Zurich: Living in Colours

Posted on June 7, 2006


125004-356241-thumbnail.jpgby julie galante 

For anyone who’s a bit bored with Zurich’s uniform cleanliness, peace, and order, a stroll down Langstrasse (in German) is just what you need.  Although still uncharacteristically clean for a street half-filled with head shops, dollar stores, and strip clubs, this neighborhood feels completely different from the city center, so much so that you may forget which country you’re in.

Photo credit: Dreamer 7112
I’m pretty sure this is the only place in Zurich where I have seen illegal street vendors (apparently a whole lot of bedroom linen sets recently fell off a truck somewhere), but they don’t seem to appear in large numbers (at least, nothing like the quantities found in Italian cities).  Even the flea market at Helvetia Platz seemed to be well-regulated, making me wonder how some of those vendors could possibly be making money out there, given the piles of useless junk they had to offer.  1980s-era car phone, anyone?
One of the first things you’ll notice about Langstrasse is how multicultural the area feels. The eateries range from Middle-Eastern to Chinese to Caribbean, as do the people you see walking down the street (the rest of Zurich looks lily-white in comparison).  One restaurant I can recommend, Lily’s Stomach Supply, offers a mishmash of Asian dishes (including Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian) either to take away or enjoy in a casual, modern dining area.
The kebab stands and kitsch shops are sandwiched in between bars and pubs which cover the spectrum from sleazy to swank. On a nice day, outdoor seating at any number of locales offers excellent people-watching opportunities. At night, Langstrasse takes on a lively and slightly seedy feel (which is not altogether different from how it feels during the day). One of my favorite bars in this area is Memphis, which offers live music several nights a week.
Langestrasse stretches from Limmat Platz, which is a little northwest of the main train station, to Badenerstrasse, which offers its own charm, though more stereotypically Zurich. It is easily reachable by several tram lines, and Bus 32 takes you down the entire street.