Switzerland – one week on

I’ve been in Switzerland a week now, so let’s recap what I’ve discovered so far shall we?

  • Everything is expensive (except taxes – Jan pays much lower taxes here than in Germany). I’ve already showed you what I got from a normal supermarket for 34 francs, and all the cocktails I’ve seen so far have cost 15 francs (€14.36 or Β£10.62).
  • However, I have discovered the Swiss cheap supermarket chain! It’s called Denner and you can tell the minute you walk in that it’s a discount supermarket – think shelves crammed full of stuff in no discernible order and definitely no signs explaining what’s down which aisle. If you’ve ever been to Aldi you’ll know what I mean. But I don’t care how the stuff is laid out as long as it means spending less. The nearest Denner is roughly a 9 minute walk from our flat so that’s alright. There are Aldis too, but they’re few and far between and I’m yet to discover one near me.
  • Migros sells Tetley teabags in boxes of 100! Not that I’m particularly bothered about having Tetley teabags specifically, but I do prefer my teabags to come in decent amounts rather than the pathetic little boxes of 20-25 I’ve been used to from Germany. Not that I’ll be needing teabags for a while – I’m still working on the bag of 250 that I bought from the Asia shop in Karlsruhe πŸ˜‰
  • Free public toilets actually exist! At least in Basel they do. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of my readers, but those of you who’ve lived in Germany (where toilets usually cost 50 cents and can even go up to 1 euro – looking at you, Mannheim train station!) will understand.
  • Public transport – at least in Basel – is excellent. There are 2 trams that will take me home from the city and so far I’ve never had to wait more than 3 minutes for one of the 2 to turn up.
  • People in “service” positions – e.g. supermarkets, post office and the Gemeindeverwaltung (municipal authority) – are happy to switch to something closer to high German if they notice you struggling to understand their Swiss German (however, the same cannot be said for the building management people who showed me round when I was still looking at flats!)
  • The fine for drivers who do not stop for pedestrians at a zebra crossing is ridiculously high – which is why they all stop if you even look like you might be going to cross. It’s just like being back in Britain. Although the stripes are black and yellow, not black and white… does that make them tiger crossings? πŸ˜‰

That’s all I can think of today. Next week I’ll give you a tour of my new neighbourhood – if it ever stops raining long enough for me to get out and take some photos for you!

Old people, students, mothers of young children and the unemployed

If you find yourself in a supermarket before 6pm on a weekday pretty much everyone you see will most likely fall into one of the above categories. Depending on what time you go one group may be more or less strongly represented – the morning is for old people, most students don’t emerge until after 12, and of course not everyone falls into one of those categories. A few people may be employees on their day off and you may find the odd self-employed person taking a break from whatever it is they do, but most people who go food shopping suring the day are either retired, mothers of young children (not being sexist but you really won’t see too many fathers), students or jobless.

I wonder how obvious it is which of the categories I fall into?