Sunday, August 11, 2019

Neat and Tidy

The Swiss are commonly associated with cleanliness. I've mentioned it in relation to their public toilets. And apart from the pervasive graffiti (about which I've mentioned here), I'd have to say they keep their outdoor environments very clean. And sometimes they like to use nifty machines to do it.

In recent days I saw all three of the following machines in my neighborhood. I don't think any of them are uniquely Swiss, but they are being utilized to keep the Swiss neat and tidy standard.

First off, our neighbor uses this gizmo regularly:

Every time we walk past this yard and this thing is out there, I get so excited. I've always wanted a Roomba for my house (maybe Santa will bring one this year?), but if I still had a yard/lawn, I'd definitely want one of these. And look how neat and tidy their yard is!

The next day I saw a maintenance worker cutting the grass near our flat and adjacent to the train tracks. And by cutting the grass, I don't mean he was doing it manually by pushing a mower. No, he was pushing some buttons...using a remote controller.
View from one of our balconies.

The mower was definitely doing all the work:

Again, our outdoor environment is neat and tidy!

And finally, just the other day we saw a cleaning machine that I never knew existed! We live quite close to a regional recycling center, called an ökihof. The facility uses large dumpster type receptacles to collect the plastic, paper, glass, etc.

And of course, these receptacle get dirty. But, not to worry. There's washing machine on a truck to deal with this problem!

An arm comes out and attaches to the top of the recycling receptacle:

And then it is brought around to the center of the machine on the truck that has big blue brushes for a cleaning!

Unfortunately it wasn't scrubbing while we watched. But how cool is that? Who knew that huge recycling receptacles can be cleaned? Apparently, the Swiss knew because they are doing it! Another great way to keep Switzerland neat and tidy.

Today's poem is a neat and tidy tiny poem:
spruce it up
the Swiss are experts
at cleaning up

©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Full Blown Swiss

Happy 1st of August! Happy Swiss National Day!

Today the Swiss celebrate all things Swiss. And we foreigners benefit. You see, the Swiss have been celebrating National Day on August 1st since 1891, but the day has only been an actual holiday since 1994. It took almost 100 years for 80% of Swiss voters to decide that yes, we need a day off to celebrate being Swiss. (Though, to be fair, the Swiss do a pretty good job of celebrating their Swissiness just about every day.)

For the month of July the local businesses do a bumper crop business selling the red and white to the masses:

Even down to their eggs!

But one international retailer doesn't sell Swiss-centric merchandise just in the summer for National Day.  No, c&a stores sell traditional Swiss clothing. All. Year. Long.

(To get an idea of what c&a sells in the rest of the store, Maureen ALWAYS finds something cute. Think young adult fashion, though I have bought a few items there for myself and it is not weird.)

You can get Lederhosen for HIM:
Takes leather pants to a new level.
Or a Dirndl for HER:

The blouses are cute.

And you can get traditional accessories as well:
Cute purse...
...or wool socks!

I love that these traditional clothes are available 365 days a year and in a mainstream retailer! How cool is that?

I do have to note that while these clothes are readily available, they are not cheap. The Lederhosen run about 150Fr. (It is in Switzerland after all.) Oh well.

And to round out our Swiss National Day celebration and this post, here are some fireworks and a poem. Ooh and aah at your own discretion:


Swiss national pride
flag of red and white
schnitzel and wurst by day
pyrotechnics all night
©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 21, 2019


I've mentioned on this blog before the surprising fact that the Swiss like to smoke. A. Lot.

Mothers/Fathers (with infants and toddlers in tow)
Grandparents (with infants and toddlers in tow)
Business professionals
Average folk

You name the Swiss demographic, chances are a large segment will be smokers. The prevalence of smoking here in Switzerland still astounds (and horrifies) me. That's not to say that the Swiss don't know the dangers of smoking. I've posted about the graphic warning labels found on cigarettes. 

Because we have been car-free since moving here two years ago, we spend a lot of time in train stations or on train platforms. People smoke like chimneys on train platforms. Up until very recently we've played a game of keep-away to steer clear of second hand smoke while waiting for trains. Of course we could have always waited in the ONE small glass box set up on the entire platform for non-smokers:
Non-Smoking Box

Sign on glass box door = place to wait smoke free.

But that has not always been practical.

I'm happy to share that the winds of change are a blowing in Switzerland - and it does not contain cigarette smoke. On July 1st a new ban on smoking on train platforms went into effect. We are breathing a little easier these days. 

Here is the public relations poster that are now at all train stations warning people of the change:

Good News for Smokers: Smoking continues to be allowed in the smoking area.
Good News for Non Smokers: Smoking is only allowed in the smoking area.

Win-win, right?

This is painted at the entrance to most train stations stating that smoking is no longer allowed:

And these handy dandy cigarette receptacles are set up at the far end of every station where smoking IS allowed. (They used to be every 20 feet on the platform.)

Unfortunately, some people are just not ready for the change:

She's smoking next to the sign.

So far I haven't seen anyone get fined or even rebuked for smoking, but I'm sure that is not a long way off. The Swiss take their rules seriously and if you don't comply, eventually you will be caught.

Today's poem is a throwback to a haiku I wrote in 2017 about the dangers of smoking. The message holds true today:

a life sentence
is a drag
nails in a coffin

©2017, 2019 Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.
*I was running on a track recently where a young, fit guy was also working out. After about a half an hour of sprints, sit ups, push ups, etc., the guy packed up his gym bag, grabbed his water bottle, and lit up a cigarette. Seriously.
GOOD NEWS ALERT: We got our B residency permits! We can finally breathe a little easier that we are allowed to stay on a semi-permanent basis. Much better than the L (for Limited) permits we've had for the last two years. So if you've been wondering if we'll be here for the foreseeable future, yes we will. Plan your visits accordingly - we have an extra bedroom awaiting your arrival. :)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Snug as a Bug

Not in a rug.

But in a hotel.

A bug hotel. A Swiss bug hotel.

Switzerland is a welcoming place for bugs. True, I've mentioned the lack of window screens here, which has brought some winged friends inside the house. But the Swiss actively cultivate the insect population outside. So much so that it is a common sight to see insect hotels just about everywhere.

Along paths in parks:

Along trails in the forest:

And outside neighborhood sheds:

Insect hotels are structures made up of various materials to attract various insects: dry leaves to attract Ladybugs, dead wood and loose bark to attract various beetles and centipedes, holes and tubes made out of bamboo or reeds or drilled wood for solitary bees and wasps, straw and shells for various insects to deposit their eggs or seek shelter.

Are you feeling the hotel vibe?

Different materials appeal to different bugs.
The best part of these insect hotels is that the 'guests' are a diverse lot that encourages biodiversity which increases ecosystem productivity in the surrounding area. Win - win!

And unlike Swiss hotels for humans, the room rate is so low it is free! 

As for the spider population, insects provide an varied All You Can Eat Buffet:

Today's poem is a resounding endorsement for a stay at an insect hotel:

diverse guests
check in and out at will
best available rates
an environmental thrill
©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Ooh Lá Lá

We recently spent several days in Paris and all I can say is, "Ooh Lá Lá!"

Photo credit: Colleen
Photo credit: Colleen

I highly recommend it as a place to visit. Not that Paris needs any recommendations, let alone mine, but I know I'm not the only person who might have had major trepidation as negative French stereotypes abound:

We encountered NO rude waiters. In fact, every dining experience in Paris was delightful and came with a lower price tag than eating in Switzerland! Go figure!

We encountered NO rude French people at all. Every encounter we had was amazingly kind. Many times we were helped by random strangers when we were looking for the train platform or trying to read signs.

We encountered NO stinky people. Or at least no stinkier than us. We exclusively rode public transit
during a record breaking heatwave with intermittent air conditioner availability and still the French were not stinky.

We had a delightful Airbnb host in the heart of the city. While our apartment had no AC, we did have a fan.

We saw NO one wearing a striped shirt and beret. 

We saw A LOT of smoking, but when compared to Switzerland, it was about the same.

We saw A LOT of baguette consumption. Mostly by our own daughter, Colleen

Any fear I had going into this trip was for not. The French, Parisians in particular, are amazing and the amount of fun we packed into just a few days is impressive, if I do say so myself.

On our first full day in Paris we visited Disney Paris. Having grown up in Anaheim, CA I was curious about Disney parks in other countries. Disney Paris did not disappoint. Although quite a bit smaller than CA Disneyland, we had an enjoyable day in the happiest hottest place on earth:
Photo credit: Colleen
Photo credit: Colleen
Maureen's favorite part - dragon in parade.
Maureen's worst nightmare.

Huge shout out to the Leis family for the hot tip on discount tickets!

Then we went to as many Parisian historical sights as we could:
Arc de Triomphe - Photo credit: Colleen
I took this one!

Notre Dame - Photo credit: Colleen
I took another one!

Eiffel Tower

From the bottom up.
Versailles courtyard - photo credit: Colleen
Versailles garden - photo credit: Colleen

Catacombs - photo credit: Colleen
Someone was getting artsy with dem bones.

Besides the fun sights, we also partook in amazing Parisian pastries.
How about a meringue as big as your head?

The girls participated in a quest for the best eclair:
None compare to the one Mo shared with Auntie Anna though.

And as luck would have it, we happened to be in France when the FIFA Women's World Cup was going on and we were able to watch the US team beat France on TV as it was happening just a few miles from our apartment. We cheered at odd times compared to the French neighbors.

And tonight (7 July, 2019) the US women take on the Netherlands...Go Team USA!
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Today's poem is a reminder to think beyond stereotypes because the beautiful people of Paris await your visit:

there's no rudeness
there's no stink
but there are huge meringue
in shades of pink

we didn't see berets
or men in stripes
please don't believe
French stereotypes
©2019, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.