Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where to Swim in Zurich

It’s sunny? Wait. Are you really in Zurich? Check. Double check. Yes? Great, then it’s time to go swimming! How many cities, after all, feature lakes and rivers to swim in, neither of which pose major health risks? Below are The Frau’s three favorite Zurich swim spots.

To swim with the Swiss swans in Lake Zurich, head to Bad Utoquai. It’s open rain or shine until September 22 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. It features separate men’s and women’s-only sunning terraces, two shallow areas for non-swimmers, as well as a diving board, which for reasons The Frau is still determining, is only on the men’s side.

If you’re a woman and you’re more about sunning than swimming, then the Frauenbad is for you. Women only by day and co-ed bar by night, this Limmat River swimming area features a 31-meter long “play” area and a 33-meter swimming area. Or just do what the locals do—bring your MacBook Pro and type away while topless.

Just because the sun was out at the beginning of this post, does not mean it still is now. So for days that turn out less than spectacular, head to Hallenbad City. This newly renovated 50-meter pool is open daily from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. It features four different lanes for appropriate swimming seriousness, which The Frau greatly appreciates.

Prices and Entry

All Zurich swimming areas cost CHF 7 per entry for adults, but The Frau recommends the 12-pass (ask for a Kombi12), which gives you 12 entries for the price of 10. It is valid at all Zurich pools (and some ice rinks too). You can also purchase a yearly swim pass for CHF 220.

(Note: If you’re looking for areas to swim in Switzerland outside of Zurich, The Frau suggests that you click here.)

Where’s your favorite place to swim in Zurich?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dear Frau: Budget Hotels in Zurich

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It’s kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. Remember, if you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact The Frau.

Dear Frau,

Do you have any suggestions for an inexpensive, central place to stay in Zurich? I know it is a very expensive city.

Nice to find you,
Canadian in Texas on my way to Switzerland

Dear Canadian in Texas on your way to Switzerland,

In 2012, The Economist Intelligence Unit named Zurich the most expensive city in the world. That’s nice for Zurich, but not so nice for you, the visitor, who does not a Swiss salary make.

Where to stay in Zurich, Switzerland?
Never fear, penny-pinchers. Switzerland may not have pennies (the smallest coin they mint is a 5-cent one) but The Frau has a solution for that. It’s called painful research and she’s done it for you.

Since she has written about Zurich on a budget before (and also runs a writing workshop in Zurich that’s on a writer kind of budget) she leaves you now with five great places to stay in (or near) Zurich that won’t break your non-Swiss bank account.

Think of what would happen if IKEA made a hotel and stuck it in the center of the world’s most expensive city. Then you would have Hotel Marta, which is Zurich’s newest pick for those who like to be in the old town. It offers free wifi and free breakfast and there’s a promotion right now where you can get your third night free too. From CHF 125

Older than Hotel Marta but still centrally located about a ten-minute walk from the main train station, it’s a good budget option if Hotel Marta is fully booked. From CHF 125

10 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to walk to just about any main sight in Zurich from Hotel St. Josef.  10 minutes to the main train station. 10 minutes to the old town. 10 minutes to the lakefront. Not to mention all the rooms include a TV, a refrigerator, and a tea and coffee maker. From CHF 140

Perfect for Brits looking for a home away from home in Zurich, the Townhouse Boutique Hotel is decorated like an English townhouse.  Accordingly bathroom amenities come from Molton Brown. Key word, bathroom amenities, since despite high prices, many Swiss hotels leave a lot to be desired—like soap. From CHF 160

If you’re willing to venture out and stay in a spa town a direct 15-minute train ride from Zurich (which will cost you CHF 10 one way), then Frau Meise could be for you. Located in Baden’s old town between a castle ruin and a Medieval wooden bridge, Frau Meise is a bed and breakfast with only two rooms but plenty of character. From CHF 100

Anyone else know of decent budget hotel options (in other words, rooms under CHF 200–yes...this is budget for Switzerland) in Zurich to help our Canadian in Texas?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

10 ways to get the Swiss talking

Things like trying to meet people or talking to people you barely know are naturally awkward, but trust The Frau. You’ve never experienced a truly awkward gathering unless you've lived in Switzerland and been brave enough to work at a company that isn't multinational.

As most people know, the Swiss pretty much keep to themselves. As in they only talk to their family and their friends—specifically the friends they made in first grade. And this works for them. But it might not work especially well for you when you, the outsider, find yourself at a company happy hour feeling anything but happy.

The Frau has worked at several Swiss ad agencies over the last seven years. And if social events are bad at a Swiss ad agency, The Frau shudders to think of what they would be like at a Swiss bank. So what’s an expat to do? Below are ten strategies to get the Swiss talking to you, both in general life or at that dreaded “social” mixer. Note: Use at your own risk. You may just make a friend for life (or in some enemy).

The Swiss will talk to you. Just know the right topics.

Mention how many foreigners there are in Switzerland (specifically the number of Germans, when possible).


Discuss things that seem non-existent or insignificant (such as crime or trash).


Ask about that construction project the next street over (there is always a construction project the next street over and there is always someone who has memorized the construction schedule).


Ask about vacation plans. The Swiss always have vacation plans. It’s easy for them to know where they are going next since it's most likely the exact same place they just went. 


Put out your trash incorrectly (especially good if you want the whole community to talk. But not so good if you don’t want them to talk about you).


Recycle during the lunch hour. Guaranteed lecture. Have fun.


Sit back, relax, and eat something while several “En Guetes” come your way.


Walk a dog.


Carry an alphorn. Better yet, play one.


Anyone else have tips for trying to speak with people from a culture who rarely even speak amongst themselves?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Go West, Young Expat

In honor of the 4th of July, The Frau would like to encourage all expats living in Switzerland to go west. To the Emmental.

The Emmental is underrated. Why so, says The Frau?

Because no one goes there.

Gruyère. Zermatt. St. Moritz. The Emmental might as well be in Canton Aargau for the amount of love it gets from expats.

Hiking in Emmental
The Frau has a remedy for this. It’s called the photo on the right. This is the Emmental, yodelers. Get out your alphorns and let the message travel for 18 miles. Because the Emmental put the hole in the cheese us Americans call "Swiss." And therefore we should give it a little more credit in this country.

Emmental has rolling landscapes. It has people who say “Grüezi” in possibly the cutest accent in all of CH. And it’s home to a town called Junkholz. What else could you want?

Don’t believe The Frau? See for yourself. Do her hike (which is stroller friendly people, so there’s no excuse even if you have a baby for not going to the Emmental).

Here’s the 3.5 km hike—which ends at a huge cheese complex. (It's Tipp 7 in the PDF).

For those who need a translation, here it is: Take the train to Burgdorf and the bus to Lueg. Start hiking in Lueg towards Junkholz. Pass Schnabel. End at Affoltern i.E. at a cheese (and admittedly somewhat cheesy) factory. It’s not as extensive as the one in Gruyère, but it’s also not as crowded. There’s a wonderful picnic area, a playground to keep kids (or adults acting like kids) busy, a cheese shop, a restaurant serving everything with a side of cheese, and possibly the oldest cheese making house in the world that can still live up to Swiss cleanliness standards.

Anyone else like the Emmental?


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