We were very blessed to have not only one, but two sets of parents come visit us this autumn.  A few days after we returned from the Désalpe festival, Mom and Ken L. arrived in Zürich and kicked off another fun-filled week with family.  We were also very fortunate to see our family friend, Liesl, who joined them for their first several days of their visit.

Having just made a long, overnight journey, and with a busy weekend ahead, we decided to have a laid-back, local experience on Mom and Ken L.’s first day in Switzerland.  We spent the afternoon exploring the cobblestone streets of Niederdorf, the old town, which is a perfect place to wander and window shop.

A view of Grossmünster from across the river

As we walked, we made our way to Grossmünster, one of Zurich’s most iconic and historic churches.  Grossmünster was built from the 1100s to 1200s and was originally commissioned as a monastery church by Charlemagne, so it has some pretty interesting history.  The Swiss protestant reformation was initiated by a man named Huldrych Zwingli from his office in the Grossmünster in the 1500s, so it is now home to an Evangelical Reformed congregation.  Unfortunately, much of the church’s original interior ornamentation was removed during the reformation, but it does have some very unique stained glass windows designed by Augusto Giacometti.  The Grossmünster’s bell towers are an iconic part of the Zürich skyline, and visitors are welcome to climb the steps for a unique view of the city and landscape beyond.

View of Zürich, the lake, and mountains from Grossmünster

To conclude our afternoon in Niederdorf, we stopped for drinks at Cabaret Voltaire.  This bar and music venue prides itself in being the birthplace of Dadaism, a performance and visual art movement that emerged in the early 1900s in response to World War I.  One of the aims of Dadaism was to challenge social norms and expectations concerning the role of the artist and the purpose of art, and Dadaist visual art would sometimes incorporate readymade objects (perhaps one of the most famous Dadaist works incorporated a urinal).  Although visitors to Cabaret Voltaire can certainly learn about, and bask in, its cultural history and significance, it also makes a great place to simply sit and enjoy a great cocktail (which is what we did).  The mismatched chairs, exposed architectural elements, and artisanal cocktails made for a perfectly simple yet indulgent afternoon experience.

Inside Cabaret Voltaire