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Showing posts from 2017

Another Blogging Year is Over

Another year is over. While this certainly wasn't my most productive blogging year on here (partly due to another blog I've started about our life in northern Peru) it brought some interesting and also some fun posts.

In January and February I ventured into the social/political comment sphere and wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of certain passports. In March I started a short series about several larger cities in Switzerland (Lucerne, Winterthur, Basel, etc.) and fun things to do while visiting them. In July I wrote about remedies for the homesick Swiss and in September I shared my memories of typical Swiss birthday parties.

I enjoyed the writing of all those posts and am looking forward to writing more this coming year 2018. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and will be following as it's journey continues!

A blessed and joyous 2018 to all!

10 Fun Swiss Christmas Activities

Are you going to be in Switzerland for the holiday season and want to make the most of your Swiss Christmas experience? Swiss Christmas traditions are certainly fun and you shouldn't hesitate to join the celebration!
10 Fun Swiss Christmas Activities Here are a few suggestions for fun things to do in Switzerland during the Christmas season:
Cookie baking afternoon: enjoy an afternoon of baking with your friends. Try yourself at some traditional Swiss cookies like Brunsli, Zimststern, Chräbbeli or Spitzbuben.Grittibänz baking: create your own Grittibänz - a traditional man-shaped roll (you can find a recipe here.)Ice skating: there are ice skating rinks in almost every larger town in Switzerland. Have a glass of hot punch and skate a few rounds with friends.Visit a Christmas market: plenty of smaller and bigger Christmas markets will captivate you. Choose one that is close to you from this list.Glühwein: make your own batch of hot Glühwein and enjoy a nice evening at home.Build a sn…

A Typical Swiss Birthday Party

My son and I recently attended a birthday party here in Cocachimba, Peru. It was the birthday of one of the kids in the village and since it's such a small place, almost everyone is invited. To be honest, I don't like going to children's birthday parties - or grown up's birthday parties - because there is usually too much noise and fuss and chaos. My husband usually takes it on himself to accompany our son to these birthdays but this time he was away so I had to step in.

If you've never been to a Peruvian birthday party, let me tell you one thing: it's loud and crowded! There is dancing and food and once in a while people are trying to say something above the deafening noise of the music. I guess, if you grew up with this it's probably normal and enjoyable but for me it was way too much noise. I could see all the children's ear go deaf in my minds eyes. Argh. Probably one of those cultural differences you'll have as a foreigner.

I haven't been …

10 Things to Do When You're Missing Switzerland

I've been living abroad for several years now. While I'm happy with my life here in the beautiful north of Peru (you can read more about it here: Las Cabañitas de Gocta), there are moments when I really miss life in Switzerland.

I miss the great variety of cheese and bread, I miss the punctuality of people and busses and I miss hearing and speaking Swiss German and being able to converse without thinking about which word to use. A while ago I wrote about the 10 Things You'll Miss About Switzerland and it still pretty much hits the spot.
10 Things to Do When You're Missing Switzerland Today, however, I won't write about what I miss about Switzerland. Instead I'll share 10 Ideas on how to deal with missing Switzerland in your life.
Music: Put on your favorite Swiss music, preferably with Swiss German lyrics. Personally, I like Patent Ochsner but the song that I lately tend to put on when missing Switzerland is "Campari Soda" sung by Stephan Eicher.Movie

The Big Swiss Coloring Book

It finally arrived! When theBig Swiss Coloring Book came out last year I knew I wanted to have it! Drawing has always been a great way for me to relax and focus on something entirely different for a while but lately I haven't had the time to start a project of my own (except for drawing animals for my son). A coloring book seemed like a great alternative, especially a coloring book full of drawings from my home country Switzerland that after all I do miss sometimes here in Peru.

When my mother booked flight tickets to come visit here, I just had to add this book to her shopping list and so it arrived here in Cocachimba, in the north of Peru, last week. The variety of drawings in it is even greater than what I've thought. Despite not having much free time these days I reserved some time to start coloring - just to see how it goes. I started with the very first picture, the hot air balloons.





Other Swiss inspired drawings are also available on the web (e.g. this bird and flower …

How to Count With Your Hands in Switzerland

A few weeks ago, my husband bought a simple puzzle for our son here in Peru. It's a fairly easy 20 piece wooden puzzle that features the numbers 1 to 10, drawings of animals, fruit or other things to illustrate the amount the number represents, the actual word representing the number (e.g. NINE) and a pair of hands showing the number with fingers.
Looking at the hands and fingers, I was reminded of how I always thought it strange to observe how my American friends used their fingers to count. The way they counted simply didn't come natural to me. After all, they didn't use their thumb to signal TWO and neither for THREE!
How the Americans and Swiss Count with Their Hands Being once again confronted with finger counting, I took the opportunity to compare the English/American way of using the fingers to my own (Swiss) way. We start with the thumb and then simply add one finger after the other until we reach the pinkie with a full five fingers. The English/American way starts…

Bütschgi, Groibschi & Gütschi

Swiss German is a strange language. It is definitely more than just another dialect of German. How else could you explain the many sub-dialects of Swiss German? Every region has it's own version of Swiss German: Berndütsch (Bernese German), Züridütsch (Zurich German) or Bündnerdütsch (Grisons German) are just a few well known examples. Of course, there are also similarities between the dialects and many times a dialect is perfectly understandable for someone from outside the region, as is the case for Aargauerdütsch (Argaau German) for example.

The diversity of dialects of Swiss German is best shown with a good example. I recently found this map with Swiss German words for "apple core" and was surprised to learn that many people in Switzerland don't use my own familiar "Bütschgi". In fact, there are 30 different ways to say "apple core" in Swiss German.

Güegi/Giegi UürbsliGüürbsiBütschgiBitzgiBitschgiGütschiButzBuschgiButschgiBäckGrääniBäxiGrüüziG…

10 Fun Things to do in Basel

Basel is not only one of Switzerland's largest cities but also one of it's most international ones. This is partly due to its location in the corner of three neighboring countries: Switzerland, France and Germany. There are quite a lot of people living in either France or Germany who are working in Basel and profiting from the high Swiss salaries. We call them "Grenzgänger" which means frontier-goers.

However, Basel is not only very international but also known for being a cultural city. Museums, galleries and a very well maintained old city make this the perfect stop for any art lover. There are plenty of other things to do and see in Basel of course which is why I'm sharing this  list of 10 Fun Things to do in Basel with you!
10 Fun Things to do in BaselPark im Grünen: Although not technically located in Basel but in Münchenstein, this park is easily reached in 10 minutes by tram from Basel's main station. This park is owned and maintained by Migros and at …

10 Fun Things to do in Lucerne

In recent years I haven't written very much about the cantons and places that form Central Switzerland. This happened mainly because I lived near Zurich and most of my free time and leisure time was spent somewhere in that area. Needless to say that it's totally worth it to escape Zurich and head to central Switzerland once in a while.

Central Switzerland is a region in the center of Switzerland and consists of the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Lucerne, Obwalden and Nidwalden. In it's center lies beautiful Lake Lucerne or Vierwaldstättersee (lake of the four cantons) as it is called in German. If there was a capital of this region of Central Switzerland I believe it would have to be the city of Lucerne.

Have you been to Lucerne? There are plenty of fun things to do in Lucerne and the close surroundings. Here is my own list of the best 10 Fun Things to do in Lucerne!
Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge): This wooden foot bridge crosses the river Reuss right in the middle of Lucerne. The …

Destination Amazonas

A personal blog like mine is probably one of the best ways to express yourself, your opinions and your experiences online. Personally, I've always tried to keep out of controversies but sometimes a little personal comment slipped in anyway. I usually don't like and don't do self-promotion either. Today, I'd like to make an exception and introduce you to "Destino Amazonas"!

The blog "Destino Amazonas" (lit. 'Destination Amazonas) was started on a whim when my husband and I moved from Lima (Peru) to Cocachimba (also in Peru) where we're currently trying to manage the construction of our future home.

Life in the small village of Cocachimba couldn't be more different from life in Lima. Instead of gray and foggy days we get rainy and sunshine. Instead of traffic noise and loud neighbors we hear birds singing and the majestic waterfall of Gocta is always rumbling somewhere in the background. Life here also has it's hick-ups but we try to …

10 Fun Things to do in Winterthur

With slightly more than 100'000 inhabitants, Winterthur is Switzerland's sixth largest city. It is located about half an hour from Zurich by car or train. It used to be one of Switzerland's industrial centers but now has become a college town. It is home to several technical universities and many museums.

Winterthur is a great destination for a day trip, especially on a bad weather day because of the many indoor activities! I've collected the best 10 fun things to do in Winterthur!
Technorama (Swiss Science Center): This very interactive museums invites it's visitors to experience and experiment with different scientific areas. Highly recommended!Irchelturm: This tower is about 45 minutes from the actual city in Buch am Irchel. After a short hike you can climb this 63m high tower and will be rewarded with great views.Marktgasse: Winterthur is a shoppers paradise and Marktgasse - lit. market street - is right in its center with lots of shops and cafés.Fotomuseum: Pho…

The Perfect April Fools Prank

As a child I was always looking forward to the months of March and April. March because my birthday was coming up and April because some real mischievous fun was coming up on April Fools Day.

April Fools Day or April 1st is an unofficial national holiday in Switzerland where everyone tries to outdo the others with the best prank. This includes school children, parents and even most national newspapers. It's always fun to check different news stations for their April Fools Fake News.

As with most holidays where children are usually the ones who enjoy them most, April Fools Day in Switzerland is a feast mainly for its underage population. Doing something silly and then shouting "April April" is just the best! Looking back to my own childhood, there is one April 1st prank that stands out. I was in 3rd grade and the whole class conspired together to create the perfect scare for our (poor) teacher.
The Perfect Aprils Fools Prank A little background to my story: The primary sc…

How Much Value Has a Swiss Passport?

While writing my posts about owning a passport that isn't worth much and one that is totally worth it, I discovered  a great online resource for comparing the power of different passports. A website called Passport Index lets you explore passports from all around globe.

On Passport Index you can see which to which countries you can travel freely if you own a certain passport. On the website you can
check out an individual passport (e.g. Passport of Congo)compare up to four different passportssee an overall ranking of all passports find out if you can travel to more countries if you acquire another passportread news about passports and immigrations laws from all around the world Obiously, I was interested in the Swiss passport and checked how it ranked in the overall ranking. I mean, we Swiss can travel to a lot of countries without needing a visa! This is what I found.
Top 10 of Worlds Best Passports Germany (158 countries)Sweden, Singapore (157 countries)Denmark, Finland, France, …

How to Count to 100 in Swiss German

Counting to 100 in Swiss German After learning the most common greetings in a language (e.g. hello, goodbye, how are you?), knowing how to count to 10 is one of the most popular things for language learners. Instead of just giving you the bare minimum 10 in Swiss German, I'd like to teach you how to count to 100 in Swiss German.

From 1 to 12

Swiss German numbers are pretty similar to German and English numbers, especially the ones from one to ten.

eis (one)
zwei (two)
drü (three)
vi-er (for)
foif (five)
sächs (six)
sibe (seven)
acht (eight)
nün (nine)
zäh (ten)
elf (eleven)
zwölf (twelve)

From 13 to 100

Starting from 13, the numbers in Swiss German are simply a combination of a single number (1-9) and an ending (twenty, thirty, etc.) and some n's and e's to combine the two. 33 in Swiss German would be drü-e-drissg ("three-a-thirty") and 75 would be foif-e-sibezg ("five-a-seventy").

These decimal numbers (like 10, 20, 30, etc.) are also used as the ending…

A Swiss German Skiing Dictionary

A Swiss German Skiing Dictionary Before the skiing season comes to an end I thought it appropriate to give you the basics of Swiss German skiing vocabulary. You'll be able to hit the slopes and name pretty much everything you see. Sounds great? It is! Of course, I'll include some snowboarding terms as well even though snowboarding has been losing popularity quickly over the last few years.

Remember, in Switzerland there are three colors marking the difficulty of a slope:

blue = easy, for beginners and pleasure skiers
red = advanced, for experienced skiers
black = real hard and tricky, requires technical skills

Please choose a slope that is right for your skill level and make sure to use caution at all times. Skiing accidents aren't pretty and happen faster than you'd think! If you need to improve your skiing, you can find qualified skiing instructors at any ski resort in Switzerland!

Swiss German Skiing Vocabulary Abfahrt (downhill slope)
Après-ski (after skiing party/dri…

What My Readers Think About Switzerland

What word do you associate with Switzerland? What is the thing that first comes to your mind when you hear "Switzerland"? I wanted to know what you - my readers - think about Switzerland and created a poll. Slowly but surely the answers started coming in.
What You Think About Switzerland The results of the poll are interesting but not entirely surprising. I hoped people would add answers of their own in the comment section but that hasn't happened so far. You can still participate in the poll here: What you think about Switzerland What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Switzerland? - Results Mountains (12 votes)Money & Banks (11 votes)Chocolate (6 votes)Chuchichäschtli (5 votes)Cleanliness (4 votes)Neutrality (3 votes)Punctuality (2 votes)Cheese & Milk (1 vote)Watches (0 votes)
© 2017 IRENE WYRSCH "A HUMOROUS GUIDE TO SWITZERLAND" ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When Your Passport is Worth It

Last week I wrote about what can happen when your passport isn't worth muchand how as an owners of a privileged passport - one that lets you travel to lots of countries visa free - we are often blissfully unaware of the troubles people with less travel privileges go through. Today, I want to share a personal story about the other side, about what can happen when your passport is truly worth it. 
Traveling Without a Visa This happened when I was on my way back to Peru from a trip to Switzerland. In fact, it was the very same trip for which my boyfriend was denied a visa. I was 6 months pregnant and traveling was a bit more strenuous than usual. My AVIANCA flight route led me first from Zurich to London (Heathrow, not a good choice!), from London to Bogota and then onwards to Lima. This is a long journey and can be tough to deal with even when you're not pregnant.

Everything seemed to go well. I checked in in Zurich, boarded my plane, got to Heathrow Airport, found the correct …

When Your Passport isn't Worth Much

This last week the media and social media has been full of comments on Trumps #MuslimBan. The new immigration policies of the US has made me aware once again that our world is still a very unequal place. People are treated in a certain way simply because they were born in one place and not in another. Depending on the passport(s) you hold you are granted certain travel privileges - or not.

I was born and raised in Switzerland and have enjoyed the benefits of free travel from an early age. It is normal for me to travel without needing a visa and strange for the few exceptions where I do need one. A short trip to Germany, a holiday in Canada or an extended trip in New Zealand - all is possible without much paperwork! Today, I can travel to 155 countries by just carrying a valid Swiss passport!

I never personally experienced the disadvantages of owning a passport that isn't worth much - until I got married to a person who owns one.

My husband is Peruvian. We met in Lima while I was t…

What You Think About Switzerland

I've always wondered what people who were born and raised outside of Switzerland think of our small country. Is your view of Switzerland mostly affected by the news, movies or by a personal visit? Is it a positive view overall? Has your opinion of Switzerland changed over the years? If yes, why and how?

I would be more than happy to read your answers in the comment section below! For those who don't feel like writing answers I've created this poll. If your answer isn't in the list, please add it as a comment below!
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Switzerland? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Switzerland?
Money & Banks Mountains Chocolate Cheese & Milk Watches Punctuality Cleanliness Chuchichäschtli Neutrality

I Found the Top Keywords for my Blog

I imagine that almost every blogger has set up a Google Analytics account in order to track visits to the blog. I'm no exception to this and while I'm probably not using all its features and benefits, it still is a very interesting tool. Other than the total amount of visitors per month I'm mostly interested in how these visitors actually got to my blog.

There are referrals, social media referrals, direct hits and - most interesting - search keywords that led people to one of my posts. However, since Google updated it's privacy settings*, most of these keywords appear as "(not provided)" which isn't very helpful. The keywords left in your Google Analytics keyword list are the ones from other search engines. At least, those give you a general idea what your visitors were looking for when they were sent to your blog. My Top 20 Keywords in 2016 For this blog "A Humorous Guide to Switzerland" Google Analytics shows me the following top  keywords: onl…