnhofstrasse etc, before making our way to the lake promenade.


zurich lake promenade


Overall we had a nice day outing in Europe and enjoyed exploring the city.

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11 Responses to Lost and Confused in Zurich

  1. Ha ha ha, Zurich is not that expansive, try Oslo and than we can talk 🙂 I personally love this city and visit 5 times a year on average. I know I’m weird ha ha ha

    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs September 6, 2013 at 3:24 PM Reply
  2. Hahaha – loved the part about Wanderweg. 😉 Tried something similar in Berlin as a kid. We parked our car and my dad said: “Remember that we parked on “Einbahnstrasse”. I did. We saw Berlin and wanted to find our car. We walked down Einbahnstrasse. No car. Yet another Einbahnstrasse… Hmm! Well, Einbahnstrasse is German for “one way street” GREAT! Took a long time to find the car… 😉

    Zürich looks pretty, though! 🙂

    Celia September 8, 2013 at 4:28 PM Reply
  3. Ha ha, ‘wanderweg’! Oh the many times I’ve been stumped by language. This happened to me on abmenu, where I’m supposed to choose chicked or beef or something, and I just keep pointing to ‘BBQ’. The staff were clearly confused as to what I wanted, but eventually something BBQ’d showed up. When I finally figured it out it was pretty funny.
    Fantastic photos by the way!

    Heather September 12, 2013 at 12:49 PM Reply
    • Haha I can see why the staff would be confused! Oh the funny incidents with language confusions! Thanks for the photo compliments!

      Vicky September 26, 2013 at 5:45 PM Reply
  4. Great travel story! Zurich looks gorgeous.

    acrosstheneversky September 21, 2013 at 3:37 PM Reply
    • Thanks! It was a really nice city!

      Vicky September 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM Reply
  5. Had a good chuckle about your Wanderweg-story 🙂 Tremoli? You were probably looking for Triemli I guess 😉
    $13 for a Kebab is normal unfortunately, eating out is ridiculously expensive and not even that good for the most part. But the worst part about the prices of Zurich is the nightlife. While the beer is really cheap in the supermarket (0.5-1$), in a bar or club its easily 8-10$ which is way too much for a student like myself.
    Just discovered your site, found you through your guest post about stealing backlinks. 😉
    Have a wonderful day 🙂

    Jona September 11, 2014 at 2:47 PM Reply
    • Switzerland in general really surprised us with how expensive it was! Luckily we were able to just buy beers/cans of prosecco at the grocery store and walk around drinking it freely! Had to limit the $10 beers at the bars : //

      Vicky October 1, 2014 at 2:15 AM Reply

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