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It finally snowed

Yes, it finally snowed in Switzerland! After waiting for snow for so long, it finally arrived. The beautiful white powder transformed Switzerland into an even prettier place. Believe me, snow turns trees into fairy tale creatures and ordinary Swiss villages into romantic places. You don't believe me? Let me prove my point.
Two pictures of the same set of stairs: One in winter, the other in summer. Which one would you rather climb?







And which village would you rather visit, the one covered in snow or the one in green? Admittedly, both look nice to me but since it is winter and I'm a total snow lover, I'd go for the snowy version.


If you're looking for actual things to do in the snow in Switzerland - other than skiing in the alps - have a look at this list of 10 Fun Things to Do Outside on a Snowy Winter Day.



© 2011 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to Make Home Made Wrapping Paper

Firstly, I want to thank my fellow blogger Made in Suisse for her post about creative wrapping paper. It was the starting point of this venture! Secondly, I would like to add that you can wrap any kind of gift with this wrapping paper - not just Christmas gifts! 


For most people the end of December is the time of the year they finish buying their Christmas presents. Well, for some people it's only starting but that's another story.

Many stores here in Switzerland have a gift wrapping service and while it may be very convenient to buy your gift ready and wrapped, so to speak, I think that is rather boring. I mean, if you found an amazing gift for your husband or best friend why would you want to waste it with average wrapping? Especially, if your gift has vintage character or is home made I would advise you to give it the wrapping it deserves!

This is exactly what I did today. I rummaged through the memories from my childhood and came up with this fun way to design your own wra…

A Visit to the Zoo in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland's biggest city. Yet, compared to New York or London, Zurich seems small with it's half a million inhabitants. Nevertheless, it features a great number of interesting places and fun activities for people of all ages. One of the more interesting places of Switzerland is located in Zurich: the Zurich Zoo.

Although I'm personally a bit ambivalent towards the existence of zoos and the keeping of animals in compounds, a zoo can truly be a great place to visit. As a child, I was a frequent visitor to the Zurich Zoo and I remember loving the elephants and the peacocks. The polar bears were another favorite and the monkeys always good for a prank. Plus, there used to be a real long slide for kids which I totally loved.

Founded in 1929, the Zurich Zoo is located on one of the hills around Zurich. According to its website, the zoo has been constantly enlarged and modernized over the last years and, today, is the home for hundreds of animals from various species.

Waiting for Snow

It's the middle of December and it is WARM. I can't remember a year when December was as warm as this. Instead of being around 0 C it is between 5-10 degrees celsius during the day and a bit colder at night. The result of this warm weather: NO SNOW! At least where I live that's the case; up in the mountains the situation is a bit better.

I usually prefer summer and warm weather over winter but snow sure is an amazing thing. Every year I'm surprised how snow transforms familiar landscapes and allows me to enter winter wonderland. So, while waiting for the first snowfall of the year, I'll share some picture of last years snow. Hopefully, it won't be too long now.








© 2011 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Fear of Dentists

I should probably count myself lucky to be such a rare visitor at my dentists office. My teeth are usually healthy thanks to my excellent brushing technique. It must be one of the talents I was born with.

Yet, even I am not immune to a certain uneasiness before a visit at the dentists office. It's not so much the fear of pain but a strange suspicion that the state of my teeth somehow mysteriously deteriorated over the last year. And even more so, while laying on the dentists chair, I often find myself wanting to please my dentist.
An urge to be a good patient Maybe I'm a rare species. Maybe I am a people pleaser. I have no rational explanation for this urge to be a good patient. It might be a leftover from childhood when compliments from a doctor about how well I behaved or how brave I was could light up a day of sickness.

Wherever it may come from, this urge for pleasing is still quite strong. If the dentist tells me to open my mouth wide, I make a big effort to open it as m…

A Visit by Swiss Santa

If there is one ingredient of Christmas that has spread all around the globe by now, it's the person of Santa Claus, Papa Noël, Père Noël or Father Christmas which are all loosely based on the historic figure of Saint Nicholas. In Switzerland, this figure is called 'Samichlaus' and despite the obvious similarities to the other Santa Claus versions, the Swiss Christmas tradition involving his visit is quite different.
The Swiss Santa Claus Tradition Unlike in the United States or other places around the globe, Santa Claus visits Switzerland not on the 24th of December but on the 6th of December. He also does not bring gifts but a huge bag filled with chocolates, peanuts and mandarines for everyone to share. However, not everyone is allowed to dig in!

Let me explain, how the Santa tradition in Switzerland works. In the evening of December 6th the Samichlaus visits every family with his helper 'Schmutzli' which literally translates to 'dirty one'. This helper …

Christmas Calendars in Switzerland

It's less than a month till Christmas and the streets and stores are filled with lights and glittering decorations. It's the time of the year you drink hot wine with spices and eat home made cookies. In Switzerland another Christmas tradition will be starting soon, the tradition of Christmas calendars.
What are Swiss Christmas Calendars?  In Switzerland, Christmas calendars are used during the Christmas season starting from December 1st until December 24th. It's the children who enjoy them most although some grown ups can be just as excited about them.

Traditionally, the calendars are Christmas themed pictures where you can open a window every day and there is a picture hidden underneath. Nowadays, there are also calendars featuring characters from animated movies or pop stars.. Some calendars also have little chocolates instead of pictures hidden underneath the windows. Those are the calendars you can buy at a store but the best Christmas calendars are home made!

Growing …

7 Keyword Questions Answered

I've been blogging for quite a while now and overall the experience has been great. The writing is fun and I find myself on the watch for more uniquely Swiss things and traditions to write about. I'm sure there are still plenty out there!

Also, like most bloggers out there, I've been checking site traffic regularly lately and found interesting keywords that led visitors to this blog. I decided to answer some of the 'questions' asked directly or indirectly through these keywords.




Does Migros sell alcohol? - No, Migros itself does not sell alcohol or tobacco products. This has been the policy of Migros founder Duttweiler because he believed that the sale of health damaging products should not be supported by cheap prices. However, some supermarkets owned by Migros do sell alcohol, for example Denner.Where can I order Rivella? - If you don't live in Switzerland you can order Rivella (only the red version though) at the Swiss Food Store.What foods can you eat with …

In the Light of Turnip Lanterns

It's been a beautiful fall this year. Now, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the days are getting shorter and shorter. It's once more the season of cozy evenings by the fire or hot punch on the ice skating rink.

Traditionally, these first days of winter mark the beginning of the Christmas season in Switzerland. It also the time when the traditional turnip lantern processions, which we call 'Räbeliechtliumzug' in Swiss German, take place. As soon as it gets dark, kindergarten and primary school kids walk around town with lanterns called 'Räbeliechtli' which they carved from turnips. And no, this is not a Swiss version of Halloween despite the obvious similarities. Let me explain.

Origins of Räbeliechtli The tradition of making lanterns from turnips has its origins in the celebration of the last harvest of the year. Turnips were amongst the last vegetables harvested and I assume that is why they were originally chosen for this craft. In the circle of the …

How to bake a Swiss Rösti

Imagine this: It's morning in Switzerland and you are very hungry. And - adding to your sorrow - you discover that your fridge is not exactly full. As you go through the content of your fridge you consider possible breakfast or lunch scenarios:
Yoghurt with cerealTomatoes Various condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, etc,) Pickles Except for the first option, I highly doubt any of these things will make a good breakfast or lunch. Luckily, most people in Switzerland always have a few potatoes in store and these will definitely help make a good meal. Let me introduce a tasty and very Swiss breakfast dish: Rösti or Röschti (pronounced [ˈrøːʃti]).



What is Rösti? Rösti is a tasty dish very similar to potato pancakes or latkes. It is made from grated raw or cooked potatoes and baked in a pan until it is golden and just a bit crunchy. You can add cubes of bacon, grated cheese or even eggs to the mixture to give it some extra taste. It can be eaten by itself or as a side dish to meat dishes lik…

Growing up with a Swiss Army Knife

Like many other Swiss adults, I grew up not only with the songs of Mani Matter but also with my very own Swiss Army pocket knife. I remember my dad teaching me and my siblings to carve a branch of a tree into a beautiful walking stick or create a bow with a flexible but strong branch.

Although I haven't carved a wooden stick with a knife in a very long time, having done it many times as a child definitely enriched my childhood. The sweat and blood - and sometimes tears - shed to create a work of art with a simple knife were definitely well spent.

Yes, I must have cut myself several times, slipping the blade off the branch and into my finger, arm or leg. Luckily, the memory of those cuts has disappeared into a foggy cloud labeled 'childhood forgettables'. Is that a uniquely Swiss childhood memory? Probably not. However, there is a definite connection between good pocket knives and Switzerland.
Switzerland and Army Knives I believe the Swiss Army Knife is be the most famous …

A visit to the Glasi in Hergiswil

Once in a while I have friends from the abroad visiting me in Switzerland. Like any host, I usually want to to show them Switzerland from its best side. At the same time, I like to avoid traveling long distances to get to my destination. That's why I usually take my friends to central Switzerland.

Lucerne is only about a 45 minute drive from Zurich and if you climb one of the mountains around lake Lucerne, for example the Rigi or Pilatus, you have an exellent view of the Alps. Also the city of Lucerne is quite nice and always good for a stroll along the river or the lakeside. Indeed, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Lucerne to keep you busy a day or two.

Visiting the Glass Factory in Hergiswil A personal favorite of mine is the glass factory in Hergiswil, called 'Glasi Hergiswil'. Especially on a rainy day or in the cold of winter this is a perfect place to visit.

There are several fun activities to do in the various buildings of the Glasi Hergiswil facto…

The Sea of Fog

November is almost here and fall is slowly but surely giving way to more wintery days. Clocks have been set on winter standard time and the leaves that are still on the trees are definitely more brown than colorful by now. The fog has arrived in Switzerland and it is foggy almost every morning. Sometimes the sun doesn't come out till noon if it does at all.

Fog has been part of Swiss falls and winters for as long as I can remember. Especially in the flat part of Switzerland - an area that is also called 'Unterland' which literally means 'Underland' - the fog is known to appear almost daily.
Two Types of Fog There are basically two kinds of fog here in Switzerland:
Regular fog, that "sits" on the ground and bothers you while driving because you can't see far anymore'High fog' or 'Hochnebel' in German. This fog is more a like a solid cloud sitting a few hundred meters above the ground, preventing the sun from shining in the areas below it…

Cats in Switzerland

Last night, when I walked home a cute black and white cat came up to me and started to follow me around and meow to me. It was really cute and when I saw it had a collar I didn't think twice and started to pet it. The cat responded with loud purring.

When I started to think about how clean and neat this cat was and how its owners were obviously taking good care of it, I couldn't help but think it was a very Swiss cat: clean and neat. I also remembered the many stray cats I had seen in the streets of big cities all over the world. I realized that here in Switzerland stray cats are quite rare. In fact, most cats you can see outside are healthy house cats that are allowed to roam the fields, forests and streets.

This thought brought me back to the cats I have had myself. Some sweet and friendly, others cuddly and slobbery, some smart and some incredibly stupid. Some of them brought back mice from the fields, or birds and once even a snake.

Right now, I don't have the time or…

How to Deal with a Broken Heart the Swiss Way

Have you ever had your heart broken? I have. I must admit, I wasn't completely devastated but the feeling of rejection still left its marks on my heart. So, I tried to come up with some creative ideas in order to deal with the situation using the advantages of this beautiful country Switzerland. Here are some of my suggestions.
10 Swiss Ways to Heal a Broken Heart Eat Swiss chocolate to sweeten your days, for example Toblerone. If you are living in the motherland of chocolate you might as well make use of it. And for those few out there who don't like chocolate other sweets like Luxemburgerli or Vermicelles are a great alternative.Drink herbal tea to help you relax. Swiss  people are great at drinking herbal teas and you can buy good tea at any supermarket.Take a long train ride, preferably to Geneva or Lugano since those take several hours. You can get a day pass for all of Switzerland at the next train station and simply ride trains all day. Don't forget to bring a good …

Why the Swiss Omelette isn't a Pancake

During lunch with friends, we started to discuss different kinds of food and drink that are similar but different. For example, Pepsi Coke and Coca Cola are similar in look and ingredients but many people find they are very different in taste. Another good example would be the German 'Krapfen' and the Jewish 'Sufganyah'. Both are round jelly doughnuts filled with jam but they're still not exactly the same thing.

At some point during this conversation, we also started talking about a Swiss dish that would fit well into this list: the Swiss Omelette. In a way, this omelette is quite similar to other omelettes prepared and eaten all over the world but at the same it's very different too.
What makes the Swiss Omelette different from other omelettes? It is true that Americans and Brits also frequently prepare omelettes. Yet, their omelette is quite different from what we Swiss call an omelette. And although it can be eaten with sweet filling, a Swiss omelette is als…

How to Find a Job in Switzerland

I am privileged to have lived and worked in Switzerland for a large part of my life. Despite the complaints and troubles with the banks, the Swiss economy and with it the Swiss job market has been very stable over the last few years.

True, Switzerland has very high living expenses and some of world's most expensive cities are in Switzerland. Just try and go out and buy a cup of coffee, you'll be surprised at how expensive it is!  Thankfully, salaries are generally high and make up for the high cost of living.

High salaries are one of the reasons Switzerland is an attractive place to live and work for many people. Currently, there are over 2 million foreigners living in Switzerland and at least part of them came for work.

Now, the big question is: how can you find  a job in Switzerland that would allow you to rent an apartment or house, buy a car, go out, travel and more? With a bit extra that you can put aside for saving?
Where to find a Job in Switzerland The answer to this q…

Magenbrot, a Swiss Treat for your Stomach

Can you tell that weather has been getting colder and rainier here in Switzerland? It seems that people are generally more interested in food, especially warm and sweet food, during the wintery season. Maybe its simply that time of the year, where you are drawn to experiment in the kitchen rather than wanting to go outside and get muddy - although that can be fun too.

When it's cold outside we Swiss like to drink and eat warm stuff.  Cheese fondue and chocolate fondue are winter classics as are hot roasted chestnuts. Another popular Swiss snack or treat is Magenbrot.
What is Magenbrot? Magenbrot are square sized, chunky pieces of pastry that contain cloves, cinnamon, anise and nutmeg. It is usually sold on street fairs or Christmas markets during fall and winter time. The two biggest retail stores Coop and Migros are now also selling Magenbrot in half-kilo bags.

Supposedly, the spices used in Magenbrot are good for your tummy. This might explain the name 'Magenbrot' which …

Sweet Spaghetti Called Vermicelles

Fall is approaching fast and the leaves on the trees are starting to change colors already. There are many fun things to do during Fall in Switzerland. Most of the time, the weather is still nice and warm enough so that on a sunny day you can sit on your balcony enjoy a hot cup of coffee and something sweet.

And what would be more suitable to this fall season in Switzerland than a typical Swiss dessert like Vermicelles?
What is Vermicelles? Vermicelles is a southern Swiss speciality dessert. Like the hot marroni sold on the streets during fall and winter in Switzerland, Vermicelles are made mainly from chestnuts, with butter, sugar and Kirsch added to the mixture.


Vermicelles is sold in most supermarkets in Switzerland. It normally comes in big chunks of dough or paste that then must be pressed through a perforated sheet to create about 15 cm long "worms" of Vermicelles. This is where the dish most likely got its name from, since in Latin "vermiculi" means "w…

Gotthard is not only a Swiss Mountain

While I was thinking about what Swiss thing to write about next, I was contemplating famous Swiss musicians. I already wrote about Swiss troubadour Mani Matter but now I was looking for a Swiss musician who was or is well known outside of Switzerland as well.

I didn't find any. There is 'DJ Bobo' who has earned some recognition in a few European countries but is far from famous abroad. There is also Celine Dion who won the European Song Contest for Switzerland in 1988 but she isn't really Swiss.

So, instead of writing about a musician who is already famous abroad, I decided to take a chance and write about a great Swiss band that is very well known and loved in Switzerland but barely heard of outside of it..


A Swiss Band called 'Gotthard' Gotthard, named after a famous Swiss mountain, is a Swiss hard rock band from the canton of Ticino, which is the Italian speaking southern part of the country. They recorded and produced several hit albums in Switzerland in th…

A Swiss Beer Called Feldschlösschen

If you ask anyone to name a European country that is known for its beer drinking culture, then most people would probably name Germany, Ireland or Denmark. It is true that compared to those countries, Swiss beer culture is small and Swiss beers are almost entirely unknown outside of Switzerland.

It's a pity because there are many good Swiss beers. Especially the small breweries are making a comeback in the Swiss beer market with their quality brews. Despite the recent success of the micro breweries, the most popular and most sold beer in Switzerland remains the Feldschlösschen beer.


Since 1876 the Feldschlösschen brewery has been brewing beer in Rheinfelden in the canton of Aargau in northern Switzerland. 'Feldschlösschen' literally means 'field castle', a name that matches the architecture of the main brewery building that looks much like a castle or fortress.

What kind of beer does Feldschlösschen produce? These beers are some of the Swiss population's favorit…

6 Fun Things to do in Konstanz

Usually, this is a blog about Swiss life, Swiss food, places and people in Switzerland. I will make an exception to the rule for the wonderful German city Konstanz. It that lays right on the border to Switzerland and is so close to Switzerland one could almost call it a Swiss city. In fact, there are probably more Swiss people visiting Konstanz every weekend than Germans themselves.

Konstanz is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Constance, one of the biggest in Europe. By now, the German city has pretty much merged with its Swiss neighbor Kreuzlingen. If it weren't for the signs, you almost wouldn't notice when you actually cross the border. It has a beautifully maintained medieval center with lots of old houses right at the lake front.

There are many fun things to do in Konstanz all year round, with shopping probably being the most popular for Swiss visitors. During the holiday season and in the summer months there are special events that draw even more people to the cit…

A Swiss Macaron called Luxemburgerli

Most of you probably know the sensation when it seems you need to eat something sweet. For some people this is just a hunch, for others a definite craving. What sweets we eventually reach out to in this state of sugar craving depends largely on what is available in your country, region and - at the very moment - in your home.

In my experience, people have favorite sweets just like they have favorite savory dishes. These treats are many times what we phantasize about in our hypoglycemic state. For many it is chocolate in its different forms: classic chocolate bars, special chocolate bars like Toblerone or pralines. For others its wine gums or licorice and still others prefer a piece of carrot cake or a good brownie.

Almost everyone reaches out to a familiar candy or sweet food when they get the sugar craving. Here in Switzerland, chocolate is the most likely solution. Yet, there are also other very Swiss candies and pastries that work just as well for a sugar rush. One of them is the …

Schwingen: Swiss Style Wrestling

The Swiss form of wrestling called 'Schwingen' has been part of Swiss culture for centuries. Competitions in Schwingen were first described in the 13th century and are still held throughout the year these days. Many Swiss practice this interesting sport and the national competitions are sure to draw a big crowd every year.

The important competitions of this sport are called 'Schwingfeste' or 'Schwinget' in Swiss German. This basically translates to 'Swiss wrestling festivals'. These can be regional, cantonal and national competitions with higher honors and prestige given to winners of the national events.

The most important Swiss wrestling competition is the Eidgenössische Schwing- und Älplerfest ('Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival') which takes place once every three years in changing locations. The champion of this festival receives a young bull and is crowned 'Schwingerkönig' ('Swiss wrestling king').

Other important compet…