Tag Archives: swiss

Swiss Trips

30 Sep

The last week has been packed with even more trips around Switzerland. Here is what we got up to:

Regensberg 

We went to visit the Tower at Regensberg, a little village that isn’t that far away from where we live. The views at the top of the tower were spectacular and we were lucky that the weather was nice and dry. I didn’t get too close to the edge of the tower because it was blowing a gale up there. After collecting some conkers from a nearby tree, we had a look around the village and had a drink at a local cafe sat outside in the sunshine.

We then went to Runway 34, which is an airplane-themed restaurant near Zurich airport. There is an old Russian plane inside (which doubles as a cigar-smoking lounge) and most of the seat are old airplane seat. I was really impressed by the food but it was more expensive than I thought it would be – certainly more expensive than what you would pay for something similar in the city. I felt a bit sorry for the waiting staff because their uniforms were what you might expect a cabin crew member to wear but, of course, they never go to fly anywhere. That would be my idea of a nightmare!

Thun and Bern

I have only been to Thun once before and that was about two years ago, so it was nice to show my mum around and explore a few more places. The town itself is a lot bigger than I remember it being. But it still retains a certain charm about it. The place was packed because it was the day of a local festival. I looked it up online and I still can’t work out what it was that they were meant to be celebrating. This meant that the streets were full of people with instruments and people dressed in traditional costume. It was a nice atmosphere and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

We stopped off at an Irish pub and had a drink and some chips. I have to say that they were the best chips that I have ever eaten while I have been living in Switzerland. They weren’t the thin types of chips that are normally served here and they had sprinklings of rosemary on them which made them extra special.

As we had to come back through Bern to get back to Zurich, we decided to stop off there for a few hours. We had hoped to go inside the parliament building but as Parliament was in session it wasn’t possible. We still enjoyed a walk round a large market and a hot chocolate in a great cafe that we went time last time we were there.

Jucker Farm

It is now pumpkin season and I have been meaning to visit Jucker Farm for as long as I can remember. I thought it would be something different to see and do. There were huge pumpkin exhibitions which were so creative. I have no idea how you would even begin building one of these structures, so hats off to the people who made them. I never knew that there were so many different types and colours of pumpkin. It felt like autumn had arrived, even though the sun was shining.

Of course, we sampled some of the goods at the farm restaurant and I bought a pumpkin to bring home. I want to make a pumpkin soup and maybe a pumpkin pie as well so I will have to look up some recipes in the next week. The pumpkin was only 2.5kg but I have a feeling that it will make quite a few dishes so I will need to make sure that we have some space in the freezer for things I make.

Happy 727th Birthday Switzerland!

1 Aug

1st August is the official date of birth of the Old Swiss Confederation. It also means that the whole country gets a day off (but only if the day falls on a weekday).

I will never forget that Switzerland was founded in 1291 because when we were in Sao Paulo we found a trendy place for food and drink (see the picture below).

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When my boyfriend said that this place must have been the idea of a Swiss person, I asked why and then he explained that 1291 was the year that Switzerland came into existence. I will now never forget this date, which might come in useful if I ever decide to apply for Swiss citizenship.

At the ripe old age of 727, Switzerland isn’t looking too bad…

The language question

1 Feb

After my blogging about going to Germany for a week, I realised that people may not have understood the real reason for this or, that they may be wondering why after 4 years in a country with a different language, I am not fluent already.

The main reason is because in Switzerland the language that is spoken is not the same as in Germany (“High German” as it is known) but Swiss German. The differences between the two are many and varied. So much so, that Germans who come to Switzerland to work or on holiday have difficulty in understanding the Swiss.

There is the well-known quote of the Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw who said:

England and America are two countries divided by a common language

I would say that this is true of the difference between Swiss German and High German as well. An example may help with my explanation. The German word for “taste” is actually the word that Swiss Germans uses for “smell”. So there could be a misunderstanding, when a Swiss German asks a German colleague, if they have smelt how bad the toilet is. The German will understand that this to mean “have you tasted how bad the toilet is”. This leads to confusion all round and quite a few puzzled looks in the office.

It is not just the words that might be confusing. The grammar and the sounds of the words are completely different in both languages It can take some time for a native German speaker to grasp the meaning of the Swiss language.

Of course the Swiss are also able to speak High German. In fact, they normally write emails, read books and newspapers in High German but only speak in Swiss German. A teacher once explained to me that Swiss people don’t like speaking in High German because this is the language that they are forced to speak at school. A child growing up in Switzerland will learn to talk Swiss German with friends and family. They will only learn High German when they finally begin school. Very early on, a child is programmed to associate speaking Swiss German with spending time with friends and family and having fun and High German with homework and school.

As this isn’t complicated enough, there are different Swiss dialects which are only spoken in certain regions. The word for “boy” is different in the Canton of Zurich to the word that they use in other cantons. The verb “to shop” is different in Zurich to the verb that is used to mean the exact same thing in Bern, which is only an hour away.

I would say that this is a little bit like the different words we use in England for a bread roll. Where I was brought up, I would use the word “barm” to refer to a sandwich roll but regional variations can be anything from bap, roll, barmcake, buns, bin lids, cob, teacake. I actually looked this up and there are 18 regional variations for a bread roll in the UK.

But teacake, for the record, is most certainly not a savoury bread. It is a sweet bread with currants in it that you have with slathered on it with a cup of tea on the side. I would just like to make that absolutely clear.

From the context of the sentence, it is normally easy to work out what the speaker is saying but it requires some effort from the listener to decipher what is being said. My point is that even Swiss Germans can have some difficultly in understanding each other.

When you put all of this together, you can see what my, and many others in my situation, problem is. There is a complete disconnect between the High German that I am taught in my language school and the language that is spoken in the office, in the supermarket and in the street. I spent the first year and a half wondering if I was learning another language because I was still struggling to understand what was being said to me and around me.

download-3Going to Germany was a tactic to hear as much German as was possible and to reinforce
how much I could understand and function in the language that I have been struggling to learn for so long.

I am not sure if I know of any other languages where there is this disconnect between the spoken and written language. It is completely confusing for someone trying to learn. In France and Italy for example, the language that you would hear after leaving in the language school would be the same as the language as on the street and the learning process would be accelerated.

For now, I am concentrating on getting my High German perfect but if I am to stay here longer term I will need to learn some Swiss German. I already have an okay-ish understanding of the numbers for example (so I can at least give the cashier at the supermarket the right money for my shopping, which was virtually impossible when I first arrived) and I know the days of the week. Except for Tuesday. I can never remember the word for Tuesday. But as I don’t consider Tuesday to be so much of an important day of the week, I am happy to let that one slide.

 

 

 

Swiss v British advent calendars: Discuss

14 Dec

After years of complaining that I haven’t had an advent calendar for, well, years, I have 3 this year. Oh yes, three all to myself. I was nicely surprised when I went back home for a weekend in November, when my mum had bought me one and two friends on two separate occasions bought me one when they came round for dinner.

As the Swiss are known for chocolate you would assume that the Swiss advent calendar(s) would be better. In the interest of science (and maybe out of boredom), I have made an experiment to finally expose the makers of the best chocolate advent calendar in the world. Please note: only two countries were available to be entered into the experiment, so the claim of “best chocolate advent calendar in the world” might be overstated.

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The British advent calendar is definitely for kids but as it was bought for me by my mother I don’t see the problem with this. There is a big cartoon Father Christmas on the front and behind the doors is not only a delicious chocolate but a task to perform. For example, this morning it was “Can you draw Santa’s sleigh?” You know, it took me a good 20 minutes but it turns out I actually can. Another one said, “Give people hugs at Christmas” which I think is lovely advice which shouldn’t just apply to Christmas or just give to children. Can you imagine a world where the first thing you did in the morning was to be told to give hugs to people you meet, even strangers? What a nicer place it would be to live in than this planet. On a slightly negative note, the chocolates are a bit small.

Both of the other calendar are made by Läderach. I don’t think I had heard of Läderach before I came to Switzerland. It’s now a firm favourite of mine. The chocolate has a smooth, luxurious taste: a caramel and chocolate explosion in the mouth, melting away like a snowflake dissolving on a tongue. One of the Läderach calendars looks like a little village. It has 3 parts and each of the doors is a door to the house in the village. The houses that make up the village are a winter scene so it doubles as a small decoration as well.

It’s a very hard decision to make a decision. The calendar that my mum bought me is Cadbury’s chocolate and there are days over here when I can’t help but crave a Boost. These are one of the chocolate bars you definitely can’t get over here. I know, I have tried. But chocolate is what the Swiss do best…

On this occasion I will settle for a draw because chocolate is chocolate so everyone’s a winner.