≈≈≈Last sunday after lunch, I felt like going somewhere, since I had spent the whole morning at home. I felt it was probably not worth going somewhere too far away… That’s when I thought of Rapperswil, the city of Roses. A lovely city quite close by, just far enough to get away from Zürich. What’s the best way of going there then? By train or by ship? I discovered it takes 40 minutes to drive, 1 hour to go to Rapperswil by train and 2 hours by ship. I decided to take the ship because I felt both the journey and the destination are equally important. I was really impressed that even on holidays, weekends and in summer (June-September) the ship runs every hour. How convenient!
Having done quite a few ship cruises all around Switzerland: Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, Lake Geneva, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, I do feel a bit embarrassed to admit that this was going to be my first cruise on Lake Zürich! The leaving dock for the ship is at Bürkliplatz, right at the end of the lake, you can’t miss it. It is also easily accessible by tram.
You can buy your tickets at the ticket office next to the leaving dock but I don’t recommend this as there are usually large queues. I bought my ticket using the ZVV (Zürich transport network) app but if you don’t live in Switzerland I think it’s easier and faster to buy tickets at the ticket machines, which are also located at the leaving dock.
The ship has two floors and can contain up to 700 people, but normally they are not so full. The second class seats and the restaurant are on the first floor and the first class is on the second floor. I was lucky because there were seats left both in the front, back and the two sides of the ship. At the beginning I ran to the front of the ship but all I saw was the lake, so I decided to sit at the back to look at Zürich city. As the city was gradually replaced by the lake I changed my seats to the side because on one hand, I wanted to see the towns on the shores and on the other hand, the sun was too strong.
Once on the ship, I felt I had entered another world. From the middle of the lake, I experienced seeing Zurich from a brand new angle. The boat cruised past the various rowing clubs, yacht clubs , parks and bathing beaches on the foreshore.
The start of the cruise took us past the lake-front “Enge” district of Zurich with the summit of the Uetliberg Mountain towering behind it. At 897 metres, the Uetliberg itself provides a spectacular view over the Zurich rooftops and lake panorama. Well worth a visit also! Up the hill was the Enge church, standing majestically elevated above the rooftops, and known to the locals the “Bürgliterrasse” named after the restaurant that it replaced. Very close by, surrounded by vineyards, is the Bürgli manor house (1834), home of the famous 19th century writer Gottfried Keller, celebrated for his works on literacy realism. Further to the south is Villa Wesendonck now a museum in Zürich’s largest and most beautiful landscaped garden, the Rieterpark.
On the opposite side of the lake is the Seefeld district, and from the boat we can glimpse the Opera House and of course, the tallest building in Zürich – the Prime Tower. Considering all the tall buildings in China, it’s like a miniature (126m, 133m to tip). However, in Zürich it does stand tall.
As we sailed past all different types of houses, and ever-changing horizons, the towns, lakeside gardens, boat piers, mansions, varying colours of the water due to the differing depths, everything reminded me of summer. Yes, summer is officially here in Zürich now!
As the boat drew closer and closer to Rapperswil, the vista of the snowy alps from the central part of Switzerland was gradually obscured by the nearby mountains close to Rapperswil. If you are amazed by the snowy mountains afar, don’t wait too long to take photos, otherwise it could be too late. However, you can of course have the opportunity again if you decide to take the ship back. I felt I shouldn’t take my eyes of the scenery as it was constantly changing with time and movement of the ship, and I kept discovering beautiful vistas to capture on my camera. However, feeling a bit exposed outside in hot sunshine, and not wanting to get too sunburnt, I went inside. I found the ship restaurant and sat down to drink a cáfe latte whilst still enjoying the view from the panoramic windows.
I took the long round trip which goes from Zürich Bürkliplatz to Rapperswil and returns and it lasts for 4 hours on the lake. However there are also shorter cruises that go more direct to Rapperswil in 45 minutes. The long route is like the number “8” so it allows you to have the possibility to take a close look at all the cities or towns on both sides of the lake when the ship parks at the harbour. I got off at the final stop – Rapperswil.
Rapperswil is called the city of roses. The flag of the city which hangs on top of the castle shows the roses emblem, and the whole city was decorated with roses. For example, in privates gardens, on the windows of the houses, along the fountains. Roses were nearly everywhere. The city was as small as I expected and I visited three public rose gardens in total. Rose garden at the Lindenhof hill and the other one at Einsiedlerhaus are only a few steps away from each other and they are located at the foot of the Lindenhof hill, where the castle stands on the top. Although in May the buds were only beginning to unfurl, not in full bloom , they were really fresh and bright, reminding me of new births and life. I could imagine what an amazing picture there would be in July or August.
The 3rd garden I visited, the “Duftrosengarten” was larger and full of roses with stronger fragrance as the name the garden suggests. After visiting this garden, I decided to turn my way towards the castle, which gave me a wonderful view of the city, the lake and the mountains. I sat on the bench in front of the castle for around 10 mins and looking around, I saw roses, houses, lake with shining waves, mountains, people lying down on the gardens enjoying the sun, some lovers hugging & kissing. I wished I could stay longer but I knew I would come back. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the nearby wooden bridge crossing the lake connecting two cities, the largest of its kind in Switzerland. I’m sure I’ll return.
A whole afternoon or a relaxing whole day would be enough for this trip. Maybe I will be seeing you there in July or August?