Friday, April 27, 2012

A Little Swiss Aktion

Hurry! A big sale!
Maybe you've noticed. Nothing in Switzerland is big. Small apartments. Small aisles. Small country.

So naturally, sales are small as well. 

Three per cent. Eleven per cent. Thirteen per cent. 

The Frau has seen it all. And none of these discounts are usually high enough to persuade her American-trained "take 80% off already reduced prices at Kohl's" mind to rush over to take advantage of them (especially, when, like this one pictured, they come from furniture stores with SFr 15,000 couches). 

Where do these stores get these numbers? Imagine if you will, a Swiss meeting to decide the discount.

"Well, what about 10% off?"

"Good, but that's really only saving people the 8% tax plus 2%."

"Well, how about 15% off?"

"What?! That's making things too cheap! People won't buy them. They'll think something is wrong with the quality."

"Well, then. The magic number must be 13%!" 

"Perfect. Let's now let's get a little Aktion going on that."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Die Mom: The American Mom in Switzerland

When it comes to identity, The Frau is slowly becoming Die Mom. Or, to sound more professional, The Frau may decide she prefers the title of CMO: Chief Mädchen Officer. 

But who are we kidding. Once a Frau, always a Frau.

As one can imagine, having a baby abroad has opened many new doors for The Frau.  From her first Swiss hospital experience where she received homeopathic cheese treatments to her first Kinderkrippe experience where she pondered how “Krippe” rhymes with “Grippe” (especially after her daughter got her first cold last week).

Anyway, if you’d like to read more of The Frau’s observations on Die Motherhood, visit this week.

And if you have any questions about becoming a parent in Switzerland, feel free to leave a comment. Who knows. maybe The Frau will be inspired to write another Dear Frau column on the topic. She does have a whopping six and a half months of experience, after all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Swiss Holiday Apartments

The key to an affordable and relaxing Swiss vacation? Book a holiday apartment (oh, just listen to how British the Frau is sounding lately!).

Bonus #1: You will be able to cook yourself and therefore avoid overpriced fried potatoes (the Frau just went to a restaurant in Wengen and somehow managed to spend over $50 for two plates of fried potatoes and $12 for a vintage 2012 1.5 liter of Coca-cola).

Bonus #2: You will never have to wonder: will the place be clean? Trust the Frau. Your Swiss apartment rental will be so shiny it would give even Mr. Clean a headache.

Bonus #3: You will avoid overpriced Swiss hotels that call themselves "budget" but charge CHF 200 a night and don't even throw in a bar of soap.

Below are four Swiss apartments in four great areas of Switzerland. The Frau has stayed in all of them. All are worthy of a stay, for various reasons, not the least that the Frau saved you the trouble of worrying if the place would be alright.

Wengen: Apartment Belvedere

4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, sleeps 9 (10 is pushing it)

Pluses: centrally located off the main drag, but in a quiet location, huge very un-Swiss refrigerator and freezer (stocked with ice!!), child friendly (two cots provided with no additional cost plus washing machine inside the apartment), comfortable beds, tons of English books, movies, games (place is owned by Brits, hence also the ice). We were allowed to stay past the 10 a.m. check-out time.

Minuses: no Internet connection (could be a plus depending on your crowd. Mine had iPod Touches and were constantly trying unsuccessfully to break into other networks), Sony PlayStation 2 (minus if you are a wife with a small baby who needs attention and Dad plays FIFA Soccer all day).

Oberwald: Zur Post

Third Floor Apartment

3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, sleeps 6

Pluses: Directly on cross-country ski trail, right above tourist office, right across the street from grocery store, short walk from the train, very affordable (for Switzerland), really nice owners who will pick you and your million bags up from the train station if you have small baby and there is 20 feet of snow (and maybe even if there isn’t). We were allowed to stay an extra day since we were snowed out of the town at the beginning of our booking date.

Minuses: Some of the beds were old, the apartment hasn’t been remodeled for awhile (but it kind of adds to its charm), the only grocery store in the town is very pricey (think double the prices of food at Coop/Migros).

Orselina (Above Locarno): Casa Mari (See above for photo of the Frau on the balcony)

2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, sleeps 4

Pluses: Gorgeous views from dining room and balcony—a great place to watch the clouds when it rains for seven days straight. T.V. was broken (could be a minus depending if you like Italian programming). Beautiful garden and grilling area with palm trees and great views (see below, up huge hill).

Minuses: Up a huge hill and out of town. Nearest bus stop is still a pretty good uphill hike to apartment (not recommended when six months pregnant and carrying tons of luggage or groceries!). Locarno buses are more Italian than Swiss (i.e. never on time). Small grocery store nearby has terrible hours. No info about the area in the apartment.

Bettmeralp: Alpenglueck 39

Studio, sleeps 2

Pluses: Unobstructed mountain views, very comfortable fold-away bed, great price for two people, Internet included, cozy, when we booked through the tourist office, we got free lift tickets for the week (this was in the summer), great village with a Coop and easy access to Aletsch Glacier.

Minuses: down a fairly steep hill (not so fun with luggage—or blisters from hiking), small (but it's a studio so to be expected).

Anyone else have some great Swiss holiday apartments to recommend? The Frau will be looking for her next Fereinwohnung soon.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The worst logo the Frau has ever seen

No. This is not a joke (it is April 2, people). It's just bad design. This is the logo for the Baden City Festival. Or at least, a sad excuse for a logo.

It really bugs the Frau because it's everywhere in Baden. On bus wraps. On posters. In her mind (She works in advertising so please excuse her, she's a little strange and these kind of things drive her crazy all the time).

But never this crazy.

Help. Can someone please explain why you would hyphenate the word "Baden" as "Ba-
den?" After all, for German, it's a very short word and there is plenty of room to write the five letters in the second line of this logo.

The only saving grace for the Frau? They are not calling the festival "Badenfahrt" like they did in 2007. (If you're wondering, yes, they had t-shirts with "Baden" on the front and "Fahrt" on the back. The Frau regrets not buying one, but she barely survived the festival due to living directly above the rock and pop stage which featured "famous" Swiss rappers sharing their art until 5 a.m. for 10 days straight.)

And now the city wants her to buy a Stadtfest Ba-
den festival pin for CHF 40. With this logo on it. For the pleasure of not being able to sleep for 10 days. Oh, the joy that is Switzerland sometimes.

Is it just the Frau being overly sensitive? What do you think of this logo?


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