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.)


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 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.

The Frau

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Line at Tibits

Yodelers, as some of you vegetarian lovers may know, Tibits is a zoo at noon. Especially at noon on a rainy day. Like yesterday. So imagine The Frau’s surprise when she saw a line at the buffet.

Yes. You read that right. A line.

A line? In Switzerland? The Frau didn’t know what to do. Wait in it with the rest of the foreigners while the Swiss helped themselves to the food? It seemed rude to cut in such a well-formed line, but The Frau has been in Switzerland eight years and that's long enough to have no patience for lines since only foreigners who have been here three years or less stand in them.

As The Frau stood there debating what to do, a Swiss woman grabbed a plate and started lecturing everyone in line that here you don’t do things like that. You just grab a plate and go. Then she demonstrated, grabbing a plate and elbowing her way into the middle of the crowded buffet. The Frau, relieved, followed her, leaving the other foreigners standing in their pointless but polite line.

Unfortunately, The Frau is feeling a little American guilt about the whole situation today. So like the good American she no longer is, she’ll try to make amends now by saying sorry for cutting in front of all her foreigner friends.

Like reading about Swiss Life? Then you may also like The Frau's book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I'd Known. Just a friendly tip from an author who has decided to embrace shameless self-promotion. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Eight Things to Love about Switzerland, Part II

The Frau celebrated eight years in Switzerland two weeks ago. In honor of that milestone, she’s put together a list of eight things she loves about Switzerland. Today she’ll conclude with the last four. To read the first four, click here.

Baden, Switzerland
Photo by Brian Opyd
Five: Health insurance is not tied to employment. And it’s mandatory.

What happens when health insurance is tied to employment? Well, apparently if you’re in the US and work for a company like Hobby Lobby, they can deny you your legal right to contraception in their health policy because of their personal religious beliefs. Would this ever happen in Switzerland? No way. Health insurance is private; it has nothing to do with your employer, and everyone is required to have it whether they like it or not. This does a lot for costs savings and equality, since unlike in America, the people who pay for health insurance aren’t also paying for those who forgo it even though everyone has health issues. And it also means you don’t have job stress. Swiss people often quit their jobs to travel or reevaluate their lives or start a business. All while keeping their health insurance. Which brings The Frau back to point one: Freedom.

Six: Punctuality is valued.

You never have to wonder whether someone will come on time or not in Switzerland. Ten seconds late is late. Why is this great? When time is valued, you don’t tend to waste it. The Swiss are a productive country for a reason.

Seven: It’s clean. No really, it’s clean.

Switzerland is the only country The Frau knows of where she’d actually take a shower in a parking garage. Or let Toddler M continue to eat the apple she dropped on the floor of a bus. Or find a sparkling clean bathroom in the middle of nowhere. Clean is nice. And also too easy to take for granted sometimes, especially after you’ve been living here awhile.

Eight: Towns and cities are built for walkers.

Cars are required by law to stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings. Lights are timed to make driving suck as much as possible in Swiss cities. And parking costs are high. Why? Switzerland isn’t a driving country; it’s a walking one. If the laws and hiking signs aren’t proof, then the example set by The Frau is. 

The Frau walks to buy groceries. The Frau walks to buy clothes. The Frau walks to buy electronics. The Frau walks to the train. To the bus. To the library. To the post office. To the pool. There’s almost nothing she needs that is not within walking distance. Not only are all of these walkable Swiss cities and towns pleasant to live in, but when a city is walkable, it cuts down on car pollution, congestion, and noise too.

What else do you love about Switzerland?

Oh, by the way, if you love reading about Switzerland you might also like The Frau’s book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. Just a totally unsubtle hint.


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