Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Sorry…

I broke something when I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, so a few things will be missing/different.

The Chocolate index will be back; we’re currently at 3.4kgs.

I’m busy this evening, but will attempt to restore normal service in the next day or so.

Paper Bag Princess

Oh, i just have to post about the Swiss and their environmental friendliness. A little inspired by Jessica and her blog but nonetheless a worthy subject to blog about.

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I love how the Swiss recycle. I love these paper bags they have at the supermarket. I love that you can put 6 litres of milk and lots of chocolate in a bag and it doesn’t fall apart! I love that I can put my cold things in a special paper bag (Isoliertasche) that keeps things cold… my problem is that I always forget to take the bags with me when I go shopping, so have to buy more, hence the wee collection.

Oberentfelden is the last town in the canton Aargau that does not yet have to pay for rubbish recycling. Except that at the latest referendum, the locals voted to pay for rubbish. Do you know why, because they care! Yip, we have the most rubbish here in Oberentfelden compared with all other towns in Aargau. And because we don’t pay, we are a little more careless with our rubbish. So the locals voted to pay for rubbish bags to reduce this. It will make us all think twice about that cardboard container or plastic top. Rubbish day in Auckland is like 2 × big 50 litre bags per household + recycling. Here is it like 1 × 12 litre bag per household and everything else is recyclable. Good thing I use cloth nappies!

Just a little bit of progress

So to update you on my saga with Swiss bureaucracy… I tried to call the Migration people about a dozen times but their phone was always busy so I stormed down to the local council (Gemeinde) and said ‘help!’. The lady there was very helpful (she knows me well by now with my nearly daily visits!). She said that the migration people never answer their phone and I will have to call Oberkulm (the home town of my ancestors) and get them to send me a confirmation that yes, I am in fact married. The weird thing that all of us (the local council, lady on the phone at Oberkulm and I) can’t understand is that since my marriage is registered in Switzerland, why can the migration people not get the paperwork together themselves and actually read it. The official swiss certificate that I sent to the migration people say that my marital status is not single but MARRIED!. I have a copy right here – it says – Zivilstand – verheiratet seit 29.01.2000. So what is with all this single and bigamy stuff?

Ok, well, I had to seriously talk to God about this one. Not a major I know, but I was getting so fired up about it all and had to ask for His help to calm me down. After I prayed my frustrated prayer, the phone rang and my dad was on the line from NZ – sent by God to calm me down I am sure.

Actually, Dad told me they made a movie a while ago about Swiss bureaucracy called ‘Der Schweizermacher’ about a foreigner trying to get Swiss citizenship. A must-see for all Swiss, I understand. I would hate to have to be a foreigner with all this bureaucracy. I am Swiss and it is hard enough!

Another blogger makes me think it isn’t all that bad, perhaps getting a drivers license isn’t too tough anyway!

Anyway, fingers crossed this bit of paper is the one the migration people want. Will be watching that letterbox.

How hard is it to prove that I am married?

Man, having issues with Swiss bureaucracy. Getting quite frustrated so I thought I would let off some steam by telling you all about it.

Here is the story…

Continue reading ‘How hard is it to prove that I am married?’

The Swiss trains

Some people really get into trains; train-spotting, train modeling, etc.
I’ve never been much of a fan of trains, especially since trains aren’t really a big part of New Zealand life any more.

But here in Switzerland, they’re really starting to grow on me. I catch the train to and from work each day, and I’m really enjoying it. They’re smooth, fast, comfortable, and nearly always on time.

The train I take to work in the morning is an IC2000 set, with double-decker coaches pulled by an Re 460 (Lok 2000) electric locomotive. These will cruise at up to 200km/h.

As you’ll see, I’ve swapped one of these locomotives in place of the swiss flag that was in the header of our blog. A Japanese train modeler has gone to an immense effort to create GIF images of various Swiss (and other) trains – I’ve borrowed the image from his site.

Here we go again…

We got back safely from Lake Geneva. Sadly a little earlier than we had planned. Noah got a vomiting bug and Toby, you guessed it, got the chicken pox. Just noticed the first spots on his back this morning, exactly two weeks after Noah got his first spots. Grrr. So here we are again. I guess I was a bit too hopeful and had planned another week full of catching up with the friends I had to cancel on 2 weeks ago. So back at home for a wee while. Poor kids. Hopefully it will be all over by the time Missie and Simon get here in July.

But, we did manage to enjoy some awesome sights in and around Montreux. Went out with the crazy Football fans on Friday night to watch the game. On Saturday we went up to 2000m to Rochers de Naye where Marmot Paradise is. We saw some of these funny animals too which Toby calls ‘Marmites’. Hung out in the snow, then inside the restaurant for a hot chocolate and back down the mountain again on the cogwheel train. We then went for a long walk along lake Geneva. So beautiful with all the huge mountains. Quite funny cos the villages we could see across the river were in France. Cool cafes and playgrounds, oh and Mövenpick ice-cream stands everywhere! We walked out to Chateau de Chillon, an incredibly beautiful castle from back in the 1200′s. The boys loved exploring all the different towers and dungeons.

Here are some photos:

Snow at 2000m – Rochers du Naye

Marmot (it was raining hail at the time)

View from the train – lake and French alps

Daniel, Toby, the swans and Chateau de Chillon in the background

Michelle, Noah and the Chateau

Princes of Chillon

Steep stairs in the castle’s keep

View from the top of the keep

Health and Taxes

Haven’t written for a couple of days (oh no!) so thought I better catch you up. Not much really exciting been going on. I have spent the past three days going from insurance company to health insurance company to bank to tax department to kindergarten, trying to get stuff sorted. It is pretty tricky here, you have to make an appointment for everything and go in person. Can’t do stuff over the phone or internet. I guess the Swiss are very much still into face-to-face customer service (either that or they are technologically challenged – which I doubt).

I have to say, the tax system is pretty awesome here (in canton Aargau anyway). They charge you on a case by case basis. We have to pay in advance but basically your annual tax is about one months salary. So less than 10%.

You get a little money for kids here, but it works the other way than NZ, so the more you earn, the more you get per child. Not very socialist. Miss Clark would not like that. Then there is compulsory health insurance which isn’t cheap. What I am freaking out about is the NZ IRD. They won’t give us a definite answer as to whether we have to pay NZ tax on our Swiss income (which would suck since the tax rate is way higher in NZ). Some people we speak to say we have to pay tax on our Swiss income in both countries!! and others say we don’t. I am sure we will get there one day. IRD are supposed to be working on an answer for us. Mum’s dear friend Marianne is going to help me tonight with translating all the technical German terms that I can’t find anywhere in my dictionary. Thanks Marianne.

Left the kids on their own with Grossmueti for the first time today while I went to one of my appointments. They were happy as larry with her. Great stuff. Grossmueti really is awesome. The boys love her and my aunty Maja.

On a lighter note… we are off to beautiful Montreaux this weekend. In the south of Switzerland on the lake of Geneva, where they speak French! Should be cool. Busy though with the Euro 2008 going on. Got the last room at the local backpackers for the price of a NZ five-star hotel!

Catch you soon!

Zürich is the best. Officially.

Zürich topped Mercer’s 2008 Quality of Living survey. Auckland is 5th.

Croozer-ing

It’s been an exciting week for Daniel with starting a new job, in a new country, with a new language. Perhaps not so exciting for the rest of us being stuck home with chickenpox and the constant rain. Noah’s pox are slowly healing and hopefully will start to disappear over the next week.

We all ventured out today to a place called Emmenbrüke (just north of Luzern) to check out a bike shop – a three-storey bike shop! – and bought a Croozer kinder anhänger for our bikes. Now we can bike everywhere and take both kids with us and the shopping too! Who needs a car?! We did a bit of a test drive (in the rain) and it was awesome. The boys loved it and all the Swiss biking tracks are ideal for getting around easily. It was also quite cool because the whole of Switzerland was inside watching the first Euro 2008 football (soccer) match so we had the road to ourselves. Oh, we just lost 0-1 to the Czechs. Not good for the Swiss.

Some photos of our wee expedition with our new kinder anhänger: two, one

Chickenpox

So Daniel starting work was a bit of a reality shock for all of us. But it had to happen, right, can’t be on holiday forever!

On Sunday we noticed a few spots on Noah but didn’t think too much of it. But after a whole lot more yesterday we took him to the doctor to find that he had chickenpox. This morning he woke up completely covered in them and quite miserable. Poor guy.

I am a bit sad, I had planned to play tennis with my cousin, visit some friends, go to the pools with grandma, attend a community play group and go to Geneva on the weekend… Now we have to put it all on hold for a couple of weeks. Frustrating. Oh well. Maybe it is good for us all to spend some quality time together in solitary confinement. Toby hasn’t had chickenpox so no doubt he will get them too.