Monthly Archive for July, 2008

My favourite Swiss foods

I think it is about time that I list some of the best foods here in Switzerland. Things you must try! Of course, the cheese and chocolate are great, but there is more good, no, great stuff.

Here are some of them (not in any particular order)…

Wähe: Fruit waehe is the best, apricot, rhubarb, apple, cherry, plum. I made an apple one the other day too, pretty quick and easy.

Rivella: a soft drink made out of milk serum. I know, sounds yuck, but it truly is good. And pretty healthy as far as soft drinks go. Not too sweet. I like it! Comes standard, diet or with herbs.

Spätzli or Knöpfli: Pasta made with egg and flour. Very simple (though a little time consuming) and versatile. Mmmh. My grandmother makes the best ones. Here is a recipe.

Raclette: I love this grilled melted swiss cheese over potatoes. Mmmh.

Also great are the freshly baked loaves of crusty bread, gemischter salats (Aarau Badi makes the best one), bratwurst, fondue, bircher muesli, vanille creme, creme schnitte, ice tea… the list goes on… I also love the butter here, weird, I know, but it is made without salt and very creamy and oh so good. I am also a big fan of dark chocolate, the Frey Giandor dark; one of the best. Hence, the ever increasing chocolate index!

Daniel’s B Permit – the saga continues

Before I have another wee moan about the Migration office in Aarau, I would like to say that the Swiss are generally very efficient and systems are well thought through and work well. I still have to laugh though how everything is done by snail-mail as opposed to email. Perhaps that is just us small-town Aargauers that are like that anyway. Like, when something arrives for you at the Gemeinde, they send you a letter to say it has arrived, as opposed to phone-call or email!

We need to know how much longer we have to wait until Daniel’s permit arrives. Daniel needs it so he can get a yearly train pass, an apartment, keep his job etc! So, I tried calling the Migration office a number of times, but as we already know, they never answer their phone. It has now been over 10 weeks and we were originally told it would take about 3. Again, having no luck with the Migration people, I went and asked the Oberentfelden Gemeinde if they would mind investigating. They too, had trouble getting them to answer the phone, but did hear from them eventually. Guess what… the Migration people said that our application was ‘irgendwo’… that means ‘somewhere’. In other words, they don’t know what is happening with that application – I wonder if they ‘lost’ it. And they asked the Gemeinde to please resend the application paperwork. Thankfully, the Gemeinde was clever and had photocopied everything.

Grrr. I can’t believe we have to start AGAIN! On the 12th August, we will have been here three months and Daniel will officially not be allowed to stay here without that Permit. Surely that won’t happen…

Mobility

Oooh, another very cool thing about this place… Mobility cars! We have just signed up for a four month trial. It is like a car sharing / car hire company. You pay a small subscription fee, then you have access to 2000 vehicles at over 1000 stations around Switzerland. You book it over the internet and then can collect the vehicle anytime day or night using a special card, so no key required to unlock. Quite a fantastic idea.

You pay an hourly fee and a price per kilometer (which includes petrol). Very reasonable and you could just use the car for an hour grocery shop, or for a weekend away (we hired a seven-seater over the weekend to get us out to the mountain hut and back). There are over 80,000 customers in Switzerland. So, you really can get by here without having to own a car, and this is much better option for the environment too! Here’s to much more Mobility!

A truly Swiss Mountain Hut experience

We spent a couple of days up in a real rustic-as, typical Swiss Mountain Hut (where you have to bend down to walk around in cos the ceiling is so low!) with our good friends Charlotte and Arnulfo. Wow, what an awesome experience. Firstly, no tourists! And it was in an area of Switzerland I have never been – Canton Schwyz, by Lake Lauerz and close to Lake Zug. Had incredible views and did an hour hike up to the top of the mountain where we could see down the other side to the Vierwaldstaatersee and the snowed tops Swiss alps. WOW WOW WOW. We are definitely going to head back that way to do some more exploring. Thanks to Charlotte and Arnulfo for being such great hosts, even flying the NZ flag for us!

A perfect stay in Zermatt

Everyone tells me that the Matterhorn is renown for always being covered by at least some cloud. I have to say that we saw the Matterhorn in all its (rare) cloudless glory. Wow. We took the train (well 4 different ones) to Zermatt – the village at the bottom of the mighty Matterhorn. We had the most perfect day and took a few photos of course. Missie and Simon headed up over the glacier to the Kleine Matterhorn and I headed up to the Schwarzsee with the boys (under 3 year olds aren’t allowed so high up the mountain).

Spent the night at the Jugendherberge Zermatt, another perfect part of our perfect stay in Zermatt. Quite awesome. View of the Matterhorn out of my window, breakfast and dinner included in the less than CHF 50.- per person per night. Only the steep hill and gazillion stairs to get up to the Hostel were a bit of a killer.

Anyway, I will definitely do a post on the service and hotels here in Switzerland. Of course, I have to being a hotel & service qualified fanatic (or is it critic!?).

Playgrounds on trains

I just want to say a huge thank you to whoever invented playgrounds on trains. You deserve a medal. I must say when travelling the 3.5 hours to Zermatt, it was great to have at least one leg of it with the kids entertained by some body/thing else but me. On alot of the ‘double decker’ trains one carriage has a playground complete with slides and activities for the kids. Great stuff.

Anyway, it beats sitting opposite that grumpy lady who scowled at me every time my boys made a sound. Sorry, but can’t really expect them to be quiet all the time. Especially the Noah, who squeals for joy whenever he sees another train.

Almost famous

So on Tuesday evening, a journalist from the Aargauer Zeitung came and had a chat with us. He’d chanced upon our blog whilst doing an internet search for ‘Aargau’ and ‘family’. He was very pleasant and asked us many thought-provoking questions about us, our move from New Zealand, and our settling-in here in Switzerland.

The article should be published in the Aargauer Zeitung over the next few days. We feel pretty honoured and excited about it all!  Of course it is in German, but we will try to link or copy the article for you all to read.

Here’s how it went down:

Jungfraujoch & Grindelwald

We did the tourist thing and headed up Jungfraujoch while Missie and Simon and Alana are here. We went beginning of last week and spent a night in Grindelwald, one of the most beautiful wee towns, at the foothills of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. We had an amazing time in spite of the not so great weather. The Jungfraujoch bahn is steep and goes though mountain rock to 3500m. Incredible. It is the highest railway station in Europe and has breathtaking views of the mighty Aletsch glacier (on a fine day that is!). Here are some photos:

on-the-way-to-jungfrau feeling-a-wee-bit-dizzy-at-the-very-top in-the-ice-caves missie-and-simon-and-aletsch-glacier oh-baby1 snowing-on-jungfrau view-of-grindelwald-from-train2 grindelwald grindelwald-missie-on-scooter

Swiss Religion

Hmmm. I was quite surprised when i read my 12 year old cousin class contact list. It lists all the students, their parent(s), home address, phone number and religion… yes, religion. I had to look twice. Some are Catholic, some are Reformed, others are non-confirmed (as in not belonging to a church) and there are Muslim too. ‘What is your religion?’ was the next question they asked me at the Gemeinde after ‘What is your name?’ when I first arrived in Switzerland.

I guess it shouldn’t really be a shock because the Swiss seem very open about religion and most belong to a state run church and pay tax to it. But I am a New Zealander, where religion is something you don’t talk about and it is an optional box you fill out on the census paper. Some more info here

Personally, I reckon it is pretty cool being able to talk about religious beliefs openly, etc.; something I miss in NZ.

Anyway, we have been doing a lot of tripping and traveling around. Like to Jungfraujoch, Grindelwald, Bern, Luzern. Will post some photos soon.

7 Dollar Taxi

No, this is not a post about how cheap taxis are in Switzerland (which, by the way, they are not!)

7 Dollar Taxi are a very cool SWISS band we heard at Chrutwaeje concert last night. I am sure they won’t mind me saying! Actually lots of talented Swiss bands there. Not sure about Swiss rap though… Well, not really much of a fan of rap anyway.