Zurich: Heat Wave

Posted on June 29, 2006


125004-374612-thumbnail.jpgby julie galante 

Remember how June started with below-freezing temperatures in Zurich? I miss that. I really do. As far as I am concerned, we could skip the rest of summer and go straight to ski season right now. But, alas, I don’t control the seasons (at least not yet), so I continue to suffer along in heat that makes me wish I were sitting in the middle of an over-air-conditioned American theater sucking icy cold ice water through a straw. Our teeny-tiny European freezer doesn’t hold enough ice to get me through the day, and of course our apartment is un-air-conditioned. This is about as close as I get to homesick.

Photo credit: Visual Poetry

As tempted as I am to just go into hibernation until the temperature drops, life keeps pulling me out of bed, luring me with riverside beer gardens, weekend trips to snowy mountains, and non-stop soccer on TV.

I am thoroughly grateful for the entertainment provided by the World Cup this month. We entered lotteries for tickets to a couple matches, but I have recently found myself thinking that it’s much more pleasant to watch them from my couch (with an icy cold drink) than it would be to sit in the sunny, hot stands drinking lukewarm beer. Needless to say, I won’t be too disappointed if we don’t actually get any tickets.

Despite my whining, I am actually trying to make the best of this heat wave. In addition to watching several World Cup matches in various fan-packed bars are restaurants around town, I have been busy sampling other aspects of Zurich’s summertime offerings. One of my favorite activities (if sitting and drinking counts as an ‘activity’) has become gathering up a couple friends and spending the afternoon at one of Zurich’s many waterfront drinking establishments. A favorite is the cool and convenient Bauschänzli, a large beer garden in the middle of the Limmat River in downtown Zurich. With shade provided by giant trees, and a cool breeze off the water, this is a lovely place to escape the heat.

Swimming is another fun pastime for when the temperatures soar. Even on the hottest days, the water in the Limmat and Lake Zurich is cool and invigorating. One can go to one of the various public baths around the city, or just hop in at the many less formal swimming areas. The Frauenbad is right next to the Bauschänzli and offers a pool as well as an enclosed area for swimming in the river itself surrounded by a deck for sunbathing. As its name implies, the Frauenbad is only for women, but there is also a Männerbad in the city, as well as a couple co-ed baths.

Another good swimming area is right next to the Wollishofen boat stop on the lake. The boat to get here is part of the city’s public transportation network, and is free for holders of day, month, or year passes. A short walk down the shore is the Rote Fabrik, a graffiti-covered converted brick factory that contains a restaurant, exhibition space, and a night club, among other things.

While I won’t be turning into a sun-worshipper anytime soon, I am starting to look at the positives. At the very least, Zurich is a whole lot better place to spend summer than Milan (our previous home) was. Not only is Milan a whole lot hotter and muggier, but it has no body of water to speak of (half-dried-up canals don’t count). Hooray for the lake.