Among economics bloggers its now getting almost de rigueur to have the occasional post linking to music, and there are also many that recommend (non-economics) books. Here is my version of something similar but different. However there is an economics question at the end of the first paragraph.
I went briefly to Zurich for the first time recently, and liked the city a lot. It is of course very expensive: 6 Swiss Francs (about 5 Euros, £4 or $6) for a half litre of bottled water in a restaurant. However one thing that surprised me was the large number of (what seemed to be) small independent shops, in some cases selling individually made artisan products like furniture or jewellery. Not so much on the west bank: Bahnhofstrasse is full of the designer label shops that those working for the likes of Credit Suisse presumably spend their money. But the Old Town and Niederdorf areas seemed quite different, and also different from a similar sized UK city, where such shops would be confined to less central, and normally cheaper, areas. Is this my imagination, or is there some economic explanation? You would imagine rents in central Zurich would be pretty high.
For anyone with time to spare in Zurich, check out the Law Library which is part of the university area. The interior has been designed by Santiago Calatrava (usually known for his bridges), and is very impressive. We also went to see the new Zentrum gallery in Bern which houses many works by one of my favourite artists, Paul Klee. The building is designed by Renzo Piano, and is like three hills that form part of the landscape. I couldn’t help thinking of the contrast with the Beaubourg is Paris, which Piano designed 30 years earlier with Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, and which shouts its presence and contrast with the elegant Parisian streets that surround it. Anyway here is one of my favourite Klee pictures (Ad Parnassum).