Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from One Big Yodel

Winter Wonderland in Disentis

Joyeux Noel

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Buone Feste Natalizie

Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn

A very Swiss Christmas to fellow yodelers in Switzerland and everywhere.


The Frau 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Drive Crazy in Switzerland

For a country with such high fines for driving under the influence or speeding (one million franc speeding fine, anyone?), The Frau finds quite the hilarious name for a Swiss driving school. Especially since the school proudly drives around Baden with the "CrazyDrive" name on their car. Another reason to hire an English copywriter in Switzerland and another reason not to have a car.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Your Very Own Swiss Holiday Preishit

Attention Yodeler Glühwein Connoisseurs and Fellow Cheapskates,

Maybe you’ve noticed how much the Swiss hate cheapness. If not, consider that their term for a sale—Preishit—has the word “shit” in it.

This mulled wine deal has your name on it...
at least if you're The Frau.
So The Frau was pleased when a Glühwein money-saving theory was brought to her attention by a Swiss German-speaking American lawyer who buys anything he can with REKA checks.

Because REKA Lawyer can’t buy mulled wine with REKA (and he really really likes wine), he has developed a way to save at least as much money on Glühwein as he does using REKA to buy his train tickets.

Drum roll.

His theory is:

The first Glühwein stand at any Swiss Christmas market will charge you the most for a cup of the sweet stuff. If you want to save 10% a glass or more, keep walking (it’s a Swiss pastime anyway), and move further into the market.

The Frau loves saving money, especially in Switzerland, so she has tested REKA Lawyer’s theory at two markets in the last week and both have proven it correct. Last night at the Baden Weihnachtsmarkt, The Frau scored a glass of Glühwein for CHF 3 from a stand in the middle of the market. Take that, CHF 5-Glühwein stand at the front of the market!

Viel Spass with your next Glühwein Preishit, mitenand and Happy Holidays from One Big Yodel.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

3 Ways You Know You're in Switzerland

You know you're in Switzerland when...

You're landing at the country's largest airport and this is what you see...

Road delays are due more to cows than construction...

And you are always reminded that you better be punctual. Even on a bike ride.

How do you know you're in Switzerland?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Swiss Expat Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving holiday, The Frau would like to wish every yodeler much good health. And to do this, she would like to take you with her to the office. We expats do have to work on Thanksgiving, after all.

Open on a Swiss open-plan office on Thanksgiving Day. Employees are sitting across from each other. If it weren’t for their computers where they can read the news, they would simply stare at each other blankly all day long. People are speaking various dialects of Swiss German. Keyboards are clicking. Phones are ringing. But then The Frau sneezes and all work stops.

WORKER 1: Gesundheit.

WORKER 2: Gesundheit.

THE FRAU: Danke.

WORKER 3: Gesundheit.

THE FRAU: Merci.

WORKER 1 starts typing again. WORKER 2 continues his phone call. Things are getting back to normal. But just when The Frau thinks she can get back to work...

WORKER 4/STRAGGLER 1: Gesundheit.

THE FRAU: Thanks. Danke. Gleichfalls.

Everyone gets back to work for 4 minutes and 38 seconds (approximately). Then…

WORKER 5: Sneeze.

Repeat entire dialogue, bitte.

The Boss walks over.

THE BOSS: Did everyone remember to do their timesheets?

EVERYONE: Nein. There is no job number for sneezing. What should we do?

The boss leaves to check about job number for sneezing. Then it happens. The Frau feels another sneeze coming on. She can’t bear it. So she runs to the bathroom so she can sneeze scene-less, but on the way there, someone wishes her En Guete. Of course. It is almost turkey time, mitenand. So stop typing and start sending your En Guetes irgendwo before you leave the office to get a Rivella and an overpriced sandwich. Happy Expat Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Five Uncliché Swiss Gift Ideas

Over the cheese and chocolate thing? Have enough Swiss army knives and Swatches? Then the One Big Yodel Swiss Christmas Gift Guide is for you.


Whitebooks are sold at Globus in Zurich
Whitebook is probably the best handmade old-fashioned notebook with a modern twist you’ve never heard of. In fact, The Frau calls her Whitebook the “Swiss Army knife of the written word”. Created by a Swiss entrepreneur, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a traditional notebook—but never considered. Bookmarks, pockets for random notes, an adjustable pen holder…And depending on the size you choose, Whitebook holds not only a variety of refillable perforated paper (that actually lays flat, yippee!), but also your iPad mini, iPad, Kindle, or other electronic thingy of your choice. subscription

For either CHF 39 or CHF 59 a month, you can have two or three bottles of carefully chosen wine delivered right to your door., a Geneva-based start-up, hopes to turn every yodeler into a sommelier. That’s why your bottles of wine are also delivered with a brochure describing their taste and origin in three languages–including English. The Frau was fortunate to be sent a trial wine box. To test its quality, she had—who else—Jean-Claude, her French friend that grew up on a vineyard in Burgundy—over for dinner. He praised the wines, saying they were an excellent quality for the price. Bon. How do you say, “re-order” in French?

Radius Design coat hangers or city lights

Ok, fine. Radius Design is actually a German company. But it creates with Switzerland in mind. Specifically for those of us lucky to love Baden (yes, Baden!) and Zurich. Choose your city (London and Paris are options too) and then choose between a coat hanger or a wall candle holder and enjoy your city’s landmarks in a whole new way.

Sigg bottles

Possibly the most indestructible bottle around (The Frau can say this since Baby M treats hers more like a ball than a bottle), Sigg Bottles are stylish too. So stylish, that some have appeared in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Like most other Swiss-made products, however, Sigg bottles are cheaper once they’ve been exported to another country. Like Amazon.

Slow Train to Switzerland by Diccon Bewes

Slow train to Switzerland by Diccon Bewes is the story of the first conducted tour of Switzerland, and how it changed both the Swiss and the way we travel. If you have an interest in trains and tourism or know someone who does, then Slow Train to Switzerland makes a great gift.

Anyone else have unique Swiss gift suggestions?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

There’s a two-year-old with a flaming stick, oh my!

The Swiss have a very different approach to danger than most English speakers. Instead of preventing a child from playing with fire by putting candles out of their reach, they hand a toddler a lantern with a flaming candle inside it and expect her to walk with it for five blocks.

The Frau speaks from experience. Because Baby M was supposed to do just that as an organized daycare activity. But after flinging her flaming lantern around for about thirty seconds, she decided to let The Frau carry it five blocks for her while she chilled out and ate pretzels in her stroller.

The Swiss version of personal responsibility at its finest:
The Fire Parade in Liestal
The Swiss childcare workers were not impressed with either The Frau or Baby M.

But The Frau can’t say she minded Baby M’s lack of interest in the lantern.

Let her tell you why not.

The Frau really likes the concept of personal responsibility. It’s ten times better than the concept of “blame someone else for my stupidity” that most Americans subscribe to—at least if they can afford a lawyer.

But unfortunately, culture kind of sticks to people like melted Raclette cheese sticks to a pan. So even if The Frau tries to scrape off her American paranoia during Swiss events that are supposed to teach personal responsibility to two-year-olds, sometimes her old-fashioned American fear still clings to her. 

Can you blame her? She comes from a country that, according to the American Pediatric Society’s book on raising children, says children can’t be reasoned with until they are at least age seven.  In the meantime, Swiss children have been walking to school by themselves for two years...

Anyone else have experiences with the Swiss version of teaching kids about personal responsibility?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

5 Great Autumn Hikes in Switzerland

The Frau loves fall in Switzerland—when it’s not rainy and foggy, that is. After seven years of not-so-scientific observation, the fall seems to peak sometime between October 20-November 4. So when you get that rare sunny day, fellow yodelers, do not stop to collect your personal belongings—except for maybe your camera and your SBB train pass–just go as quickly as possible to one of these places:


Morteratsch Glacier hike in the Fall
The hike from the Morteratsch train station to the Morteratsch Glacier and back (about 6k in total) is one of the most beautiful in Switzerland. Especially when the orange and yellow leaves frame the icy snow against a blue sky. The wide, fairly level trail is also suitable for strollers. If you work up an appetite, the hotel next to the Morteratsch station serves up tasty lunches (pumpkin ravioli, anyone?) To extend the hike, you could also start at the Pontresina train station.

There’s a reason this 32k area along Lake Geneva is called the Swiss Riviera. In fact, there’s no place like Lavaux when the vineyards begin their magical transformation from green to gold. The perfume of fermenting grapes will fill the air so you might as well give in and have a glass of wine to celebrate your hike through this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This trail is also wide and paved, making it a great option for strollers and families.


When The Frau can’t make it to Lavaux, she settles for Schartenfels, or what she calls the Aargauer Riviera. From the castle/restaurant, Schloss Schartenfels, located a mere 500 uneven stairs above Baden, a pleasant gravel/paved trail allows you to do about a 40-minute loop through the colorful vineyards. If you want to taste the wine from this region, The Hotel Blume in Baden serves it at their restaurant.
Lej de Staz

Lej de Staz

Feeling reflective? A pleasant, stroller-friendly stroll or bike ride from St. Moritz to Lej de Staz will allow you to enjoy the fall foliage surrounding these two beautiful lakes. From Lej de Staz, you could continue hiking to either Pontresina or Punt Muragl.

Gebenstorfer Horn

A hike (or bike ride) from Baden to the Gebenstorfer horn will take you past Baldegg, where on a clear day you’ll have a wonderful view of the Alps and the option to have lunch at the Baldegg Restaurant. Then you’ll pass through woods and farmland filled with apple trees, finally arriving at the Gebenstorfer horn, where you’ll have a view of the Limmat, Reuss, and Aare rivers all coming together. You can then continue your hike to Turgi, Brugg, or return to Baden.

Where do you like to hike in Switzerland during the fall?


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