Saturday, May 31, 2014

Secret tip for saving money in Switzerland

Oh, yodelers. Lately, The Frau has been talking about things she wish she’d known about life in Switzerland, only to discover one important thing eight years too late.

As most yodelers know, tips for saving money in Switzerland can seem as secretive as a Swiss bank (pre-American government intervention, at least).

For the last eight years, The Frau has left Switzerland for several weeks at a time to travel or visit family in the States. Little did she know she could have been making money while she was gone.

Ja. By turning in her GA (Swiss Train Pass).

Here’s what The Frau should have done:

Before you go on a long trip, give your GA to your local SBB train station. You can do this up to three days before you leave. They then give you a travel card that is valid to use until you leave the country and upon your return, so you don’t need to worry about getting to and from the airport.

When you return to your home station, you simply pick up your GA and receive a voucher for use at any SBB. The Frau’s husband was gone for 13 days so he turned in his GA for the first time and here’s what he got:

A voucher for CHF 126.

The amount works out to be less than CHF 10 per day, and you also have to pay a CHF 10 fee just to turn it in, but it's still totally worth it if you’re going to be gone anyway.

The Frau is sad she didn't know about this offer years earlier since it certainly would have saved–at least her parents–a lot of money in train fare. 

But alas, The Frau’s loss is your gain. 

Enjoy reading about Swiss life? Then you might enjoy The Frau’s new book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. It even has a section on Mutterhood. Available at fine online retailers and on Zurich’s most famous shopping street too (Bahnhofstrasse 70).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

5 Great Places to go with Kids in Switzerland

Need a few ideas for what to do with your kids in Switzerland? Look no further. The Frau (and Toddler M) have done some investigating for you.

Technorama (Winterthur)

This Swiss science museum has something for everyone—even Toddler M enjoyed a full day there banging drums, watching electric trains, and making gigantic bubbles. Spread across many floors, The Frau was pleasantly surprised by its non-Swiss size.

Tip: When traveling by public transport, be sure to get the RailAway offer, which will save you 10% on both the entrance fee and the transport there. They also accept payment in REKA.

Paradisimo (Pfäffikon SZ)

BMW Bobby Car. Only in Switzerland.
This is possibly Switzerland’s most perfect indoor playground. Why? It’s inexpensive, it has separate play areas for babies versus older kids, and there is a cafe with Wi-Fi for parents. And oh, the Bobby Cars are BMWs. It wouldn’t be a Swiss experience otherwise.

The perfect balance of toys and exhibit make this place a fun day out for more than just children. Think dollhouses from the last century, a room filled with puppet shows you can put on a play with, and an entire floor of wooden games to explore.

Tip: They accept REKA checks.

Transport Museum (Lucerne)

Climb on trams. Ride scooters. Watch cars from the decades go by. The Transport Museum is all about transporting you to, well, the world of transport.

Tip: RailAway will save you 10% off the admission and the train ride there.

Emmentaler Schaukäserei (Affoltern i.E.)

Emmentaler cheese (that’s Swiss cheese for all you Americans)—comes from here. At the Emmentaler Schaukäserei, you can visit the dairy, eat at the restaurant, shop for cheese, and let your kids play on the playground and admire the statues of cows. You can also combine a visit to the Schaukäserei with a beautiful stroller hike through the rolling hills. Start in Lueg and follow the signs from Lueg-Junkholz-Schnabel-Affoltern i.E. (3.5 km).

Anyone else have tips for having fun in Switzerland with kids?

Enjoy reading about Swiss life? Then you might enjoy The Frau’s new book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. It even has a section on Mutterhood. Available at fine online retailers and on Zurich’s most famous shopping street too (Bahnhofstrasse 70).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Zurich Book Reading at Orell Füssli The Bookshop

swiss book

What should you know about Swiss life?
Oh, how about that sometimes something in Switzerland is actually free!
Shocking, yes, but come to the free reading event and you'll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy some cheese and chocolate (or more likely some pretzels and wine) for less than you'd spend for a packet of ketchup at the Swiss McDonald's.

The Frau will read from her new book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I'd Known
May 23, 2014 at 7 p.m.
Orell Füssli The Bookshop
Bahnhofstrasse 70
8001 Zurich
Hope to see you yodelers there!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

30 Things to Know about Swiss Life

Grüezi People,
Whatever one should know about Swiss life, The Frau learned the hard way. But this is good for you, yodelers. Because The Frau is going to make your Swiss life a little easier (or at least a little funnier) in a just published essay collection.
It’s life in Switzerland. 
The not-made-for-TV version. 
What should you know about Swiss life? Well, how about the fact that you can be hired in one language and fired in another? Or the realization that your Swiss neighbor is not coming over to chat—she is coming over to clean your gutter? Or the reality that cheese is a homeopathic treatment—for lactating boobs?
Learned anything about life in Switzerland yet? Well, sit back, relax, and enjoy some cheese and chocolate. Because that, dear yodelers, is just the beginning.                                               
Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known is a collection of both published (The Christian Science MonitorNational Geographic GlimpseChicken Soup for the Soul Books, and Brain, Child) and new essays in which The Frau discovers that whatever she thought she knew about the land of a certain storybook mountain girl, she had a lot to learn about the real Switzerland, you know, the one on the world map.
Come to the reading on May 23. Get a free bookmark.
The Frau, joined by Geneva-based American author Anne Korkeakivi (author of An Unexpected Guest), will read from her book at Orell Füssli The Bookshop (Bahnhofstrasse 70, 8001 Zurich) on May 23, 2014 at 7 p.m. She would love it if you stopped by to say hello in any of your official languages of choice. She’ll even give you a free bookmark if you do.
But if you can’t make it, the print version of the book is now available on Kindle version is now available too. Alternatively, you can join The Frau’s mailing list to find out when the book is available at other retailers. Nook, Kobo, and other versions are also coming soon. 
The Frau

P.S. To celebrate the publication of Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I'd Known, The Frau is offering 30% off the print book on to her mailing list members (see, great deals in Switzerland do exist!). To get the discount, all you have to do is join the book's mailing list by Monday, May 12. The code will be e-mailed to all mailing list members on Tuesday, May 13 and will remain valid for one week. The Frau says danke vielmal in advance for your support.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

A minimum wage of $25 an hour?

Ah, yodelers, it’s the day of work when you don’t have to work and can think about whether the Swiss should vote for its workers to receive the highest minimum wage in the world (22 SF/$25 an hour) on May 18.

Would you say "ja" to $25 an hour?
$25 an hour? It seems extravagant to the rest of the world. But then again, the rest of the world isn’t paying $25 for a plate of mediocre Chinese food. Or 57 cents a minute to make a national phone call. Or $11 for a 15-minute train ride—in 2nd class, no less.

That’s why the Swiss minimum wage should be put in perspective (and also why The Frau wishes the American government would put the salaries of its citizens working abroad in perspective too).

After all, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. But despite this, the country still seems to want to make it livable for everyone. The Frau likes this.

But is a salary of SF 4,000 ($4,533) a month livable in Switzerland? It seems crazy to the rest of the world that the answer might be no. But if you watch this video created by, you’ll see that with “low” salaries and high costs of everything from healthcare to food—even $4,533 a month can be a struggle in Switzerland.

That being said, how would you vote on May 18?


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