Archive for the 'Aarau' Category

Excessive Hairdressers?

Like my new hair-do?  No, just joking!

So, Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the seemingly excessive number of hairdressing salons here in Switzerland?  They are on every corner.  Actually, from our apartment walking into Aarau I pass SEVEN hairdressers (in about 400m).  I went to get my haircut a couple of weeks ago and the hairdresser tells me there are 50 hairdressers in Aarau alone.  That is catering for a population of 16,000.    In Manukau, New Zealand, for a population of 360,000, there are 140 hairdressers.  So that makes it about 8 times more hairdressers per capita here than in Manukau.  Wow!

But then, have you seen the haircuts people have here?  They are perfect and everyone looks stylish and good.  And you pay too, about $80 ($120 NZD) for a women’s haircut in Aarau which seems to be about the average.  I was paying about $40NZD (about $25CHF) for a haircut.

But the service is perfect.  And they take more than 10 minutes to cut hair too!  On arrival, they open the door for you, take your coat (which they do give back!), ask if you would like tea, coffee, juice, water (with or without bubbles!)  I was even offered fancy Christmas herbal tea and biscuits.  They take you to a chair and talk for 5 minutes about what you would like to have done and give advice / tips.  After washing you hair and massaging, they cut it.  And boy, they cut so well.  Like every hair is in place and with such attention to detail.  Anyway, perhaps enough babbling.  I have had my hair cut twice since being in Switzerland by different salons and both were incredible and professional and friendly.

I love my Swiss haircuts.

Aarau Lights Up

No, Simon, this is not about smoking, sorry!  Although, much of Aarau does seem to smoke, as do many in Switzerland.  Sometimes I wished I smoked.  Does it keep you warmer in winter?  I will just have to stick to Gluhwein and Heisse Marronni to keep me warm, as I don’t plan on taking on another bad habit!

Anyway, back on topic… Last Friday Aarau officially turned on all its street Christmas lights and the shops stayed open till 10pm!  I know, not a major for those living in America or even NZ where there are shops open 24/7.  But in the land where shops close over midday, shut each day at 6 and don’t open on Sundays, it is a major deal to get to shop until 10!  We ventured around the town, in the freezing cold (it was just on 1 degree), listened to a band (who was trying to stay warm in an open truck), ate bratwurst and drank gluhwein.  We lasted about and hour and then headed back home to warm up.  Not before I bought a nice long black coat though!

Setting up house

I thought I would post a few photos of our Wohnung and the view – since I promised I would.  It is still a bit bare.  I need to get painting or creative to put something on the white walls. Our bedroom is still a bit of a mess so no photos of that yet! The photos of the view doesn’t do it any justice.  It is way better in real life.  But the GönhardQuartier where we live is really beautiful, full of huge old Swiss houses and (autumn) trees, manicured gardens and quiet streets.

Swiss Football

A couple of weeks ago I went to my first Swiss football game with Michelle’s dad and her cousin.
We watched FC Aarau play FC Vaduz in round 11 of the Axpo Super League.

FC Vaduz

FC Vaduz is actually from Liechtenstein, but they don’t have anyone else to play with in their home country, so they’re allowed to play in the Swiss league. However, since they’re not Swiss, they’re not allowed to win; if they come first, the second-place team will be the official winner. I don’t think there’s much danger of that, though – we (I bought an FC Aarau scarf, so now it’s ‘we’) beat them 4:0, and they’re currently third-from-bottom on the table. We’re third-from top, behind FC Zürich and FC Basel, who are both very strong teams.

The fans

Kiwi’s are passionate about rugby, we all know that. But their degree of passion is nowhere near that of the Swiss. Even the little stadium in Aarau has a demilitarized zone patrolled by riot-police with dogs to separate the fans of the opposing teams. The tiny Vaduz crowd only lit a few flares, but you should see the FC Zürich fans in full song – I’ve only seen photos, but we’re playing FCZ in Zürich on the 25th of October, so I’ll have to go and experience for myself. Here are some photos:

So you can see they really go all-out. There’s just a constant noise from the fans – singing, chanting, banging – that doesn’t stop, but just gets louder in the more tense moments. A lot more intense than at a rugby game.


Sometimes, however, things get out-of-hand; the deployment of riot police is not an unjustified measure. In 2006, FC Basel fans stormed the field in the championship-deciding match against FC Zürich (Wikipedia article). There were fairly heavy fines against both clubs, and restrictions imposed on attendance at subsequent matches:

“FC Basel was punished because of its inability to control its own fans. It received a fine of 80,000 Swiss francs and its first two home games of the 2006-2007 season would have to be held without fans, as so called “ghost matches”. The next three would have to be held with just 3/4 of stadium capacity without the eastern corner (called the “Muttenzer Kurve”) of the stadium being occupied by attendees of the match.
FC Zürich was also punished because of its inability to prevent its fans from also setting foot on the field. It was fined 30,000 Swiss francs.”

Of course this isn’t as serious as some football riots. In Peru in 1964, over 300 people were killed and 500 injured in football riots. (another Wikipedia article)

Rugby fans are kittens.

So, I’ll try and get to the FCA/FCZ game on the 25th and let you know how it goes.

Update: I had a bit more of a look around, and found a YouTube video of the Basel pitch-invasion.
I also heard a story (rumor?) of Zürich playing Basel at home, where the Zürich fans met the train of supporters from Basel at the station and barricaded them inside so that the missed the first half of the match. I’m trying to find a news story or photos to back this up.

Aarau Bachfischet

Ok, this has to be one of the coolest traditions that Aarau has, one that has been going for over 150 years. There is a long story behind it… but basically the ‘Bach’ (stream) was a gift that a group of nuns from Aarau gave the city. Flowing water into the city. Annually, the Bach is emptied and cleaned by city workers and volunteers. Then, in the evening, the water is ‘turned’ back on. The children make lanterns and then parade with leafy branches and their lit lanterns along the river to celebrate the fresh water running back through Aarau. A lot of the Bach is now running underground. The children sing a cool tune as they parade down through the town (which is doesn’t make much sense):

Fürio, de Bach brönnt.
D’Suhrer händ en azündt.
D’Aarauer händ ne glösche.
D’Chüttiger, d’Chüttiger rite uf de Frösche.“

The parade is followed by a bonfire, fireworks, and the Mords-Chlapf (loud bang!). Here are some photos but they don’t give much credit to the very impressive lanterns the kids made. Even Toby got to hold one. Must try making some ourselves once.

Amazing how you can mix hundreds of fiery lanterns with tired children (in the dark) and still no one gets hurt. Only a few kids, I mean lanterns, caught fire! Haha.

Aarau wird zum Bauernhof

Aarau has a thing every year in conjuction with a training college called Liebegg (where you can train to be a ‘farmer’). They turn parts of the city into a ‘Bauernhof’ or farm. They have animals for the kids to pat and play with, pony rides, horse and carriage rides. Pig racing, alphorns and a bit of a talk from the major. We headed (in the cold and wet) to Aarau, first to the Saturday morning markets (so cool!) and then had a look around the altstadt turned farmyard. The boys loved it. Toby wouldn’t get out of the sheep pen!

They also had an apple press making apple juice to try and buy. Very fascinating. It is amazing how much juice you can get out of apples.