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Trend-setting: a new image for Zurich

Young people know. The city is alive, even outside of banking hours. Countless bars and cafes have sprung up over the past few years and many are anything but traditional. And they have changed Zurich's image. One such bar is the Central.

It is modern, stylish and atmospheric and offers a range of beers, wines and spirits to a young and fashionable after-work crowd. Open just over a year, it is located in Kreis 4 near Helvetiaplatz, just a stone's throw from the arthouse cinema Xenix and the Volkshaus, which hosts parties and gigs from top international musical talent such as Macy Gray.

Central is also a favourite haunt of 24-year-old Mario Torriani, who is one of Switzerland's most famous voices. Since last August, Torriani has presented the hit parade show on the pop channel of German-speaking public radio. It is the most popular radio programme in the country.

'It's one of those rare bars where you can talk without screaming,' says Mario. 'You can chat surrounded by some nice jazz. It's not too big. It's just a lovely place to be.'

Central used to be an old fashioned bar popular with an older clientele but as younger people have moved into Kreis 4 so more fashionable bars and restaurants have opened up. Its Brazilian-born owner says it was difficult at first to attract a new crowd but it is now re-established as a firm local favourite.

Mario also comes to get a decent drink. 'The barkeeper is one of the few bar staff who knows how to pour a beer', he says, 'He fills the glass, waits 20 seconds, bangs the glass twice on the bar and then fills it to the top. It's a great art pouring beer and you don't see it often in Zurich.'

New bars, restaurants and clubs are sprouting up all over Zurich as it throws off its rather fusty image and emerges as one of the trend-setting European cities.

Mario can't imagine living anywhere else in Switzerland and says Zurich enjoys the best of both worlds, 'In one way, Zurich is still provincial,' he says, 'You can drive 15 minutes on your bike and you're in the country but you can live in the city and never see a cow. It's a mix between traditional Swiss life and a new urban style.'

And Mario says foreigners who imagine Zurich's residents are only worried about the size of their bank accounts are plainly wrong. 'Zurich is about having a good time, being comfortable with people, going out and enjoying yourself.'

by Michael Hollingdale


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