Weekend Diary

A new beginning: an apartment has been found. Well, a new beginning of sorts: now the shopping begins. There are a few interesting looking shops around the wonderfully named Schmiede Wiedikon, where I’m currently camped, so I take a slow walk into town:

  • Brockiland
    A number of people have recommended the second-hand stores dotted around town. There’s one practically next door and I pop in for a second but spend almost an hour here. Their website looks dodgy; it looks dodgy from the outside; it’s even a little dodgy inside but this is Swiss-German dodginess, which is a little like bad French or Italian food. Inside, a huge converted slowly descending underground parking garage forms a kind of down-market Guggenheim devoted entirely to the re-use of perfectly good household items. This place isn’t much good for furniture (which is what I was really after) but is great for just about everything else:

    • electrical goods: VCRs, toasters and even Gaggia coffee machines
    • kitchen: cutlery, plates and saucepans
    • living room: coffee tables and a vast array of glasses of every conceivable type
    • random knick knacks: unwanted souveneirs and table ornaments
    • a ginormous selection of paintings, adding to the Guggenheim effect
    • books, complete with English section
    • clothes and bedsheets that I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole
  • Pile of Books
    I get derailed by the sight of an English bookshop. In contrast with Orell Fussli’s vast offering on Bahnhofstrasse, this is a charming little independent English bookshop that seems completely lost in this rather practical part of town. It’s great, though: I pick up Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and find something of a treasure in the second-hand section: a hardback edition of Violet and Geoffrey Brand’s “Brass Bands in the 20th Century”, with a whole chapter by Eric Ball on the music of brass bands. A real find, I think. The owner is friendly and, since the market for brass band literature is small in Zurich, lends me a hefty discount and welcomes me to this “strange little country”. He also hands me a copy of something called “Prime Zurich Guide” (the outgoing edition). I’ll be back.
  • Lederand
    Vast, gorgeous, hugely expensive leather couches. I won’t be back…
  • Pico Bello
    Lots of expensive looking old stuff that would look great in a really old-fashioned house…but also some really, really, cool almost-affordable tiffany glassware lamps that would look great almost anywhere. I might come back here and treat myself one day in the future (and, by doing so, create a packing nightmare for one day in the distant future).

So, Schmiede Wiedikon’s not so boring and practical after all.

That night, I browse through the “Prime Guide Zurich 2008/2009”. This is actually a great little book, which I’m not the first to write about, full of recommendations for independent stores large and small just like “Pile of Books” and “The Travel Bookshop”. There’s 166 places altogether, at least 30 or 40 of which I make a note to visit. If half of them turn out to be worth visiting, I’ll be happy.

So, it’s pretty encouraging for this new resident that a city so apparently small is packed with random shops normally only found in much larger cities: fine beads, wool, buttons and buckles shops (one each); retro hi-fi equipment; a chocolate shop and café; and some totally bizarre combination shops such as the book and wine shop, the home-made chilli sauces and mariachi records store and, lastly, the shoe café. It could be fun filling quiet weekends with visits to some of these places. First, though: furniture!