When you think of Switzerland, what comes into your mind?Certainly watches, chocolate, and cheese! And probably also our majestic mountains and our picturesque landscape.Having said that, it is much easier to experience chocolate and cheese or buy a watch than to enjoy Switzerland’s magnificent nature. Most people are not even aware of variety of fun activities including river-rafting, paragliding, skydiving, kayaking or canyoning that can be experience right at the border of Zurich. That’s why for adventure enthusiasts, we have recently launched www.kusuru.com – an online marketplace for adventures. Currently, more than 30 providers of adventures advertise their offering through their platform and make it accessible to both, national and international customers. Get inspired on www.kusuru.com and book your next adventure directly through our platform! We offer a 10 CHF discount for the first 100 bookings! Just use this voucher code: KULAUNCH10
Nualan O’Brien is Irish and living and working in Zürich. She works for Sixtblog.ch 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 http://www.paddys.ch/zuerich/
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.
We are pleased to be able to offer readers of zurichexpats.com a special offer on a stay at the beautiful Hotel Die Krone in Gottlieben which lies on the shores of Lake Konstanz. Activities for men and women are included, as well as for couples. The hotel also welcomes children and pets. For more information, please read the PDF file detailing the offer in English. Please note you must mention zurichexpats.com when you book.
City trips are a great thing. Zurich is a small city – especially compared to American and Asian metropolises – and thanks to the many parks and the lake you’ll soon feel at home. But you know the feeling: sometimes you’ve just had enough of all the asphalt, the buildings and the packed streets at rush hour. The best thing to do to avoid a city crisis is a short get away for one day. myfriendfromzurich.com has three suggestions for you, which will allow you to clear your head whilst exploring the rural side of Switzerland at the same
Trip 1: Uetliberg to Adliswil
We, the Zurich locals, are very proud of our landmark mountain, the Uetliberg. Compared to the Alps it´s only a hill – but it´s a nice walk (for the lazy traveller: take s-train Nr. 10 from Zürich HB) up to the summit, at 873m. On clear days you can even see a picturesque view of the Alps. Keen adventurers: continue on to Adliswil (duration: 1’30), take the cable car at Station Felsenegg and travel back to Zurich by train from Adliswil.Info: www.uetliberg.ch
Trip 2: Regensberg
Take a short train and bus ride to Regensberg, stroll through the lovely medieval town and enjoy the view over the rural part of the Zurich region. For the best panoramic views, scale the steep steps of the round bastion. Afterwards, visit Weidmann winery, treat yourself with a glass of wine, or buy a bottle as a souvenir. (Weidmann winery is only open to visitors on Saturdays from 15-17h)
Trip 3: The dripstone caverns in Baar
If the hubub of the city gets too much, then the dripstone caves in Baar might be just the place for you. Discover a secret world by wandering through the 6000-year-old rock formations.Without a car it takes some effort to get there – at least an hour’s walk through the countryside of central Switzerland. Still the magic of the different shapes and colors of the dripstones is definitely worth it. This is a Guest Post from myfriendfromzurich.com, the independent travel blog. Find out more at:facebook.com/Myfriendfromzurich http://twitter.com/#!/myfriendfromzh
Sigh …. Another Press Release from Swiss, another hit in the pocket of its customers.In February 2012, Swiss announced an increase in their Fuel Surcharge due to the increase in oil costs. On the day of the Press Release (February 22nd 2012) the price of crude oil closed at $106.3. Today, they announced another revision of their prices. Not related to the oil price, just a nice revision.But incredibly, although the price of crude oil closed yesterday at $89.9, a drop of more than 15% from the date of the Fuel Surcharge hike, the announcements is of yet another increase. In what is described as an ‘innovation’, they have also scrapped the treatment of sports equipment as separate from the baggage allowance, which meant that you could carry golf or ski equipment for free. From June 1st, this equipment will form part of what they laughingly call the ‘free’ baggage allowance. I say laughingly because it is of course, not free. You have paid for it in your fare. Just as you have paid for the same cheese sandwich on every single flight. Not only is the weight of the item calculated as part of your luggage allowance but the very existence of it means that if you are bringing a pair of skis, you cannot check another piece of luggage without incurring a charge. That’s a truly wonderful Swiss innovation! So my question is, where is the announcement of a response to drop in the price of oil? Can you believe that for a European flight you are paying 44CHF for fuel each way? There has to come a time when the price gouging must stop but what sticks in the throat more is the way Swiss refuses to treat customers fairly and reduce the Fuel Surcharge as swiftly in response to oil price drops as it zealously increases it when the price of oil goes up. For example, the February 22nd announcement states that the Fuel Surcharge increase was because “the price of crude oil and aviation kerosene has seen a massive increase since the airline’s fuel surcharges were last adjusted in December 2011″. Note the use of the word “massive”. When the Surcharge was last raised, the price of crude oil was $100.1. So the increase they describe as massive is from $100.1 to $106.3 – roughly 6%. But as I say, the drop in the price of oil since February is over 15%. So if an increase of 6% is massive, how would they describe a decrease of 15%? It would be nice if the national carrier treated its customers fairly. The February Press Release states “SWISS constantly monitors oil prices, and will continue to adjust its fuel surcharges in response to further fuel price trends on the commodities markets” but that is very clearly not what they are doing. What do you think? Am I being fair or do I have my sums wrong?
One of the things people mention first when talking about the benefits of living in Zurich and Switzerland is the transport system.No doubt, being able to plan a journey and have no fears as to the accuracy of the information makes getting around much less stressful and the all-important reliability is a blessing. Not to mention making it easier to stick to appointments.But sometimes a car is necessary and on those occasions we have possibly the best Car Sharing system in the world – Mobility.This article is intended to serve as a comprehensive guide to using the Mobility system in Switzerland.
How It Works
It all starts at the Mobility website – http://mobility.ch/ Mobility has locations (stations) across Switzerland. Usually located by rail stations and city centres, there are over 1,700 vehicles available from 140 towns and cities. Each station has its own vehicles. This is an extremely important point. You cannot pick up a car in, say, Luzern, and drop it off in Zurich. If you pick up a Mobility car from one Mobility station, it can only be returned to that station. If anything this is the only restriction (apart from cost) but of course, it makes perfect sense otherwise you would have dozens of cars being dumped in city centers and nothing in more remote locations. So, having found the station you want to rent from, you pick your vehicle from one of the ten categories available, which range from small electric vehicles to full-blown Mercedes vans. If you need a specific type of vehicle, say a cabriolet, you can search for a vehicle on the site and see where the nearest one is located. If you want a fairly standard vehicle choice, you can most likely find it at your nearest station. As for the cars themselves, Mobility favours Renault, which are producing some very nice cars indeed. But you can also get BMW, Honda and Skoda cars. Note that the Combi is an estate car. With your station and vehicle selected, you book the car for the period of time required and away you go. You can get confirmation of your booking by email, SMS or via the smart phone apps. For the final step of actually getting in and driving away, you need a Mobility card which you get as a result of a Mobility membership. You can use Mobility without a subscription but more of that later. When you go to your vehicle at the time of your booking, you touch the windscreen where the reader is located inside the vehicle and the doors open. Keys are left in the glove box unless the car selected uses an electronic key. There is a display unit above the windscreen that shows you the detail of your reservation. You can use this unit to extend your reservation if available, or end it early.
You can also call the Mobility center via the unit.
Once you have returned to the original station before the end of your reservation, you end the reservation from the unit above your head, leave the car and lock it again with your Mobility card up against the windscreen reader.
Regarding petrol, the cost of this is included in your hire cost but it is your responsibility to ensure that the car does not run dry. If you need (or want) to fill up, there is a fuel card inserted into the on board computer from one of the major fuel retailers so as long as you use the correct retailer, you will not have to pay.
If the card is missing or the particular retailer is not available you can still buy fuel and get the cost refunded from Mobility as long as you send them the receipt.
There is a FairPlay rule at Mobility that states that you should leave the vehicle at the station with at least one third of the tank full.
Rates for using Mobility vary based on your subscription but basically the rental cost you will pay consists of:
- the hourly rate
- the per km rate
So the lowest-priced rental would be a short term one with low distance traveled. Full rate information is available here.The Mobility website is very conscious that the system is right for you so it offers a cost calculator where you can select a vehicle, rental duration and estimated distance to see what the cost is likely to be. For longer rentals they will also show the cost of hiring a car from one of the rental partners.
An Annual Subscription currently costs 290CHF but a 100CHF discount is available if you have a Half Card or General Abonnement. If you hold an annual pass for one of the regional transport companies (eg the ZVV in Zurich) then you can get an annual subscription for just 25CHF. Interestingly, a Trial Subscription of four months is available for 70CHF or 40CHF if you have a Migros Cumulus card. For all subscriptions you must provide a copy of your driving licence.
Using Mobility Without A Subscription
nIf you are willing to limit your choice of Mobility stations to SBB rail stations, you can use Click & Drive. Here, you can reserve a vehicle at an SBB station, collect the Mobility card from the ticket office and pay for the rental by credit card. No need for a subscription and ideal for those who will use Mobility a couple of times per year.
\r\nAlong with the SBB service, Mobility is one of the first things I like to brag about when I talk about living in Switzerland. The process of walking up to a car you have reserved, holding your wallet up to the windscreen and then getting into the vehicle feels like the stuff of magic. The service center is also very good. Just before a recent rental I got a call to say that the passenger door of the car I had reserved was stuck and that they had switched my reservation to another nearby station. As I was driving alone the door was not a problem so they just switched it back.You must bear in mind the limitation of having to bring the car back to its “home” station and also keep an eye on cost. Renting a cabrio for a day to drive 500km is going to cost you a lot of money. Conversely, I rented a combi (estate) to carry some furniture around Zurich for a couple of hours and it cost me 13CHF. From the cost perspective, make use of the Cost Comparison Tool. strongly recommend the Mobility system, you only need to see how many of the bright red Renault Combis are parked at Ikea on Saturdays to see the benefit!