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A Short Guide to Hiking in Switzerland

It's summer in Switzerland and that means the hiking season is upon us. If you've ever spent some time walking or cycling outside in Switzerland, you must have seen noticed the classic yellow markers showing you the direction, the time it takes to reach your destination and the type of trail you'll be hiking. These are part of a national network of hiking trails.
Hiking Trails in Switzerland Thanks to a long and old tradition of hiking in the valleys and mountains (and the flatlands), an extensive network of hiking trails all over Switzerland was developed over the decades. Currently, there are over 60'000km of hiking trails cover all of Switzerland. Almost as many km as roads since Switzerland only counts with 71'400km of roads!

Most of the hiking trails are located in the mountainous cantons of Grisons, Berne and Valais - including some challenging alpine hiking trails. However, there are always plenty of hiking trails nearby as well. Just outside of Zurich, for…
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Hiking in Switzerland after Corona

While other parts of the world are still struggling to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, Switzerland is on it's way back to normality. While the lockdown in Switzerland never has been as severe as in other countries, being forced to slow down, stay at home a lot and reduce social contacts hasn't been an easy thing for many people. 
What saved many people from lockdown cabin fever was that there was never a general prohibition for outdoor activities. As long as you stuck to the safety recommendations it was perfectly fine to go for a walk in the forest with your family, ride your bike around Lake Zurich or hike one of the thousands of hiking trails in Switzerland. Definitely a smart decision!
Hiking in Switzerland after CoronaWhile you could always go hiking, it wasn't always easy or even possible to get to your desired hiking spot. Public transportation was limited and ALL mountain railways (including cable cars and chairlifts) had to close operations. This made it difficult to…

Quarantine Art

At the moment, most of the world's population is under obligations to stay home as much as possible. Some countries (try to) enforce very strict rules that include complete lockdown on certain days and hours (e.g. Peru, Italy) - other countries don't want to give up on the last bit of freedom for their citizens and still allow people to go for a walk or run if they adhere to social distancing rules (e.g. Switzerland). 
Now, while the second approach seems to be the more humane and probably one that can be endured better for a long period of time - we're speaking of months now - there are countries that argue they cannot go this path. One, their health systems would be overwhelmed and two, their cities are extremely crowded and population generally don't adhere to rules so social distancing in practice wouldn't be applied thoroughly enough. Peru is one of those countries with strict rules, lots of detentions for breaking them and is only just now entering the criti…

How to Say "Child" in Swiss German

Over the last few years of blogging here on 'A Humorous Guide to Switzerland', I've written quite a few posts on language in Switzerland with a special focus on my native Swiss German. As a native speaker, there are few words I don't understand and rarely do I encounter a word I don't know but once in a while this is exactly what happens.
If I'd tried to characterize my Swiss German dialect, I would probably say it's a mixture of Aargauerdütsch and Züridütsch, both dialects of the northern region of Switzerland called 'Mittelland' (lit. middle land). I understand most of the other Swiss German dialects, with the exception of Walliserdütsch (Valais Swiss German), but if I stumble upon an unknown Swiss German word it is almost always from a dialect different from my own. A New Swiss German Word Last time I came upon a surprising Swiss German word was last summer in Basel. I was enjoying a day in the city with a walk along the Rhine river with my son …

How to Make a Swiss Gingerbread House

The Christmas season in Switzerland is just around the corner and soon people will be busy baking and eating Christmas cookies, practicing their poems for Santa's visit, getting ready their Christmas calendars and Advent wreaths, buying or making gifts and generally enjoy the holiday season.
Different Swiss Christmas Traditions Although there are some Swiss Christmas traditions that most people observe - e.g. Swiss Santa or Christmas Calendars - each family also has their very own tradition of how Christmas should be celebrated. Some people will go to church on Christmas eve while others prefer to celebrate at home, for example. Some read the Christmas story, others simply enjoy family time and the exchanging of gifts.

Also, the food served on Christmas eve varies from household to household. A Swiss classic for Christmas eve is Fondue Chinoise where you cook meat and vegetables in broth in a shared pot right at the table but by now almost anything goes.
Swiss Christmas Cookies W…

Candle Dipping is a Thing in Switzerland

Candle dipping is a thing in Switzerland. This statement about the Swiss tradition of 'Kerzenziehen' in a blog post called 'These Swiss Christmas Traditions surprised me' stuck with me for a moment. Growing up in Switzerland I never thought about it much, 'Kerzenziehen', which means 'candle pulling' or 'candle dipping', was just what it was. After thinking it over, I realize that maybe it really is a bit odd and definitely unexpected to someone who is used to quite different Christmas traditions.
Candle Dipping Traditions of my Childhood During my childhood, candle dipping was simply part of the Christmas season and an activity in which most families of our village took part. A small group of people organized the candle dipping event in a barn or in a school building. In addition to the actual Kerzenziehen there was usually seasonal food like Christmas cookies, hot punch or Glühwein.

If you wanted to dip your very own candle for the season, you …

How to Change Your Facebook Page Name in 2019

At times I write about topics not related specifically to Switzerland. This is one of those times and if you're not interested in learning about one of my challenges in the blogging world in 2019 I suggest you simply click on. You could have a look at some of my current popular posts like 'How to Eat a Gipfeli' or 'How to Spot a Swiss Person'.

For those looking for a way to beat the Facebook algorithm that prevents name changes of Facebook pages, please stay with me! Don't worry, no programming skills needed at all!
Why I Wanted to Change my Facebook Page Name I recently renamed my blog about life in Northern Peru from 'Las Cabañitas de Gocta' to 'Destino Amazonas' (and moved it to a new custom domain too). The change became necessary when I realized that the original name didn't fit the content and the goal of the blog anymore. You can read about the detailed reasons for the change here 'Cambiamos de Nombre!' (in Spanish only).

The …

How to Connect with Swiss People

In the last few years, Switzerland has always been considered a generally attractive place for expats to live or even settle. However, surveys usually point out one particular downside of life for expats in Switzerland: It seems incredibly hard to establish a healthy social life that includes locals. It seems, Swiss people are not only very punctual and precise but can also be quite distant - especially for someone who is used to a more outgoing culture.

Not surprisingly, in a 2015 survey conducted by Expat Explorer, Switzerland ranked poorly in making friends, integration and culture. Other surveys over the last years produced similar results.
What can you do? How can you connect to Swiss people? I must admit I'm not sure if I'm qualified to make a recommendation. After all, I'm a native born Swiss and I've never had to adapt to life in Switzerland. However, when I moved from one canton to the other I found myself without friends and family around and had to start lo…