FINALLY A SLOGAN FOR TORONTO...BUT WE'D HAVE TO STEAL IT
ZURICH - Torontonians love to complain about what they consider silly slogans that Toronto officials have tried to use over the years. Sayings like "Discover the Feeling" and "You Belong Here" could just as easily be used by Indianapolis or Edmonton or Oshawa.
But I have found the answer. Here in Zurich, they call themselves "Downtown Switzerland," and it's a perfect thought for the city of Toronto. Like Toronto, Zurich made a name for itself in finance. Like Toronto, Zurich has a reputation for being, well, a little less scintillating than Paris or Prague. Like Toronto, it's on a lake. Like Toronto, it's located in a country where most folks come for the mountains and the scenery and the wildlife, even if their animals tend to wear cowbells around their neck instead of carrying huge antlers.
There are a lot of similarities. Just like Toronto, Zurich has shed its bourgeois skin and has become an incredibly hip city. But, unlike Toronto, they've found the perfect slogan.
It would be outright theft to copy Zurich and label Toronto as "Downtown Canada," or even "Canada's Downtown," but it wouldn't be far from the truth.
TRANSIT CITY SWITZERLAND
Mayor David Miller likes to talk about boosting transit in Toronto, and good for him and for Premier Dalton McGuinty - and, wow, even Prime MInister Harper - for finally getting things moving. But it's still remarkable when you travel to Europe and see how the big boys do it.
Zurich has 1.2 million people in its entire area and only 380,000 folks in the city proper, but there are dozens upon dozens of trams and railway lines crisscrossing the city. The trams are clean and quiet and run perfectly on time (some things in Switzerland never change). Not only that, when you walk to the nearest stop there's a schedule that tells you precisely what time the next one will arrive. And when you're on board, there's a small, colour monitor overhead that shows what stop you're near and what the next couple stops are on your route, and how long it will take you to get there.
GOING TO THE DOGS
Gotta admit it was a little odd to be seated in a lovely Zurich restaurant today calls Tao's (kind of a Swiss-Thai fusion spot with wonderful but pricey cuisine) and to see a family come in with a large, golden lab. The pooch settled comfortably under the table, but later was sprawled out in the middle of the floor, forcing waitresses carrying expensive plates of food to step around him (or maybe her).
Turns out it's completely normal for people to bring even very large dogs into restaurants. Nobody blinks an eye. I find that really strange. But at least they don't let people bring in their cats.
When you take the tram from one terminal at Zurich's super-modern airport to another, you're treated to an odd soundtrack. At first it simply sounds like birds twittering, but then you hear classical-style music and, off in the background, a vocal offering from a cow.
Then you start hearing the tinkle of cowbells, more music and, suddenly, a very loud "MOOOOOO" comes over the speakers. All the tourists who snap up cow-shaped pitchers and salt and pepper shakers eat it up and even the locals seem to enjoy the looks on people's faces.