Posts Tagged ‘Zurich’

Top Swiss Expat Blogs

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • September 29th, 2010

By Chantal Panozzo

What blog are you looking at?

What blog are you looking at?

One of the easiest ways to make the transition to life in Switzerland is to read a few good expat blogs. The writers can become both characters and friends, and much of the information you’ll find on blogs is entertaining, personal, and real.

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite Swiss blogs, in no particular order:

Write On This blog is sponsored by the news site, swissinfo.ch. Every two months, it features a different blogger, so the blog offers a variety of opinions and perspectives on life in the land of cheese and chocolate.

ExpatCH To learn to love roesti and raclette, conquer avalanche paranoia, and stop smiling so much, read this new blog, written by American freelancer Bill Harby.

Kelly & Wojtek’s Blog Learn to speak German, go on fabulous Swiss hikes, and know just where to take a lady in Switzerland, by reading this blog, written by one of the founders of the Zurich Writers Workshop.

Musings from a Mad Cow Read this blog and you’ll benefit from lessons in adjective profanity, facts learned from reading the freebie local paper, and more. Also written by a Zurich Writers Workshop co-founder.

Twissted Swisster What happens when an American businessman moves to Switzerland? He learns to play the alphorn, he learns how to busk in the streets of Switzerland, and he just can’t seem to stop photographing cows.

From A to Z Written by fellow ACC blogger, Kristi, From A to Z is a hilarious look at all facets of Swiss living. From making fun of trolls on English Forum (oh there are many!), to living with dogs in Switzerland “yes I am THAT dog owner”, From A to Z leaves no topic untouched by sarcasm.

One Big Yodel This post just wouldn’t be complete without a little self-promotion. On my own Swiss expat blog, I ponder the lack of cheddar in the land of cheese, the 10 steps that make up a decision to move abroad (#7: check who is president—2006), as well as staying on top of the latest news (stop the press! The grocery store in Wildegg is now open during lunchtime!).

What are your favorite expat blogs?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Canton Aargau. What’s not to love?

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • September 23rd, 2010

By Chantal Panozzo

Canton Aargau. A place to call home?

Canton Aargau. A place to call home?

When expats are choosing where to settle in Switzerland, Canton Aargau is never high on their list. They want to live in Zurich, Geneva, or Basel—not in little towns in the middle of nowhere. And who can blame them?

When I moved to Switzerland, I had no idea that I would be living in Canton Aargau, otherwise known as the Alabama of Switzerland. I just thought, I’m 15 miles from Zurich, how different can it be?

Well, life is a little different, even a few miles west of Zurich. Not everyone is a redneck in Canton Aargau, but people tend to be a bit old-fashioned here. Kids still come home for lunch. People can still smoke in bars and restaurants. And English is not as prevalent as it is in Canton Zurich.

Even though I often get made fun of for living here, living in Canton Aargau has its advantages: there are fewer expats and thus permits are easier to obtain. You are forced to learn German because your survival depends on it. And there’s something to be said for living in a traditional Swiss village versus a big international city like Zurich. You get the real deal Switzerland.

Another advantage to living in Canton Aargau is that unlike living in Canton Zurich, you do not need to pass a German exam to obtain that coveted C Permit. In Zurich, you must pass the A2 German test or higher to obtain your C Permit. For most people, this shouldn’t be a problem, but still, the test means time and money (about CHF 300).

Canton Aargau is also interesting because of its many castles. From the castle ruin in Baden to the completely furnished castle in Wildegg, the area can be fun to explore. You can even hike from castle to castle. For example, Lenzburg castle is only a 3-kilometer hike from Wildegg castle. And both castles can be toured and also have beautiful gardens.

Sometimes I think life would be easier in one of Switzerland’s “big cities” for an expat, but still. I’ll always have a special feeling for my Swiss home. I even own a Canton Aargau flag now. Yes.

What canton do you live in?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Finding your place in a new country

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • August 18th, 2010

Searching for yourself can be tough

Searching for yourself can be tough

By Chantal Panozzo

Moving abroad can be difficult. Suddenly you’re far away from friends and family and the ways of life that you knew best. It can be isolating. It can be confusing. And if you’re a trailing spouse who has given up your job so your spouse can advance his, it can feel like you’ve lost your identity.

So how do you gain that identity back?

By focusing on what you love. By giving yourself goals to accomplish. By becoming that hidden person you always wanted to be.

For me, this meant focusing on my writing. Giving myself goals so that I would write a book while also getting to know fellow writers. Writing a blog also helped me accomplish this. So has founding a group and event.

Part of my work as a writer abroad meant co-founding a writing workshop. It’s called the  Zurich Writers Workshop and the first event will be held October 1-3, 2010. It will feature workshops in both fiction and creative non-fiction writing. The instructors will include New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Jane Gilman and University of Oxford Fiction Tutor Amal Chatterjee. You’re invited.

Other expats I know have found their place by taking art or language classes, creating greeting cards and selling them at local markets, or taking leadership roles in already established clubs like the American Women’s Club of Zurich. I know expats who have also learned to play the alphorn and made Swiss friends in the process, found part-time jobs volunteering, and others who focus on entering sporting events like triathlons and bike races. And then of course, there’s always the option of looking for a job that will allow you to continue the career you had before. Just remember to have patience. No matter what you focus on, developing a new identity takes time.

Have you found your identity in your adopted country? If so, what was key for you?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

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Great Swiss Cities

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • August 2nd, 2010

Forget about Zurich. Take the train here.

By Chantal Panozzo

Ah, the great Swiss cities. High standards of living. Clean streets. Safe for children. In the 2010 Mercer Quality of Living survey, three Swiss cities made the top 10.  And I’ve got three words for that: Blah. Blah. Blah.

Yes, this is all true. Yes, Switzerland is wonderful. But we’ve heard it all before and all of these facts about perfection are starting to bore me.

It’s time to have fun. Fun in Switzerland? Yes. It is possible. So in this post we will not be talking Zurich, Geneva, or Bern. We will be talking about Bitsch. And Bubikon. And Locarno FART. These are all proper Swiss cities. Cities so great, they make you get out your camera before you even leave the train station.

And there’s more: Buttikon. Wankdorf. Weggis. Wow. You have to admit, we expats in Switzerland live in a great country.

My little Swiss town even celebrates a thing called Badenfahrt where you can buy a shirt that says “Baden” on the front and “Fahrt” on the back. Yes. They wear them proudly. And no, I am not above bathroom humor.

But it makes me wonder—what English words do German and French speakers find hilarious? One of my Swiss friends likes the word “saliva.” He thinks it sounds like the name of a transvestite. Another Swiss friend cringes at the word “pickle” because it sounds like the German word for “pimple.”

Oh, and to sum it all up, I have had multiple opportunities to shop at Anis in Wunderland in Zurich, but if you live far away, never fear, you can just visit their website: www.anismodel.ch. Oh, and I live on the Badstrasse. Which, in German, is quite pleasant, but auf Englisch, it is probably not such a good thing.

What’s your favorite Swiss city?

Dining out In Zurich – For all Budgets

Kristi Remick
  • By Kristi Remick
  • August 2nd, 2010

Photo courtesy of Hiltl

Photo courtesy of Hiltl

By Kristi Remick

OK, beating  a dead horse alert – Zurich is expensive.  Not only is it expensive, it isn’t known for being a food mecca and for a wannabe foodie like myself, it was one of the things that really unnerved me when we decided to move here.  I love to eat out and I even have a few rules:

A. It must taste and look good

B. The product must justify the cost

C. The service should be good as it is part of the experience

D. I must feel the need to rub my belly vigorously afterwards and/or be so in love with my dish that I talk to it like it is a newborn child…and not just any newborn child, MY newborn child

I have come to find out that my rules and eating out criteria are a bit too stringent for Zurich.  The food here doesn’t always taste and look good, the product very rarely justifies the cost, the service is typically short of mediocre and I as I indicated in a post on my site recently, my stomach has atrophied due to lack of use (it is a muscle you know).  Let’s be fair though, even though Zurich doesn’t have the plethora of good, cheap eats that I once took for granted in Atlanta, it does have good eats for all budgets…ahem, Swiss Budgets that is.

$ (5- 15 francs per person) Vorderer Sternen Grill – In my opinion the BEST veal sausage stand in Zurich and many will agree with me.  You will never find this place void of a line and for around 15 francs you can get a St. Galler Bratwurst, pommes frites and an ice cold tall boy beer. You can dine here or take your sausage across the street and dine on the lake.

$$ (15-50 francs per person) Hiltl – If there is a Zurich food institution, it is Hiltl.  Founded in 1898, it is Zurich’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. Since Zurich cuisine is heavily German influenced, the fact that a vegetarian restaurant has survived over 100 years in the land of sausage, cheese and potatoes is in and of itself a miracle. Boasting the most amazing buffet I have ever encountered and great a la carte selections, Hiltl is my “go to” place for a solid, healthy meal here in Zurich.  The food here is heavily influenced by a variety of Asian cuisines and even has some Swiss classics like the vegetarian form of Zuricher Art.

$$$ (50-120 francs per person) Restaurant Kreis 6 – The city of Zurich is divided into districts or neighborhoods called “Kreis” and this little restaurant, set in a small house where its walls are covered by modern art,  is cleverly named after its location.  I was unable to find their website but this restaurant came highly recommended to my husband and I for a romantic dinner location.  While the service was a bit rocky at first, the food and ambiance quickly made up for the few hiccups which were quickly rectified.  Be careful though, if you get an appetizer, main, dessert and wine, then you will easily ring up a bill of 120 francs (or more) per person.

$$$$ (Anything over 120 francs per person) Restaurant Mesa – This one star Michelin rated restaurant is worth the splurge.  The food was artistically presented, balanced and delicious.  The service was impeccable and I left with my pants unbuttoned.  If we can one day afford it again, we would happily go back.

I haven’t scratched the surface of what Zurich has to offer food wise because after being let down over and over again, I stick to what I know tastes good for the money I am willing to spend.  I need to get over this fear though and rely on recommendations from trusted sources. Anyone out there have a favorite restaurant in Zurich?  If so, help a wannabe foodie and her readers out?

When I am not busy stuffing my face with chocolate, you can find me over at From A to Z blogging about my life in Zurich Switzerland.

Summertime in Zurich and the Living’s Easy

Kristi Remick
  • By Kristi Remick
  • July 20th, 2010

IMG_3833

By Kristi Remick

So before you condemn me for writing on boring subject matter, let me first point out that not too long ago it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy –  until the 3rd week of June to be exact.  Then it was as if someone flipped a switch and we went from a “suicide by butter knife Spring” to full on Summer overnight.

With some notable exceptions (modern buses, trams and trains), Zurich is almost void of air conditioning. As a result, the moans over the cold and damp weather have now turned into shrieks over how it is too hot. Shrieking over the additional moisture coming out of your pores can be tamed however and these methods for dealing with the heat are sure signs it is summertime in Zurich:

1. Get to the nearest body of water: There are 3 bodies of water in Zurich, two of which are famous for cooling you down fast.  On hot days, most people can be found on the shores of the Zurichsee or Limmat River.  Both are clean and cool and full of people watching.  People here really appreciate the water and the small amount of time they get to use it.  When I take the doggies to the park at 8am it isn’t unusual for me to see a pair of empty shoes along side a dry towel.  Morning swimmers are in abundance here.

2. Go for a bike ride: Grab your bike or rent a free bike and go for a ride.  Believe it or not, riding your bike can cool you down on a hot summer day.  It is also a great way to explore parts of Zurich you have never seen before.  OR you can do what we did last weekend – bike from Zurich to another town or city. We got lost a couple times going from Zurich to Baden, but that was part of the fun.

3. Grab a drink outdoors: Cafe and bar patios are alive during the day, filled with people soaking in the sunshine.  At night private Bades or “Baths” turn into bars or nightclubs.  When I hear people say Zurich is boring, I ask them if they have checked out Rimini, one of the many private Bades that turns into a public bar at night.  The atmosphere couldn’t be more energetic or enchanting.

Do you have any tips for beating the heat?  Are you happy to be sweating your buttocks off like me?

When I am not busy stuffing my face with chocolate, you can find me over at From A to Z blogging about my life in Zurich Switzerland.

How to stay cool in Switzerland

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • June 9th, 2010

Jump in Lake Zurich. People do that.

Jump in Lake Zurich. People do that.

By Chantal Panozzo

I’m not complaining about the heat. I’ve been dying for summer ever since, oh, last fall, but when it actually gets hot in Switzerland, it can be hard to deal with for one reason: no air conditioning.

Whether I’m sweating in a conference room, on a train, or in a store, I always look around at the other people and wonder what’s wrong with them.

The Swiss don’t seem to sweat. They shut the window on the train when I open it, they wear stiletto boots in the summer, and then they all sit there in long pants watching me sweat in my tank top.

Ok. Maybe I am complaining about the heat.

I don’t know if I can’t deal with hot because I grew up with A/C and my body is now in denial, but it’s a strange phenomenon. Anyhow. The point is that some of us expats in Switzerland may need a little cooling off. So here are a few suggestions of where to go and what to do:

One: The local swimming pool. Most communities in Switzerland have fantastic facilities—clean, inexpensive (yes), and in beautiful settings—next to lakes, on hilltops, or beside rivers. Check your local city’s website to locate yours.

Two: Drink a local beer. Many towns in Switzerland have their own breweries and distribute their beer only locally. For example, in Baden, they produce Müller beer and it’s hard to find outside the city. But you can enjoy a glass at the beer garden, right next to the Müller Brewery.

Three: Float down the river. In Zurich, Baden, Bern and other Swiss cities, there are banks on their respective rivers that are used as “beaches” and there are also designated sections of each river on which you can float on a raft along with the current.

Four: Water-ski. Only the Swiss would combine a ski lift with a lake so you can water-ski on Lake Neuchatel while a rope tow pulls you along at 18 miles an hour. I haven’t tried it since I can’t even ski on snow, but for those of you that can, have fun.

Where do you go to cool off in Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

10 Things You Should See Before You Leave Switzerland

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • March 29th, 2010

The Grandhotel Giessbach

The Grandhotel Giessbach

by Chantal Panozzo

Like most Americans, I’m into lists. I’ve got the book, 1,000 Things to See Before You Die, and last night, I decided to highlight the places in this book that I’ve been to. And it got me thinking. What would I recommend for Switzerland? So here they are: The 10 Things Every Expat Should Do in Switzerland before They Leave.

One: Zermatt. Duh. Zermatt is to Switzerland what the Eiffel Tower is to France. It’s the icon of the country and deservedly so. In fact, it’s so stunning, I would visit at least once in the summer and once in the winter.

Two: Hiltl Restaurant. Not only does this place have a nice, laid-back vibe, but it’s also got some of the best food you’ll eat in Switzerland. It’s also the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe.

Three: A hike through the mustard fields in May. Every May, gorgeous fields of yellow dot the Swiss countryside. One of my favorite spots to enjoy them is near the village of Wettington.

Four: A night at the Grandhotel Giessbach. I’m a cheapskate, but this hotel is worth a night for its fabulous setting. One side waterfall, one side Lake Brienz, one side forest, one side speechless.

Five: Narcissus fields above Montreux in May. Part of the fun is the hunt to find these fields, as you typically must hike to find them.

Six: Mt. Rigi. The classic Swiss mountain train experience. Views at Rigi Kulm are fantastic and hiking trails cover the entire mountain.

Seven: Sechselaeuten in Zurich. This year on April 19. They set a snowman on fire and celebrate when he explodes. Need I say more?

Eight: A Swiss Spa. Whether you fancy a luxurious experience in Vals or a historic swim in Baden, you should take advantage of a Swiss spa.

Nine: A Slow Up event. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, don’t miss biking with thousands of other Swiss through the countryside, no cars allowed.

Ten: Lake Thun boat ride. Possibly the most scenic lake in Switzerland, it’s sprinkled with fairy-tale castles.

Agree with these? What would you recommend?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Why Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • January 26th, 2010

By Chantal Panozzo

IMG_9811 copy

Last night I was walking to a movie theater in Zurich when I heard a group of three Americans talking loudly. Ok, loud wasn’t a surprise, but American English was. I’m always amazed how many languages I hear in Switzerland that aren’t even one of the four “official” ones. But when you’ve got a foreign population of around 20%, I guess it’s only natural to hear non-official tongues.

Sometimes I wonder why Switzerland has such a high percentage of foreigners and I’ve come up with the following conclusions:

-Good Pay. Compared to neighboring countries like France, Italy, and Germany, Swiss salaries are higher. Of course, the cost of living in Switzerland is also higher, but nevertheless, it pays to live in Switzerland.

-No Need for a Car. While public transportation is sufficient in most European cities, in Switzerland, it’s good enough even for villages. The Swiss transportation network covers the entire country, from the mountain restaurant in the middle of nowhere to the farm village twenty miles from the nearest city.

-Work/Life Balance. At least compared to the way people work in the United States, there is a much better work/life balance in Switzerland. Family time is respected and valued, and stores and businesses all close down on Sundays and for a week over Christmas.

-Accessibility of Nature. In the U.S., I had to drive to get to the closest hiking trail. But in Switzerland, there are hundreds of paths right outside my door. The Swiss know how to build cities around nature, and so the nearest outdoor adventure is always just a walk away.

-Many Neighbors. Switzerland is bordered by five countries: Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Lichtenstein. All of these countries share an official language with Switzerland, making it easier for people speaking French, German, or Italian to work and live in Switzerland.

Why do you think there are so many foreigners in Switzerland?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer and blogger in Zurich, Switzerland. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland, and Writer Abroad. She also blogs for Affordable Calling Cards, a new expat community blog. This blog offers affordable calling cards in Switzerland as well as information about living abroad in Switzerland and in many other countries.

8 Things an Expat should know about Dining in Switzerland

Chantal Panozzo
  • By Chantal Panozzo
  • November 18th, 2009

by Chantal Panozzo

1. It’s expensive.  Prepare to spend CHF 16-30 for a lunch entrée and CHF 25-40 for a dinner entrée.

2. You usually will not be seated. To look less like a deer in headlights, walk into a restaurant like you own the place and sit wherever you want.

3. Most places are still not smoke-free. If you hate smoke, eat in cantons like Geneva, where smoking is now banned in restaurants.

4. You might have to share a table. Don’t be surprised if someone asks if the seat next to you is “frei.” (And it is “frei”. Unless someone is really sitting there.)

5. Someone might see you eating and wish you “En Guete.” This means “Bon Appetit.” You can just answer, “Danke.” Or if the person that said it to you is also eating, return the favor by saying “En Guete.” The Swiss are kind of obsessed about their “En Guetes”, even if you’re a complete stranger. I’ve even had it said to me when eating a sandwich on a mountain trail.

6. You might have to pay for bread. If you are brought a basket of sliced bread, no worries. But if there’s a basket with rolls in it on the table, don’t be surprised if you are charged later by the number of rolls you have eaten.

7. There are no free refills. If you ask for another Coke or another coffee, you will be paying for another. And the average cost for a drink is about CHF 5.

8. Tipping is not necessary. There’s a reason the prices are high to begin with—tips and tax are already included. The local custom is to round up to the nearest Franc. Other tips are nice gestures, but not essential.

Any other dining tips you could give an expat or tourist in Switzerland?

For more on expat life, visit my Swiss expat blog One Big Yodel. Or check out other great expat blogs about life in Switzerland like Swisstory, From A to Z, Peterthals in Zurich, or TwoFools in Zurich.

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