Zurich Weather

I have mentioned the “interesting” weather forecasts I see for Zurich. I know weather forecasting can be tricky. We’ll even ignore for a moment the spread between the BBC and the others. You know what the weather was (and I mean the weather, the stuff that is happening outside the window)? It is snowing.

BBC

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Weather Zurich

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Weather Underground

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The good news is we all love snow. It always starts the morning right, we walk around singing. I hope it sticks. And we can go sledding/sledging.

Swiss Customs: What’s up with lining up?

People have asked, “hey, Switzerland seems great, I see your posts and it’s just all good stuff.” Well not always, I did mention the prevalence of smoking. But I feel compelled to speak about an oddity of Switzerland (inasmuch as we have spent time in a few towns and Zurich, so of course we’re experts).

The Swiss are friendly. They let people into gaps in traffic. They greet you in stores and usually when out walking. Friendly. Also neat. Organized. All the stuff you read about, yadda yadda yadda, it really is nice here. But here’s the thing…. they cannot stand to line up. Imagine a line for a cash register. You get in line. You figure everyone waits his or her turn, it’s all fair. Now I know there are parts of the world where a queue just never happens. But given the organization, the politeness… but no, the Swiss cannot stand to just line up. You need to cut in line.

I was at Ikea the other day. I was in line. Clearly in line with a large shopping cart. I stepped out of line to look at batteries, but note that the shopping cart stayed in line. Some old guy and his wife, nicely dressed, I am sure they are pillars of their community, stepped into my place. Now normally I would excuse this; maybe he is old and didn’t see. But here is the thing, I know he was Swiss! So I jammed the cart between him and stood my ground. This wasn’t the first time, no… not at all. Any time you are in line, Swiss folk will just walk around you. At least Italians have the grace to smile at you when they overwhelm you in line, sort of a “ha ha, I am so clever and you are clearly so not clever and let’s face it I’m Italian so I am more handsome/beautiful anyway so life is just more fair for me anyway,” sort of a look.

We had another old guy, his son and his daughter (or maybe the son’s girlfriend, tough to tell really) skate on by an entire line at the gondola Sunday. Oh he gloated blowing by tourists, a Chinese tour group, and us. Nothing I could do, I never saw him moving by. But as Bill Bryson would do, I burned him to the ground with Thunderbolt Vision. May his skiing be on ice all season.

Forthwith my tips for dealing with queues in Switzerland:

  1. Be aware, be ready.
  2. Be wide. No one actually shoves (so far!) so being wide is good. We find that skis, ski poles, and small children are effective barriers.
  3. Carry a backpack and swing it a bit. Look a little crazy and mumble too.
  4. You are a tool user, use them. If you have a shopping cart, it is effectively a movable wall. Skis swing both ways, so to speak. Nothing says “get the f*** behind me” more effectively than a sack of wine bottles in the shins.
  5. Did I mention being wide? Do this, hold hands a lot. It’s romantic in some cases, it shows love for your children, it shows friendship. And it completely blocks the aisles:-)

So there you go, that is the deep, dark secret of Swiss living. Bad queues.

SAS Advent Calendar Day 5: The End of Childhood

I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth. I really do. On top of the fact that I don’t really like horses to begin with it always seems rude. Just take the damn gift horse and walk or trot or canter or whatever on your merry way and then later re-gift it and call it a gift pony so no one knows.

So I feel bad. SAS unveiled their US replacement for the much-loved advent calendar yesterdaytoday. The new campaign is called Kiss a Scandinavian which does definitely sound better than looking in a horses mouth. It’s a nice special, very nice. Anyone wishing to visit us in Zürich should look into their SEA-ZRH deal, $279 each way is pretty nice. Flying through Copenhagen is always a treat too as they have an Ecco store there. Ecco for those who don’t know are a brand of shoes for men with sort-of wide feet. Super-comfortable.

But I digress… I don’t like the new campaign. I want the advent calendar back. Yes, the new campaign is nice because you get to see all the deals at one time. But I liked having to wait each morning for a new present. I liked seeing each city unfold throughout December. The new campaign is like getting all your Christmas presents on December 4th, unwrapped, and then told to bask in the joy and wonder for the rest of the month. It’s like an old married couple who pick out their own presents and then have to act surprised on Christmas Eve (my family does presents Christmas Eve. Susan’s does them Christmas morning. We do them both so my kids are lucky).

SAS: bring back the advent calendar please. It’s not too late. I know you can do it since I received my Swedish version this morning (Stockholm to Dublin, how cool of a trip would that be!). Others have noticed too.

SAS Advent Calendar Day 3: The Scandal Grows

Others have noticed. In years past each morning we would look forward each morning to learning about a new city. Throughout the day we would talk about whether we wanted to go to the city or whether a given city was close enough to a final desired destination. C’mon SAS, bring back the calendar!

Oh wait… my colleague Steffen* has pointed out that if you are Swedish you can find an advent calendar here. I decided to sign up. Unlike the US advent calendar SAS sends email for the Swedish version. Frankly I like clicking on the web page animation better, but that is a nit. Today the featured deal was Stockholm to Bangkok for 6595. 6595 what I am not 100% certain since the line simply says “6505:-t/r”. Swedish Krona is the favorite in the “which currency are we talking about” sweepstakes.

Krona is an interesting word and one that before Saturday when I looked it up I never would have guessed at. My guess was kroner, which is the Danish currency and sounds fairly close.

To keep the season bright, here is an advent calendar. It’s not nearly as cool as world-travel but it is kind of fun to understand more web scripting, right.

  • I promised a cup of coffee for the first info-provider. But since Steffen provided the link in Swedish only I will pay that out with something Swedish. Do Swedes go in for lutefisk or is that only in Norway?

–update–

Steffen sent me http://www.sasjulekalender.no which is a really nicely done site for the advent calendar. I cannot understand Norwegian but the site has some humorous elements; try clicking ahead a page. C’mon SAS, do one of these for the US. Or if the dollar is too low these days how about one for Switzerland?

With a little poking around the main SAS site I came across the Danish version. It’s not as rich as the Norwegian version but still very nice; festive, light, informative, ice-skating penguin. It looks like we have a hierarchy of calendars here:

  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Sweden (no calendar but they get nicely formatted email)
  4. Finland (nothing at all, you’d think they weren’t part of Scandinavia)
  5. Others

SAS Advent Calendar Day 1: No Advent Calendar?

I got up this morning, fixed an espresso, and hopped online to check the SAS advent calendar. I love the SAS advent calendar. In 2002 it provided the cheap ticket to fly from Seattle to Milan. We drove from Milan to Courmayeur and skied all week.

Last year I blogged about the advent calendar. I even had this interesting note for Day 5.

So imagine my surprise that I cannot find the advent calendar this year. Is it happening? Is SAS redirecting me because my IP address is in Europe now? This bears looking into and soon. It’s an emergency. And if true, a scandal.

They do show some winter special starting December 4th called “Kiss a Scandinavian”. Somehow this just isn’t as cool. If you find a URL with the advent calendar before I do send me email or post a comment. I will reward the first response with a nice coffee or espresso (no small matter in Zürich:-)

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