Zurich to Seealpsee Lake + Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli
Our Switzerland adventure began in Zurich. We quickly came to realize that, even though the Swiss Franc was almost 1:1 with the US Dollar, everything in Switzerland is very expensive. We found a lovely Airbnb to stay in just outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city, located on the top floor of an apartment building, offering a beautiful perspective of the surrounding neighborhood. Our first night in town we headed out for dinner on foot - we followed a narrow road up a steep hill to the Sonnenberg Restaurant, which came with an incredibly scenic view of the city. It turned out that this restaurant shared a space with the FIFA Club, which we weren't of course able to explore without being members, but we enjoyed the prestige nonetheless.
From Zurich we drove to our first hike of the trip - Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, aka the famous restaurant tucked into the side of a mountain. You can access this mountain cabin a few ways - all include starting your trip in one of the various parking lots near the Valley Station Cable Car. You can choose to take the cable car to the top, which is a short jaunt to the restaurant. For those looking to get more of a sweat on, we hiked up and took the cable car down. The hike to the top took us about 3 hours, with a stop at Seealpsee Lake. The trail begins as a narrowly paved road, but don't think you're getting off easy - the road quickly becomes very steep but the view beyond the tree tops helps to distract you from the pain. We were probably some of the youngest people we saw on the trails all day - the senior Swiss fully impressed us as they happily trudged their way along this road gripping their hiking poles.
It took us about an hour to reach Seealpsee Lake. There is a lakeside restaurant where you can enjoy refreshments while soaking up the sun and taking in the views of the lake. Cows roamed the area, strolling the dirt road that runs along the side of the lake, eventually taking breaks at the lake's edge. There were dogs frolicking in the fields, drinking from the troughs and cooling their bellies down in the frigid lake water. We did the loop around the lake, stopping at a small cabin home that was selling fresh milkshakes and truckles of homemade cheese. We said hello to some goats who were finding shade under a tree. Feeling refreshed, we headed back to the main trail and continued up towards Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli.
Almost immediately, the switchbacks began. The rest of the hike was largely uphill, gaining elevation quickly. Thankfully, this part of the hike took us through a forested area, protecting us from direct sun. We finally reached the top, sweaty and breathing heavy. As we settled into the restaurant we were told we had to order the rosti, that it was the best in the country. We took the recommendation and definitely did not regret it. Rosti is like American hash browns, but tastier and greasier. It can be ordered with cheese and over-easy eggs on top, which is simply mouthwatering.
Taking the cable car down is easier on tired legs, but may leave your stomach in knots if you're scared of heights. It drops down a staggering cliff side and skims over treetops.