Rock, Paper, Scissors

The other day on the tram around lunchtime, there was a group of kids, probably about 8 years old. That’s not unusual here. Kids walk to kindergarten alone, they ride the trams by themselves (although I usually see them in pairs or groups).

This group of kids were entertaining themselves with a singing and hand game. It looked suspiciously to me like “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, and I listened closely to the words. Yes. They were singing “Schneider, Stein, Papier” as they shook their fist before making their choice.

I really wanted to take a video or a photo, but that would have been out-of-bounds, so I just imprinted it into my memory.


Local Elections

In Zürich the election for Cantonal representation are coming up on April 12, so for the past two weeks or so we have actually gotten post in the mailbox. If you live in our neighborhood and are eligible to vote, you choose a slate from a party (of which Switzerland has at least 17 major parties) for Kreis 7 and 8. If you like the SP, then vote for List 2. If you are a GLP, then it’s List 5 for you.


Here are some of the slogans from the mail we’ve gotten.

SVP (Swiss People’s Party – Right-wing, National Conservatism): Stability and Security. Lower rents instead of increasing immigration. Stop vandalism. No social abuse. Jobs instead of bureaucracy.

SP (Social Democratic – Left-wing, social democracy): Chose SP: For more justice, compensation, and cohesion. Affordable rent. For all instead of a few.

FDP (The Liberals – Centre-right, Classical Liberalism): With Passion and Vision, a viable business location with innovative companies that create attractive jobs, less bureaucracy and regulations for the industry, affordable childcare by less regulation of private providers, excellent universities and cutting-edge medicine in Zurich.

GPS (Green Party of Switzerland – Left-wing, Green Politics): Fair rent, Better living instead of urban sprawl, renewable energy instead of fossil dependency, better to view nature than concrete, better living together instead of exclusion.

GLP (Green Liberal Party – Centrism, Green Liberalism): For education that promotes life skills, teamwork and knowledge, for an innovative and ecological economy, good economic development does not stop at the border, environmental politics with future perspective for everyone.

Then there’s this one – a favorite of mine. “Hello valued neighbor, I am working for you in the Canton!” I wonder if he takes his dogs to work.


Slow Train to Switzerland

IMG_4924Sabbatical offers one plenty of time for reading, and I have been reading plenty. I’m trying to decide if reading about a place before or after a visit is better. Of course, the answer is both. It’s good to have an idea of what you want to see before you arrive, and why it is you might want to see it. However, I think it is more fun to read about a place after you’ve been so that you can picture just what it is you are reading about.

Now that we’ve been here over seven months, I got around to reading Slow Train to Switzerland by Diccon Bewes. The author of Swiss Watching (which is a great read before you move to Switzerland in order to learn more about the customs) has written about early tourism in Switzerland. Bewes writes about a group of seven Brits who take a first Conducted Tour of Switzerland in 1863. The author follows the same route using the diary of Miss Jemima, but he uses current trains and stays in different hotels (since most of the ones from the early tour no longer exist).

Between learning about the first tour, Bewes’ tour (which he takes with his mother), the reader takes in bits of Swiss history from how the train lines developed into the system they have become, to how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen as the site for the struggle to the death between Holmes and Moriarty, why Switzerland decided to go with the rest of Europe on this Daylight Savings thing (train schedules were one reason, but also because of the Swiss who like to watch German tv shows which they might miss if they are shown an hour earlier), to how the Swiss Flag came to be.

“ The square flag (one of only two square national flags in the world, the other being from Vatican City) was first used as an army flag during that short civil war of 1847, but the exact proportions of the central cross were not settled until 1889. Only the Swiss could argue for years over the tiniest detail like the dimensions of the arms on a cross. In the end it took an act of parliament to settle the argument, meaning that a proper Swiss cross has arms that are of equal length but are one sixth longer than they are wide. … As for the exact shade of scarlet, that took more than another century to decide: in 2007 it was set as Pantone 485. That’s red to you and me.” p. 156

So, with the changing forward of the clocks today, I might just have to see what’s on German tv today … (or not).

Little Free Library

At home I blogged a number of times about Little Free Libraries. The idea is simple. Have a place where people can swap books. I’ve swapped books at Book Club, in various small hotels in Central America, and at a few of the Little Free Libraries in Claremont.

If you go to the “official” website and look at the map, you see that there is only one listed in Switzerland, and that’s in Locarno. A long way to go from Zürich to see if there are any books you might want to take.

Less official, but much closer are the shelves in the American Women’s Club which have many, many books for the taking/swapping. I have taken some books, returned them, and I will probably leave a few on my way out of the country.

IMG_4891 IMG_4892

Migros Take-Away Coffee

OIMG_4688ne of our traditions, before we get on a train, is to get a cup of coffee from the Migros in ShopVille. For six months we’ve been ordering a cappuccino at the counter, and finally H got it into his head to ask if there was decaf. The woman said she couldn’t make one, but that if he went to the other (bigger) machine on the other side of the store, they would be able to do that.

Huh. Why didn’t we think to ask about 6 months ago? Of course, the next time H ordered a Koffeinfrei at the correct machine, the woman operating it seemed quite confused and he thinks it was caffeinated. Lesson: One must be at the right machine with the right operator.

That being said, we are pleased to find that more places do, indeed, have decaf coffee than we previously thought.


We are getting a little more adventurous about eating out in Zürich. We still eat at home for a vast majority of the time, mostly because we have not found a restaurant that we really like. (Of course, if we don’t go out, it’s hard to find a restaurant….)

For a while we thought we would try Hiltl – the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. Then we settled on Tibits, a restaurant associated with Hiltl.

Bingo. We finally found food in a Swiss restaurant that really tastes delicious. So delicious that we didn’t mind spending money for it.

IMG_4934Like Hiltl, there is a buffet.


After filling your plate, you take it to the counter to be weighed, and there you can order drinks, pay, and find a place to sit. On a Sunday afternoon at 14.30, there were a few spots open, but the place was really hopping.

IMG_4932My plate of food (in the foreground) was 365 grams. H’s plate was over 400 g. We split the beer (Bio-Beer Vom Fass – Organic Beer on tap). My plate had a samosa (very delicious – next time I will take two or three), curry, hummus, a calzone, rice and veggies. And some fried things that I don’t know. H had other kinds of curry and jalapeño poppers (also very delicious – I had one). Everything had such great flavor, and the ambiance was hip. As people here would say, it was all Tip Top.

Archeological Museum

Along with the Botanical Gardens (Old and New), the Paleontology, Ethnographic, and Zoological Museums (among others), the University of Zürich also houses an Archeological Museum. Only 10 minutes down the hill by foot from our flat.

IMG_4926The ground floor displays a variety of pots and some sculptures from Ancient Greece and Rome, the Etruscans, and Ancient Egypt. None of the signs are in English, and most of the vocabulary is mysterious to me, so I just made up little stories about the pieces and enjoyed the interesting figures on the pots. Some of the pieces had no signage at all.

No photos are allowed, so you have to look at their website to get an idea of what it looks like.

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The real treat came downstairs, though. Apparently the collection started in the 19th C. with plaster casts of antique sculptures. I really, really wanted to take a picture here, but I was so good in restraining myself. I did find this photo online of what looks like a wall in your local garden store that sells garden statues.

6722261-A_rather_excellent_archaeological_museum-ZuerichThese are just the busts. Along the outer walls, and in the rooms on either end of the long hall are some very, very tall statues – 2-3 times larger than actual humans. One reminded us of a very large bust of the Statue of Liberty.

We were alone down there, which was just a little creepy. Creepy in a fun way. As we walked, automatic lights came on. And then we found out that we were NOT alone. Hidden in a back corner was a woman who, I think, was sketching.

H could not resist taking a photo of this guy – Plato. It reminded us very much of someone we know back home. Our friend’s beard is a little shorter, though.