Category Archives: Zurich Going Out

Baby Showers At The Hotel Eden Au Lac In Zurich

Although baby showers are more specifically an American pastime, they are gaining in popularity in Europe, especially as the expat communities expand and bring their own traditions with them. If you are planning a baby shower for yourself or a friend, the Hotel Eden au Lac has just launched an offering specifically geared to making sure the celebration is a memorable one. The location itself is beautiful. The minimum number of guests is eight and the Hotel is offering: 


    • Private room with guaranteed exclusiveness especially booked for you, all the options for a baby shower party are given


    • Delicious homemade appetizers (finger sandwiches, cup cakes, scones, english cake, chocolate brownies, pistachio biscuits & muffins)


    • Fresh fruit juices, mineral water, soft drinks, tea and coffee à discrétion


    • 1 glas of prosecco per person


    • Cute decoration and entertaining games (ABC list, what size has Mom’s belly, etc.)


All starting from a very reasonable 49CHF per person. More details can be found in the brochure.

Enjoy Zurifest 2013

Call it Zurifest, Zurifaescht or whatever you please, Zurich’s tri-annual celebration is almost upon us and we present a quick rundown of what is going on and how you can join in the fun. It all kicks off on Friday July 5th at 17:00, with festivities running non-stop until midnight on Sunday the 7th. The highlight will, as always, be the the fireworks displays that take place from 22:30 to 23:00 on the Friday and Saturday. In between is a non-stop festival of fun and activity for all ages, all organised with the usual high standards of Stadt Zurich. Some of the highlights:


    • Mine train along General Guisan-Quai and Mythenquai
    • Night time gongola rides at Sechseläutenplatz
    • Family paradise creche
    • Latin show from Caliente
    • Tightrope walks between cathedral spires
    • High diving shows
    • Car and bike shows

I especially like the fact that Zurich is really committed to a round-the-clock festival so that families and party-goers alike can join in the fun. there is plenty to do for kids and once the little ones reach bedtime, it’s time for night owls to enjoy the Party Mile and market stalls. Tickets for premium seating are available where you can get good seats to watch the fireworks from Mythenquai. Tickets cost 45CHF per seat on the Friday or Saturday. Note that you are not allowed to bring your own food and drink. Our Tipp: Many employers who have offices in and around the Bellevue / Bürkliplatz area open their buildings to allow members of staff and their families to view the fireworks from the roof. It’s worth checking if this is available to you. All info on Zurifest 2013 is available in German from this site.

Curious About Courses?

What are you curious about? Have you ever found yourself going to work, going home, going to work, going home and repeating this pattern? That’s where Selina Man Karlsson found herself a few years ago and when her job situation changed, she realised she didn’t have much else besides work and that’s when she started being curious about life again. A whole new world appeared… Back in 2010, Selina set up Curious Courses which offers short taster courses to spark and feed your curiosity, giving people the opportunity to try different and new things. Over the past years, there’s been quite a variety of topics including photography, wine, meditation, cheese and writing courses to name a few. The idea is to try something out in an evening to see if it is something for you and if it is, you can pursue it further and if it isn’t, then you have had a nice night out, no harm done 🙂 She’s learnt that there’s something out there for everyone, whether you want to try something creative, want to improve your cooking or experience a new sport or an unusual hobby, there’s so many great possibilities out there, you just need to have a go. She’s noticed that the more curious we become, the more open minded we also become and life takes on a new shine. There are typically 2 – 3 Curious Courses per month with upcoming courses including Be your own boss, Ready Set Write, Access your confidence, Life Purpose Creation and more. On the 8th June in Zurich Seefeld, there’s a very special event; our first CURIOUS COURSES DAY! There will be a keynote speaker followed by 18 different topics under the themes Create, Grow, Care, Move, Taste and Discover. Each of the short courses will be 50 mins long and participants can choose up to 6 to attend. All participants will receive special offers from the speakers as well. It’s going to be a day of Discovery and exploration! Visit the Curious Courses website for more details Selina can be contacted on if you have any questions.

Save 20% On Tickets To Swan Lake Reloaded

Tchaikovsky’s «Swan Lake» meets street dance. High culture and entertainment merge together to create an audio-visual synthesis of the arts. «Swan Lake Reloaded» breaks away from traditional ballet and takes the much-loved masterpiece into a new dimension – for the most spectacular dance show of recent times. The production combines the highly demanding choreography of a street dance show with classical elements. «Swan Lake Reloaded» premiered in Stockholm in December 2011 to great acclaim from critics and audiences alike. The show sold out for its entire run in no time, with over 40,000 tickets being snapped up. Now the production’s Swiss premiere is to take place at Zurich’s MAAG Halle venue in April. We are pleased to offer zuirichexpats readers a 20% discount on selected tickets. For further details on the discount, please consult this document. For further information: 

St Patrick’s Day In Zurich

Nualan O’Brien is Irish and living and working in Zürich. She works for We all know the festival, but do we know the man who gave his name to the date? And what did he do with the shamrock? St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. While he is called a Saint, he was never formerly canonised by the Catholic Church. He got sort of “voted” in as a Saint by the Irish through popular acclaim. As a result the 17th March is the unofficial global “Let’s celebrate Irishness” day- celebrated  all over the world from a week long festival in Dublin, Ireland, a dyed-green river in Chicago, USA and street parades in Sydney, Australia. While St. Patrick’s day is mostly associated with revelry:  Irish bars, drinking and dancing – the 17th of March or “St. Patrick’s day”  is a day which marks the death of a Scottish-born missionary called Patrick – who converted “pagan” Ireland to Catholicism. (And Ireland is still predominantly Roman Catholic to this day). While we all enjoy the festivities, our hard-working Irish missionary would no doubt not approve of the “Paddy’s day” rituals  which are mostly associated with this day. It is a coldy ironic “back, back to the start” kind of Cheryl Cole pagan theme going on. St. Patrick the man and the shamrock (387 – 461 AD):  St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland, 387 AD.  At the age of 14, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd sheep. During this time, he developed a strong faith in God – even though Ireland was a so-called “land of pagans and tribes”. He escaped aged 20 after God appeared to him in a dream telling him to leave Ireland by the coast. Being the persuasive fellow, he talked his way onto a ship and some sailors took him to Britain. Another dream told him that the people of Ireland were calling out to him to return to make Ireland holy. He subsequently became a priest, and then a bishop. He returned to Ireland in 433 where he and his disciples succeeded in preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many to Catholicism (and surviving death attempts).  St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland for 40 years, until he died on March 17, 461. And the shamrock?  While the four-leaved shamrock or “clover” is often associated with the “luck of the Irish”, it was St. Patrick who used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the catholic concept of the “Holy Trinity”, namely the Catholic belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all in the one entity.  Along with the harp, the shamrock is now considered the national emblem and is used in many logos including aerlingus (the national airline carrier) and the Irish Tourist office. Legend has it that St. Patrick also banished snakes from the island of Ireland. But with Ireland being the lovely, friendly- but rather rainy and not terribly reptile-friendly place – that is debatable. As a good theologian would tell you, snakes are a symbol for paganism. And as the Irish – a nation famous for writers, musicians and entertaining folk generally would be inclined to say, “and sure – why let the truth get in the way of a good story?” Things to do in Zurich this St. Patrick’s Day  Live Music in Paddy Reilly’s  Talstrasse 82  Or Check out Zurich’s newest Irish bar   Freischuetzgasse 14, 8004 Zurich , Switzerland  Other useful links.  The Irish Week long Festival  (

Burgers At The Helvti Diner, Zurich

I do love a good burger. I even remember the best one I ever had, at the Sheraton Hotel at Malpensa airport, Milan of all places. When I was contacted by the Helvti Diner I immediately arranged a visit to sample the burgers there, as well as being excited by the range of side dishes, drinks and other Americana. We went to the Helvti Diner in Zurich on a Saturday afternoon. It was well patronised but thankfully not full although it did fill up more while we were there. The interior is a pretty faithful representation of an American diner with some Swiss touches like low backs on the booth furniture.

The waitress who took our order was very nice and also asked if we wanted her to speak German or English. We ordered a Swiss Prime burger and a Classic burger which is made from Angus beef. Also available is a wagyu beef patty. I am glad that the words “Kobe beef” we’re not mentioned anywhere because as I recently discovered, real Kobe beef cannot be exported out of Japan. I was pleased that the burger choice was not huge. They have taken the view of offering their burgers in three types of beef and given the customer the choice of size, sauces, accompaniments and how they wish it to be cooked. Some places take a burger, add some cheese and a fried egg and give it a separate place on the menu under a name like the Farm burger or something. I prefer the approach of the Helvti. Take your burger, add what you want and tell us how you want it cooked. We went for BBQ sauce with one and garlic mayo with the other as well as a portion of fries to share. Soft drinks come in a 500ml glass if you so choose. When the food came, I cut mine in half to inspect the cooking. I asked for mine to be medium rare and I would say it was spot on. 

My wife went for well done and again it was good. Well cooked but not dry. We had no complaints at all about the burgers in terms of flavour or quality. Mine left a lot of liquid behind on the plate, I might go for Medium next time but I like a burger to be juicy. The fries were really good, as were the sauces. The BBQ sauce was a different colour to what you would expect (it is in the small glass dish in the photo above this paragraph) and had a nice little spice kick.

We had no complaints at all about the burgers in terms of flavour or quality. Mine left a lot of liquid behind on the plate, I might go for Medium next time but I like a burger to be juicy. The fries were really good, as were the sauces. The BBQ sauce was a different colour to what you would expect (it is in the small glass dish in the photo above this paragraph) and had a nice little spice kick. The garlic mayo was delicious. Both buns were nicely toasted, but I wouldn’t say they added much to the burger. A touch I liked was that the burger is served straight up. In the bun, you get your beef patty atop a slice of lettuce with any cheese you have requested and any extra like the egg. The usual garnish like tomato, gherkin and more lettuce is served nicely presented, on the side, for you to add as you wish. We rounded things off with an excellent dark chocolate milk shake. So, lots to like. The service was very good, the burgers certainly were excellent as were the fries. As I said, I like the way the menu is presented as well as letting you choose how to add the garnishes. In terms of presentation and taste, absolutely no complaints. One negative I have to stress is the price. A bill of 100 CHF for two people is hefty for a burger meal. Here’s our receipt so you can see exactly what we had (click for a larger image): 


12.50 CHF for a 355ml milk shake is extremely expensive, no matter how good, and is something I could not justify choosing again. A prosecco at 9 CHF, however, is decent value for Zurich. There is a reason for the prices. In true Swiss fashion, the prices are justified by the quality of the ingredients. For example, the shake contains three scoops of premium ice cream, no milk powder or artificial flavourings. When it comes to the meat, the burgers contain no filler so no cheaper pork or bread to bulk it up. Their belief is that the Helvti Diner is the only place in Switzerland to feature only 100% beef in its burgers. As we were there on a Saturday afternoon, we did not sample the bar but the selection of drinks and cocktails is impressive. Any bar that offers Hendricks gin knows what they are doing! Worth noting that from October 2012, they are starting a Happy Hour on Fridays from 22:00 to midnight. We will definitely go back to the Helvti Diner, we enjoyed our meal there very much. If prices were more reasonable, I would probably try to get there at least every two weeks. As it stands we will go there perhaps a couple of times a year. I do recommend you try it and decide for yourself. 


Helvti Diner Kasernenstrasse 2 8004 Zürich Tel: +41-43-322-04-24 Opening Hours: 


Monday – Thursday 11.30-14.30  18.00-23.00
Friday 11.30-14.30  18.00-01.00
Saturday, brunch 10.00-16.00  18.00-01.00
Sunday closed

How To Get Your Swiss Driving Licence

There is one piece of administration in Switzerland for Expats that causes a lot of concern. It also seems to create the most confusion and opinion, and that is getting your Swiss Driving Licence. Expats can use their foreign driving licence for up to one year after their registration in Switzerland. During that time you can drive as normal, even use a Mobility car, you just have to email Mobility a scan of your foreign driving licence. They will send you a reminder that you have to send them a copy of your new Swiss licence after a year of residence, otherwise your Mobility membership will be suspended. Once you reach that one year date, it’s time to hand in the licence you have held since your late teens and get a new shiny card-sized Swiss one. For some people this can be quite  an emotional wrench. The licence you have had in your wallet or purse is another reminder of “home” and you may be reluctant to just hand it over but in truth, you have no choice. Driving beyond the 12-month validity of your foreign licence in Switzerland will land you a fine and could cause you problems when you do come to exchange it for a Swiss one. The process of exchanging your driving licence for a Swiss one is straightforward for citizens of EU countries or members of the EFTA. You need to bring the following documents in person to the Stassenverkehrsamt, or traffic office. You can also take them to your local Gemeindehaus or town hall: 


    • This Form (only available in German, correct at time of publishing)


    • Eyesight test, which is provided by an optician completing part of the above form, so bring it with you when you go for your eye test!


    • A colour passport photograph


    • Your residency permit


    • Your foreign/home driving licence, which will be taken from you by the Strassenverkehrsamt or Gemeinde.


    • 20 Swiss Francs


You will also receive a bill a couple of weeks after these documents are handed in. around 50CHF for handling your old licence and 35CHF for issuing your new one. If all goes well, you should have your new licence in your hands a week after handing in the documents above. For non-EU or -EFTA licence holders, you have to hand in the same documentation as above but will be called to take a driving test within three months of giving over your documentation. If you have had any different experiences, and there certainly are people who have see things work differently, please contribute in the comments as we have tried to present the most common scenarios here.