Our trip to Zurich was jam-packed with things to do. It’s tough to see and do everything a city has to offer in just a few short days but we sure gave it a good ol’ college try. We started out with what turned out to be the highlight of the day: A cooking class at Hiltl (Sihlstrasse 28, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland, Tel: 044 227 70 00), Europe’s oldest vegetarian restaurant, founded in 1898.

A brief tour around the restaurant and kitchen (huge, clean and full of enticing aromas), got all of us in the mood to roll up our sleeves and put our culinary talents to the test. We broke into groups of three and got to work. Group One was responsible for the Lentil Terrine (Beluga lentils, horseradish and cranberry apple sauce). Group Two took on the Paprika Geschnetzeltes (sliced quorn, white wine, cream and gherkins) and my group, Group Three was lucky enough to tackle the Warm (Flourless) Chocolate Cake, served with a strawberry and rhubarb compote. And, if I might say so myself, it was absolutely delicious. I’ve been inspired to give vegetarian cuisine a real try. The Hiltl recipes prove that vegetarian food can be tasty, full of flavour and healthy all at the same time.

After cooking and devouring our meal, we were off again. Our tour guide Andrea led the way on a walking tour of Zurich West. This up-and-coming section of Zurich is undergoing a revitalization project that should be complete in about 15 years (making it a bit of a snooze to visit right now) but will make it one of the city’s newest, trendiest areas to visit. Converted industrial spaces are, and will continue to be, transformed into restaurants, cafes, clubs and shops. Zurich is not an enormous city but it’s growing. Currently boasting a population of almost 400,000, the city continues to expand, not only in size but in its offerings to inhabitants. The city has both modern and traditional aspects to it and the vision for Zurich West is that it will be an area that artfully merges the two. We stopped in a few shops, poked around and spoke to the shop owners. I liked the clothes in a small store called Musis, though found the prices a little steep. The gorgeous knit shawls (pictured below) retail for almost $200 — though I did contemplate splurging. They were so gorgeously soft and luxurious to the touch (fine quality, no doubt) and the cool temperatures meant I’d certainly use it. I did, however, refrain.

Next stop: The Freitag factory. You’ll have to check out the website if you’re not familiar with Freitag bags but the general story is this: They rescue old tarps from truckers across Europe, wash ’em, cut ’em up and turn them into trendy messenger-type bags. Started by graphic designer brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag, the company is now enormously successful in Europe (their products are sold in over 300 stores around the globe) and naturally, they’ve got plans to expand their business. It was pretty cool to see inside the factory and get a sense of how the bags are made. The fact that the bags are made out of PVC … well, maybe that’s a topic for another discussion. Still, they’re fashionable and functional and available in a number of different styles.

After the factory tour,  we continued our foot-tour of Zurich West. Travel tip: ALWAYS pack super-comfortable walking shoes. I sacrificed style for comfort on this trip and boy am I glad I did. It was chilly and we did a lot of walking — I was prepared for both.

It was a long day of touring Zurich West on foot and everyone was getting tired. The solution was obvious: A drink and a chance to rest our weary feet at Restaurant Volkshaus (Stauffacherstrasse 60, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland, Tel: 044 242 11 55). I savoured my Bellini and we were off again, this time to visit the Art Show.

This international fair for emerging artists united 80 artists from 20 countries, presenting their paintings, sculptures, photography and art objects. Below are pictured a few of my favourite works, from artist Klaus-Martin Gareis.

Dinner at Les Halles restaurant, a local hangout also in Zurich West, followed by a drink at a sleepy bar across the street called Hard One, topped the night off. When I arrived back at my hotel, I collapsed into bed. Exhausted.

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