48 hours in Zurich – day 1: The Old City


Zurich as I remember it isn’t much. The first time I’d been there was on a work trip, where time and exploration were second to business. I only glimpsed the old city and nothing more (was there more I wondered at the time).

I found myself in Zurich again when my partner and I were on a trip to Switzerland and Germany. Zurich was our starting point. As infrequent travellers to Europe we’re completely forgetful of the fact that all shops close early, and always on Sundays. Having only two days in Zurich, one of which fell on a Sunday, we were at a great disadvantage.

Some of the places mentioned in the two days we couldn’t visit since they were closed, but they had been earmarked and I’d recommend you try them out. I would, if I ever found Zurich on my path again.


Start your breakfast in the old city, where a number of flourishing cafés offer up sumptuous starts to your day. Café Zahringer is one place known for its history, though value/experience for your buck can be found in any café you wander into.

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Sightseeing isn’t much of a thing at Zurich, we found out. One of the main sights is the Grossmünster cathedral. After, take a leisure stroll by the river. The weather was perfect in November, if not a little on the cold side. But imagine you’re me and that fuels your walking spirit more than not since you’re not sweating out your morning’s caffeine intake in thirty degree tropical weather.

Walk the length of the river to the far end of the city, past the main street shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse. On weekends, bazaars pop up where you can peruse antiques. Mostly I love this out of curiosity for the junk people lay out – old spoons, frames, pots and lamps from days gone by.

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Neumarkt is just one of many streets in the old city lined with stores that feed a shopper’s most desired intent. Art is abound in Zurich along these stretches, and on one such street you’d find Kunstwarenhaus, a gallery we like for its variety in creativity and affordability.

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Shopping is extremely expensive in Zurich, though its goods are quality everywhere you turn. This is unfortunately the case in all Switzerland, as we discovered in comparison to Germany. The simplest things of necessity or indulgence are priced above average. On Sundays the Shopville beneath the rail station has shops that are open for groceries and such.

Even so, it’s lovely looking through all Zurich’s old book stores, and admiring the design and craftsmanship of many interior and design shops.

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For tea, stop by the well known Confiserie Sprüngli for desserts. The cafe is right on the heart of Bahnhofstrasse, and a good place to park yourself for a cup of coffee and a sweet treat while you watch the trams run up and down the street.


Once you’ve got sightseeing and shopping under your belt, rest up at my favourite place in all Zurich, the restaurant Zeughauskeller, for brews and a meal. Don’t ignore the specialties of the house (we had the whole pork shank, rosti and sausages), and in particular don’t be an ass and ignore the menu when it says “a must when in Zurich” for Kalbsgeschnetzeltes nach Zurcher Art – panfried sliced veal and mushrooms in creamy white wine sauce. It’s a goddamn droolworthy dish I’d have had twice in one setting if I could. Best had with noodles in my opinion but go for any of its other tempting options.

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If clubbing is your thing, there’s plenty in Zurich, as we’ve read. But we much rather walk down Niederdorfstrasse, a part of Zurich’s old town with plenty of bierhalles for evening tipples.


Switch it around – maybe visit the modern part of Zurich on your first 24 hours in Zurich!

hello from Chiang Mai

updated travels


Our Yangon trip got moved to October, and I realised that I hadn’t updated my travel widget in a while. When we had to move Yangon, the discussion of where to go led us to Bangkok, and since this is a four day holiday, we figured being stuck in the city for that long wasn’t so much in our favour (we’re in Bangkok three times this year, hurrah!). So we decided to journey in an overnight train, first time for me, and 12 hours later we were in lovely, quiet Chiang Mai. In our fabulous hotel in the mountain tops we’re spending our day lounging by the pool soaking up a blistering sun forgiven only by the grace of these cool waters. And me, trying to fix a nasty t-shirt tan brought on by an ATV ride. We don’t do these types too often, but this – this is a holiday.

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Cafe Zähringer, Zürich

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Organic, vegetarian-friendly cafés aren’t the sort of thing we seek out when travelling, but we were drawn to the old school charm of Café Zähringer in Zurich’s old town. It was not very far from our hotel, so it naturally came across our path. We popped into the little place for a spot of coffee, and more to get away from the biting winter chill. This was an alternative café known more for its origin than its food or service (neither being very outstanding as we read), but that it was a workers’ collective and that all owners and employees had a stake in the place. Frankly I don’t know what that means, just seems like a group of people putting some love into a hobby since 1981 and calling it a collective. Speaking of which – Happy May Day! Purely a coincidence.

Cafe Zähringer
Zaehringerplatz 11, Old Town
Tel: 044 252 05 00

5 things I miss about Paris


Paris is the place I always want to go back to, and I’m perhaps not the only one. I do know folks who don’t find Paris all that hot, but it certainly can’t be denied that the city  is simply charm itself. It’s also the only city I find completely lovely to visit, though I’ll never think of living here, unlike Berlin. We tried out AirBnb when we stayed here, in a lovely apartment with a courtyard near the Laumiere station, which was near the city centre. It’s quite something seeing how people lived here, which was a welcome change. Aside from its tremendously awesome food, there are 5 things I miss most about Paris that can’t quite be found anywhere else.

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1. Life in and around the Metro

The Metro in Paris is a hotbed of activity, and we love just getting a hot coffee and pastry from Paul in the morning underground or finding some other bakery during rush hour that serves up hot croissants. Riding the metro is also great for people watching.

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2. History, Culture, Art

Paris is intense, the only saving grace being that everything is in French and I don’t understand the language. It’s amazing being steeped in such history that oozes from the buildings, streets and all the century-old bookstores. I love what the Louvre offers, the various contemporary art galleries, Cathedral Notre Dame, it’s just madness. And then there’s the graffiti around every corner that marks the modernity of this city in juxtaposition to its grim gargoyles.

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3. Paris by night

By night, the city lights up in an amazing way, equal parts dark and mysterious and equal parts bright and stunning. Seeing the city at night has a different kind of feel to it. Google’s Night Walk of Marseille best shows this (idea is schmazing. why didn’t I think of this??)

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4. Bistros, everywhere

It’s almost ridiculous how easy it is to find a bistro to pop into for a quick cuppa, and it’s especially awesome when it’s freezing cold and there’s just nothing better than sitting outside and warming up with a coffee. If I could do this as a hobby or a living I’d gladly do this in Paris, where the crowds make this experience very unlike anywhere else in the world.

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5. Photogenic Streets

Every corner of Paris is just beautiful, it’s like goddamnit, the face of a model that has no wrong angles. One of the best things to do is really take in Paris on foot, where exploring each neighbourhood often turns up something surprising.

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1 hour in Bern, Switzerland

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We were barely in Bern. We drove quickly into the little town to see the old city on the way to Chur and its mountains. A pity, since Bern was filled with all the things we loved – little market stalls in the middle of Bärenplatz (Bear Plaza), beautiful historical architecture lining cobbled streets slick with rain, and trams running down the middle of the street. We hmmped at the Curia Confoederationis Helveticae building (Federal Palace of Switzerland) then got distracted by life going on the roads instead. In the hour we gave ourselves, we walked the long shopping promenade, peeked at Albert Einstein’s tiny apartment, marvelled at the numerous elaborate statues perched high atop beautiful fountains, and saw the Zytglogge (clock tower called the “time bell”), easily seen in the centre of the medieval plaza. It was also freezing cold, kind of just the way I like it, and we couldn’t resist buying the loveliest Nutella crepe that came deliciously piping hot and was just what we needed to fuel us for the rest of the trip when we left this charming piece of Switzerland.

Books, Beers, Bait, Bangsar


One weekend we found ourselves in Bangsar, so we took to walking the streets to see what we usually miss when we spend time there for lunch or drinks. Turns out, nothing much.

Shopping in Bangsar is a bit of a rip off I think; things are often expensive but the quality isn’t up to par. Hipster shops are a plenty, alongside your regular fashion brands like Ben Sherman or Warehouse inside the Bangsar Village mall itself.

This place is great for food and drinks though, with the sheer number that have opened up. We stopped at Antipodean for breakfast, it being highly recommended in a magazine we picked up naming the top food destinations in KL. Perhaps we didn’t order the right dish, because that breakfast sorely sucked. The coffee was not bad though. The place is crowded on weekends, and its staff bustle with almost sheer manic desperation to get every order taken, customers seated, food served, bills paid, customers shoved off and then tables cleaned before the next guest is seated. Not the best atmosphere to be in when you’re wanting a relaxing weekend.  Next door to Antipodean is the next much lauded Yeast, which seems to be a little more laid back though just as packed and bustling.

One thing great about forgetting to bring along your computer charger on a weekend trip is you really start digging your non-digital hobbies. I bought a book  to read (for once, being ahead of a book being made into a movie) while we enjoyed beers, oysters and calamari at Bait to wind down the superbly hot afternoon.

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Since I typically post about food places on our travels we’ve discovered and lovedinteresting experiences, or simple travel tips and guides, I seldom do long visual posts. I’ve done some with Beirut, Turkey, Lebanon, and even of some our favourite landscapes while on drives through New Zealand. But this blog just doesn’t seem like the place to put so many of these photographs, though, especially since sometimes I get tongue-tied trying to think of words to say on this page. I much prefer for you to interpret these scenes for yourselves. I’m on tumblr, though my posts are automated so it only posts the first image. I’m on Facebook, though in automated mode it serves as an update for new posts through links. I’m more active on Instagram and Twitter, but these formats still aren’t very conducive for all my photographs (visuals? captures? images? these words seem so impersonal). There’s Pinterest, which I do upload travel photos on every so often. After years, I decided to get back on where I originally began – Flickr.

I must say, Marissa Mayer’s done quite a good job of turning Flickr around. I left the platform almost as soon as I started it in 2008 since it got clunky and started charging for space. When I checked back on it today (took a gazillion minutes to try and figure out, fuckit, and then reset password), was surprised to see 1 terabyte of free space! Much yay ensued. On this account I found some newer photos from our New Zealand rugby world cup trip in 2011. More importantly, a whole trove of photos from way back that I’d forgotten, as far back as 2007. In some ways, it’s telling of how I’ve changed the way I look at and photograph things. Also the quality has just gotten much better over the years from my gradual upgrading of cameras.

So basically I’m back on Flickr, which is where I’d keep and upload all our travel photos that I don’t post here to avoid clutter. I always forget how much of something I love when everyday life gets in the way (yes, work – I’m talking about you). I really enjoy photography, it really is the root reason for everything I’ve ever done for Seven Second Rhapsody. So check out my Flickr, I’ll remind you here every now and then. It’s even got my old username Rabbittrick, which I can’t change. I’m just glad it’s not something weird like DirtyFork1985 (keeping that for my secret accounts).

Geneva and Zurich (work trip), 2010

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Beijing, 2008

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Shanghai (work trip), 2007


Shibuya. Shinjuku. Harajuku



We discovered that Shibuya shopping wasn’t so much our thing, perhaps being a little bit on the teen side as girls and boys swamped the Shibuya 101 shopping towers, while we felt wholly middle aged and very much not so fashionable. It was forty degrees C in August, one of Japan’s hottest months, and I can be forgiven (or maybe not) for just wanting to wear a pair of shorts and white men’s Uniqlo T-shirts (they were the most comfortable). Forget accessories, who can bother with the flash and bling in this goddamn weather. Well. These kids could.

We discovered a cool kushikatsu izakaya for snacks and beers, and also an express Ippudo eatery at Shibuya. We stayed here for the Starbucks Shibuya crossing shot, a photo with Hachiko’s statue outside the main station, wandered around some shops aimlessly for a bit, then headed to Shinjuku and Harajuku.

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So trying to get here via the Yamanote line is a bit of an adventure, but then again so is all of Tokyo’s train routes. Can’t be blamed for trying a little less harder in mapping this efficiently as it’s the only source of air-conditioning comfort. Shinjuku was another mess of shops and teeny bopper style, starting with Takeshita street once you exited the station. I wanted to try and Wolfgang Puck express, though just trying to get from one side of the street to the next is pretty exhausting in this heat and crowd. There wasn’t much energy for stuffing face with food so we pressed on. Frankly I’d like to talk about Tokyo’s insufferable forty degree C temperature more than anything. Everything was just so tempting but you couldn’t help but think about running back to the hotel room for a cool glass of whiskey soda and soaking in the tub. Forever.

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The vibe here was definitely more adult. All of the big brand names line the front of Harajuku, so the best things were found off in these little alleys. It’s also surprisingly less crowded, as most people mill about the main streets and lounge about in the cafés there. It’s a great place for finding knick knacks, vintage shops and these amazing Takoyaki delights.

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