Zurich at Christmas

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Christmas has long past, but we had a great weekend getaway to Zurich a couple of weeks before the holiday.  We had been meaning to get to Zurich for a while now and since it sounded quite festive at Christmas,  we figured it was high time we check it out!  We stayed at the the Hotel Helvetia in their large family suite, which was within walking distance to Old Town and right next to a tram and metro stop.  I loved the Kiehl’s cosmetic products they offered and the restaurant did a great brunch.

Our favorite market was the beautiful Weinachtsdorf in front of the Opera House.  This market is a newer addition to the city at Christmas time and it’s very well done.  Lots of cute stands selling interesting trinkets, good variety of food to choose from, plenty of gluhwein, and my favorite-the hot chocolate with Bailey’s stand!  There’s also an ice skating rink and a carousel that our kids enjoyed.

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On Sunday we took the train out to Rapperswil, a lovely mediaeval village about thirty minutes from Zurich.  With over 200 stands, this market is one of the largest in Switzerland.  The highlight for the boys was definitely the donkey ride around the market.  Very fun!

After we had seen all of the market, we wandered through the rest of the village and it was really lovely.  We were glad we made the trip out, especially after sampling the most delicious apple donuts with vanilla cream!  I was expecting the kind of apple cider donut we get back in the U.S., but it was really just a ring of apple with a deep fried coating.  Yum!

We made it back from Rapperswil just in time to head to the Singing Christmas tree performance at Werdmühleplatz and Jonah and I even got to participate!  It was so fun ringing the bells and singing Christmas carols.  Definitely a memorable experience.

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We enjoyed wandering around the Old Town and seeing all the gorgeous lights.  There is another Christmas market in the Old Town, but most of the stands had closed for the day by the time we made our way there.  It was still very picturesque to wander through the city!

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On Monday morning we were hoping that the Opera House Christmas market would be less crowded since school was still in session in Zurich…and luckily it was pretty empty when we arrived.  We almost had the whole skating rink to ourselves-much different from the packed scene Saturday night!

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I loved the different food selections at this market.  The boys had pizza, I had some fantastic Japanese ramen and Lukasz had Indian.  Everyone was happy!

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Zurich is a beautiful city and now we want to visit in the summer too!

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Before we left we had one last stop to make.  I had read that candle dipping is very popular around the holidays on the Swiss German side-so much so that there are places set up just for the holidays where you can pop in and dip some candles and even drink a coffee or hot chocolate in between waiting for your layers of beeswax to dry.  Even kids get in on the action and there are vats of beeswax that are much lower so they can easily reach.  I thought the boys might enjoy so we stopped in to the pavilion on the Bürkliplatz and tested it out.  It was very calming and the boys were enthralled-for about the first 10 minutes!  Full disclosure I did wind up finishing all 3 candles on my own, but it was a really unique and fun thing to do.

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Also, only in Europe is it totally normal for kids to be dipping string into vats of scalding beeswax!!!  But after explaining it to the boys and of course helping the little one, they were quite careful and cautious.  At any rate, we were glad we tried it out and we came home with a very special souvenir.

I’d definitely recommend a weekend in Zurich at the holidays.  There’s plenty to do, in fact we didn’t even see everything we had planned for, but we did have a great time!

Now Christmas feels like it was ages ago; sorry for the late post!  But here are some ideas for Valentine’s Day since it’s just around the corner.  🙂  A romantic weekend in Lyon is a perfect way to celebrate…or a cozy weekend in the Italian Alps!  So many options in this beautiful corner of the world.  ❤

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