Travel Diary: Kunsthaus

By: S. Davis

April; Switzerland:

Wednesday night…night two or four.

I’m in the kitchen staring at a cold can of Feldschlosschen and wondering the point of these diaries. What’s the purpose? I’m not really sure anymore. I don’t think I ever was. Yes, they’re a reflection – a snapshot – of where I was at a particular point of my life. Are they useful at all? If so, to whom? Easily I could say “myself” but what if they don’t matter at all?

Let’s drink, I guess…

Well, it’s beer. You always know when you’re having one. Beer is remarkably recognizable, I tell you. I’m rambling.

Today I felt as if I could lift a building. I was able to get nine phenomenal hours of sleep and the jet-lag evaporated while I had dreams of a memorable…nothing. The first day on the ground – after flying – is always the worst; at least that’s the case personally. I push to fill the day walking, exploring, eating and snapping photographs but in actuality I’m just bleeding the day away until I can make it past 10 p.m. – at the least – so as not to ruin my body clock. The last thing I would do in this context is arrive at my destination and head for my bed. Bad move!

Zurich is great. It has the characteristics of a resort town in that it’s intimate and friendly. It feels deliberately slow-paced – until the tourists arrive. In contrast, the expense of everything is noteworthy.

As a born and raised New Yorker that lives in L.A. I’m familiar with steep costs. I must say that this city is expensive. At the time of this entry one Swiss franc equals $1.02 USD so it’s quite simple to make a comparison with such a small amount of money. Supermarkets are where the difference is glaring. A packet of honey turkey that would be $3.00 – $5.00 in the U.S. is $7-$12 in Zurich, in a much smaller portion. Americans are fat. We like larger food portions, sorry.

Dinner at an average local restaurant here runs about $34-$42 CHF. The word to take note of is “average.” If you’re the eating out two-to-three-times-a-day person you can easily set fire to $80 CHF per day. There are times when my mood shifts and I think, “I wouldn’t spend “$xx for that at home. Will I do it here?” It’s kind of fun. Ultimately, I don’t deny myself anything I really want, especially when I’m on vacation. I spend what I want for whatever I want but I’m also smart.

Zurich is doing it right everywhere else. In research I learned there’s a high suicide rate here, particularly in the business sector – of which a few locals corroborated. Those I spoke with had a personal connection. “Social pressure to keep up with your career, wages, personal life, etc. That’s breaking people” said Lina over a nice outdoor lunch. As an American, I can understand that. Now I’m bummed out.

Back to vacation…

I needed to get the day moving so I did a little research on local museums. I went to the Kunsthaus Zurich Museum of Art which just so happened to have free admission on Wednesdays. Today is Wednesday! Taking into account that the city limits of Zurich are quite small and my usual, ravenous, pace in a new place I was ready to get started. I was armed with the information from locals that I could get to all the major sites/attractions in two days. That’s a breeze for me. It’s not uncommon for me to spend 10-12 hours getting “lost.” I was thinking I could cut that to a day-and-a-half. Ha!

I heard conflicting information about the free admission to the museum so I decided to find out. The site didn’t advertise it as such although a screenshot from a local blogger showed that it was indeed free for that one day of the week. However the shot was six months old and the current page had that one sentence omitted. I got my breakfast in my body, grabbed my backpack and I was off through Zurich. It is lovely. Truly.

Let’s go find out. What’s the worse that can happen? I got sidetracked with another food run and eventually arrived at my destination. I was polite and personable, you know all the things I’m not in California because of the 405. Ha!

The manager greeted me warmly and confirmed that admission for the day was free of charge. Yes! I would’ve had a minor issue paying the $23 CHF but “free of charge” meant I can raid the supermarket later. Anyway, you need to occupy me for a day? Drop me in a museum and pick me up three to eight hours later (depending on its size). I arrived a little after 2 p.m. and I left a few minutes before 7 p.m. I don’t play around.

A few years ago I was on the Upper East Side to meet for a date that was taking her sweet time. I was bored so I strolled over to my favorite museum, The Met. She was upset…with me and we met in the Egyptian art section TWO hours after the time we both agreed the date was slated to begin. Her fault.

I had a tremendous time pacing the halls at Kunsthaus even though my energy crashed around 6 p.m. I’m drained now as I stare at this empty beer can and slog in the kitchen. I’m going to Luzern tomorrow, I think. Time for bed…


Travel Diaries
Part 1: France
Part 2: New York City (JFK)
Part 3: Berlin
Part 4: Salzburg Airport
Part 5: La Parrilla Steak Restaurant
Part 6: Salzburg Airport (Departure)
Part 7: Hostel
Part 8: Berlin Wall
Part 9: Somewhere in Kensington
Part 10: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Part 11: Strausbourg
Part 12: Vienna
Part 13: On To Switzerland
Part 14: Het Steen
Part 15: Chinese Dining in Belgium
Part 16: IR-70 to Luzern
Part 17: Atomium