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FIFA Soccer World Cup

2018-07-03T21:53:36+00:00

The Soccer World Cup is a huge event taking place from mid June to mid July at different locations in Russia. There are 32 countries represented through their teams, each fighting to win the cup. There are many public viewing areas where all the games can be watched.

From a Swiss perspective the cup is over by today (July 3). The Swiss soccer team just lost against the Swedes 0:1. Now they are out of the games and will fly home.

On June 17 the Swiss team fought and ended with a tie against Brazil (1:1) and won against the Serbs on June 22 with a 2:1. On June 27 the Swiss team again finished with a tie of 2:2 vs Costa Rica. There were high hopes that the Swiss would actually make it past the Swedes into the quarter finals. But alas, today their hopes were bitterly dashed.

The Swiss have a very international team with most players coming from a migrational background but raised in this country. This also led to a hot controversy when earlier on the Swiss fought the Serbs who especially taunted the Swiss players with a Kosovar family background. At the end of the game two exasperated Kosovo Swiss player used their hands to make the Kosovar double eagle symbol thus taunting the Serbs celebrating their victory. Many Swiss disliked this gestured from the two Kosovar Swiss team members which led to a huge contraversy whether those players were true Swiss or not. However reality is that Switzerland isn’t a homogenous country anymore and as such probably has never been one.

FIFA Soccer World Cup 2018-07-03T21:53:36+00:00

Burgdorf’s Summer Festival

2018-06-26T14:21:53+00:00

On the last Monday of June the whole town of Burgdorf is celebrating. The festival is called Solennität – from the latin solemnis or solemnly. The beginning of the festival dates back 250 years. All the locals remember how they as kids in their school classes paraded through the streets along with an occasional marching band. I grew up in Burgdorf and love to flock back for the event.

The morning event starts at 9am. The girls are all dressed in white with flower wreaths in on their heads and holding a bouquet of flowers. The boys follow, also clad in white shirts. The morning event finishes with a service in the beautiful gothic church on top of the hill in the old town.

In the afternoon a topical parade leads through the whole town and ends down at the public meadows with dancing and a folk festival finishing in the early morning hours.

Burgdorf’s Summer Festival 2018-06-26T14:21:53+00:00

International Geneva

2018-06-18T15:55:42+00:00

Geneva is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a lot of charm. It is certainly known for its many international organisations such as the UN, the red cross, CERN, ISO and many others.

Here, in front of the UN headquarter is the famous broken chair. It is a symbol for refusal of armed violence against civilians. In the background is the UN. It has been a busy place sind 1946 with yearly around 8’000 meetings, of which 600 are bigger conferences.

Geneva is the second biggest city of Switzerland and has a population of about 1 mio including suburbs. It is also a global city with a big financial center. And Geneva is certainly known for it’s famous reformer: John Calvin!

42% of the people living here weren’t born in Geneva! The mix of people and languages spoken in this city is certainly amazing and beautiful.

International Geneva 2018-06-18T15:55:42+00:00

Mont Soleil

2018-05-29T13:49:46+00:00

This mountain rises to a heights of 1289m. A cable car or also a rather narrow road leads up from the small city of St. Imier. This area is part of the French speaking bernese Jura. The rolling soft hills and the large meadows are characteristic for the Jura.

On Mont Soleil (in French „Sun Mountain“) is a center for research on wind and solar power. In the center are many different kinds and types of sun panels that convert sun rays into energy. And there are at least a dozen wind mills that generate additional power.

The larger windmills are quite spectacular with a heights of 150m. The rotor measures 112m! It weighs 410 tons and produces 3’300kW. The noise production of the rotor is less prominent than expected. When the sun shines the movement of the rotor blades can be a little distracting because of the moving shadow on the ground.

About 80 million Swiss Francs were invested into this project. The production of energy from Mount Soleil covers about 80% of the need of the 17’000 inhabitants in the area including industry.

In Switzerland about 35% of the electric power is generated by atomic plants and almost 65% by water hydraulic plants. The mountains are an ideal set up for the later.

There are guided tours at the information center of Mount Soleil, explaining how energy is produced through wind and direct sun power.

Mont Soleil 2018-05-29T13:49:46+00:00

Spring

2018-05-14T16:08:37+00:00

Only recently the forests were still bare and without leaves. Meanwhile all the trees are draped in many different shades of green, full of strength and bursting with life.

At the moment spring is in full swing. Many different kinds of fruit trees were all together in full bloom. It feels like an explosion of colours and fragrance swirling through the air.

At the same time the pollen of all the flowers have been especially heavy this year so that many people have been suffering under the effect of allergies or hay fever.

Spring officially starts around March 20 and finishes around June 20. However altitude makes a big difference to the unfolding of spring. Higher up in our mountain areas spring arrives later than down the midlands.

In Switzerland the four seasons are very distinct and beautiful. Each season has it’s individual character.

Spring 2018-05-14T16:08:37+00:00

Highways

2018-05-04T15:55:46+00:00

The highway system in our country is run by the government and not privately owned. In order to be able to use it, each vehicle has to pay a yearly fee of CHF 40.- and stick the yearly label that comes along with it on to the front window.

This fee isn’t small if you are just passing through the country. However it isn’t much if you use the road system the whole year round.

The state keeps the road infrastructure in a good state and works on extending the present system. Since Switzerland is a place of many mountains there are also many tunnels cutting right through the mountains.

In Switzerland the highway signs are all in green. Each section of the highway has its own number. Using a gps system the number is usually indicated for a change of direction along with the name of a destination.

Most of the highway runs just two lanes for each side. Only around bigger population centres there are three or sometimes even four lanes available.

The speed limit on the Swiss Highways is 120km / h.

During rush hour especially in the greater Zurich area there are quite some traffic jams. In comparison however with the world’s mega cities, even in Zürich and more so in Berne or many other Swiss cities the jams are quite moderate!

Highways 2018-05-04T15:55:46+00:00

Chocolate

2018-04-28T10:31:34+00:00

Swiss chocolate is world famous for its delicious taste and the wide variety of flavours. There are basically three different kinds: black, milk and white chocolate and then countless ingredients to refine the basic product.

Chocolate can also be added to milk and then be enjoyed as a nice tasting and quite powerful drink.

Only the average German (12.2kg) eats more chocolate in a given year than the average Swiss (11.7kg)! So chocolate is actually also very popular in the area and given as a gift on all sorts of occasions.

There are many big companies offering nice products such as Lindt, Cailler, Nestlé and others. A company that suddenly popped up everywhere offering delicious, freshly made chocolate is Läderach (see the picture).

To get reasonably priced good quality chocolate Migros has their own brand called Frey.

Chocolate 2018-04-28T10:31:34+00:00

Geneva International Motor Show

2018-03-19T17:00:39+00:00

This annual car exhibition is one of the major international auto shows. It started way back in 1905. This year the show was held as usual next to the Geneva airport from March 8-18, attracting about 700’000 visitors yearly.

Almost 900 cars from Germany, Italy, France, Spain, UK, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Japan, Korea and the US were on display. The trend to alternatives to the combustion engine were a big topic. Many of the big brand names are in the process of switching to electric or hybrid cars. One example is the I-Pace from Jaguar, a very powerful challenger to Tesla.

There were quite a number of concept cars on display, trying to give a glimpse into the future of automobiles. The tendency again is clearly to vehicles that are totally automatic without the need of a driver.

China is well positioned and has growing experience with electric cars. It is not impossible the China will dominate the car market of the future!

Geneva International Motor Show 2018-03-19T17:00:39+00:00

Stabat Mater

2018-03-12T11:37:34+00:00

Lent is the season (of about 6 weeks) leading up to Easter. In this season often sacred music concerts get performed in churches or concert halls up and down the country. As it is still chilly and often wet too it is wonderful to attend such an event.

I just attended the Stabat Mater concert by Rossini at the reformed church in Burgdorf. The Stabat Mater is actually a 13th century latin catholic hymn to Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, suffered immensely as she witnessed how her son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross crucified. Many different composer such as Vivaldi, Domenico, Scarlatti, Haydn, Rossini, Dvorak, Verdi and others composed music to this latin text.

It is quite interesting that the Stabat Mater is clearly from a catholic tradition, with a strong emphasis on the mother of Jesus. Reformed theology would rather focus on the son, Jesus Christ and his redeeming work on the cross. However today the Stabat Mater is acknowledged as a cultural heritage that is also fully accepted and enjoyed by a reformed or a secular audience.

Stabat Mater 2018-03-12T11:37:34+00:00

Olympic Winter Games 2018

2018-02-27T18:15:17+00:00

The Olympic winter games took place from February 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The tensions between North and South Korea were high leading up to the games. During the games both countries took part under the name of Korea! The North Korean cheerleaders really impressed the world with their powerful performances.

The games were truly international: 92 nations took part in 102 events. The games featured 15 different sports such as snowboarding, alpine skiing, curling, speed skating etc

The absolute winner was Norway with a total number of 38 medals (gold, silver or bronze), followed by Germany 28, Canada 29, USA 23, Holland 20, Sweden 12, and Switzerland along with Korea 15 each.

Switzerland has a new crew of excellent young sports athletes. The goal had been 11+ medals. Our young athletes brought home 15 medals: 5 gold (see picture), 6 silver and 4 bronze medals.

The next Olympic winter games will take place in Beijing in 2022. Watch out for the Swiss!

Olympic Winter Games 2018 2018-02-27T18:15:17+00:00