European Road Trip: Zurich

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My first time to Switzerland and I was smitten with its old-world charm.

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We didn't have much time between checking in and having to rush out to meet Nik Bärtsch, but we did squeeze in a little sight-seeing around the hotel.

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You could literally get lost in all these little side streets - and that wouldn't be a bad thing.

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Here's a view looking up at our hotel. And here's a view from our window.

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We didn't get to find out what was down this alley. Though I suspect it was perfect.

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You don't see a whole lot of bourbon or other American whiskies in Europe. But they've got plenty of wonderful scotches and liqueurs to make up for it!

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Before catching Nik Bärtsch at Exil, we met up at LaSalle for small plates and a quick drink.

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I'm an Italian at heart - Campari straight up for me at Exil for Nik Bärtsch's Ronin.

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Never underestimate the power of live music. We were completely exhausted, but Ronin's performance made the long and tiring day oh so worth it.

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Sha! Yes, that's his name. And he plays a mean contrabass clarinet.

I’m always up for a road trip. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the need to travel is in my DNA. To some of my close friends who know me as a creature of habit who fancies a well-worn routine, this may come as a bit of a surprise. However, inside I’m driven by insatiable desire to explore new places, experience new things, discover beautiful cities and meet inspiring and passionate people.

If you follow us on Instagram, you may have noticed that we were over in Europe a couple weeks ago. The occasion was a once in a lifetime road trip from Zurich to Milan to Munich. Along the way, we got to experience luxury in many ways – from restaurants to hotels to shopping. So it was fitting that for our mode of transportation during the week, we were literally driving luxury in the form of a new BMW 7 Series.

First impressions of the car? As a BMW owner myself – I currently drive a 3 Series – I’m used to the quality, craftsmanship, performance and passion inherent in the brand. But our 7 Series took that to a whole new level. Not only was the car next-level in so many ways, I would go so far as to say, quite simply, that it redefines luxury.

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When it comes to travel, I think we’ve all been in that place where we’re completely overwhelmed – there’s so much we want to do, so much we want to see, and so on. And when you get in that kind of headspace – worried about directions, space for luggage, and stressed about any number of things – it’s very easy to get pulled away from the amazing experience you should be having.

Believe me, I’ve been there and was nursing some serious anxiety about all we needed to do and accomplish on this trip in particular. But when we picked up our car, all that stress melted away when I was shown all of the BMW’s features meant to make any trip more relaxing, more comfortable and infinitely more enjoyable as a result.

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After checking into the beautiful and elegant Storchen Zürich, we spent a couple hours exploring the city before hopping in the car and driving over to meet the composer and musician Nik Bärtsch for a quick bite before his band Ronin’s performance at the Exil club that evening.

BMW 7 Series Display Key - He Spoke Style

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One of the things that musicians love to say is that the music world is a small world. If you’ve made a career in music you will often discover very few degrees of separation between you and another musician you’ve just met. Maybe you’ve attended the same school, worked with the same composers, played with the same musicians at some point. And that was the case with Nik and I.

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Never mind that we speak different languages. Never mind that we live on different continents. Within moments we connected with each other on a deep level over our shared musical passion and discovered that we’d actually run in the some of the same musical circles.

Though I’ve become accustomed to these kinds of connections over the years, they still never cease to amaze me. It was pretty thrilling to learn that Nik was friends with and had played with many of the same people I know in the NYC scene. What that highlighted to me was not only the power that music has to connect people, but that music can transport you.

And that evening we were absolutely transported and transfixed by Nik and Ronin’s performance. Not only was I reminded of the power of live music to be so affecting – talk about infectious energy, passion and joy! – but also of how important a role the environment you experience the music plays in your enjoyment of it.

In terms of the concert, the club environment was so perfectly suited to the music. The sound system was optimized for Ronin’s unique fusion of acoustic and electric of classical, jazz and funk. The lights – cool colors which subtly shifted in perfect harmony with the music as it developed – created an ideal listening environment.

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Knowing that Nik was a fellow audiophile, between sets, I couldn’t help but show him the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system in our car. As someone who clearly understands the importance of optimal speaker placement as well as that perfect lounge environment for listening to and enjoying music – he co-owns the Exil club – I knew he’d appreciate it.

So we popped in his CD and I adjusted the car’s ambient lighting to match the intensity, color and mood inside Exil. There’s no substitute for live music, but as the sound from Nik’s live album came through the speakers, it truly felt like we were still sitting at our table in the club.

Nik’s perfect touch at the piano, each articulation and timbral nuance from the contrabass clarinet and every ghost stroke on the snare came through the speakers with amazing clarity. And after the experience we had that evening, I know we were all excited that we’d be able to recreate the feeling of that evening in the car as we continued our journey.

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Thanks, as always, for reading. And stay tuned for more of our European adventures!

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo

In partnership with BMW. The opinions expressed herein are mine alone and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of BMW.

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