Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Zurich Street Parade

I had never been to Zurich before, and the weekend of the 17th Zurich Street Parade gave me a good excuse to jump on a train and head up there to check it out. I caught the 8am train from Vevey and arrived in Zurich 2.5h later.

When I emerged from the train I could already hear dance music echoing around the station and lots of people wandering around in clothes entirely unsuitable for the place and time of day. There was a stage set up at the entrance of the station and people were dancing and drinking already. It was at this point I decided I should have a beer because I figured it could be hard to get through a day that starts like this.

After finding my bearings, I headed down Bahnhofstrasse, the main street of Zurich, towards the lake where most of the day's events would be taking place. I followed the crowds of conspicuously dressed people around the lake to the start of the parade and stayed to people-watch for a while. I have to say it didn't exactly match with Zurich's reputation as a boring banking city.

Eventually the parade started, with something like 27 floats crawling their way around the lake blaring out techno music. It took hours for them to pass by and it inevitably became a bit monotonous. Feeling my age a little, I put some earplugs in to stop the booming music from giving me a headache.

It was amazing what a mix of people there were at the parade, from young to old; and generally the most ill-advised people were wearing the most outrageous outfits.

After the parade there was a number of stages set up, and many stalls selling beers, sausages and meat-on-a-stick (I don't know what these are called in German). It was an incredible crowd of people, apparently more then 800,000, and by the end of the evening the ground was a carpet of squashed beer cans and broken glass.

Even so, everyone seemed mostly well behaved and I was surprised not to see more unconscious bodies strewn about the place by the time I left (admittedly quite early, at 10pm) to find my way to my hostel for the night. I was sure Zurich would be waking up with quite a hangover.

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