Swiss International Air Lines shows their flower power

In celebration of their new flights from Zürich to San Francisco and back, Swiss International Air Lines has decided to wear some flowers in their air (sorry for that pun).

The new nonstop service commences on June 2, and the A340 which will be making the inaugural trip (originating in Zürich) has been painted with a colorful floral design, as well as the words “San Francisco.”

The design was chosen from a selection of three by about 30,000 readers of Switzerland’s 20 Minuten daily paper. It took eight individuals, three days and “almost 400 square metres of special film” to turn the once normal aircraft into a hippie airbus of love. That’s right. I said “hippie airbus of love.”

Inside the airplane are additional surprises! No, there isn’t a mile-high love-in and drugs are still prohibited, but this A340 (registration HB-JMJ) is the first of the SWISS fleet to include the new SWISS Business cabin, which has a unique, spacious seating arrangement and all-new, firmness-adjustable cushions.

The inaugural flight is long sold-out, but to be one of the first to fly ZRH-SFO or SFO-ZRH on SWISS, visit the website.
Images courtesy of Swiss International Air Lines.

Daily Pampering: Learn to cook “wegetarian” in Switzerland

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to like vegetarian food. Many of us are vegetarians one day and want a cheeseburger the next. That’s okay.

Hiltl, pronounced HILL-tuhl, is a 112-year-old institution of a vegetarian restaurant and club in Zürich. They call such eaters “flexetarians” (and they call vegetarians “wegetarians,” which is delightful). It’s nice to see a little flexibility from the vegetarian community; often, we omnivores feel we aren’t allowed to be part of their club. Hiltl welcomes the both the veg-curious and those who simply appreciate the health benefits or the fresh taste of vegetarian cuisine, as well as die-hard vegans, those with hard-to-accommodate allergies and your garden-variety vegetarians.

The restaurant has a legendary daily vegetarian buffet which one pays for by weight. Though your plate price will vary due to what you select — fried rice and Thai curry are the most popular — they assured me that pretty much everyone gets out for well under 30 CH ($25.74), and that includes a glass of wine or a freshly squeezed juice.

Beyond being a popular restaurant as well as a nightclub (Thursday – Saturday after 11 PM), Hiltl is also a teaching institution. If you’re interested in eating more vegetarian food but don’t know what to make, or you’re just looking for something to do, you can arrange a cooking class for a group at prices starting at 150 CH ($128.71) per person.

I happened to take one such class and learned to cook with agar agar, Quorn and I even made the above beluga lentil terrine (with no belugas, of course). You can do this, too, just visit Hiltl’s website and click on English and Cooking Studio to find out how. The Earth, and perhaps your arteries, will thank you.
Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

My trip to Zürich was sponsored by Zürich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

Daily Pampering: Browse the fabrics of next year’s runways in Zürich

Tucked away behind a garden near the Langstrasse area of Zürich (a street of many cultures and even more sex shops), there is a boutique called Fabric Frontline. There, they curate and design some of the finest fabrics in the world.

When you walk in, the boutique is a rainbow of color. Any “I don’t want to go to a fabric store, are you out of your mind?” misgivings will be immediately washed away as you browse the naturally-dyed, gleaming silk satins and printed cashmeres. An associate can show you exactly how their Chinese-sourced silks are printed and woven (in Italy), and why it’s such a lengthy and expensive process. After that, you are free to feel and admire silks on shelves, in drawers and even displayed as artworks on the wall.

These same fabrics from this family-owned and run boutique go to trade shows across the world, where designers like Vivienne Westwood, Nina Ricci and Helmut Lang (just a few of the names dropped) will pick and choose what to use for their creations a couple of seasons in the future. Most importantly, this shop is the only place in the world where consumers like you and me can purchase the fabrics by the meter — albeit for prices around 590 CH (about $532) per square meter. Your souvenir is likely to strut the runways a year later, making you feel very clever indeed.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

My trip to Zürich was sponsored by Zürich Tourism and Switzerland Tourism, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.

Daily Pampering: Detox at The Dolder Grand

This Switzerland retreat knows you’ve had a rough winter. All those hot totties by the fireplace skewed your usual caloric intake, and the cold winter winds wreaked havoc on your skin. No worries, the healing process is about to begin.

Zurich’s Dolder Grand is offering “Detox” and “Retreat” packages with 30% savings to encourage health and wellness this spring. Whether you’re in need of a detox escape or just a relaxing spa getaway, experience one of the world’s most exceptional spas at Dolder Grand. The best part: both of these treatments are available through Dec. 31, 2010, so you have plenty of time to make your way to Zurich.

The Grand Detox Program:

  • Five nights luxury accommodations at the Dolder Grand
  • Complete five day detox nutritional meal plan, including introductory interview including “needs analysis” and daily coaching with the Dolder Grand Spa Team
  • Fitness and body composition analysis
  • Daily fitness and relaxation sessions
  • Daily treatments of Cleansing and Detox Rituals with custom massage
  • Consultation for continuation at home
  • Unlimited use of Dolder Grand Spa
  • Total cost: 8,600 CHF/ Double occupancy (approx. $8,000 USD) or 4,720 CHF/ Single occupancy (approx. $4,400 USD)

The Grand Spa Retreat:

  • Three nights luxury accommodations at the Dolder Grand
  • Daily breakfast at the Garden Restaurant per person
  • One dinner in the Garden Restaurant per person (beverages not included)
  • One 90-minute La Prairie Caviar Firming Facial per person
  • One 90-minute Grand Body Ritual, with replenishing scrub, therapeutic bath and massage application, per person
  • One 90-minute Bamboo Shiatsu Massage per person
  • One 60-minute Kerstin Florian Classic Pedicure per person
  • Unlimited use of Dolder Grand Spa
  • Total cost: 3,100 CHF/ Double occupancy (approx. $2,880 USD) or 1,770 CHF/ Single occupancy (approx. $1,645 USD)

Sit back, relax and detox.

Go easy on the pedal in St Gallen

Imagine you’re behind the wheel of a red Ferrari Testarossa. You have nothing but open road in front of you in St Gallen, Switzerland. You’re rich. You’re in Europe. Maybe you’ve got a hottie riding shotgun and whispering incredibly absurd things in your ear. It’s impossible to believe you wouldn’t push the pedal to the floor and send your life (and hers) into overdrive. This thrill wouldn’t come cheap, if you take a recent speeding ticket at face value. Swiss police nailed a millionaire gunning through a village in his Testarossa at a mere 100 kmph with a fine for $290,000.

According to a Reuters report, “The accused ignored elementary traffic rules with a powerful vehicle out of a pure desire for speed.” He’s said to have hit up to 137 kmph out on country roads. With a fortune of more than $20 million, though, his fine shouldn’t hurt all that much.

The previous record for a Swiss speeding ticket was just over $100,000, given to a Porsche driver in 2008, after he’d committed several traffic offenses.

[Photo by Steve Brandon via Flickr]