Geneva Museums: Swatch Museum

Post by Lauren

Unfortunately, many Geneva museums are closed on Mondays*. However, one that is actually open is the Swatch exhibition in the Cite du Temps building. They have an entire floor dedicated to the quirky Swiss watches.

So, Monday, Pascal, Gisele and I enjoyed browsing the Swatch timeline and seeing the models from all the different years.

Everyone had a Swatch story. I actually have a vivid memory of mine. We were all visiting my family in Eastern, NC. My cousin C was older and a lot cooler than me. He wanted to go to the department store to look at Swatches. You see, he’d been saving for a long time and just received a monetary gift during this visit that I think got him to the $25 that he needed for the Swatch. We got to the store and…..he realized the money was gone. It was confirmed that it had been lost.

I was probably 6 or 7 at the time but I remember thinking that was the most awful thing in the world. He was so upset. Poor guy!

I think my other aunt & uncle actually volunteered to buy him the one he wanted. We’ll have to see via their comments if this is how the story went as I can’t remember that detail. All I remember is the lost money that was supposed to buy the watch.

Years later, in 1988, I received my first Swatch. Yup, used to rock this baby out in middle school:

In addition to me finding my gem, Pascal found the one his brother used to have. Then we started going around and finding our favorites which were the kooky ones.

They even used to run some risqué Swatch advertising. Check this out…..

 

 

I actually received my second swatch this year for my 32nd birthday, a gift from Gabe’s parents. I had been eyeing it because it was casual chic and if you can believe it, I didn’t own a watch for 10 years prior to this one. Since I didn’t even have a phone the first four months in Geneva, it was really hard to know what time the bus came without a watch. They were kind enough to give me this nice gift. Good timing (no pun intended) as it is embarrassing to be late in Switzerland.

 

 

*Fast fact – Patek Philippe makes the most expensive watch ever sold at 11million USD. After checking out the Swatch museum, we headed “upstream” to the Patek Philippe museum to check out their collection of watch history. However, it was closed. Monday. Very rookie mistake of me to not know this Monday museum thing. Oops! I promise I’ll be better by the next visitor!

Discovering Geneva: St. Peter’s Cathedral

Post by Lauren

It’s always nice to have folks in town because you can see the city through different eyes and also in different seasons. On Monday, Gabe had to work, but Pascal, Giselle and I set out for an afternoon of Geneva exploration.

We started with a walk to Old Town, or la Vieille Ville, in French. I have talked about this part of Geneva before on the blog, but case you are just joining us, it is the old walled city.

When I took a tour as a student of University of Geneva, one American frat guy asked our professor which side of the wall the city was on – the really high hillside, or down below. The teacher held it together. Of course, the town was on the hill. Towns in that day and age had to build high and fortify for their protection. Geneva was an extremely coveted independent state and had a very desirable bridge across the Rhone at a strategic point…actually, the only bridge in the Roman era. When I recapped the Escalade Festival , the post recaps the most famous attempt to take Geneva.

It’s actually pretty neat that underneath the St. Antoine parking structure, you can see the original Roman walls that still exist and are well preserved in the transformation to parking garage. They didn’t know they were there until they started work on this parking structure and now they have a little exhibition underground so you can get an idea of what the city looked like when it was walled and surrounded by moats for protection.

 

 

This city model in the Maison Tavel museum depicts how the city was perched above and how moats/dredges were dug so that enemies were kept out.

 

St. Peter’s Cathedral (St. Pierre’s in French) commands the view in Old Town as the tallest building/steeple. It was originally Roman and from the 8th to 10th centuries, it was one of three different cathedrals to co-exist on the site. Underneath the present cathedral, excavators found remains of 4th Century Christian sanctuaries, portions of mosaic floors from the Roman times and a crypt.

 

St. Peter's Cathedral - present day


However, St. Peter’s is most notably known for being where John Calvin gave his sermons in the mid 16th Century.

Ferdinand Hodler’s painting of Calvin preaching in St. Peter’s

In the 1530’s, Martin Luther had just started in Germany, the printing press had begun to print copies of the Bible, and Geneva had just opted for the Reformation. Calvin, a young French man, was passing through Geneva (he stayed at a hotel in nowadays Place du Molard) on his way to Strasbourg. He hadn’t planned to stay, but later returned to contribute to the foundation of Protestantism.

Geneva then became a refuge for Protestant people to escape persecution in France, Italy and other neighboring countries. More on this and its contribution to Genva society as we know it can be found here in an earlier blog post.

Someone who doesn’t know the teaching of Calvin might characterize St. Peter’s cathedral as the most bland church in all of Europe. However, it was intentionally so. Calvin was very strict in his views that money should not be spent on embellishing the church. So much so that all its altars, statues, paintings and furniture were stripped away during his time. There is still very little decoration, only tiny stained glass windows.

 

Recent trips to cathedrals in Madrid, Siena, Florence and Lyon show that the Spanish, Italian and French have different theories than Calvin on church decoration

 

Despite its very simple interior, there are really amazing views from the top of the cathedral. This were actually taken in the Fall vs. our winter trip as it was a bit cloudy that day.

 

I find it interesting Geneva still serves as a haven for those escaping religious and political persecution. Makes me grateful that I was born in a country in which we didn’t have to fear for either.

In Winter Wonder with Pascal and Giselle

Post by Lauren

It’s an exciting week in our Swiss household! We have guests Pascal and Giselle, in from Richmond, VA. Geneva has been really behaving, showing its pretty blue sky. We didn’t even know that was possible in the winter here.

So, we feel very grateful that while they are here, they can actually see the mountains instead of the perma-cloud layer that hovers above us usually.

When they arrived, we forced them to stay up and took them around to Carouge Saturday market day and then to Annecy, France so that they could be out in the daylight to help with the effects of jetlag*.

Market day was a little quiet in the winter vs. summer, but still very enjoyable as Carouge always is with its simple Italian architecture and colorful artisans:

 

A quiet day at the Carouge market

 

Next, we went to Annecy, France for lunch. Pascal and Giselle had their first savory crepes. Did you know that a crepe can be a dessert and a meal? Kind of like a wrap…with a pancake. They ordered hamburger ones….check them out below. Even though it was about 20 degrees, there were still a ton of people enjoying the Saturday blue skies and even a crew team practicing in frigid Lake Annecy below snow capped mountains.

The next day, we ventured to Chamonix & Mt. Blanc. We took the Auguille du Midi to the top, the world’s highest vertical ascent cable car. Gabe and I had done this back with Henry Birmingham on July 4th weekend, but boy, what a difference winter makes.

Everything was snow covered and beautiful. We were in awe of the off-piste skiiers.

After the dizzying adventure up Mt. Blanc, we had a nice warm raclette meal in Chamonix, the base village. Very soon, there will be a cheese tutorial on The Swiss Watch Blog so you can learn more about this fabulous Swiss dish. It’s soooo good.

The famous French ski town was bumping at dusk and into the evening, full of skiers and snowboarders returning from the mountain.

You are probably wondering why we keep taking Pascal and Giselle all over France when we live in Switzerland. Actually, because Geneva is surrounded by France, the alpine areas of France are much more accessible to Geneva because of the topography. See my ski map, complete with flags, to check this out.

Don’t worry, we’ll take them around in Switzerland soon. Stay tuned….

*When you visit us, we will also do such mean things as to not allow you to sleep and force you to be in the daylight to reduce your chance of jet lag.

Celebrity Hideout

Post by Lauren

Switzerland is a great choice for celebrities to own homes because of its characteristics of discretion and privacy. The Swiss would never start a conversation with a stranger in line or on a bus, much less invade someone’s privacy by asking for autograph.

Here are a few celebs hiding in the hills:

  • Yoko Ono lives in Geneva since 1968.
  • Shania Twain lives near Montreux on Lake Geneva.
  • Phil Collins lives on Lake Geneva
  • David Bowie lives in Lausanne on Lake Geneva.
  • Tina Turner lives on the lake near Zurich

Sometimes the privacy is a nice benefit. Since I am not yet a fluent French speaker, its nice not to have people continually starting conversations with me and not able to properly answer them.

Sometimes its not so nice. One of my friends had her hand slapped by an elderly lady when she was trying to assist her getting her grocery cart on the tram. And, since US me was quite a chatter, this new lack of human interaction can be lonely sometimes.

However, I certainly understand why celebrities would find this environment a pleasant change to their over-exposed lives. And for that matter, any other wealthy folks trying to keep money in secret in the Swiss banks!


Gratitude Friday: My French Teacher

Post by Lauren

This week, my gratitude post goes out to my French teacher at the women’s club.

Celebrating 86

A few weeks ago, I was the only one to show up for Beginner’s French. I took advantage of the opportunity and asked my French teacher, E, if she would instead teach me about living through World War II. You see, E is in her upper 80’s. She was a teenager during the war and has made various references to her life during this time in French class. Even better, she used to be a history and geography teacher so she weaves in references which I happily soak up. She learned to speak English at the American Women’s Club (one of five languages she knows) so pays it forward by teaching French. In her upper 80’s. Wow.

So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to get an hour with her to learn about this fascinating topic. Here is what I learned:

She was 15 when the war started.

Switzerland was never occupied during the war. However, all Swiss men served in the Swiss army. They were posted through various spots in case they were invaded to defend Switzerland. Her father was posted in the Jura mountains.

She said, “it was difficult to find professors (teachers) because they were all in the army.”

She remembers riding her bike and there were no cars ever on the roads, because the fuel was not available.

After the war, her father told her that her bicycle was given to her so that in the case of the resistance, he was going to summon them to his hidden camp in the Jura. She was to be the messenger on bike back to the village if needed.

She said Switzerland was safe because it was a huge advantage for the Italians and Germans to use the Swiss railroads. They wanted to keep them in order, to not be bombed. The railroads were Switzerland’s saving grace.

Every night she woke up to flights of the Allied. She said they went over Switzerland because there was nothing to fear in that air space.

She saw an air battle when she was playing with her friend in the mountains.

Prior to the conflict, the infamous Swiss Lavaux vineyards had employed French Savoy women to work. When the war started, they could no longer leave France to work in Switzerland as they were occupied and forbidden to cross the border. So the young Swiss girls and teenagers went every day of harvest to cut the grapes and fix the branches. They had no school during these times.

The boys went to the farms as they were stronger.

Her father had bought many acres of fruit trees – pear, apple and cherries. Her mother had hard work while her father was in the army – she made compotes, confitures (jams) with their harvests.

They grew potatoes to keep from being hungry. She told me “we had very little to eat but we were never starved.”

In fact, in the cities, like Geneva, every park was parted so that apartment dwellers could harvest potatoes, since they didn’t own land.

Because this area was French speaking Switzerland, they could take in French children for three months at a time to nourish them. They took a little boy, 5 years of age, from the South of France into their home. They dressed him in her old clothes. She smirked and reminisced that all her village people gave all the French children French-Swiss accents.

They were given cards to allocate how much sugar, milk they could buy so that the rich weren’t advantaged.

“I lived like a normal Swiss girl,” she said, “I had no problems.”

I find myself pretty lucky to have such an interesting lady as my French teacher. My grandparents were a bit older than E during the war, but I never had a chance to talk to them about their lives in that era. All of what I know was through a scrapbook my dear Aunt J made me of my paternal grandparents which detailed their lives including a sampling of letters from their WW2 romance. And I have a snapshot of my maternal grandfather in uniform. Talking to E about this time makes me feel like I know a bit more….and it turn, a bit closer to them.

Bon weekend, everyone!


Interesting….

Post by Lauren

There are several English words here that have different meanings in the US vs. Europe. Today, we’ll look at the word “interesting”.

In the US, the word interesting has a slightly good / or very good connotation:
–Yes, that film was really interesting. I never knew that the impact of subsidizing agriculture could have that affect on our food supply. I am so glad I know more about this topic.
–Her approach was interesting. I would have never thought of it that way and enjoyed the perspective.
–He studied geo-physics, became a doctor and now rescues 3rd world orphans in the Peace Corps? What an interesting person!!

In Europe, we have noticed that it more often has a negative connotation:
–That apartment in the red light district is quite interesting.
–You’ll find the prices here quite interesting.
–Your fashion sense is interesting. (what they probably say about me)

What other words do you know that have alternative meanings so that I can be on the look-out?

Our first Alpine skiing

Post by Lauren We just so happen to live in the epicenter of the best skiing in the world. Most of these places are less than an hour and a half away from our house.     If you live in the Alps, you are supposed to be able to ski. And well. I have historically not been a good skier, but bought equipment in the US in August so that I could try it out again. I mean, we live in the Alps. How can I not give it another whirl? And, I ended up getting everything used for about 180 USD; not too bad, considering new equipment here is 2000 CHF. So, armed with my new gear and a pack of 8 friends, we set off to La Clusaz in the French Alps for the day to explore the alpine ski action. It was only about a 45 minute drive.

Getting geared up. Thanks to A for getting the group shot prior to lift off. The little specks in the distance are little chalets. So cute.

And….I fell about five times trying to get from where we were to the first lift. I was a bad skier in the US, but a bad skier in the US makes for a miserable skier in the Alps.

My husband is the type of person who says he’s not a great skier but he is. He has gone multiple times with Henry Birmingham at his place in Jackson Hole. He did not marry his match in this department.

We rode an extremely long lift to the top. They don’t have lifts that long in Virginia and West Virginia – the two States where I have skied prior. Everyone said it was a normal hill but it was crazy scary to me. Fear set in. As the group set off, we set a meeting place for lunch. I made it my goal to survive getting halfway down the mountain to this chalet. It had red lounge sofas outside. I just kept visualizing them and basically snow plowed the entire way, 1000 metres. Even with snowplowing, I still managed to fall a dozen more times. One time I lost control and zipped headfirst into the powder. if it was golf, I would have been in the rough.

Taking a break after falling a ton! Did I mention my husband was good at skiing? I must mention that he is also patient. His first Alps run in his life, he had to babysit me as I teetered down the mountain.

And….we finally made it to the chalet.    As the group was starting their next run.

Reporting back to the group over lunch, A commented… “Oh yea…we saw you from the lift. We saw like one leg in the air, face in the snow, skis everywhere. Couldn’t get my camera out in time, though.” So blame her that you don’t have any eye candy. After a delicious French lunch and a glass of Bordeaux (no hot-dogs & chicken sandwiches on this mountain, ladies and gents), I got back on the skis and we headed to the bottom. Still continuing to snow plow. And fall. The group gathered at the bottom to take an enclosed gondola to ascent back up to the tippy top. Even further up than where we were last time. No way in hell I was getting on that thing. I chose to stay at the base on the green we’d found on the map. I ended up being the only one over five years of age who wasn’t an instructor on that particular run. I didn’t care. I was way more comfortable there.

Notice the tiny skiers. This was my happy place.

When A & S tired of the slopes, they joined me and we ice skated. J kept going with her mad snow-boarding skills!

I had a lot more fun on the ice. Don't judge the face we were still wearing our helmets.


It was a great new adventure. However, I will not be getting on a blue hill anytime soon in this region of the world. Going to be sticking to my greens. And perhaps taking lessons soon…. We both slept really hard Saturday night. I woke up a bit earlier than Gabe so made this visual treat about our Ice-capades in my time waiting for him to awake. Enjoy.

The day I almost cried over snow chains

Post by Lauren

We are going skiing today. Luckily, we already had snow tires. In Switzerland, you have to switch out your tires twice a year. So everyone owns two sets – a summer and winter. It seemed fair to me, but friend S pointed out that he grew up in Michigan where it snows just as much as Switzerland and they weren’t required to have snow tires or snow chains. Good point. I am sure that someone in the Swiss government has a friend in the tire business who has earned a fortune.

We are lucky that through the arrangement with Gabe’s company, they provide a place for us to keep our extra set of tires. Gabe takes the car there, they swap ‘em out, and we are good to go. This all happens in quasi-Franglish but its relatively easy for us.

We have other friends who have had to do the swap themselves – on the street – and figure out how to store the tires in their tiny cave. What a pain!

We thought we were ready with our snow tire ownership, but recently were told that we may need snow chains to drive up to the ski resorts. The women’s club has a ski group and they require all volunteer drivers to have a set in the cars at all times. We also have some friends who haven’t needed them so far, but others advised them that they hear its required. Apparently, as the snows increase they do checks to make sure you have them.

Simple enough. Just go buy some chains. Gabe was away in Belgium all week and wasn’t set to return until late last night. So we chatted on the phone Thursday night about what to do and Google searched how to select snow chains. We learned you just need to note the numbers on the tire to know which you need.

I started my chain adventure in the morning at MParc. I can take a tram then a bus to get there. MigrosParc is like the Walmart of Switzerland. Except its not. You can’t find everything you need. You can also be damn sure you are not going to get the lowest price. But it is the only thing comparable to the US “one stop shop” since they have a grocery store, home store, appliance store, ski store and a sports store in one parking lot. They also happen to have a Migros DIY+Garden there.

I didn’t have a hard time finding the chains:

Snow chain aisle

However, I couldn’t understand how my tire numbers translated to a package. I searched for a sales associate. I finally found one. “Bonjour! J’ai une BMW X3. Je voudrais chaînes à neige, sîl-vous-plait.” And I thrust forward my little paper. He took me to a little chart nearby.

“Deux cent cinq soixante cinq….hmmmm. Pas possible!”

“Pas possible?”

“Trop grande, madame!”

Okay, MParc didn’t have our size. I had heard that Jumbo might have them too. I knew that Tram 14 got there. I connected on Bus 21 then Tram 12, then to Tram 14. An hour later, when I was almost there, i realized my stop wasn’t listed. I had taken a Tram 14 with a different deviation than my destination. Crap. I hopped off and waited for the next CERN train which was scheduled for 8 minutes. A tram arrived and I hopped on. I glanced up and saw that I had hopped on the same stupid tram that didn’t go my direction. So I got off the next stop, waited, trammed backwards and waited again for the CERN tram. What a rookie mistake.

Wrong Tram

Right Tram

30 minutes later, I got off at the correct stop and walked the rainy 10 minutes down the side path to the entrance of Jumbo DIY.

This time, I found the chains and the chart myself. I grabbed a pack of 80’s – what it said I needed from the chart with a 205-65. However, I saw an associate nearby and asked him and showed him the package I’d selected to get his confirmation that was right.

“Non,” and he lead me back. “Deux cent cinq soixante cinq….hmmmm. Pas possible!”

“Trop grande?” I asked. “Oui,” he replied.

I walked back to the tram. This time 15 minutes until the next one back to town. I was freezing. I didn’t wear enough clothes for a 3 hour tour.

Okay, I photoshopped this hand photo. But it was how it felt out there!

 

I got the brilliant idea to go to the BMW dealership. I found it and figured out the best way to get there on public transport. Go iPhone!

I arrived and was greeted. Apparently, I didn’t look like a BMW shopper in my yoga clothes.

J’ai une BMW X3. Je voudrais chaînes à neige, sîl-vous-plait.”

“Oui. Le département des pièces s’ouvre en une heure.”

I looked down. It was lunch time. Momentarily forgot that retail takes lunch breaks here. “Oui. Je reviendrai.”

After the post-Jumbo freeze and walk, I was getting light-headed. I hadn’t eaten for a long time and I was still a little weak from my misadventures with Cambodian food. It was a lucky turn of fate that I was nearby another store. And that this store had a food cart out front. Double luck.

We don’t have any budget for eating out this month (we spent it all in Thailand) but I had no choice but to wolf down a delicious 10 franc panini. And it was so nice to be warm and dry in the store for 45 minutes. Got lots of looks. Apparently not dressed appropriately for shopping.

And I returned to BMW an hour later. I walked upstairs. One door locked. The other door opened and I stepped into….a supply closet. I actually looked in it it for chains but only folders and office supplies.

Back downstairs. Guy just wasn’t back yet.

Waited some more. Finally a man came to open it and I went into my spiel.

“Oui. Quand la voulez-vous?”

“Demain” (Tomorrow)

“Pas possible. Lundi – c’est possible.”

He saw the distraught look on my face. He handed me a slip of paper with an address and said “Peut-être….avez-vous conduit?”

“Non – j’ai pris le tram.”

“C’est loin. 3-4 kilometres.”

I was getting desperate, “C’est possible de marcher?”

He frowned. “C’est loin”

I pulled out my iPhone. He said it was too far to walk but I wasn’t going to go home if there was even the slightest chance of this size existing in the canton of Geneva.

So, I walked. 4 kilometers. In the snow and rain. Along a highway.

I walked so far that I passed a train station. But finally I reached my destination. The door was locked. At this point I almost cried. Then, I found another entrance with a sign. They were just closed for lunch. I waited.

The doors finally opened. A young man met me. I think they’d been watching me outside shivering. I did my spiel. He led me back to his desk, consulted a notebook and said. “Oui – quatre-vingt huit franc.” (88 CHF, about $100)

“Oui ????i!!!” I exclaimed. I tried to tell myself not to get excited until he produced the goods.

He came back with one box. I did sign language to try to determine how many were in a box. Two came in a box. A set. “J’ai quatre tyres.” I said. He laughed. Apparently they only had one set to sell me.

Five hours, 14 bus/tram connections, and a hike later, we now have chains for half our car. I desperately hope this is going to be good enough.

Gratitude Friday: Liebster blog award!

Post by Lauren

I have been nominated for a Liebster blog award by dear Geneva friend and blogger, Lady J, of Lady J’s Musings. Lady J is an incredible writer and I love checking in on her musings about food (particularly macaroons), fashion, and her travels.

This blog had never meant to be an award-winning venture, but I am very delighted to be nominated and want to extend a big thanks to Lady J.

When Gabe & I moved abroad, I knew blogging would be one of the things that would make it easier for our families and friends to feel close. While we might not be able to talk to everyone everyday, it would show physical evidence that we were safe and sound. A way for everyone to “check up on us.”

And that is how it started. What I underestimated is how much I value it now. I often tell people the blog is like my friend. When I have a “Bad Swiss Day,” as my friend C affectionately calls it, it is much easier to come home and craft a story for the blog than wallow in my own “wish I was back home in the US” or “wish I spoke better French” pout-fest for the entire day.

And it is a great way to share the highlights of this remarkable adventure with those dearest to us as well. We are blessed with this opportunity to travel in the heart of Europe so we like to detail the photographs and stories about where we are lucky enough to get to go on our weekends! Hopefully, it will also serve as a bit of a archive for us as well to look back at this experience.

One of the cool things about this award is that it is encourages nominees to pay it forward. I get to nominate 5 other fabulous blogs with <200 followers. So, here are my blog picks:

The Cleveland’s Pad – This blog, written by sweet friend J back in Charlotte, NC, details life in an every-changing family! The heartfelt letters to her son while she was expecting his arrival are so sweet and makes me look forward to being a mom someday. Plus, she is a pretty incredible photographer.

Schwingen in Switzerland – You hear us talk a lot about S and S, and this blog is their account of living in Switzerland. I love all of the history and background that S puts into her posts and it makes me feel a bit more educated about where I am living by checking in on hers daily. Plus her wit makes it equally entertaining to read….especially because she takes in so much more than all of us with her fluent French!

Vintage 77 – This blog is written by a friend who has taken on the challenge of pulling together a new outfit every week from things already existing in her closet. I’ll be the first to admit, my Geneva fashionista skills are a bit lacking (as well as my Swiss franc budget) so its fun to get inspiration from her style and know that there is hope for me yet!

The Hughes’: Our Switzerland adventure – another great blog that we reference often when we refer to A and A or our friends that we met at a bus stop our first weekend in Geneva. Her posts make me laugh out loud. Especially when she uses her Smart-board talent to sketch up Swiss references or even a pictorial account of the in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Smart-board is to A is what PowerPoint is to me! When she takes a break from blogging, it always makes me sad.

Perfectly Imperfect – A friend from where I grew up recently started this blog recounting her day-to-day life as a not-so-perfect mom. After reading a few posts, I beg to disagree with her self assessment as I love her gorgeous photography and the thoughtful crafts that she does with her kids. I hope she knows how much this will mean to the development of the girls’ creativity and minds. I sure know that I was lucky to have a mom that was creative as well!

Those nominated, its simple :
1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who awarded you.
2. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog
3. Reveal your 5 blog picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to, forward it to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

Bon weekend, everyone and happy blogging!

La Poste

Post by Lauren

The post office is called La Poste. It’s French for post office. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not your ordinary operation.

Here is what you can do:
-Send mail & buy stamps, of course.
-Pay your bills and fines – just bring the originals in with your payment and they handle the bill paying for you (there are no checks in Switzerland). Don’t ask us how we know so much about the proper way to pay fines.
-Get permits for driving on highways, for your bicycle, etc. It’s 40 CHF to drive on the highway here. Anyone who drives on a Swiss road has to pay this. Think twice about a little joyride in the Alps other EU peeps….it costs a pretty penny here. It’s only 6 CHF for the right to drive your bike on the road here. What a steal! Since I have taken mine out twice, I’m at 3 CHF a pop.
-Pick up a package that is bigger than a standard 8 x 10 envelope or sometimes just a 4 x 6 cardboard envelope that looks important (they won’t leave at your door, you have to walk 3 blocks to pick it up). Oh and watch out. You’ll likely have to pay 30 CHF VAT for the right to pick up your package. Enjoy!

Here’s what you cannot do:
-Do not try to pay by credit card.
-Do not attempt to pick up a package for your hubby without your marriage license. Especially if your last name is different. Not happening.

When you enter La Poste, you take a number slip from a machine. You don’t have to stand in line, you just wait until your number appears . That frees you up for…..SHOPPING! You can buy a ton of stuff at the post office:

Office supplies! Makes sense.

A rather large assortment of wallets.
At least 4 types with Swiss flags.

Lots of tools. Even a 100 pc set!

Need a new cell phone? No worries, there is quite a variety here!

How about Spongebob??

They also have tons of recipe books, gift cards (iTunes, department stores) and small appliances.

It’s really more like a gas station convenience store than what we know as a post office.

Like most things, sending mail is not cheap here. Its $1 for a stamp inter-Switzerland. $3 for one to the US. I had a normal sized envelope yesterday and they said it was abnormally large for Switzerland and charged me $5. This is why a lot of you get photos from us instead of real cards. Sorry.