Rehabilitation

2018-08-28T19:13:19+00:00

In Switzerland after people had some specific surgeries they often need to go for 2-4 weeks of rehabilitation. For that purpose there are quite a few rehabilitation centres. The treatment is covered by the national health insurance.

Our 90 year old auntie is still doing very well. But recently she fell while moving around in her apartment. She broke her hip and had to undergo some surgery. Now she is working on learning to walk again with a rollator hoping that soon she will be able to function without one.

The rehab place she stays at is above lake Thun. The view is wonderful. She gets physiotherapy twice a day and is taught, how to get around.

Food is provided by the hotel service of the center. Guests are welcome and can join in for meals in the restaurant. She has made some other friends and is quite happy there.

A social worker is contacting the social services in her area. Once she returns home there will be people coming in to help with cooking, cleaning or whatever is needed.

Rehabilitation 2018-08-28T19:13:19+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

Migros

2017-03-21T09:50:56+00:00

Migros is the largest supermarket chain in Switzerland closely followed by it’s eternal competitor Coop. Both companies have countless smaller and bigger stores all over the country with articles at reasonable prices.

Eating out is rather expensive. But many locals get their lunch at a Migros or Coop store. Just have a look at a store and get anything from food to pocket knife or fondue!

How did it all start?

In 1925 Gottlieb Duttweiler kicked off his first market in Zurich. He introduced the first discounter store with lower prices but a bigger volume. At first he just sold six articles only such as rice, coffee, sugar etc from the back of a truck in areas with little access to markets. As a broad resistance from competitors arose Duttweiler started creating his own products such as meat, milk and chocolate.

Duttweiler was very successful and by 1941 he handed his business over to the customers by creating cooperatives. By 1950 the founder had formulated his fifteen theses that Migros still adheres to such as:

  • his shops would sell no alcohol, no cigarettes and no pornographic materials.
  • No dividends would get paid but the earnings above 5% would get passed on to the customers by lowering prices.
  • Any living adult in the country can become a member
  • 0.5% of it’s revenue is used for cultural projects
  • the general interest is placed higher than the interest of the cooperative

Nowadays Migros is called the „orange giant“. A capital M is it’s trade mark. Migros owns not only a huge super market chain but also a Migros Bank, it offer evening courses on many different topics (languages, cooking, computing etc), a travel agency, a sports shop chain, electronics chain, garden shops, restaurants, petrol stations etc. It employs over 100’000 people.

Migros is by now a real heavy weight and over the years has pushed out many smaller shops or bought up competitors. Migros owns 70% of Denner who does sell alcohol and cigarettes. Many farmers complain that Migros and Coop dictate the prices. Some critics say that Migros has somewhat lost touch with it’s founders ideals.

Recently smaller competitors were able to push into the Swiss market such as Aldi and Lidl bringing in even more choice. Both companies are from Germany and have successfully challenged the two giants.

Migros 2017-03-21T09:50:56+00:00

Zurich’s Airport

2017-03-05T07:57:06+00:00

The airport of Zurich is the biggest of the country. It opened in 1948 and since then has been steadily growing. In 2015 there were more than 26 million passengers passing through the airport and over 260’000 flights arriving or departing. Flights leave for about 180 different destinations worldwide to about 65 countries.

The international code for Zurich airport is ZRH.

The airport has three runways and three docks A, B and E. Dock E is accessed via an automatic rail system. In all docks there are plenty of restaurants and shops. Free wifi is also available.

The airport is one of the leading ones within Europe. It is modern, clean, safe and efficient. And it is well connected to the public transport system. From the underground train station a train takes only about 7 minutes into the heart of the city of Zürich. Direct trains from Bern to the airport take exactly 70’ which by car is impossible to do. The city of Zurich is often congested and it is difficult to calculate how long it takes by car. We recommend always to take the train, wherever possible. However it is easy to access the airport via car too.

The airport is also close to the South of Germany. For years there had been some tension with Germany about the level of noise that the inbound and outbound flights cause over their areas. Meanwhile through a flight time limit some of these problems have been solved.

Zurich’s Airport 2017-03-05T07:57:06+00:00

Health Care

2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

Switzerland is famous for it’s excellent health care. It offers a very comprehensive as well as highly specialised range of treatments. Quite a few wealthy people from the gulf states are known to come to Switzerland for special medical treatment.

However the price for the national health care system is also very high. Anybody who is registered as living in the country has to get a compulsory basic health insurance. There are many different companies offering the basic services and many additional products. Prices vary with age and even location.  For a 30 year old person the basic package costs at least CHF 300.- / month. Every year the costs go up by about by 2-5%. Indeed health care is quite expensive.

The basic compulsory national health insurance does cover  all kinds of health issues except dental problems.

In case of an emergency it is best to directly go to the emergency unit of the nearest hospital.

For any other health issue most people consult their physician. If the issue needs specialised attention the patient gets referred to a hospital. The process is on the whole quite easy and carefree.

In hospitals people with the general health package are put up in rooms with 2 or 3 beds. People with a more individualised and therefore also a more expensive coverage can stay in a room on their own and choose the doctor / professor who should treat them.

Normally everything is provided for at the hospital such as care and food. Relatives or friends are not welcome to stay there over night. However visitors are welcome to drop in during the day. It is best to check out the time before visiting.

Health Care 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

Rivers

2016-11-19T20:24:51+00:00

Switzerland has an abundance of springs, rivers and lakes. There are four main rivers that are all fed by countless smaller rivers mostly originating in the alps and hills of the country. In the end they all join the sea either in Germany, France or Italy, depending on which side of the alps they start.

Here in the picture is a small river, called the Sense (Canton of Fribourg). It is only about 35km long and at that point joins the Saane river. The Saane flows into the beautiful lake of Greyerz and past the pretty city of Fribourg until east of Berne it joins the Aare river.

The Aare is one of the main rivers of the country. It also leads more water than any other Swiss river and is fed by many other rivers and creeks such as those mentioned above. The Aare river reaches 288km until it joins the Rhein river (376km).

The Rhein is again fed from waters of the whole canton of Graubünden (southwestern part). Famous destinations are the cities of Basel, Schaffhausen (with the Rheinfall), lake of Constance and then finally the North Sea (in the very north of Germany).

The other big river system is the Rhone river, flowing through the Canton of Wallis, into lake Geneva, Lyon in France, Avignon, and finally into the Mediterranean sea near Arles (France).

The Ticino river is the name giver of the Canton of Ticino (Italian speaking). It flows through Italy and also ends in the Mediterranean sea in Italy.

Countless beautiful cities and villages with diverse language and cultures lie along those rivers spread across Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy.

Especially in Switzerland these rivers are still very natural and early on in their start rather wild yet very clean. People love to swim in them, boat down the rivers, bbq along them and just enjoy their special beauty.

Rivers 2016-11-19T20:24:51+00:00

Winter Time

2016-11-07T19:44:04+00:00

On the last Sunday of October at 3 am the clock is set back by one hour. That means people have one more hour to sleep!

This means also that it suddenly gets darker one hour later. Beginning of November the sun rises shortly after 7 am and sets already at 5 pm!

Beginning of November is also the time when the beautiful and colourful autumn is slowly changing into winter. Temperatures often drop and the first snow appears in the higher areas. People should again get their cars equipped with snow tires.

This time switch also is called Daylight Savings Time (DST). The switch should help to make better use of natural daylight.

Lass than 40% of the countries worldwide use this method. Some studies suggest that the switch could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries as people enjoy more daylight while on the roads. Others claim that some people find it hard to adjust and a few suffer even some sleep deprivation.

The DST was introduced by the European Union in 1996. Switzerland being in the heart of Europe also decided to follow suit.

The time gets switched back into ‚summer mode‘ on the last Sunday of March. That is when spring really starts spreading.

I took this picture on lake Thun.

Winter Time 2016-11-07T19:44:04+00:00

Freedom of Speech

2016-10-30T11:13:34+00:00

Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are some basic human rights. Anybody can say what they think and believe without having to fear negative consequences.

Especially in Berne, being the capital city, there are frequent events where people stand up

  • and solicit signature for a new referendum against the Swiss Intelligence Service collecting more information
  • for the persecuted Christians in Iran
  • or voice their support for a vegan life style
  • etc etc

For these official events the police has to grant a permit. To obtain a permit actually isn’t too difficult.

Normally these events are not really getting very much attention. For one they are quite frequent and people on the whole are not very easily moved.

However I was amazed at the very violent and loud opposition to a rather peaceful manifestation of maybe a thousand Christians from diverse backgrounds. These folks gathered in front of the parliament building (on the Bundesplatz) to show their support for the unborn child. The organisers called it a „pro-life manifestation“.

In the event diverse speakers stood up and celebrated life. They argued that neither abortion nor euthanasia was ethical.

A small group of maybe 200 activists violently and noisily opposed the event. They argued that a woman should have freedom over her own body and thus be able to choose an abortion.

A great number of police units from the wider area were called in to reinforce the local units. The protection of the pro-life flock must have costs enormous amounts of tax money. Yet at the same time it showed the freedom of speech is still highly valued, even though at times it gets under more and more pressure.

Freedom of Speech 2016-10-30T11:13:34+00:00

Swiss Cuisine

2016-09-26T13:18:12+00:00

The Swiss cuisine is very much influenced by France, Germany and Italy where each country has it’s distinctive style of foods. So in Switzerland you will find the French „Haute Cuisine“, wonderful Italian food (not just only pizzas) and the solid German food. Beer and wine are also often part of a good meal.

Switzerland has also many local dishes. The local dishes are rather plain using simple ingredients such as potatoes, bread and cheese. Fondue and Raclette (both cheese dishes) as well as Rösti (grated and backed potatoes) are the most famous ones.

The picture here shows a carrot soup that was served in a local unspectacular restaurant on top of the Niederhorn. However it is not just simply the quality of the food but also how it is served which make a real difference.

Lunchtime under the week is the best deal for meals at restaurants. Every restaurant will have at least one or two set meals for the day between CHF 15 and 25 (depending on the kind of place) including a starter, the main meal and a dessert.

Switzerland is renowned for its international hospitality schools. The most famous one is the one in Lausanne but others are found in Lucerne, Zurich and Thun too.

Swiss Cuisine 2016-09-26T13:18:12+00:00