The D&O Diary’s European mission concluded this week with a final stop in Zurich, for meetings and an educational session. I already knew from prior visits that Zurich is a beautiful and charming city nestled in a spectacular setting at the northern end of Lake Zurich, surrounded by mountains, with a spectacular view of the Alps to the south. What I learned on this trip is that as reliably beautiful as Zurich is at any time, it is particularly stunning in late summer.
I arrived in Zurich on Saturday morning. Saturday turned out to be a dead solid perfect summer day in Zurich – blue skies, sunshine, gentle breezes, and temperatures in the mid-80s. Within 20 minutes of checking into my hotel I was on a rental bicycle and heading out of the central city along the lake (first picture below). Lake Zurich is long and thin, and, in the part of lake closest to the city, runs along a north-south axis. After I bicycled south along on the east side of the lake for about an hour, I doubled back and the explored the western side.
Although much of the lakeshore is in private hands, there are numerous small public parks among the lakeside houses. I paused in each of the parks, taking in the view of the lake, of the surrounding hills, and of the Alps to the south. I also discovered at these various parks what people in Zurich do on a hot summer Saturday in late August — what people in Zurich do is to go jump in the lake.
Because of the summer afternoon haze, the Alps piled up at the bottom of the lake were hard to photograph, but you can still see their shadowy images on the far horizon.
At its northern end, the lake empties into the Limmat River, which then flows through the central city and then on to the northwest. When I bicycled back into the city, I found that there was an event taking place on the river, the Zurcher Limmatschwimmen. Masses of people were jumping into the river at the point where its flows into the central city from the lake. The swimmers each had a flotation device that sort of looked like a yellow and brown hippopotamus. Big flotillas of swimmers floated down the river for several miles. It was quite a spectacle seeing all of these people drifting along on their inflated hippopotamus floats. After I biking around for a several hours in the summer afternoon heat, seeing the swimmers relaxing in the cool river really made me want to jump in and join them.
On Saturday evening, there was another outdoor event, this one in the old town Zurich streets near my hotel. The event was the Dörflifäscht (which more or less means village festival).
There were food pavilions and beer stands and various stages on which DJs were playing music, and one stage with live music. It was crowded, hot, and loud. It was also great fun and I enjoyed it immensely. I was struck by the mix of people at the festival. It included not only large numbers of young people, as you might expect, but also families with young children even some seniors strolling around and observing the scene. I sampled some Indian food and then some Greek food. I also might have had a little beer. The only problem with the event is that the main stage, on which DJ music was amplified to about 95 decibels, was directly across from my hotel. And the music went on into the small hours of the morning. Did I mention that it was very loud?
On Sunday morning, my host from Swiss Re, Martin Böttcher, picked me up at my hotel in a car and we drove to Uetliberg, a rugged hill very close to the central city on the lake’s west side. We took a gondola to the top. We then hiked on trails along the ridgetop to the mountain’s peak at Uto Kulm. About halfway along, we stopped a small rustic teahouse perched on the hillside for some apple juice. At the mountain’s peak, we climbed a viewing tower, which afforded beautiful views not only of the city and of the Lake, but of the Alps to the South. Martin pointed out to me in the haze along the horizon the snow-covered peaks of the Eiger and Jungfrau. We then had a late brunch, including some excellent lake perch, in the restaurant at the peak. We were then able to take a train from the mountain’s back side to the central train station back in Zurich.
On Monday afternoon, I spoke at an event for local brokers at the Swiss Re headquarters building in Zurich and on Tuesday I was one of the speakers during a full day session at Swiss Re’s conference center in Rüschlikon. The conference center is a beautiful facility overlooking the lake, in the suburban countryside just outside of Zurich. The picture at the top of the post shows the view from my hotel room at the center.
I was privileged to be a part of a day of excellent conversation and discussion with Swiss Re D&O professionals from around the globe. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear about the market conditions in a wide range of countries and to talk about claims and coverage trends. The meetings also afforded numerous opportunities for socializing. I enjoyed being a part of both days’ events, seeing a number of old friends, and making many new friends. I am very grateful to have been invited to participate in this first-rate event.
I would especially like to thank Martin Böttcher for being such a good host. I am grateful to Martin for showing me around his city and helping to make my visit to Zurich so enjoyable. Thank you Martin!
More Pictures of Zurich: