Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Swiss hospitality at its finest

One of the views from the Torre Bar in Baden
The Frau writes a lot about the wonders of Swiss hospitality in her day job. But sometimes she questions it. I mean, least night she went to the Torre Bar with two friends. The bar has beautiful views over Baden and they sat right below the castle ruin and drank glass after glass of the Spanish version of Prosecco. It was very pleasant.

Except. 

Doesn’t good hospitality also include a few peanuts or olives if you are spending the equivalent of $150 on drinks? Not according to the Torre Bar. Instead, For SF 7, we received exactly one shot glass full of olives. That was it. It was astounding in its scarcity. We each had two toothpicks worth of olives and looked at each other in disbelief.

Except that it really wasn't disbelief. Because unfortunately, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened and situations like these are starting to define Swiss hospitality for The Frau. Take the Mövenpick Wine Bar in Zurich. Granted, they have a great deal on Tuesday nights with all you can drink Champagne for SF 35 and it is again, very pleasant.

Except. 

Go there with your same group of three and the wine bar will serve you the million franc appetizer plate with only two breadsticks. Even though there are three of you. Again, wouldn’t a little Swiss hospitality just add an extra breadstick for goodwill?

And that’s the thing about Switzerland that confounds the Frau to this day. As so-called leaders in the hospitality industry, you think they could throw you a small bone in the shape of a few peanuts for your business. But time and time again, this seems to be asking too much. But then again, the Swiss are rich. Coincidence?

Anyone else have the answers?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The wonder of European pharmacies

The Frau loves the European healthcare system. Especially the pharmacies. Walk in to an Italian pharmacy wearing your bathing suit and a pained expression and walk out ten minutes later with cream, bandages, and the satisfaction of knowing you survived the sting of a jellyfish and everything will be ok. No waiting, no doctors, and little expense. This was The Frau’s experience last week in Italy.
 
Pharmacy in Levanto, Italy
Which reminded her that Swiss pharmacies are as great as Italian ones. Baby M has green puss coming out of her eye at 4:56 p.m. on a Saturday? No problem. Rush to the pharmacy across the street, talk with head pharmacist for one minute, receive eye drops for CHF 7, and by Monday the pink eye is gone and Baby M can go to school and Mommy can go to work.

If this doesn’t seem great, consider the dire American alternative. The health clinic. No, you cannot just go directly to the pharmacy with your pink eye or your sting. Two hours of waiting, $400 to see a doctor for five minutes who spends more time on the computer than looking at your sore throat, and then you still have to go to the pharmacy, wait in line, and spend another $100 for medicine. It wastes time, money, and gas, since you most likely have to drive too. Please America, it's time to change from a doctor-centric society to a pharmacy-centric one. Please?

Do you love European pharmacies?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Where to eat in Basel and Zurich


The Frau had a work meeting in Basel earlier this month so she was introduced to the Markthalle. Yodelers...this is everything The Frau has been looking for in Zurich for the last eight years and not yet found. Plates of Indian food for CHF 8. Half liters of soda for CHF 2. Then there was Thai food, Turkish food, Ethiopian food, and more. The Markthalle put Cervelat and overpriced hash browns (i.e. Roesti) in their proper place: far, far away.

The Frau asks you: is there any other place in Switzerland where you can get ethic food for less than your rent? Not to mention, the Markthalle is atmospheric (it was built in 1929 and renovated from 2009 to 2011), it's all the variety of food you could want under one roof, and it's only two minutes from the Basel train station. Oh, and did The Frau mention it's affordable? There are also small shops, a fresh produce market, and free toilets. 

And for those looking for where to eat in Zurich, well, you're in luck: The Frau just wrote an Insider Guide for CNN Travel on Zurich. It includes her new favorite place for a burger: Holy Cow. (That's what you'll be saying anyway when you see the prices–a gourmet burger for CHF 10! It really exists, yodelers.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Swiss Police Have Nothing to Do

Lately, Toddler M is very excited whenever she sees a Swiss police car. “Polizei Auto!” she’ll scream with delight.

The Frau wishes she could share Toddler M’s enthusiasm when it comes to the Swiss police.

But this is difficult to do because a couple of weeks ago the Swiss police pulled The Frau over. On her bike. The Frau’s crime? Biking in a pedestrian zone on a rainy Sunday morning with no pedestrian in sight.

The ultimate Schadenfreude. Watching
another biker get pulled over.
The only thing else to be found on the pedestrian-only street? The Swiss police car. And The Frau wants to know: Which is more dangerous? Driving a car down a pedestrian street or riding a bike?

Actually, here’s what’s worse: On August 1, the entire population, including the Swiss police, seemed to think it was just fine to set off fireworks in public squares and parking lots.  The message from the Swiss police seems to be: bikers in pedestrian zones are dangerous, but fireworks in the same places aren’t.

What do you think?

The Frau writes about Swiss life in her new book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. You might like it.



Thursday, August 07, 2014

Swiss Life: Another thing to know

Another thing about Swiss life The Frau wishes she had known:

It is possible to line dance to Shania Twain in front of an audience without ever cracking a smile.

Yes. Switzerland never fails to amaze The Frau and her experience at the August 1 farm brunch was no exception.

First of all, let The Frau tell you that the brunch was wonderful. Endless Zopf and Rösti, goats and rabbits for Toddler M to run around after, and Incarom coffee. But the best part was:
Buy your shirt at Migros and you
are the epitome of style at the August 1 brunch

1.  The fact that The Frau knows what’s hot in toddler fashions since her daughter was dressed exactly like another Swiss girl. (Tip: buy your clothes for the brunch at Migros and you will be the epitome of Swiss brunch fashion.)

And

2. The entertainment.

Put on your dancing shoes…and your sour expression.

It’s hard to put the entertainment into words, but imagine this: 40 minutes of American country music + 8 Swiss people line dancing on a stage + these same 8 people wearing cowboy hats along with expressions that said, “I’m reading a technical book.”

Anyone else have amazing August 1 brunch experiences?


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Swiss National Day

Grüezi Yodelers,

Black sheep like The Frau celebrate
Swiss National Day too.
Happy Swiss National Day. Are you in Switzerland on August 1? Then you should have brunch on a Swiss farm. It's the thing to do if you want to live the Swiss life, so naturally The Frau will be eating her share of Zopf, cheese, and dried Fleisch tomorrow. You can find a brunch near you at http://www.brunch.ch Just make sure your farm of choice is not already ausgebucht (sold out).

Also, in honor of Swiss National Day, The Frau is having a sale. Her book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known, is available for CHF 16 for a limited time. This price includes shipping within Switzerland and a free bookmark with a cloud or sun, depending on how you feel about Switzerland at the moment. The Frau will sign the book too if you want. The offer is available until August 10 and payment is via bank transfer. Please mention the super secret code Chuchichäschtli in your book order e-mail. If you can also say what Chuchichäschtli means, your total price drops to CHF 15.

All the best for an ausgezeichnet holiday.

Liebe Grüsse

The Frau

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shop Switzerland!

Dear Yodelers,

It’s that time of year again. The one of two times a year that the rules of Swiss economics need not apply and The Frau goes shopping.

Running shoes for less than the
price of a mortgage payment?
Yes, Switzerland can. 
Yes. There are two sides to every “I just got Switzerlanded” story and they are called January and July. The Frau brings this up because, well, it’s July. And July will be over soon.

So hurry and get your Swiss watches for half the price, your clothing for 70% off (in otherwise, jeans at normal American prices), and that set of wine glasses you’ve been putting off which are now being offered new for less than they're selling for at the Swiss flea market. What's more, you'll also be able to buy a pair of running shoes for less than the price of a mortgage payment and when else is that possible in this country?

Yodelers, it’s time not only to hunt. But to gather. And if you miss the deals, don’t worry, the travel agency across the street is advertising shopping vacations in New York City. See you there when desperation strikes in mid-November.

Love,
The Frau

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