Friday, 11 November 2016

Zurich: Music, Museums and Miyuko

Strolling down the streets of Zurich, my eyes were drawn to the muesli shop. Yes, you heard that right.

Inside is a succulent array of dozens of special hand-picked mueslis, hunted in the mountains by skilled müslhandlers whose families have pursued the trade for generations. The liver, which is said to be the most invigorating part of the müsl, is usually consumed raw on the spot before it can spoil, and so is never found in the dish itself.


As I strolled vaguely northwards, the distant clamour of celebration - which is to say, brass bands - came to my ears. Intrigued, I wandered over towards it, twisting through narrow cobbled streets until I burst upon a square crammed to the gills with people in colourful costumes, many of them wielding instruments.

I am not entirely sure what the hordes of Mordor are doing performing brass band music, but I presume it's hard to get paying gigs now - Sauron isn't exactly giving out references.

After several enjoyable renditions of songs I didn't recognise, I reluctantly wandered off again, in search of my next quest: eventually food, but first, the Zoology Museum.

Quite a nice university here.

Absolutely everything in Zurich is basically up a hill, apart from the things that are down a hill instead.


An impressive mammoth

I believe this chappy is a cave hyaena

It was a moderately small museum, with lots of smallish exhibits, so after a few minutes I decided I was hungrier than I was keen to look at all the exhibits. And to be honest, I've been to a lot of natural history museums and I studied zoology, so I had a reasonable idea about it all anyway. To my dismay, the museum did not feature a restaurant, or even a cafe. Tragic! I roamed away in search of food.

After a quick meal at the station (yeah, yeah, but it had seats free and didn't cost £30 for a lunch) I headed over to the national museum. I don't know much about Switzerland, after all. We don't exactly study it at school.

An old mail coach, rather garish, but it has a certain style.

A map of mail coach routes, which just makes me think of Thurn and Taxis

In a lot of the museum you're not supposed to take photos. I'm never clear on when this applies, whether it only means flash photos (which can degrade exhibits as light is bad for many substances), and to what extent it's a conservation matter rather than a commercial one. I think crowd control is also a consideration. These next two photos were before I realised you weren't supposed to take photos in that section!

I didn't fully understand the labyrinthine layout of the museum, but it seemed like this section was a special exhibition on the ancient and mediaeval world, before Switzerland proper existed?

Mediaeval trading routes

An interesting window looking out over the park

A new exhibit will be set up here, as far as I could make out the signs. So much work going on here! There were also carpenters at work.

This looked like it was maybe some part of a staircase, but I honestly don't know. It's bizarre.

When we got onto the general museum, I was struck by the first room. That's because it is a display dedicated to the Swiss banking system, with a strong emphasis on how legal, honest and trustworthy it is (though the cynical cartoons in several parts of the museum raise an eyebrow at this).

I dunno, guys. I sort of feel like at the point when you feel obliged to begin your national history museum with an exhibition earnestly asserting how [national feature X] is not morally reprehensible in any way, you've already lost that argument.

Safety deposit boxes, some with random sample items in.

An interesting display of cynical cartoons.

It's quite a nifty building in general.

Alas, the rich grey of the skies in late afternoon doesn't really come through, since my cameras both insist on auto-adjusting to lighting conditions! It was darker than this, with a really interesting twilight cast everywhere.

I was in serious need of a rest when I finished my tour, but the cafe was completely chocker, so no tea for me. I found a nearby seat, and ended up chatting to a Brit who was visiting his girlfriend, and contemplating emigration.

This mosaic is just on the wall of some kind of business.

I have no idea what Neumuhle does.


M-san had straitly instructed me to visit Miyuko cafe, so I made sure to visit. I was by this point pretty exhausted, due to mysterious illness, but I was keen to fight it and not let myself pass out in mid-afternoon in a hotel room every day of my trip.

Excellent cake architecture there

I ordered... Dreamcake, I think this one is called. It was an attractive chocolate and mango cake, with an Earl Grey tea I think.

It's a little softer than I prefer my cakes ideally, but then it's a sort of Japanese-inspired cafe so that's not surprising.

Some of the delightful array of cakes.

And now, time to head back, write blogposts and prepare for an early night.

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