This past winter break, I visited Switzerland and France with my parents and sister. We flew into Zurich, Switzerland; took a train to Paris, France; and then caught another plane back to good old Chicago, USA. Both Zurich and Paris are stunning cities, so why did I enjoy the Swiss segment of my winter break better than my Parisian segment? I have no idea. And I’m not saying that I don’t love Paris. I definitely do. Paris is a beautiful city full of experiences unlike anything else in the world. The cafes, architecture, and culture are incredibly unique and I completely understand why the city became romanticized by the entire world. But at the same time, I didn’t yearn for the Champs Elysees the way my family did once we returned to Chicago. What I did miss though, was the colorful buildings, the sound of a German accent, and the way the Swiss Alps was one of the most beautiful views I think I will ever see. I missed the calming vibe of Switzerland as a whole and the fact that it was minimally saturated with tourism.
I fell utterly in love with Zurich, but if I were to return to one of these two cities and settle in for a while, I would pick Paris. What? Didn’t I just spend this entire damn blog post gushing over Zurich? Yes. I did. But I think that one of the waiters we met working in our hotel, Erik, said it best. Erik is from Berlin, Germany and moved to Zurich a few months back. When asked how he liked Zurich and what he thought of it in comparison to Berlin, he said that Zurich was beautiful and good at the start, but after a short while it got boring, as there is minimal to no high energy excitement. And, here’s where money comes in, Switzerland is expensive as hell. In Erik terms: one beer in Zurich costs roughly what three or even four beers could potentially cost in Berlin, depending on where you went. In formal terms: Zurich has high salaries, but also high living costs.
Paris and Zurich are both lovely and I would readily return to either, but the moral of this post is this: If you ever have the chance to go to Zurich, do it. Eat chocolate, pastries, and sausage. Learn how to correctly say “Danke Schön.” Take a day trip, or plan a trip within a trip, and see the Alps. They honestly look the way I could imagine heaven looking. But, at least in my opinion, it is probably not the best place to go for the long haul. Paris on the other hand, has the perfect mix of tranquility and “big city” vibes. If for some reason you’re contemplating both Zurich and Paris, here’s my advice:
“Vacation in Zurich. Live in Paris.”
Peace and Love,