Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scary Worldwide: The Band Uniform

In honor of Halloween, I wanted to share something that is a truly frightening phenomenon worldwide: the school band uniform. Pictured above is Baden's version (heads have been chopped off to protect the innocent).

What an outfit. Wow. Makes me feel better about that wool, navy and orange shoulder padded suit that I had to wear in high school.

Note to all band members: I know it's not your fault, but putting a feather in your cap is never a good idea.

Did you wear a band uniform in school and live to tell about it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

That will be 40K please

Dear taxpayer,

That will be CHF 40,000 ($40,000). Please pay by tomorrow. In cash.


Ok. That's not exactly how Swiss taxes go, but essentially, you get a bill from the tax man for a staggering amount and are expected to hurry up and go transfer the money to them asap upon receiving your bill. Taxes are not deducted directly from paychecks in Switzerland, Swiss residents are expected to save part of their paychecks for the big tax bill that comes later, once a year.

Can you imagine this working in the United States? Please. The budget deficit is bad enough.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dear Frau: How much cheaper are prices in Germany?

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It's kind of like Dear Abby, but with an international twist. If you have questions about life in Switzerland, don't hesitate to contact the Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in the next edition of Dear Frau.

Dear Frau,

You’ve discussed grocery shopping in Germany a few times on your blog. But how much can I really expect to save? Will it make up for the cost of my train ticket there?


Curious in CH

Dear Curious in CH,

Good timing. The Frau just went shopping in Germany (Waldshut) again over the weekend. But before we look at a few price comparisons, let’s talk in general. In 2009, Blick am Abend reported that Swiss grocers averaged 33% higher prices than German ones. Since then, the franc has gained on the euro, so the prices in Germany are even more advantageous to the Swiss shopper. I don’t know what your train ticket costs, but let’s take a look at a few prices, using the current euro-franc exchange rate, which is roughly 1 euro = 1.34 francs.

Note: In this example, Migros, Coop, Denner, and Manor are shops in Switzerland. Kaufland and Müller are the shops in Germany.

Note 2: When possible, exact brands have been compared. These are noted with an *.

Two ring binder:

at Migros: 3,50 CHF/at Kaufland: 1,33 CHF

Sesame Bagel:

at Coop: .98 CHF per bagel/at Kaufland: .44 CHF per bagel

1 Mango:

at Migros: 3,50 CHF/at Kaufland: 1,60 CHF

Leerdammer Cheese*:

at Denner: 4,95 CHF/at Kaufland: 2,67 CHF

Poco Loco Salsa Dip*:

at Denner: 2,45 CHF/at Kaufland: 1,33 CHF

Moevenpick ice cream*:

at Coop: 9,90 CHF/at Kaufland: 4,00 CHF

1 kilo chicken:

at Manor: 34,50 CHF/at Kaufland: 13,20 CHF

500 gram broccoli:

at Manor: 2,45 CHF/at Kaufland: 1,33 CHF

Nestle Shreddies*:

at Coop: 4,75 CHF/at Kaufland: 4,00 CHF

Tortilla Chips:

at Manor: 3,95 CHF/at Kaufland: 1,33 CHF

200 Q-tips:

at Denner: ,75 CHF/at Müller: ,33 CHF

Liquid Soap:

at Denner: 1,20 CHF/at Müller: ,87 CHF


Shopping Savings in this example: 55%

Note 3: This example may not reflect an average savings as for obvious reasons, the Frau tends to stock up on things she knows are cheaper in Germany.

Note 4: Prices include local taxes. If you shop in Germany but live in Switzerland, you can have the German taxes refunded, making shopping even cheaper.

Note 5: Remember that you have a CHF 300 spending limit or customs will fine you if caught, average fine is CHF 300 + duty. Also, there are limits on the amount of certain items you can bring into CH, for example, each person is only allowed 500 g of beef. For exact amounts allowed, click here, print it out and take it with you when you cross the border.

Happy shopping.

Do you border shop?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Extreme Angst in Baden

Attention Yodelers,

We have another item worthy of news. Someone in Baden has thrown a pizza box into a trash bin that specifically says: Please do not throw pizza boxes in here.

The nerve. Can you believe someone didn't follow the rules? That a Swiss rule could actually attract the opposite of it? That's the subject in this article, from the 7. October Rundschau. Its title: Extremes.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Um, Please Stop Bauen For Me

The cranes are back.

Here's what's going on around me:

In my building they are revamping a coffee shop to make it into a clothing store.

In the building directly across the street, they are remodeling a clothing store.

In the building directly next to mine, they are remodeling an eyeglasses store.

In the building kitty-corner from mine, they are getting ready to demolish it and build an office building.

Heaven help me.

The worst part is, almost all of these places have big posters up in their windows that say, "Wir bauen für Sie um." (We're building for you.)

Please. You're jackhammering at 7 a.m. You're throwing metal stuff into metal bins. And all that scaffolding is not exactly the icing on the cake.

Look, I've been in Switzerland long enough to know that there's some sick non-existant award for who has the shiniest store/apartment/office/clock tower that everyone is competing for, but just because you want to win, do not claim to be doing it for me. Because the next time one of your customers complains that they're getting wet from my garden hose, I'll just have to say, sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but um, I'm watering for you.

Friday, October 01, 2010

This weather sucks! What should I do?

Hmm. The Frau tries not to be biased, but if you like books, you might want to attend an author reading that she is organizing on Sunday.

As part of the Zurich Writers Workshop this weekend, New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Jane Gilman and University of Oxford Fiction Tutor Amal Chatterjee will be reading from their works on Sunday, October 3, 2010 from 12:30-1:00 p.m. at Schoentalstrasse 8, 8004 Zurich. The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for sale.

If that's not quite your thing, here are some other indoor options:

Andy Warhol Exhibit at the art museum in Basel.

Choir Festival in Appenzell (not sure exactly how indoors this is).

Funny Laundry performs stand-up comedy in Zurich.


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