Trink Wasser

Switzerland doesn’t have many natural resources (unless you count gorgeousness), but it does seem to have a healthy supply of clean water. Zürich has over 1,200 drinking fountains, and the styles vary. If you don’t have your water bottle with you, just stick your mouth over the endlessly running stream of clear water.

From modern art

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To the more Classical

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Spewing animal heads

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Utilitarian versions

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Artful versions in the cemetery

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Statues (this one is in Schaffhausen)

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Trumpeters

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And most fountains seem to have a place for your pooch to quench his thirst, too.

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Glamping Guide to European Signs

Here’s what I think these international signs really mean.

Walk jauntily down the stairs while wearing a hat. Don’t use your best posture. Or maybe you should dance. Not totally sure on this one.

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Use more of your bad posture. And don’t forget your hat. Stay in the lines.

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Push over green bikes if they are in your way. Or wear a bike on your head while walking a child who is dancing. Again, that hat is important.

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I particularly like this one on the trams. Don’t create clouds, keep your pockets in your pants, no jamming, no sawing, and if you have your feet up, have both of them on the back of the seat (or is it have both of them on the seat?). The words say that they prefer not to plaster these all over the whole tram. Once should be sufficient.

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Swiss Humor

Our Pomona College friend, a Swiss man from Berne, told us, “The Swiss have no sense of humor. Except for me.”

I have found small instances of humor here. The top photo is the back of a billboard facing a sidewalk. The top sign says, “Posting of posters forbidden!” The bottom one says, “This is NOT a poster.” I mentioned this to someone, and they said that the Swiss people would tell you that it was probably an Auslander (foreigner) who did that.

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Several days later, someone without a sense of humor must have had something to do with the removal of the non-poster. Too bad. This way looks messy.

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The other day I came across the two statues at the University of Zürich, and someone must have thought they were cold, so there were some added touches.

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The next day the bunny hats were gone. (This is why I always try to have a camera with me.)

I thought that this bird feeder near our flat was funny, but I’m not sure if it is considered a joke. It’s still there, after all.

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Swissness

A few weeks ago I got my haircut. Since this is an every-eight-week event here, the difference is rather noticeable pre-and-post cut.

One of my Swiss orchestra friends, as well as the Swiss woman who meets with us Americans to work on our German both noted the haircut. And this is how the conversation went. “You got your haircut?” “Yes,” I replied. End of conversation. Now, normally, if someone goes out of their way to notice and comment on a change in style in the US, a further comment would be, “It looks good.” Or, “I like it.” Or even, “Do you like your stylist? I’m looking for a new one.”

Apparently that is not part of the equation here. It is just confirmation of a past action. I was telling this to someone who was born here to American parents. He’s very immersed, obviously, in Swiss culture, although he plans to attend college in the US in a few years. He thought about it for a moment and said, “This is good to know. When I’m in the States, and I notice a change of style, I should make a remark about it.” I said that not only would this be an American thing to do, the comment should be nice. Otherwise one should not make a remark at all. He seemed to think about this cultural difference for a moment, storing it away for future reference.

Another Swiss tendency is to walk quickly. I have no problem with that since I usually walk quickly. It’s probably one of the reasons that the Wanderweg (hiking trail) signs with distances written in times have been clocked by Swiss Senior Citizens who are used to walking quickly. (We always hope we make better time than posted, unless we stop to eat or take lots of photos.)

However, I notice that on the weekends, the tendency for the Swiss is to make up for the week and to slow to an excruciating snail’s pace. While I can appreciate the slower pace of the weekends (and I don’t mind the stores being closed on Sundays), I do prefer to walk a little faster than that and find myself occasionally frustrated being a slow walker who seems to veer into your path just as you try to pass.

Winter Magic at the ETH

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I’ve heard there are several places to ice skate in Zürich, but the only one I saw so far was at the ETH.

For 6 CHF an adult could rent skates, and children could get theirs for 4 CHF.

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You could also rent an Eistier (Ice animal) which may be used as an aid for skating, or as something to ride on if you get someone nice to push you around.

There was a warming hut with things to drink and eat, and for changing into and out of your skates.

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If you wanted to see the twinkling lights of the night city, you came by after dark.

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All this is in the past tense because as quickly as this rink was set up, it disappeared after a few weeks. Poof.