Sunday, November 30, 2008

Swisstory Advent!

I am not sure if I can do this... but we are going to try ...

Announcing... the SWISSTORY ADVENT!

Starting December 1st (naturally), I will count down to Christmas on the blog with 24 days of Swiss Christmas Advent wonders and beauty. I can hardly wait, how about you?!

I hope you will join me and perhaps we can get into the Christmas spirit together. Happy 1st Advent everyone!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a Cornicopia for you! :)

So it is that time of year again... Thanksgiving! I hope everyone enjoys their turkey and spending time with family. That is probably what I miss the most about Thanksgiving - that and Grandma's butterscotch cheesecake bars. Yummmm... We will be having a turkey with some friends on Sunday, so don't worry. I will get my tryptophan fix!

I thought I would celebrate by creating a list of things that I am thankful for, with a Swiss focus... so here goes.

1. Chocolate. Ahh, what a wonderful world it is when you can try a different type of chocolate everyday for a year without eating the same one twice. Perhaps that should be my New Year's resolution?

2. The great Swiss outdoors. Switzerland is so beautiful. I do not think I could tire of the picturesque landscapes, the green hills and valleys, the awe-insiring mountains (just don't ask me to climb them...), and the lakes and rivers that snake through Switzerland's cities.

3. My husband, because he is going to wake up with me at 6 am on every Sunday in January to take part in the Zürich International Ski Club lessons at Flumserberg... we will be snowboarding and I will be loving every minute of it, and I am glad that Jace has decided to come along for the ride. I can't wait! Perhaps I should have put him as number 1, eh? :)

4. Visitors. We have never had so many visitors as we have had in Switzerland so far. For some reason Boston just didn't have the pull that Zürich does and Perth was just too far away. I am grateful for all the visitors we have had and look forward to many to come! Sign up here. (just kidding... no really, sign up, we book out fast... ;) Thanks so far to Sarah, Becca, Emily, Mom, Nate, Peter and Connie, and anyone else I may have forgotten!

5. Just getting here. We always wanted to live in Europe and we did it. We are here living the dream. I am thankful for all the hard work and that it paid off... and I hope we have a great experience... so far, so good. :)

6. Finally, thanks to all of you for reading the blog and taking part in our adventure. I love the comments and the emails, so keep them coming! I also love reading your blogs and stories and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beers of the World in the Hauptbahnhof

Ok, so I understand that I am walking a fine line of this blog becoming a booze fest (schnapps, beers on the train 1 and 2, shandies/panache/radlers, wine trips, and wine boats, oh my...) but I feel like I have been to this one particular local a few times now and that it is time to blog about it. Behold - Beers of the World in the Hauptbahnhof.

Sarah poses as the Beers of the World spokesmodel - what is she getting into in the US aisle??

As the name says, they literally have all types of beers from all over the world, and soft drinks from all over the world, and spirits from... you get the picture. Jace goes in there to get Aussie beers and I go in to take photos ... er... I mean, also look at the beers.

Here is a selection of the American beers. I was tempted to get a Sam Adams to remind me of the fond times in Boston. Ahh, Sam Summer... I think I might have just shed a tear. Carrying on... while I was in there last, I came across something miraculous... something utterly delicious and gratifying and since then I have been dreaming about the next time I can run through the Hauptbahnhof and grab another of these babies... ah... Dr. Pepper. Yummmmmmmmmm.
I am not one of those people that is addicted to the root beer like Dr. Pepper but for some reason this drink reallly hits the spot and takes away the familar food cravings. There is nothing better than buying one of these and drinking it on the train ride home... sweet, sweet heaven.

So next time you are in the train station, drop by the Beers of the World store and get a... beer, or a soft drink, or something liquid from your favorite country. It is so worth it, and you look so international and cool carrying around the beers of the world bags for weeks to come. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snaps of Schnapps

Sarah contemplates staying in Zurich and becoming a schnapps maker.

On Sarah's last night in Zurich, after the (read my...) disappointment of not having the three foot weiner, we decided to explore Zurich at night and then have a night cap at the Barrique Wine and Bar on Neiderdorfstrasse. After looking at the menu, I suggested that we forgo the wine and go straight for some coffee and a glass of schnapps. And I am glad we did as it was really delightful.

Despite being a wine bar, the joint had about 5 different schnapps and I had the plum and Sarah had the cherry and they were like fire water, but tasty. Great to wash down a huge meaty dinner. Zurich is known for their schnapps and I have mentioned before that you can buy all kinds of flavors at the Schnapps boutique, also off Niederdorfstrasse.

If you have a favorite, I would love to know... I am a fan of the more fruity schnapps - but are those even schnapps!? I once had a plum one that was sweet and lovey - to die for!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Markets and Events In and Around Zurich

This list was originally posted on the Expats in Switzerland Yahoo Groups Forum, and I thought I would republish it here in case anyone else was looking for something fun to do this Christmas! Thanks to rameixner for the original posting.
For further information on these events an other seasonal celebrations – and

World’s Largest Timepiece – Christmas Lighting at the Bahnhofstrasse Thursday, November 20 – Friday, January 2
As Christmas draws nearer, the lighting moods cast by the illuminations alter constantly. At the beginning of the Advent season, a gentle, calm light – resembling clouds drifting by prevails. Each night, the light get more intense and finally, on New Year’s Eve, the band of light will emit effervescing sparks of light – almost like a fireworks display.

The Conelli Christmas Circus - Thursday, November 20 – Sunday, January 4
Zurich’s traditional Conelli Christmas Circus has been pitching its tent at the Bauschanzli for a quarter of a century. This year’s anniversary show is a travel through time, bridging the gap from classic to contemporary circus acts.

Live on Ice – Ice Skating Rink at Lake Zurich Saturday, November 22 – Sunday, January 4
As in the past, there will be an ice-skating rink to transform Zurich into a winter wonderland. However, this year the location is new: put your skates on at the Lake Side Casino Zurichhorn. The entrance is free and skates can be rented.

Zurich Christmas Fair in Zurich Hauptebahnhof - Friday, November 28 – Wednesday, December 24 (I am definately going to this one!)
The Zurich Hauptebahnhof is Switzerland’s biggest indoor market with more than 160 wooden chalets and a Christmas tree which is 50 feet tall and is decorated with over 5,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments.

Jelmoli Marchentram (Fairytale Tram) - Sunday, November 20 – Tuesday December 23
Children aged four to ten travel from Bellevue throughout the illuminated city of Zurich on the Fairytale Tram as Santa Claus drives and two angels who read fairytales.

Christmas Procession - Sunday, November 30
Starting at 17.00, the parade begins at Globus on the Bahnhofstrasse and proceeds to Burkliplatz.

Baden Christmas Market - Thursday, November 25 – Tuesday, December 23
At Christmas time, the square in front of the Baden train station turns into a uniquely charming winter dream. An ice skating rink is installed with free skating near a attractive market with stands of beautiful items for sale. A special Christmas program with many surprise appearances and shows adds weekly highlights to the scene.(I am definately going to this one, too!)

Singing Christmas Tree & Christmas Market - Werdmuhleplatz Sunday, November 30 – Tuesday, December 23 (Why not!? Going to this, too!!)
A one-minute walk from the Bahnhofstrasse, old and young will delight in the voices that make up the Singing Christmas Tree. A small Christmas market will be held alongside with 12 stands and a mobile bakery operated by the Belvoirpark Hotel School.

Einsiedler Weihnachtmarket - Saturday, November 29 – Monday, December 8
Einseideln hosts the biggest Christmas market in central Switzerland in the square surrounding the beautiful medieval monastery.(I have received lots of recommendations about this one, I think I have to go!)

Zurcher Samichlaus Schwimmen ( Christmas Swimming) - Sunday, December 7 at 14.00 (I told Jace we were going to this and he said it would be too cold... I told him he didn't have to swim if he didn't want to. :) )
Winter swimming enthusiasts will be taking the plunge into the Limmat River and cover a 111 meter-long stretch of water from the Pier 7 Restaurant at Schifflande to the women’s open-air bathing area at the Stadtquai.

Winterthur Christmas Market - Tuesday, December 2 – Tuesday, December 23
One hundred wooden huts illuminate the streets of the Old Town with their golden glow. Sweet smells from cinnamon, hot wine and other seasonal delicacies are in the air. Come and experience Winterthur in a Christmas mood.

Christmas Collector’s Fair Messe Zurich - Thursday, December 11 – Sunday, December 14
Every year the Christmas Collector’s Fair is held in the halls of the Messe Zurich trade fair. Search for the perfect Christmas gift among the antiques, collector’s items and flea market stands.

Zurich New Year’s Eve Run Sunday, December 14
Over 15,000 runners are expected to race through the brightly decorated car-free Old Town and Bahnhofstrasse.

The Christkindl Market Rappersville - Friday, November 29 – Monday, December 9
A pre-yuletide mood takes hold of this historic town when the traditional Christkindl market offers guests a variety of goods to fulfill every heart’s desire.

Christmas Market in the Old Town Zurich - Monday, December 8 – Tuesday, December 23 (I am sure I will run into this one eventually...)
The oldest traditional Christmas market in Zurich is set against the backdrop of the narrow, winding streets of Zurich’s Old Town where artisans and market sellers offer their wares.

Lichterschwimmen - Thursday, December 18 (I wish I could go to this!)
Eight hundred little floating candles are launched from the Stadthausquai on an atmospheric journey on the Limmat River. At Weinplatz, Zuich Tourism offers its guests warm punch and something sweet.

Light of Peace - Sunday, December 21
On Sunday, December 21, a candle, which was lit at Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem, will reach Zurich as part of its journey around the world.

Sternsingen – Singing to the Stars - Sunday, December 21
When the clock strikes six on the evening of the fourth Sunday of Advent, the parade of Rapperswil star singers begins. There are angels, stargazers, Mary and Joseph, the herdsman and the holy kings accompanied by sheep, horses, donkeys and camels. The colorful group makes its way from the Capuchin Monastery through the dark alleyways of the Old Town to the main square where they perform a 30-minute long Nativity play.

Zurich New Year’s Magic Firework Display - Wednesday, December 31
On New Year’s Eve, Lake Zurich and the upper part of the Limmatt River are the venue for the largest New Year Eve’s party in Switzerland, which culminates in a spectacular fireworks show over the Lake at midnight. (I think this is also a definite!!!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great Book for Christmas Cookies: Last minute Plätzchen.

I got this little baking book (only about 50 pages) on the weekend and I have to write about it because I absolutely LOVE IT. I like to make a load of Christmas cookies during the holidays, and this year I thought I would inject some new Swiss and German recipes into the repertoire. And this book is just perfect. Now, I know the book is in German, but even if you don't understand German 100% I think that the recipes are simple enough for a little translation work. It is a "Last Minute" cooking book which means the recipes are quick and easy, and the photography is awesome. You can order the book on, too, here. I am sure I will be showcasing a few of these recipes in the coming weeks! Happy baking!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cheese cake - Swiss style...

So while we were on the Wine Boats, I saw this little stand and thought - wow, what a great idea! Little cheese cakes. So I ran over and bought one for CHF 4.

And go figure, in the land of Cheese and things Swiss, it wasn't your typical sweet cheesecake, but rather a savory little cheese pie, made with only the most scrumptious cheese.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that this wasn't like a New York Style cheesecake or a European Swiss whatever cheesecake... but I was disappointed it wasn't SWEET. Nevertheless, these babies are good... and rich... and I think they should be called 5 kilo cakes because that is probably what you gain after eating one.

Thank goodness Sarah shared it with me... ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You do, we do, everybody Fondue

So finally, we have had some Swiss Fondue zu Hause! Thanks to Juanita, I got a great little fondue pot at the Broccoli, er, I mean the Brocki, and we lit it up the other night after I figured out where to buy the gel fuel kits and how to use the darn things... (they are in Migros on the fondue pot shelf and once you open up the space ship looking holder you just pop the gel in there, without the lid, and light that baby up.)

We used one of the ready made kits - I think this was the Appenzell one, and it was tasty. And it is as easy as they make it sound - basically you just put the goop of cheese and whatever else is in there in the caquelon - the official name for the fondue pot- and heat it up, stiring all the while. We used one of the packs in the 2 pack kit. It was more than enough for 2.

I cornered a Swiss Lady in the Migros and made her tell me what bread the Swiss eat with their fondue and she gave me the good stuff - a white wheat mix, although she said real Swiss usually go all white... it was still good. And as you can see I strayed from just the bread for some other fun fixins: broccoli, cauliflower and (gasp) pineapple! All delish.

It was super filling and we will be doing it again soon... not only because I have about 13 packs of fondue sitting around, they keep for 4 years or so, I checked (which makes you wonder what they put in those packs besides yummy cheese...), but it was also fun and quick.

Ahh... Swiss Fondue. We have arrived. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zurich 'Must See' #7: Zurich at night

Zürich Must See #7: Zurich at Night

This must sound totally lame, but I really enjoy Zurich at night.

Perhaps it says something about my (lack of?) social life, but it was just recently when Sarah visited that I noticed how lovely Zurich is all lit up on a clear night. The lights reflecting off the sleepy Limmat, swans floating along in the darkness, the churches and clock towers glowing in the distance, and the stillness of the streets, with only the whiz of a trolley and a bell on a bike to remind you that you are walking the streets of a normally bustling (or at least well-trafficked) city.

If you like the crazy nightlife you have to come out around midnight, but around 9 or 10 pm everything is just still and elegant and graceful. Give me a full moon and I might just go insane with the beauty. I recommend a walk around the Limmat, perhaps heading down Niederdorfstrasse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lausanne Cathedral

After we drank the winery dry and ordered some more to go, we took the train back to Lausanne, and although we were dragging already, we decided to take a walk around Lausanne - and I am glad we did. It is a really nice city, very hilly indeed, with lots of nice little shops and a big shopping strip. It somehow feels French, too, which I can understand being so close to France and with everyone speaking French and all, but it was odd to be in Switzerland surrounded by the Frenchness after only knowing the German Switzerland. Is that stupid to say that?

We took the subway up the hill - thank God - and then went into the Cathedral for a look around. Very lovely cathedral... nice uh.. arches... and uh, stained glass. No really, it was lovely. I recommend popping in for a look.

After the cathedral, we walked around the city, taking in the sites amidst the setting sun (does anyone know what this building is below? I forget...), making our way down the hill back to the Hauptbahnhof just in time to catch the 20 past direct train back to Zurich... and boy were we tired... as we all slept about 2 hours, waking up at Arnau just in time to shake off the sleep and make our way home after a successful adventure!

I would like to go back to Lausanne one day and see the city again... but it was great to have a taste of the French Swiss and more than a few tastes of their lovely wine. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lausanne Wine Trip

Me and Jace in Lausanne

We took a great trip on Saturday to Lausanne, all the way on the western side of Switzerland, with Michael, Jace's colleague, and his wife Asako. Michael got a letter in the mail, inviting him to a "Tag der offene Tur" or Open Day at one of his favorite wineries. We decided to tag along as we had not been to the French speaking part of Switzerland yet and who doesn't love a wine tasting?

The area we went to was just outside of Lausanne, where all the wineries are, on the slopes along Lake Geneva. Although the leaves had long since changed and most were gone, the area was still gorgeous and the slumbering grape plants were still a sight to behold.

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to Lausanne which was much quicker than I would have imagined, with a stop in Biel along the way. We used a Tageskarte for the day trip, and I would recommend that for anyone doing a day trip as it was relatively inexpensive (51 francs each) and included all transportation within Switzerland for the day, so our trams and subway trips were included. Nice and easy!

This is the wine growing region on the sunny side of Lake Geneva. There were so many little wineries on the hill and plenty of carefully tended plots on the hillside. Very picturesque territory!

Only a few grapes left on the wines... purely for show I am sure as the rest have already been long bottled this year!
Once we arrived at the winery, we took a short walk around the area, where most of these photos were taken, and then we went into the garage of the winery where the Open Day was held. For the next 3 hours we tried the winery's entire range of wines - white, reds, roses, dessert wines, and schnapps. They even had a complimentary lunch for the guests which was really enchanting and delicious - guyere and bree cheese and bacon bread for starters, followed by creamy homemade pumpkin soup and then a delicious local sausage with boiled leeks and potatoes. For dessert they served the most heavenly vanilla icecream with rum and raisins... which was too strong for Jace so I happily ate his as well!
On our way down to the winery door.

This is the winery we visited.

We got a great deal on some white wine that will be delivered soon and walked down the hill to the train at the bottom... all in all it was a very easy trip and one I would recommend to do again. Lucikly we also had great weather and great company!

Asako and Michael, thanks for a great trip!

We also staggered through Lausanne after the winery - photos and details tomorrow!

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Blurb Book done!

It is no secret that I love blurb. I have been working on a format to scrapbook my travel photos and adventures in Europe, and finally my first attempt is done! I recently ordered this 7x7 book off the Blurb site for $25.95, using a $10 coupon*, and the book should show up sometime next week. I cannot wait to report back regarding the quality. Until then, you can check out a preview of the first 15 pages and the cover here. Happy Blurbing and have a great weekend!

* Promotion code: holiday2008. Use before Nov. 18th.

My eyes are bigger than my trolley...

Ok. I have a problem. I know I don't live in the States anymore and that I don't have a car and that I walk to the shops dragging this nanna trolley behind me - and while that alone could be a problem, that's not the problem. Oh no. The real problem is... that while I know I shouldn't - for my health and well-being and social status, I can't help myself... but... Ok, I will just come clean...

I just can't stop myself from buying the same load of groceries that I would in the States and trying to take it all home in one shot. There it is. I admitted it. It's crazy!

I mean - look at this lot... a whole trolley full, a giant bag full... and a poinsettia!!! I am rolling on the floor right now, thinking about how I just had to buy that poinsettia on the same trip. I mean, what was I thinking? Can you see my sorry state? Can you?! The 10 minute walk took me twice as long because I had to stop and rest my arm and switch arms and sweat it all up the minor slopes and then carry this heap up three flights of stairs! Man, it was such a sad state.

Someone... help me... please!? =)

Ps. I know about the online shops and how they deliver but the store is just down the street... then again, perhaps I will have to give in in the wintery months. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zurich 'Must See' #6: Lindenplatz

Zürich Must See #6:Lindenhof in Lindenplatz - one of the best views of Zürich!
Location: Lindenhof
Website: More info in German, or in English
When: Whenever!

The Lindenhof area of Zürich is particularly quaint and cosy, with lots of old buildings and cobblestone streets. I always take my visitors up to the Lindenplatz area, which is particularly charming when the residents are playing the big chess up there, and it is also one of the best views of Zürich over the wall and looking down on the Limmat. Jace would also have me mention that this is also the spot where you can see some of the remains of the previous Roman town that made mark here centuries ago, and there are supposedly Roman ruins under the entire Lindenplatz area. So go up and have a look around... great photo opp as well!

Größere Kartenansicht

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

American Bakeries in the Bahnhof

While I am feeling nostalgic and a bit homesick, I thought I would do a post about American bakeries in the Zurich Hauptbahnhof. There are now two American bakeries in the Hauptbahnhof, and I always like to stop by and have a look at what they are selling as authentic American baked goodies. I find it somewhat comforting and somewhat strange to see what people classify as 'American.'

The first bakery is in the mall section, near platform 1 and 2, I think. They always have a lot of these (below)... thank you Homer for making this an American icon. Doh! Then again, it probably was before the Simpsons that Americans became known for their donuts. I love the little American flags, too!

Then of course there are always bagels as well! This is a Swiss Bagel though - with Gruyer of course! Only CHF 6.50. Is that a steal? Probably not. They also had blondies and brownies when I went by the other day, and a lot of smoothies, but I don't think that is particularly American. And chocolate chip cookies, too!

This is the newest addition to the Bahnhof, the other American bakery. It is up top, out in the open, near the ticket counters. It is called Blueberry. I have yet to go in there, but it looks nice and I read that they had muffins. Let me know if you have already been. Have a muffin for me. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

American Food Market

Ok, I have to admit it. I am a bit homesick. I don't know if it was missing the big vote or all the seemingly exciting activities of late going down at home (Halloween, new babies, Sarah leaving, etc, etc.), but I miss the USA a bit... hence, I have decided to buy a few things from the American Food Market online store to celebrate Thanksgiving and remind me of home.

I wanted to review the online store, not only because I just bought a bunch of stuff there, but because I was really impressed by the experience. Usually these types of stores are kinda thrown together and everything looks like it is 'in stock' but then it is not, but so far, so good. The checkout process was easy, the prices were reasonable, and I got a verification email immediately. Impressed, I am.

Let's hope the stuff I ordered to remind me of home works as well. :) And that it comes in time for Thanksgiving! :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Helllllooo Milk Serum

While Sarah was visiting last weekend... oh my how it all seems like so, so long ago... I made her try some Rivella, but I forewarned her about the fact that it is "MILK SERUM" and I think that alone made her think that it would taste like 14 day old milk. I mean, really, what is this Swiss national drink in all actuality? It sounds like it is something milked from milk.

Setting: Farm.

Frame: Farmer visits the cow, milks the cow, sends the milk off to the oh so special Rivella factory, and they milk it 142 times until the serum is just right to make into a fruity drink.

I mean, come on....Who comes up with this? And is it really healthy? I have to find out. Now I hear they are milking the serum out of soybeans, too, for the yellow rivella. What do soy bean nipples look like, I ask you?! ;)

Results of the trial: Sarah said it didn't taste too bad at all... but then I found the bottle later 75% full on the coffee table, and that is where it sat all weekend. Case closed.

(Ps. You have to admit though, Rivella does pose for one hell of a photo. I mean, imagine the fate of that shot above... what a ham that Rivella.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Speaking of meat... Metzgete

Speaking of meat... I have seen a lot of signs like this around Urdorf lately, announcing 'Metzgete' or 'Metzgata.' My initial thoughts were... "It's some kind of dish that has meat, because it sounds like butcher (Metzger) in German, it is for a limited time, and for some reason it is special because it seems to be offered with music and big celebrations..."

I asked at lunch this week what it was, and you could tell from the range of looks that there is either a love or hate relationship with the Metzgete. Wiki basically says that it is a Swiss specialty, and that after all the 'good' parts of the pig are cut up and processed or frozen, the others parts that don't keep so well (blood, stomach, skin, etc.) need to be used immediately, and what they make out of these parts is Metzgete. (All together now... 'Yummmmmmm.' ) But don't worry, there is a foundation that makes sure it is prepared consistently... needless to say, I like my meat, but I am a bit afraid of the Metzgete. (Photo here... doesn't look nearly as bad as what you would imagine...)

If you are interested, it is now Metzgete time, at least in Urdorf, until the 9th of November. Go and get your pig parts and some live music. :) Have a great weekend!

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