What I Will Miss – Part Six: Ruhetag

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 5.11.27 PMWhen our AirBnB host gave us our orientation to Haarlem, I mentioned that we didn’t have to worry about stores being closed on Sundays since we would not be there on a Sunday. She smiled and said that actually many stores in Holland are open on Sundays.

One tourist complaint here is the lack of opportunity to spend money on Sunday. New expats wonder what might happen if one runs out of bread or milk on a Sunday. Nowadays there’s always a store open in train stations, so it’s rarely a dire condition, although inconvenient.

Now that we’ve gotten used to planning ahead for the Ruhetag (Rest Day), I have to say I really like it. On nice Sundays it’s a pleasure to wander by the lake and see families out with their children in strollers, or people sitting and watching the swans or reading books. The arboretum is also a pleasant place to enjoy a relaxing day.


In Haarlem we did discover, however, that many shops close early on weekdays, which is undoubtedly lovely for the people who work there.

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What I will not miss: the reserved nature of the people on the street. I will be glad to see smiling faces out and about when I am home.


Freitag Bags

IMG_5787I’m not much of one to buy a souvenir when I travel. I like taking photos to remember the time, but I don’t need stuff to put in a drawer or clutter a shelf. This year I did buy a scarf in Paris and a necklace in Venice, but those are items I actually use.

Now we can both add very special Swiss souvenirs to our small collection. On Saturday we took the plunge and the tram out to the Freitag Flagship store in search of laptop bags. H has had a series of Land’s End black canvas briefcases over the years which need replacing when they wear out. The current one is looking pretty sad.

Then I thought about it and realized that my laptop case at home (a freebie which came with my viola about 7 years ago) has seen better days, as well. I had not felt the need for a Freitag bag when I toured the factory recently, but it hadn’t occurred to me at the time that I would want something for my computer when I go to school.

The Freitag Flagship Store is out in the Industrial Quarter near the Prime Tower, Switzerland’s second-tallest building. The store itself is recycled out of cargo containers with a rooftop view which we passed up, due to the hot weather.

After we decided which style of bag we wanted, we had to look at the various colors and designs. I had hoped to find one that looked like the Zürich flag, and this is the closest I found.

H liked the red one with black and white accents.


Each bag comes with a fold-out “map” which gives a short history and tour of the Freitag process as well as a Product Manuel with information on size, functions and care.

SMELL. Yes, FREITAG bags smell. Most odours will be lost after a bit of use. To lose odours quickly, take your bag out on regular bike rides or walks in the park. This way, you’ll both get rid of that city-stench.


But my favorite part of the Product Manuel is this:



In honor of it being Sunday, I will write about ShopVille. In general, shopping is verboten on Sundays in Switzerland (and other Europen countries). Some restaurants are open, but if you run out of milk or bread, you are out of luck.

Not really. In actuality, if you can make it to the HB where there exists a giant 180-store subterranean shopping mall under the train station called ShopVille, you can get your bread and milk and much more. This place is open every day of the year and most stores are open until 20.00 or 21.00.

I can’t say we actually go to ShopVille on Sundays, though. We have gotten into the groove of getting our groceries on Saturday (which can be a total zoo), but we are glad that it’s open whenever we return from somewhere on a Sunday and know we need some basic food supplies.

The tricky part (for me) is knowing just where to come out of the nether regions to get where I want to go above ground, although I am getting better at it. H has it down, though, and he’s good about gently nudging me in the right direction.

Im Viadukt – Kreis 5

Last Saturday it was sunny and warm, and we were tromping around the castles of Bellinzona. Yesterday it was snowy/rainy and colder, so we thought it might be a good time to tromp to a new place in the city.

Zürich is divided into 12 Districts (Kreise). The Industriequartier, Kreis 5, sits tucked between the train tracks and the Limmat River and has been transformed from the gritty, seedy and drug-infested part of the city into a hip and trendy place. We’d scratched the surface in this area before, but the promise of shopping in the Viadukt lured us a little farther in.

From the outside it looks just like a viaduct (trains go over it, it doesn’t transport water, as I had thought).



Inside is an open Markthalle which feels as though it might be from any hip and trendy world city. You can buy flowers,


fresh-baked bread,



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and British cheese (strange, in the mothership of cheese),


along with meats, wines and beers, specialty condiments, savory pies, and other delightful goodies. It also has clean restrooms as well as a sit-down restaurant.

For my friends back home, this is like Village West – transformed from industrial to cute shopping area. We will be back for more exploring on a sunnier day.

Sunday Shopping

As a rule, shops are not open on Sundays in Switzerland (like other European countries). Some exceptions are the ShopVille at the HB (where you can get food if you forget to plan ahead) and some restaurants.

This time of year are three other exceptions in Zürich. It’s so amazing that they even had to call it Sunday Shopping rather than Verkaufsoffener Sonntag or something.  Five other cities have also adopted this experience, and that information is here.


Not all stores are open (our favorite toy store was not open last Sunday, but will be on the 21st). We saw a child crying near the store, and we surmised that the closure was the reason for her tears.

Tomorrow the city gets a Sunday day of rest from this extravaganza (last week we bumped into throngs of people downtown), but not to worry, glampers. You still have next week to look forward to!

Zürcher Brockenhaus

With weekends reserved for outings, we must carve out some weekday times for exploring Zürich. Long lunch hours mean time to try something or some place new. Yesterday, in unseasonably warm weather, we ran some errands and found our way to the Zürcher Brockenhaus – Zürich Thrift Store. Every time we leave town on the train, we pass this building near the train station.


I had read these yelp reviews about it and decided we just had to go take a look-see. As a thrift store, it ranks a $$$ rating, and that’s probably because it has some nice antiques as well as clothes, housewares, records, books, children’s stuff, and anything else you might find in an American thrift store.

I didn’t take too many pictures inside, feeling a little self-conscious in a foreign country, but here are a couple.


Notice the yellow book – Onkel Tom’s Hütte. Apparently not banned here.


We were looking for possibly a small travel bag and a hat. We found travel bags, but none that we had to have, and two men’s hats. One the wrong color and one too small. I noticed that there are some women’s winter coats, and if my fleece does not do the trick for me, I will probably head back there at some point.

There are other Brockis in Zürich, so maybe we will find one a week for a while.


I haven’t really been homesick these past two and a half months. I DO miss friends and family, but the magic of the internet helps quell that a bit. But on Sunday when we were out enjoying the sun (we do that whenever we can since the gray days approach), I remarked that I sort of wished that we could watch a football game on tv and eat chips and salsa. That remark went over poorly since I could tell that H felt a hankering for at least the chips and salsa. (How could we even think about such a thing after that fabulous raclette the night before?)

Then I remembered that someone, somewhere had told me that there are canned black beans at the SihlCity Coop. Of course, we have not yet splurged on the black beans we bought last month, but I accepted the challenge to find whatever SihlCity was and get there.

Turns out, it’s really easy. One 20-minute tram ride with no transfers. And the tram lets you off at the front door of this big, glitzy mall. Big, glitzy malls are NOT what I miss about home, but there you have it. Another thing I don’t miss about home is the introduction of Christmas merchandise in October. Without Halloween to get in the way here, you can already start buying advent calendars, Christmas chocolate, wrapping paper, etc. Oh, well.

Notice that this grocery store (think Swiss Super Target with Swiss prices) is on the second floor. Wait. Here they call it the first floor since you start with the ground floor.

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I think I tried all of the escalators in SihlCity. And I’m pretty sure I went down every food aisle in the Coop. It took me two times down the “Food from other lands” aisle to find the black beans, but I finally found them, in cans as well uncooked in a bag (for half the cost of the Mexican food store we went to last month).

As long as I was having an American experience in the mall, I thought I may as well buy some chips. They were on big Aktion (sale) with two small bags stuck together for $6.

And tomorrow I think I’ll write about the Swiss Diet Plan. But first, let me open a bag of chips….