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Why shouldn't the New York Times provide travel recommendations for Zurich?

Why shouldn't the New York Times provide travel recommendations for Zurich?


The New York Times praises Zurich as a travel destination for its readers. We are confused.

January 6, 2024, 10:55 amJanuary 7, 2024 at 5:11 pm

Jasmine Muller

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In the past, when travel for travel's sake was only possible for the absolute upper class, lovingly researched travel guides were written. The author is currently leafing through the 1897 book Egypt Pedicure and enjoying the detailed maps, descriptions and background information about the country, people, attractions and history. (It should work!).

Today, we, the inhabitants of the Eastern Hemisphere, race across the world as a matter of course. Instead of devoting ourselves to a country and its culture for weeks or even months, we have exactly 36 hours for destinations. (36 hours? More on that in a moment.) So that we don't miss out on anything worth seeing in this limited time, travel blogs and Tripadvisor tell us the “must-see” things in almost every corner of the world.

Zurich is also one of those places that is often described as a travel destination. From now on, Zurich will be the preferred short-haul destination for New Yorkers. New York City's quasi-community newspaper, the New York Times, dedicated itself to Zurich as a travel destination and created a 36-hour to-do list. (Exactly, that's where the 36 hours come from.)

To the New York Times

The New York Times is one of the world's leading daily newspapers. It has been published since 1851 (at that time as the “New York Daily Times”) and has a global circulation of over 10 million subscriptions (digital and print). She has won 132 Pulitzer Prizes.

But New Yorkers aren't getting what the New York Times promised them.


If you asked Zurich residents to draw the skyline of the historic Old Town, most drawings would likely show four church towers: two from Grossmünster, one from Fraumünster, and one from St. Peter's.


This is what it would look like: St. Peter's Basilica in the back on the left, the Fraumünster in the front on the left, and the Grossmünster towers on the right.Image: Shutterstock

The New York Times in Zurich teases something similar in its cover photo. The Münster Bridge, Fraumünster and dazzling sunsets aim to lure American city dwellers to Switzerland's largest city:

This is how you praise

This is how the New York Times pays tribute to Zurich's Old Town (pictured is the Fraumünster Tower). Photo taken by Clara Thoma for The New York Times.Image: New York Times screenshot

Zurich is so beautiful, as featured in the New York Times!

The only problem is that if you want to visit this beautiful place, the New York Times won't tell you where to go. According to the text, you should see the following during this 36-hour must-see trip in Zurich (description from the New York Times):

  • «The art of lion brewing, A former brewery converted into a contemporary art complex featuring galleries, museums and a bistro.
  • “the Le Corbusier Pavilion It is a museum dedicated to and designed by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. It is in an unbeatable location right on the lake shore.
  • “Sprungli It's an upscale café that serves a fancy version of Birchermüesli, a breakfast dish made with oats and fruit, and perhaps the best hot chocolate in town.
  • “Fridaythe Swiss accessories brand known for making bags from recycled truck tarpaulins, has its flagship store in a tower made of shipping containers.
  • “the blumlihall, A beautiful fresco by Augusto Giacometti is hidden in the city police headquarters.”
  • “the Art houseIt recently opened an annex designed by architect David Chipperfield, and is the largest art museum in Switzerland with a world-famous collection.
  • “Eureka” “It is a huge kinetic sculpture by Jean Tinguely, from which you can enjoy a wonderful view of Lake Zurich.”
  • “the utliberg, A small mountain from which you can see the whole city and the lake. There are many moisturizer options at the summit.
  • “the Otokwai Seaside Resorta bath located directly on the lake, is crowded in the summer and attracts the city's most skilled swimmers during the cooler months.

This list is definitely not bad. But there is a clear gap between text and image. There is no church in front of the sunset here.

Admittedly, Kunsthaus definitely belongs on this list. The Freytag bag also looks great on New Yorkers. (Also: A little shopping is essential.)

But the list seems to suggest a 36-hour trip to New York without even looking at the Statue of Liberty or Central Park! It's like going to Paris for a short, must-see trip while avoiding the Eiffel Tower. It's like spending 36 hours in Cairo without seeing the pyramids (Hello “Misr Baedeker” at the desk next to mine). As if you were looking at Basel without – yes, what actually?*

Now what about that church in the teaser?

So what about this New York Times cover photo? Dear New Yorkers, in the photo you can see one of Zurich's biggest tourist attractions: Fraumünster.

What awaits you there? Chagall's windows are amazing (New York Times note: The Chagall Windows should not be missing from the list that considers the Bloemlihal a “must see place.”) In addition to a monastery with a wonderful story about a glowing deer. You can also find Onuphrius in Fraumünster, the most poetic saint since there have been saints. (It's really eye-catching!)

Onuphrius the Great, Fraumünster Zurich Image license:

Onuphrius the Great, the most poetic of saints, in Fraumünster.picture: Wikimedia

If we want to visit Fraumünster and marvel at the strange saints, we can also take a quick trip to Grossmünster: Felix, Regula and Exuperantius are the main attractions and have bravely carried their heads before them for centuries. In the cellar, Charlemagne is amazed by his physical features.

Since we also traveled to Zurich because of the New York Times teaser, it's also worth climbing the Grossmünster Tower, where you can get a great view of Fraumünster and the entire Old Town.

Please continue.

Degenerate Bircher Moseley? Decadence is different in Zurich!

What caught our attention, in addition to the missing Fraumünster, was Sprüngli's description of the “stop switch”:

«Sprüngli is an upscale café that serves a luxurious version of Bircher muesli (…)»

“Sprüngli is one of the best cafés that serves a luxurious version of Birchermüsli (…).”

Zurich residents are used to their city being shown in the media as expensive and decadent. To the dismay of many people living in Zurich, this cannot be denied.

But if Zurich is decadent, we wouldn't want to recommend New Yorkers' Birchermüsli (or Big Mac), but Fischli-Weiss-Haus.

People move around the artwork

Real decadence in Zurich.Photo: Keystone

This artwork with the simple name “House” by artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss has a very special connection to New York, having been exhibited there for the first time in 2016 (just on the sidelines and to combat homesickness for our guests from abroad).

The “House” is an exact replica of a fuzzy commercial building in 1:5 scale. It is worth around 2 million Swiss francs, and is located somewhere in Zurich, between the racetrack and the indoor stadium. No security, no fence. Anyone can touch it and experience what 2 million people feel like in a small space. Subtle decadence à la Zurich.

We can also recommend Birchermüesli from Migros.

And now you: what would your bucket list for a short 36-hour trip to a Swiss city of your choice look like?

* No, dear people of Basel, you have a beautiful city, the highest skyscrapers in Switzerland, the invention of the Revival, and a carnival that is even considered a world cultural heritage! Honestly, if I want to see a Tinguely sculpture, I don't go to Zurich to see Eureka, I go to Basel! I love you and your city more than this stupid joke suggests!