29 July 2010

Mein Gott

Upon moving to Switzerland, I immediately fell in love with the architecture.  Instead of tall buildings and skyscrapers, of which I am accustomed to, my eyes were drawn to the stunning cathedrals, churches and chapels that seem to litter every inch of this country.

Church steeples are the tallest structures in most villages, towns, and cities.  And they are everywhere.  I cannot walk more than half a mile without having the pleasure of seeing a beautiful church; many of which were built centuries ago, and suitable to Swiss fashion, many of the church bells ring every 15 minutes.  (The Swiss truly value time)

Being able to look in every direction and see such beauty makes me believe I'm in heaven.

Beautiful Switzerland!

Bellinzona, Ticino, Switzerland

Solothurn, Switzerland
The old town, which was built in the 16th century, is less than one mile wide, but has 11 churches/ chapels.

27 July 2010

Playing It Cool

Crazy, but in Switzerland, I often find myself having to play it cool.

Often, I have come across or have been made aware of customs, regulations, and policies that will never be accepted nor permitted in the US.  Yes, I know I am not in the US.  Yes, I know this is to be expected.  After all, I am an American expat living in Der Schweiz. 

Trust me, I try my best to embrace the Swiss way  of life:
  • I don't vacuum after 6 pm.  The Swiss value quiet and serenity ~ the roaring sound of a vacuum cleaner can be very disturbing.
  • I greet others with 3 pecks on the cheek.
  • I try to speak softly.  Being from Jersey, this can be quite difficult.
  • I drink out of a glass not a bottle.  My husband told me that only men drink out of a bottle.  And please be aware that I am referring to a water bottle.
  • I cross the street at designated crosswalks.  And I wait until the light turns green.  Being from Jersey, this can be quite difficult.
  • I don't mention nor complain when  my food order is wrong. 
This is all very Swiss.

However, there are a few things that will never fly in America.  Take these for example:

When applying for a job in Switzerland, your resume must contain your photo and your date of birth.  In some cases, employments ads will indicate an age range that the employer will accept for a position.  Now, there are jobs in the US that may specify age...ummm...maybe a nanny position (I'm assuming).  But I can't think of any others.  In Switzerland, any job/position, no matter the field, may specify an age.
Less than a year ago, the Swiss voted against allowing more mosques to be built with minarets.  There are mosques in Switzerland with minarets, but after the vote all mosques must be built w/o minarets.  Ok, that's how they want it.  But what caused my mouth to drop were the posters shown above.  When I visited Switzerland last November, these posters were everywhere.  Not knowing about the upcoming referendum, I assumed the posters were a radical display to frighten people.  And yes, it moved and frightened me.  But it was actually a campaign tactic used by those opposing the minarets.  So I guess their tactic worked.

Anyhooo, would this have been permissible in the US?  I think not.  I know not.  But this is Switzerland and I have to play it cool.

26 July 2010

Visual Stimulation

One of the reasons why I write a blog is to entice my family and friends to visit me in Switzerland.  So that means, carrying my camera everywhere I go (I figure visual stimulation will do the trick).  The downside is that I look like a tourist. 

Today's visual stimuli is food!!  To be honest, what makes Swiss food quite delicious is that it's fresh.  I don't think there is such a thing as Swiss cuisine.  At least not like French or Italian cuisine.  But the food is good!  Guten Appetit.

We were served coffee at the bank.  It's quite nice.  However, the Swiss do operate at a snail's pace.  A matter that may take 30 mins in the States can take twice as long in Der Schweiz.  So a nice cup of coffee softens the wait.

Next, we decided to grab a bite to eat with friends.  I had the fried fish.  My husband ate ostrich.  Yes, ostrich.  I've had it a few times.  It's quite good. 

Then, of course, our favorite.  We later treated ourselves to ice cream.  This ice cream is homemade and DeLiCious !!

24 July 2010

Ironing Board?...We Don't Need No Stinking Ironing Board!

Yes people, I don't have an ironing board.  And I refuse to get one.  So far, the least expensive ironing board I've come across costs 98.00 CHF= US$93.00!!!  I just can't do it!  The idea of parting with nearly 100 bucks to pay for a BOARD! terrifies me.

According to The Economist's 2009 Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, two of the World's top 10 most expensive cities are in Switzerland.  In other words, it costs a grip to live in the land of cheese and chocolate.

I must admit, after spending 30+ years in the US paying reasonable prices for items, I struggle with having to reach in my wallet to pull out an arm and a leg to pay for the basic things.  I mean, I come from a retail culture of Macy's One Day Sales (60% off + coupon + Macy's credit card = A STEAL!), Target and Walmart, Black Friday, After Christmas Day Sales...all of which equals spoiled American. 

Let's face it, if the daily ATM limit is 5000 CHF; that means you live in an expensive country.  Whenever the highest bank note is 1000 CHF and wherever you go the retailer can make change; you live in an expensive country.  When a 10% mark down causes a mad rush; you live in an expensive country.  I mean, I still have to get use to paying extra for ketchup at Mickey Ds.

No, I'm not being cheap; it's just a big pill to swallow... 98.00 CHF!  Yes, it may take longer to iron on the table with a sheet and my clothes may still have a wrinkle or two, but at least I still have 100 bucks in my pocket.

22 July 2010

Beautiful Switzerland

I decided to post a few randon photos. 
This blog is about my life in Der Schweiz; the rants and raves.  So far, I don't have anything to rant about.  Die Schweiz is beautiful, clean, and safe. 
Well actually, I do have a few rants, but it's four in the morning...later. 
Enjoy the pics!  Ciao.
Above: Bern, the capital...a "big" city, Swiss Style.
Erlach, small village
                                Above: Lucern or Luzern, the most popular tourist city. 
                                   Switzerland has multiple languages and dialects;
                                     therefore, cities may have multiple spellings.

President Obama's Swiss Connection

It appears that Obama may have a little Swiss in him.
Some in the small Swiss village of Ried bei Kerzers claim that Hans Gutknecht, who was born in the village in the late 1690s, is an ancestor of President Obama.  This would make him Obama's seventh great grandfather on his mother's side.

The Swiss, like most in Europe, are fond of Obama.  As for me, wellllll...he's better than Bush doing his thing.  I must admit I expected more am proud of him. 

I will say that it's stress-free not having to be apart of the US political climate, AT THE MOMENT!  The Republicans are BOLDLY showing their asses. And the Dems are punking out... But I digress.

I know things will get better.  But in the meantime, I think it's exciting to know that wherever I go, FABULOUS things happen Obama may have a little Swiss in him like me!

Read the article: "Obama's roots traced to Swiss villager"

19 July 2010

Serenity Now!

Lazzzy Dayzzz! My idea of Re LaX a Ti On!
But since I can't do it quite like the little one, I try different ways...

Ciao! Italia - Swiss Style

Today, my husband and I decided to hop the FABULOUS Swiss Train and head to Ticino in Southern Switzerland.
Ticino, a Swiss state that borders Italy, definitely resembles its neighbor to the south. When entering Ticino it felt as if we were entering Italy; most people speak Italian and the pizza was delizioso!

Ticino is full of palm trees, vineyards, and clear blue skies. Not what many would expect in Switzerland.

Enjoy the pics!

17 July 2010

Doing Time...Swiss Style

No, these are not the offices of the international research centers nor the private sector science and technology corporations that the Swiss are widely recognized for...these are state prisons. Yes, violent (and non-violent) criminals reside in these plush, modern dwellings that only the Swiss tax payer will approve of.
Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world (can't you tell by the pictures). I remember when I first realized how safe Switzerland is...I was walking to the train station after dark in the winter with my hood on...meaning I didn't have peripheral vision. I would have never done that in the states.

The World, Chico...and Everything In It

So we did the tourist-thing and spent the day...On Top of Europe...at Jungfraujoch. In German: jungfrau means virgin or young woman, joch means yoke.

It took us less than four hours to travel from our house to the top at an elevation of 11,782 ft. It was about 30 degrees fahrenheit..soooo.. I was cool in my sweater and jacket! The warm sun rays kept us comfortable.
Hope you enjoy the pics!

"The world, Chico, and everything in it"...Scarface