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Showing posts from January, 2012

Panache, a Swiss Mixed Beer

Next to our daily coffee fix, we Swiss really enjoy our 'Feierabendbier'. This literally means 'quitting time beer' and refers to a beer drunk in the after-work hours. Maybe we're not quite like the Irish who are said to go straight to the pub after work but many of us still like to enjoy a good cold beer when we get home.

Much like with coffee, where people usually like it either strong or not, there are Swiss people who don't like their beers to be strong. Especially so after a long day of work. This is when we usually opt for a typical Swiss mixed beer called 'Panache'.

Mixed beers or beer drinks are a great alternative to 'real' beers. I'm not talking about pre-mixed beer that is sold in supermarkets. Those suck! Good mixed beer is made on the spot with beer and a soft drink, syrup, liquor or other interesting ingredients.

The most famous of all Swiss mixed beers is the Panache, pronounced 'Pah-nash'. It is a mix of beer and lemon…

A Winter Weekend in Arosa

In mid-January, winter is usually already halfway over. High time to spend some quality time in the mountain area of Switzerland. The Swiss alps are high enough to guarantee enough snow for winter sports even in relatively dry winters. We didn't expect much snow when I planned to spend a weekend with some friends in the grison village of Arosa.

Little did we know that this weekend would be one of the snowiest of the winter so far. Good thing we brought along snow chains for the ride up to Arosa. At the latest from Chur onwards, there was simply no way to advance without them. Snow was falling non stop and streets, houses and cars were quickly covered in thick layers of snow.

Yet, even with the snow it took us only two hours to drive from Zurich to Arosa. Hurray for small countries!

Arosa - perfect for skiing in the Swiss Alps Arosa is a beautiful village in the Swiss alps featuring about 2000 inhabitants and at least as many tourists on a sunny weekend. We were lucky and enjoyed …

Watching the Lauberhorn Downhill

Switzerland is a skiing nation. Most people learn to ski at a young age and then keep on skiing for a few days every winter for pretty much all their lives. For many people (including myself) a perfect winter day involves snow covered slopes, sunshine and blue skies, an amazing panoramic view of the alps and a pair of skies or a snowboard.

For people who live in the Mittelland (the area between Zurich and Basel) and suffer from fog for many days in winter, being outside in the sun and snow is a welcome change. A visit to the hot springs in the evening adds the perfect conclusion to a skiing day.
Skiing - a sport for everyone? Skiing is indeed a sport for the masses here in Switzerland. Everyone knows the Swiss German slang that goes along with a day on the slopes - be it on a snowboard or on skis. Also, every winter Swiss students will get a two week skiing break in February in addition to the two week Christmas break. This vacation is called "Sports Vacation" and it's p…

Swiss German 101 - An Introduction to the Swiss German Language

Most people who travel to a foreign country usually try to get along by speaking English. That works fine for most locations nowadays. However, many travelers and especially expats consider it a must to know at least the basic courtesies in the language of the place they are visiting or living. 

In addition, knowing at least a few words in the local language will help you get in touch with locals and thus make your travel experience a much more interesting one. Everyone likes a foreigner who is trying to speak the local language. Even or maybe especially, if it sounds a bit odd. And don't forget to smile! Smiles are the same in every language.

In the past I wrote about the different cantons of Switzerland and their dialects of Swiss German. However, I haven't yet taught you some useful Swiss German words and phrases. Now, I'll do exactly that.
Basic Swiss German Words and PhrasesFor those who plan to visit Switzerland in the future or are living here, these words and phrases …

Growing Avocado in Switzerland

Switzerland is definitely not a tropical or subtropical country. The snow cowered mountains and beautiful valleys with rivers and lakes do simply not allow tropical plants to grow outside.

Even in summer, weather doesn't stay warm long enough for anything tropical to grow. It's a real pity. A mango tree or a papaya tree sure would be a nice addition to any Swiss garden. For now, we'll have to make do with berries, apples and pears.

In general, I try to remain local at the supermarket, like Migros where I usually shop here in Switzerland. That means, I try to buy locally produced goods. Especially with fruit and vegetables I pay attention to the origin. That doesn't mean I never buy tropical fruit. I love mango and passion fruit. And I love avocado. It's been a love story from the first bite. Simply cut it open, squish it on some fresh crunchy bread, add a bit of salt and then up into my mouth. Delicious!

Did you know that a cut open avocado stay fresh longer if you…

Three Kings Cake

In Switzerland, January 6th is called 'Dreikönigstag' which simply translates into Three Kings Day. According to Christian tradition, this was the day the three kings went to visit baby Jesus in Bethlehem and brought him precious gifts. From a biblical perspective it is unlikely that there were exactly three kings and that their visit took place in January.

Today, Three Kings Day isn't really about the biblical story anymore but rather about the traditional Three Kings Cake, called 'Dreik√∂nigskuchen', that everyone in Switzerland eats on that day.


What is  a Swiss Three Kings Cake?Three Kings Cake is actually much like a sweet bread called 'Zopf' that Swiss people eat on Sundays. Therefore, the taste of the cake is not very special but its shape makes it interesting.

Three Kings Cake is made from six balls of dough that are stuck to a bigger central ball of dough and then baked into one piece. Before baking, a 'king' is hidden in one of the seven pie…