Monday, April 21, 2014

Good-bye Zurich

Dear Friends, I am The Homesick Potter,

Time flies! It has already been 20 days since I arrived in Berlin, and I am still holding out on my final Zurich blog.

Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland is located at the north-western tip of Lake Zurich. Picture-card perfect with two rivers, the Limmat and the Sihl,  the lake is hugged by majestic mountains.  Steeped in history unmarred by recent wars, affluent and very clean. The city has many claims to fame but I shall just focus on a few which caught my eye during my 3 month stay.

The Polyterrasse gives you the perfect vantage point 

over the city.

Across the valley the Uetliberg is the perfect outing for a Sunday stroll, or for the more sporty, a hike. 

A reward in the form of a teahouse is never far.

Menue of the Teehüsli 

As soon as the sun is out students from ETH populate the polyterrasse.

Sometimes strange experiments can be witnessed. This student collected data on time. 
Does my arrival time change with a clock strapped to my back?

 Züri-West should not be missed, this now-favourite area was once an industrial site and is a interesting mixture of gritty and new.

The Schiffbau is home to a theatre, restaurant and Jazz club.  Moods im Schiffbau  has an international program, great Jazz in an intimate space.  Along Josefstrasse are a number of ethnic shops where the more adventurous culinary taste buds can be satisfied. Every Sunday there is a flea market at Helvetiaplatz

This little gem I have kept from you long enough:  Le gourmandises de Miyuko is a Teahouse.  I discovered it by chance and later found articles about it on the web. The first time I went there was just to have coffee and to gawk at other people's food. The next time I sampled the food myself.  It was the perfect Valentines outing. 

The cafe is on a small side street on Beckenhofstrasse 7. 

On entering, the first room is partly shop and partly cafe. Further in, there are two more rooms for guests. 
All three rooms are cosy, fusing Japanese, French and Swiss decor and design.

Miyuko's attention to detail is not only in their food preparation but also the decor and interior design.

Along the river Limmat was my favourite running route and consequently became very familiar to me. I particularly enjoyed the slow changes with the increase in temperature.

In early January I watched a duck gliding gracefully by.

In February these two young Swiss girls felt it was time for a dip.

Primula  are eager to show their flowers.

 February also brought the opening of my favourite  hangout. 

Restaurant Chuchi am Wasser is located  at  the  Wasserwerkstrasse 21.
 They serve nice lunches and a good laté macciato. 

The Kunsthaus (Museum of Art) has a wonderful collection of modern art. 

I loved the Cello Player by Cuno Amiet 1868-1961 

Les cages  sont  toujours imaginaires, 1925 by  Max Ernst 1891-1976 

On my last day in Zurich I went to the Botanical Garden. 
 In the far corner tucked away from the more exotic plants is a field of Primula elatior which reminded me of my mother.

 The two of us would pick the flowers, dry them and later make tea.

A heartfelt embrace to all my fiends.
Good-bye Zurich

Monday, March 31, 2014

Schaffhausen and the Rheinfall

 Dear Friends, I am The Homesick Potter.

To suggest to two Canadians to visit the Rheinfall was a little foolhardy. Needless to say the Niagara Falls loom large in comparison. However if it was good enough for Goethe, it should satisfy two boys from Canada.

Some facts: The Rheinfall, the largest waterfall in Europe, has an impressive width of 492 feet and it makes its 82 foot drop in three dramatic leaps. As you follow the path, you have different viewpoints of the falls. At one point the water rushes underneath the platform you are standing on. This is not a good time to question engineering.

A crag, partially overgrown by bushes conjures up images of 19th-century landscape paintings.

In a letter to Schiller, Goethe writes on September 18th 1797, "Die Sonne kam hervor und verherrlichte das Schauspiel, zeigte einen Theil des Regenbogens und ließ mich das ganze Naturphänomen in seinem vollen Glanze sehen." (The sun appeared and glorified the spectacle before me, revealing part of a rainbow and allowed me to see the whole natural phenomenon in its full splendour).

Schaffhausen although small, has a beautiful city centre. The houses date back to the late Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo periods. Frescoes in pastel colours depict scenes from Babylonian and Greek legends. One of the city's jewels, Haus zum Ritter (Knight's House) was built in 1494. The original Renaissance frescoes were painted by Tobias Stimmer and praise the civil virtues. The frescoes were taken down in 1935 and are housed in the Museum zu Allerheiligen.

Haus zum Ritter

The city's other claim to fame is its copious oriel windows, which gave it its nickname Erkerstadt (city of oriel windows). It allowed the women a good view of the road without being seen themselves, and the merchants were able to demonstrate their wealth and good taste.

Depiction of an oriel window. 

All Saints (Munster zu Allerheiligen) offers a beautiful retreat from the city's bustle. The Benedictine abbey is mentioned as far back as 1049.

The cloister in the Romanesque - Gothic style is the largest in Switzerland.


 To quote the words of a dear friend,

 "I can go home now, happy".

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fasnacht in Basel

Dear Friends, I am The Homesick Potter,

Call it madness or the call of Fasnacht, but I did get up at 1 am after having slept only 3 hours to catch a special train that left at 2 am from Zurich to arrive in time for the "Morgestraich" at 4 am in Basel. The Basler Fasnacht is the largest carnival in Switzerland. It starts on a Monday morning after Ash Wednesday and lasts exactly 72 hours.

As I leave the station other trains arrive from the neighbouring cities and countries. A steady stream of people make their way to the city centre.

At exactly 4 am the city is plunged into complete blackout. Surrounded by people, young and old, enveloped by darkness, silence and anticipation. The signals are given by the drum majors for the "Morgestraich, vorwärts marsch!" (Morgestraich, forward march). Everything happens simultaneously,  Lanterns are lit and are now the only source of light, the Cliques march and play, and so begins Fasnacht 2014.

It is truly mad, weirdly wonderful and magical. Music surrounds you, masked musicians wearing lanterns march along the streets. The musicians seem to come from everywhere maneuvering their way  in a seemingly uncoordinated fashion. 

Each person wears a  mask and a head lantern (Kopflaterne). 

Each Clique has a parade lantern (Zuglaterne).

The masks, caricatures of odd, grotesque  faces, are made of papier-mâché,
 meticulously hand-painted. I love the attention to detail.

As soon as the sun is up, the cliques disperse but the piping and drumming continues. Everybody has a bit of a reprieve until the next parade which starts at 2 pm. A cozy place with a warm drink are in high demand since it is still nippy outside. I find a very crowded pub and try the obligatory flour soup (Mehlsuppe). I understand some are better than others, I am not sure if I will pursue the search for the perfect flour soup. 

I have lots of time on my hands until the beginning of the next parade and so do the participants. I meander around the city, bumping into various cliques, marching, breakfasting, gathering, celebrating. 

 Some take a confetti bath.  

I did mange to have a cat nap in the sun before the 2 pm parade. 

 And then it starts again,

 only louder,




more pipers

and smoking hot. 

When the clown leaves it's time to go. 

What an amazing day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Graffiti along the river Limmat in Zurich

Dear Friends, I am The Homesick Potter,

This morning the sky was blue, the sun was out, and so was I. It has been mostly overcast since I arrived in Zurich so needless to say it was a treat lapping up some sun. 

I went on my usual morning walk along the river Limmat. Halfway down the path is a sanctioned area for graf artists. The quality, style, technique and imagery varies greatly. The wall, just another canvas for the artists, is a wonderful vehicle for them to express themselves, but also to remember friends by. The artwork changes constantly; it may be political, satirical, rebellious or subversive. But every batch of new artists is keen to make their mark.

Der Wanderweg

Be careful you might 

be watched

but then who give a ... 

More than one way to express yourself

Stay here a while

You will be remembered

One of many

Green eyes watching 

 Close up 

Collage on the fence

Mine as well

  The wall 

For the critics out there: granted some of the work we see here does not fall into the      conventional art form. But  beauty can be found in the most obscure places.