Friday, December 29, 2017

Die Post

No, I'm not going postal on you and wishing death to the post office. The Swiss Post is actually called Die Post - the 'die' being the feminine article 'the' in German (pronounced dee).

But I do have a story related to the post office that made me want to die at the time. When we had been in the country for about 3 weeks, we received a bill in the mail. Most bills are orange forms written entirely in German. They look like this:










The bill had come from the Gemeinde (local community government). I wanted to pay the bill, but I didn't quite know how. We have an American online bank account, but it doesn't include checks. Actually, checks are not accepted anywhere in Switzerland and checking accounts no longer exist. Because we had been in the country for such a short time, our local Swiss bank account didn't allow online payments due to our initial residency (L) permit. I was befuddled. So I decided to go ask at the Tourism office in the train station...because, well, they are there to answer questions, right?











Wrong...well, sort of.

I went in and showed my bill to a young lady sitting at the counter. I asked (in English, because I knew zero German at this point) how I go about paying this bill. The young lady was kind, but completely befuddled by my question. It seemed incomprehensible to her that I didn't know how to pay my bill. She went to her supervisor and relayed my question. The older woman and the younger woman exchanged some words (heated) in German for a few minutes, then the older woman shouted across the entire office, "You can't pay your bill HERE!" I mumbled, "Yes, I know, but I don't where or how to pay it..." She interrupted me by shouting even louder, "YOU PAY IT AT THE POST OFFICE!" If she had thought to add a DUH, she would have. I said a quick, "Thank you!" and hightailed it out of there, embarrassed beyond belief.

I then went over to the nearest Die Post and tried to pay the bill with my debit card. I was quickly informed that they only take cash or a Die Post debit card. I popped outside to the ATM:

...and got the cash. I paid the bill. Finally.

So yes, the post office in Switzerland is also a bank.

Both free standing:

















And housed in the regular post office where you send packages and buy stamps:










In the US, the post office color is blue. Here in Switzerland it is yellow.
We have yellow mail boxes:

















And the mailpersons wear yellow accented uniforms and drive super nifty three-wheeled electric carts with a trailer attached:











I have been very pleased with the service we've received using Die Post. A letter abroad to the US, though expensive (2CHF), only takes about a week to arrive. Packages, even more expensive (30CHF), take about two weeks. Not bad for traveling half way around the world!

My poem is dedicated to the woman who 'helped' me that day in August:

sent to the post office
I address my ignorance
payment delivered
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Best. Gifts. Ever.

Joe + Colleen + Maureen + Smidgey = My. Best. Gifts. Ever.

Snow castle...
 
...princesses!

Slip...
...sliding...

...away!


The Ups...
...and Downs of being a Mom.

Our final night before Colleen returns to the US.












through thick and thin
we are stuck like glue 
we are a family 
through and through 
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Magee/Uhlik Family Nutshell News

For as long as Joe and I have been married (28 years and counting...) I have always sent out Christmas cards. In recent years, along with the cards, I have included mixed nut year-in-review poems in lieu of an annual Christmas letter.

This year, living in Switzerland, it is monetarily prohibitive to send cards and Nutshell News via snail mail to everyone on our Christmas list (2CHF per letter abroad!). So this post will have to serve as the platform for the 2017 Magee/Uhlik Family Nutshell News:


*her dog, Loki, and her cats, Thor and Odin


 









Please let me know via the comments or direct email (bridget@bridgetmagee.com) what's been happening in your world in 2017. I'm going to miss  receiving your Christmas cards, your pictures, and your letters by post. I get homesick sometimes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Weihnachten in die Schweiz

From the snow...
In Zug, CH

In Falwil, CH
the lights...
At the mall in Zug
At the mall in Zug...after hours

Altstadt Zug lit up
'Weihnachten Boot' on Lake Luzern

the religious displays...
In front of a church in Luzern












the tree...
This TINY tree cost CHF30...
...but decorated nicely!

...you can tell that it is looking a lot like Christmas here in Switzerland. But what made it really seem like Christmas is our special delivery 'gift' from the United States:
COLLEEN!



















The Magee-Uhlik family is together again for the holidays:
At Lake Zug...
...with Smidgey, too!
Sistahs!













lights are nice
so is the tree
but nothing's better
than my family

©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Strange, but True

Between the fact that we don't own a car so I have to carry home whatever I buy and the fact that our refrigerator is about half the size of a US fridge, I grocery shop often. Since Monday I have been grocery shopping twice, with a third trip planned for later today because we need milk. (A particular growing teenager is keeping the Swiss milk producers in business.)

Our freezer is the size of a bread box!




















For the most part, food is food no matter where you live. Meat, vegetables, breads are all pretty much the same the world over. But there are a few items I've seen in the grocery store here that have caused me to do a double take (and pull out my camera in the store and take a picture).

For example, one of my favorite things to eat here is:

















But Joe can not get over the name "dinkel" (think like a 12 y/o boy and you will understand). Literally translated, these are 'spelt waffles'. Basically, they are wheat cakes (like rice cakes, but made with wheat) and are delicious smeared with peanut butter.

Which brings me to the subject of peanut butter. Apparently, the Swiss (and other European countries) are not big on peanut butter. This is the only brand and size of 'real' peanut butter I can find at my local grocery store (imported from the US)
The pencil is to show the scale - it's a tiny jar!



















Nutella and Biscoff brand spreads are big here, but both taste like dessert. Hazelnuts are popular, but not so much peanuts.

Next, I found this particular brand of oil on the shelf:
I didn't buy it, I just took a picture of it, much to the chagrin of the elderly Swiss woman looking incredulously at me.

And finally I saw this laundry detergent - should I send some to the T who shall not be named?
You can't make this stuff up!


















As a bonus, here is a coffee choice in a vending machine at the bahnhof:
Again, Joe's inner 12 y/o found this hilarious.










My poem is dedicated to the lovely woman I met in aisle three:
my camera poised
I block the aisle
to a passing harrumph
I weakly smile
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

After only 4.5 Hours and 4 Trains...

...we were in Italy!

Over the weekend, Joe, Maureen, Smidgey and I went to Stresa, Italy. It was our first trip outside of Switzerland...but definitely not our last.

Stresa is on the shores of Lago Maggiore:










It is basically a summer resort town, so being there in December gave us a different perspective:
Some hotels were open...
...while most were closed.
But experiencing the Italian Christmas spirit was well worth the chill in the air. (Though it was at least 10 degrees warmer than Zug with no snow.)
Store front nativity scene #1...
...and #2.

Decorated stores...
...and 'Santa' climbing up a hotel balcony.

The Italian locals we met were friendly, kind, and didn't mind that we didn't speak Italian.

As per our usual experience, we didn't understand a lot...
Some signs have better messages...

...than others.
...but that didn't slow us down. Between our tiny bit of Spanish (surprisingly helpful when trying to speak basic Italian) and our crazy American gesticulations, A LOT of Italian food can be ordered and consumed! (Though I did have occasional Deutsch outbursts which kind of confused matters even more.) The best part for Joe was that everything costs about 1/3 of what it costs in Switzerland! Piรน pizza per favore!


The only downside was walking Smidgey on the narrow streets (with no sidewalks). And Italians like to drive FAST - luckily most of them have tiny cars.
Smidgey peeking to see if the coast is clear for us to walk down this TWO lane road.

Tiny but mighty...fast!
























And when we returned to Zug we were met with white-out conditions:










But, alas, the snow is not so bad. Especially when an Italian (or French or German or Austrian or...) adventure is only a train ride (or four) away.

rail against
the winter blues
train trip
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.