"The cherry tradition in Zug dates back 400 years," our tour guide explains.
At one point, this formerly agricultural canton nestled in between Lucerne and Zürich had more than 40'000 cherry trees. But since the 1950's, farmers have been selling off their properties to multinationals which appreciate the ultra low corporate tax rates. (Could it be said that today, there are as many shell companies in Zug as there were cherry trees in the past?)
Treichler in Zug makes the original Zuger Kirschtorte
We are standing inside Treichler, the source of the famous cherry cake that has been flying off the shelves for the past century. The main piece in the small company museum is a silk dress worn by Audrey Hepburn. In the years of 1964 to 1968, the charming actress used to stop by for a slice of Zuger Kirschtorte after her dentist visits. Other Zuger cherry torte influencers of their times are Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill or Pope Francis.
Count us in, too! During the behind-the-scenes tour at the Treichler cherry cake bakery, we learn all about the tricky manufacturing process. Everything is done by hand, including the slicing of the pound cake, the soaking of the base with high-grade kirsch liquor, the stacking and the final touch: Powdered sugar.
The result is a moist yet crunchy, multi layered piece of heaven called Zuger Kirschtorte! We recommend you try this age old favorite at the café in Zug. But in case you cannot physically make it there, why not order a Kirschtorte in the online shop and have it shipped to your home?
The artisanal sides of Zug
After all these sweet smells, we are looking forward to a stroll. Adjacent to the old town with its cobblestone alleys, we find modern apartment buildings. It is interesting to see the mix of architectural styles in this fairly small town.
Zug Tourism has curated about a dozen self-guided tours as part of CityGuideZug. (You can pick up a free booklet at the tourism office in the main station.) There are walking tours focused on architecture, history or culture, among others.
We decide on the theme of handicrafts and design which promises a look at the flourishing creative economy. Provided that we are doing this tour on a Monday morning, Zug is sort of in a slumber state. But a few of the listed workshops are open to the public, including the tailor studio by Prisca Waller.
In her tiny workshop behind the shop, Waller tailors timeless fashion for women. She is inspired by the fabrics and textures her suppliers have on offer. And when asked about her signature motifs, Waller points out her knack for buttons. And sure enough, her coats and dresses feature (sometimes hidden) buttons to support the exact looks she is aiming to achieve.
Fine dining at Restaurant au premier
At the center of Zug is the Kolinplatz square with its clock tower and fountain. One of the earliest buildings from 1543 is the Ochsen - today a four star hotel and gourmet restaurant in fourth generation. The upstairs dining hall look over the square below and has a very historic feel. There is elaborate woodwork, stained glass windows and decorated columns. We feel like having just stepped back in time!
Autumn is game season all over Switzerland, and the restaurant au premier has a fine selection of venison. But we are more into seafood than game, and the lunch menu has us covered. My appetite guides me towards the Lake Zug perch fillet sautéed in almond butter and with parsley potatoes. Mamiko orders the marinated octopus with trout caviar, served on couscous salad with lemon olive oil.
We cannot complain about the view from our table, either. We were looking at the well rounded backside of the fountain statue...
Speeding towards freedom at 34 km per hour with a Swiss moped
Our final activity for the day is located just a tad outside of Zug in the suburb of Baar. The Töfflidepot is some kind of mecca for all those who want to experience a piece of Swiss culture firsthand. Inside a former maintenance hangar, Willy Wermelinger and his team have neatly assembled dozens of colorful mopeds. From new age electric scooters to vintage farmer Töffli with manual transmission, there is a motorized bicycle for everyone!
To finish our Zug getaway with a highlight, Willy is taking us for an exclusive spin through the countryside. For the past three years, his event company has been offering moped tours for businesses and individuals.
Asked how he came up with this ingenious idea, he responds: "Simply put: I have petrol in my blood! I used to ride a Töffli growing up around here, and I found that they connect people of all walks of life. I have watched many C-level executives lose it when they put on the helmet and kick-started their moped..."
Since mopeds are considered as bicycles with "assistance" under Swiss law, we are free to go wherever we please. No bicycle path or alley is safe from these Newly Swissed easy riders! For me, the particular draw of these mopeds is their slow character.
Willy's fleet has a speed limit of less than 40 km/h, with mine topping out at 34 km/h. At this speed, there is enough opportunity to enjoy the countryside and I never felt like loosing control. Even inexperienced Mamiko who has never ridden a Töffli got the hang of it! In no time, she was zipping past farms and cherry tree orchards...
We had a blast in Zug! Feel free to ask us for advice as you are planning your own trip.
More information about Zug
(Sources: Cherry trees/Wikipedia, shell companies in Zug/SRF)