Coming Out Even

IMG_3506We finally got the email we were waiting for regarding our security deposit for our Swiss flat. We’ve been home for seven weeks, so I don’t think Swiss efficiency is everything it is cracked up to be. That’s okay, though. When we signed up for health care, they patiently waited for our first payment until we opened up our Post Account.

And so…. here are the results.

The email from our property manager said, “You have left the apartment in very good shape and there will be only a deduction of CHF 23.15 for the bill from the laundry. Thank you for that!”

Yay for us!

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Zürich Street Parade 2015

While we wIMG_5883ould have liked to have been in Switzerland for the National Swiss Day celebrations, we are rather glad we missed the Street Parade. Last year the parade was at the beginning of August, but this year it was the last Saturday of the month. I wonder if that is because one of the main transportation hubs was completely torn up.

Anyway, reports say that a million people (from all over Europe) crammed the city streets (can that really be possible?). Loud music from 26 “love mobiles”, six stages with more loud music, people dressed up like Halloween at a strip club.

The worst part was probably the amount of trash that gets strewn about. But since this happened on Saturday, and today is Monday, there is probably no evidence that the mega party even happened.

You can see photos at the NZZ site. Whether you can read German or not, the pictures give much of the story.

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Limmat Swim

IMG_6734Last year the Limmat Swim in Zürich was cancelled due to cold weather, so we never got to see it. This year, the hottest summer since 2003, has made swimming the rivers and lakes in Switzerland quite popular, and the 51st Limmatschwimmen was on.

This photo comes from the Samichlaus Schwimmen that we did get to see last December when the water was significantly colder than last August. It doesn’t make much sense to me that last year’s summer swim was canceled when people will swim in much colder water.

Anyway, I happily scrolled through these photos of this year’s swim. If we were there, I might have joined the 4,500 people enjoying the waters, or I might have just been one on the sidelines taking photos. In either case, I would have been there. I hope to be at this event some day.

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Thanks to New in Zurich for covering this event.

Street Photography in Zürich

IMG_4789I find myself going through my photos of our year, reliving our experiences. Although I am not a great street photographer, I did try my hand at taking photos of people going about their business. Here are a few of people in Zürich that turned out okay.

There always seems to be a group of kids out on a field trip, no matter the weather.

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Waiting at the tram stop by the ETH, everyone is wearing a black coat.

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Someone is always enjoying the chairs on Sechseläutenplatz in front of the Opera House on a sunny day.

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Even though time between trams is usually less than 10 minutes, it’s nice to have a bench for waiting.

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Okotoberfest in the Zürich HB

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You have to pay to let your dog ride the tram if it takes up more space than your handbag.

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With mandatory military service, you always see young men (and sometimes women) at the train station on Saturdays going home.

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Cell phone culture is alive and well in Europe, too.

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Saw a Mennonite once.

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Maybe my favorite candid snapshot. Two kids chatting up the coffee bean roaster.

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What I Will Miss, Part Nine: Just Being Here

Last sabbatical in Chicago, daughter C IMG_9988
came for a visit, and in a very cold day with the wind whipping off the lake, standing in front of the Art Institute waiting for a bus, I asked her what she thought of the city. She said that she really liked it. I pressed further, “What about it do you like?” Shrugging her shoulders she said, “Just the feel of the city.” I knew just what she meant. I love Chicago, too.

Both daughters had a similar answer to a similar question the time we went to Hawai’i as a family. “What’s your favorite part of Maui?” “Just being here.”

And so it is with Zürich. I love “just being here.” I will miss the routes I’ve walked all year, wandering in the old town during the various seasons (although tourist season is not quite as lovely as the rest of year), looking at the Limmat River as I cross the bridges, walking into the Hauptbahnhof, feeling the breezes and listening to the thunderstorms.

This year I read Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis and was struck by this paragraph. These past few weeks I’ve thought about “the last time” as I say good-bye to friends and do things for the final time.

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I am cheered by the thought that perhaps we might choose to return here for another sabbatical. Whether we do or not, it makes leaving just a little easier, knowing that it is a possibility.

And so, we are just about to take off for home, in a few hours. We will land in the US and see our home with new eyes and see where life takes us.

I will continue to blog here for a bit. Probably not every day, but at least a few times a week. Just because our feet won’t be on Swiss ground, we will have packed in our hearts a piece of this country as our most precious souvenir.

Bis später Schweiz, und Auf Wiedersehen, Zürich

Secret Place for Coffee, No Longer Secret!

IMG_6350It’s a good thing that packing to leave here doesn’t take as long as it took when we came. We have fewer decisions about what goes in the luggage. If we didn’t use it here, out it goes. If we are tired of it, out it goes. The rest goes in.

That gives us some time for final good-byes with friends – drinks, coffee, dinners, one a day. It’s all we ask.

I met with two orchestra friends on Monday for coffee. Neither said they had any particular place in mind, so I suggested we meet in a sort-of central location, in Paradeplatz. This is a square with many banks along the Bahnhofstrasse – probably the most expensive real estate in Switzerland.

As we stood there contemplating whether we should go into Sprüngli (such a typical place), Robin pointed to the store Grieder and said that she’d heard there was a lovely café within (a secret tip!), so we decided to try it out. After a few false doors, we found our way to an upper floor and discovered a delightful garden setting with many tables. It was a perfect place to have a chat and a cappuccino. I’m sure there were no tourists there. So, there are probably many such hidden delights throughout the city.

Deregistering

The time has come to deregister, IMG_6306letting the city of Zürich and the country of Switzerland know that we will soon be moving back to our Heimat. In August we registered with our Gemeinde (community), and this week we deregistered at the Stadthaus.

Working our way through all the tourists taking photos in front of the Fraumünster, we walked into the Stadthaus (which is open during lunch hours) and right up to an open window.

The nice lady was very helpful, taking our ID cards and typing in the computer and having us fill out a form. Because we have an “L” permit (good for only one year), she did not have to take it from us, but said we could keep them as a souvenir. Then she directed us to another room to make sure that our taxes were squared away with the country.

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We waited for 1 minute in this room before we were called into a private office.

More tip-tip typing on the computer, a printed page with an official stamp and signature, and we were sent back to the original window where we had the privilege of paying 30 CHF per person for an official letter that we must send to our health insurance to prove that we will no longer need to pay them. We had paid 324 CHF to register, so it is nice that leaving isn’t as expensive.

Official stamp

Official stamp

When we arrived last August, we spoke English when we registered, but this time, we spoke only German.