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Holidays in Switzerland

Understanding Switzerland

Switzerland's independence and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers and Switzerland was not involved in either of the two World Wars The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland's role in many UN and international organizations has strengthened Switzerland's ties with its neighbors However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002 Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations, but retains a strong commitment to neutrality

Switzerland showcases three of Europe's most distinct cultures To the northeast is the beer-drinking, sausage-eating German-speaking Switzerland; to the south-west the wine drinking and shopping spills effortlessly into France; in the south-east the sun warms cappuccino-sippers loitering in Italian-style plazas; and in the center: classic Swiss flugelhorns and mountain landscapes Binding it all together is a distinct Swiss mentality

Switzerland can be a glorious whirlwind trip whether you've packed your hiking boots, snowboard, or just a good book and a pair of sunglasses

Economy

Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies The Swiss in recent years have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness Switzerland remains a safe haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the franc's long-term external value Reflecting the anemic economic conditions of Europe, GDP growth dropped in 2001 to about 08%, to 02% in 2002, and to -03% in 2003, with a small rise to 18% in 2004-05 Even so, unemployment has remained at less than half the EU average

Talking in Switzerland

There is no Swiss language Depending on where you are in the country the locals might speak Swiss-German Schwyzerdütsch, French, Italian, or, in the hidden valleys of Graubünden, Romansch, an ancient language related to Latin All four are considered official languages Some cities such as Biel/Bienne and Fribourg are bilingual, and any part of Switzerland has residents who speak something besides the local vernacular at home Note that you are unlikely to hear Romansch, as essentially all the 65,000 Romansch speakers also speak Swiss German and/or Italian, and they are actually outnumbered in Switzerland by native English speakers

Around two-thirds of the population of Switzerland is German-speaking, located particularly in the center, north, and east of the country French is spoken in the west, around Lausanne and Geneva, while Italian and Romansch are spoken in the far south The Swiss themselves learn one of the other Swiss languages in school In French-speaking Switzerland, this is typically German so English is less commonly understood there In any of the large German-speaking cities you will have no trouble finding people who speak English In the countryside, it is less common but hardly rare People under the age of 50 typically speak more fluent English than older people Generally speaking, in the past when two Swiss meet for the first time, they would first address each other in French, and then switch to a language both are most comfortable with once they have established each others native language English, however, has now clearly become the most important second language in German-speaking Switzerland as on much of the continent much to the dismay of Francophone Switzerland including a debate if French or English should be taught in schools Most offer both

Swiss German is no dialect group itself, but just another word for the Alemannic Alemannisch dialects as spoken in Switzerland Alemannic is a family of Upper German dialects or languages with its own written language Alemannic is divided into Low Alemnnic in Switzerland only in Basel, High Alemannic northern and central Switzerland and Highest Alemannic in parts of Graubünden and Valais and close to the Italian border Alemannic, not least Highest Alemannic is very different from standard German so don't be surprised if you can't understand the locals in Davos or Visp even if you know standard German quite well On the other hand, All German-speaking Swiss learn standard German in school, so in the major German-speaking cities eg Basel, Berne and Zürich, almost all people will be able speak standard German very well In smaller towns and countryside, it should still be spoken moderately to fluently by anyone educated in a modern day school, so if you don't approach someone old, you should be fine Asmall portion of Swiss German speakers spill over into northern Italy, but Italian is universally spoken in this region of Italy as well along the frontier The Swiss media still makes regular use of Swiss German, which is a special case in the German speaking world, showcasing Switzerland's desire to maintain its special identity Generally, the Swiss German speakers are the most likely to see themselves as distinctly different and unique in general context of German speaking Europe

Swiss French officially Romand is essentially standard French with some differences It is spoken more slowly, with more of a drawl The numbers are not the same Though anyone will understand you when you use soixante-dix, quatre-vingt, quatre-vingt-dix 70, 80, 90, the use of these vanish as you proceed east along Lac Léman: in Geneva soixante-dix becomes septante and quatre-vingt-dix becomes nonantequatre-vingts and huitante are both acceptable ways to say the number eighty However, by the time you reach Lausanne, however, quatre-vingts has given way to huitante, and in the Valais it is possible to hear the almost Italian octante

Another difference is that you may encounter people using the word cornet to define a plastic bag as opposed to the word sachet that would be heard in France

Swiss Italian is basically standard Italian with German and French influences and is the native tongue of most people in Italian-speaking Switzerland, although old and rural people often speak the related Lombard language instead, though in this case standard Italian is most often spoken in addition to this

What to see in Switzerland

The seven wonders

  • The Castle of Chillon: near Montreux
  • The Lavaux vineyards: on the shore of Lake Geneva
  • The Castles of Bellinzona: in the southern canton of Ticino
  • The Abbey of St Gallen
  • The Top of Europe and the Sphinx observatory: a "village" with a post office on the 3,500 metres high Jungfraujoch above Wengen
  • The Grande Dixence: a 285 metres high dam, south of Sion
  • The Landwasser viaduct: on the railway between Chur and St Moritz

The seven natural wonders

  • The Matterhorn: from Schwarzsee, Gornergrat or simply from the village of Zermatt
  • The northern walls of the Jungfrau and Eiger: two of the most celebrated mountains in the Alps, they can be seen from the valley of Lauterbrunnen or from one of the many summits that can be reached by train or cable car
  • The Aletsch Glacier: the longest in Europe, the Aletsch wild Forest is located above the glacier, best seen from above Bettmeralp
  • The lakes of the Upper Engadine: one of the highest inhabited valley in the Alps at the foot of Piz Bernina, they can be all seen from Muottas Muragl
  • The Lake Lucerne: from the Pilatus above Lucerne
  • The Oeschinensee: a mountain lake with no rivals above Kandersteg
  • The Rhine Falls: the largest in Europe, take a boat to the rock in the middle of the falls

Events

  • The European Football Championships in 2008 was held in Austria and Switzerland Basel, Berne, Geneva and Zurich were all hosting sites

Buying stuff in Switzerland

Switzerland is not part of the European Union and the currency is the Swiss franc or Franken or franco, depending in which language area you are, divided into 100 centimes, Rappen or centesimi However, many places - such as supermarkets, restaurants, sightseeings' box offices, hotels and the railways or ticket machines - accept Euro and will give you change in Swiss Francs or in Euro if they have it in cash A check or a price-label contain prices both in francs and in Euro Usually in such cases the exchange-rate comply with official exchange-rate, but if it differs you will be notified in advance Changing some money to Swiss Francs CHF is essential Money can be exchanged at all train stations and most banks throughout the country

Switzerland is more cash-oriented than most other European countries It is not unusual to see bills being paid by cash, even Fr 200 and Fr 1000 notes Some establishments but fewer than previously do not accept credit cards, check first When doing credit card payments, carefully review the information printed on the receipt details on this can be found in the "Stay Safe" section below All ATMs accept foreign cards, getting cash should not be a problem

Coins are issued in 5 centime brass, rare, 10 centime, 20 centime, ½ Franc, 1 Franc, 2 Franc, and 5 Franc all silver colored denominations One centime coins are no longer legal tender, but may be exchanged until 2027 for face value Two centime coins have not been legal tender since the 1970's and are, consequently, worthless

Banknotes are found in denominations of 10 yellow, 20 red, 50 green, 100 blue, 200 brown, and 1000 purple Francs They are all the same width and contain a variety of security features

"Swiss-made": Souvenirs and Luxury Goods

Switzerland is famous for a few key goods: watches, chocolate, cheese, and Swiss Army knives

  • Watches - Switzerland is the watch-making capital of the world, and "Swiss Made" on a watch face has long been a mark of quality While the French-speaking regions of Switzerland are usually associated with Swiss watchmakers like Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe, some fine watches are made in the Swiss-German-speaking region, such as IWC in Schaffhausen Every large town will have quite a few horologers and jewelers with a vast selection of fancy watches displayed their windows, ranging from the fashionable Swatch for 60CHF to the handmade chronometer with the huge price tag For fun, try to spot the most expensive of these mechanical creations and the ones with the most "bedazzle!!"
  • Chocolate - Switzerland may always have a rivalry with Belgium for the world's best chocolate, but there's no doubting that the Swiss variety is amazingly good Switzerland is also home to the huge Nestlé food company If you have a fine palate and a fat wallet - you can find two of the finest Swiss chocolatiers in Zurich: Teuscher try the champagne truffles and Sprüngli For the rest of us, even the generic grocery store brand chocolates in Switzerland still blow away the Hershey bars found elsewhere For a good value, try the "Frey" brand chocolates sold at Migros If you want to try some real good and exclusive swiss chocolate, go for the Pamaco chocolates, derived from the noble Criollo beans and accomplished through the original, complex process of refinement that requires 72h quite expensive though, a bar of 125g costs about CHF 8- For Lindt fans, it is possible to get them as low as half the supermarket price by going to the Lindt factory store in Kilchberg near Zurich

Holey moley!

Ever wondered why Swiss cheese, known locally as Emmentaler, always has those distinct holes? Bacteria are a key part of the cheesemaking process They excrete huge amounts of carbon dioxide which forms gas bubbles in the curd, and these bubbles are what cause the holes

  • Cheese - many different regions of Switzerland have their own regional cheese speciality Of these, the most well-known are Gruyère and Emmentaler what Americans know as "Swiss cheese" Be sure to sample the wide variety of cheeses sold in markets, and of course try the cheese fondue! Fondue is basically melted cheese and is used as a dip with other food such as bread The original mixture consists of half Vacherin cheese and half Gruyère but many different combinations have been developed since
  • Swiss Army knives - Switzerland is the official home of the Swiss Army Knife There are two brands Victorinox and Wenger Both brands are manufactured by Victorinox The Wenger business went bankrupt and Victorinox purchased it 2005 Victorinox knives, knife collectors will agree, are far far superior, in terms of design, quality, functionality The most popular Victorinox knife is the Swiss Champ which has 33 functions and currently costs Jan 2008 CHF78 Most Tourists will purchase this knife The "biggest" Victorinox knife is the Swiss Champ 16795XAVT- This has 80 functions and is supplied in a case This knife costs CHF364 The 16795XAVT may in years to come be a collector's model Most shops throughout Switzerland stock Victorinox knifes, even some newsagents stock them They are excellent gifts and souvenirs The original "Swiss Army Knife" is not red with a white cross as usually seen by tourists, but gray with a small Swiss flag The Swiss Army Knife is also produced by Victorinox Its main particularity is to have the production year engraved on the basis of the biggest blade and no cork-screw because the Swiss soldier must not drink wine on duty NB Swiss Army Knives must be packed in hold luggage

Ski and tourist areas will sell the other kinds of touristy items - cowbells, clothing embroidered with white Edelweiss flowers, and Heidi-related stuff Swiss people love cows in all shapes and sizes, and you can find cow-related goods everywhere, from stuffed toy cows to fake cow-hide jackets If you have a generous souvenir budget, look for fine traditional handcrafted items such as hand-carved wooden figures in Brienz, and lace and fine linens in St Gallen If you have really deep pockets, or just wish you did, be sure to shop on Zurich's famed Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the world If you're looking for hip shops and thrift stores, head for the Niederdorf or the Stauffacher area

Supermarket Chains

Swiss employment law bans working on Sundays, so shops stay closed An exception is any business in a railway station, which is deemed to be serving travellers and so is exempt If you want to find an open shop on a Sunday, go to the nearest big railway station If a business is family-owned, you aren't employing anybody so you can open, hence small shops can also open on Sundays

Swiss supermarkets can be hard to spot in big cities They often have small entrances, but open out inside, or are located in a basement, leaving the expensive street frontages for other shops Look for the supermarket logos above entrances between other shops

For the "self catering":

  • Migros 11 - This chain of supermarkets in fact a cooperative provides average to good quality food and no-food products and homeware However, they do not sell alcoholic beverages nor cigarettes Brand name products are rare as the chain does their own brands quality is good, so you don't have to mind Migros stores can be spotted by a big, orange Helvetica letter "M" sign The number of "M" letters indicates the size of the store and the different services available - a single "M" is usually a smaller grocery store, a double M "MM" may be larger and sells other goods like clothing, and a MMM is a full department store with household goods and possibly electronics and sporting goods Offers change weekly on Tuesdays
  • Coop 12 - Also a cooperative Emphasis on quality as well as multi-buy offers, points collection schemes and money off coupons Sells many major brands Come at the end of the day to get half-priced salads and sandwiches Coop City is usually a department store with a Coop grocery store inside, a multi-floor layout provides space for clothing, electrical items, stationary, paperware as well as beauty products and perfume Offers change weekly some exceptions - fortnightly, on Tuesdays
  • Denner 13 - A discount grocery store, noticeable for their red signs and store interiors Relatively low priced Offers change weekly, usually from Wednesday Denner was bought by Migros in late 2006, but will not be rebranded at present
  • Coop Pronto - a convenience store branch of Coop, usually open late at least 20:00 seven days a week Usually has a petrol, filling-station forecourt
  • Aperto 14 - also a convenience store, located in the railway stations
  • Pick-Pay 15 - another discount grocery Yellow logo Sold to Denner in Sept 05, rebranding in progress
  • Manor 16 - the Manor department stores often have a grocery store on the underground level
  • Globus 17 - in the largest cities the Globus department stores have a grocery store on the underground level

As of March 2005, Coop launched low-price-line Coop Prix-Garantie In Migros, you find "M-Budget" products Sometimes it's exactly the same product, just for cheaper price They also offer pre-pay mobiles as cheap as 2980 CHF, including 19 CHF money on the SIM-Card and the some of the cheapest call rates

The German discounter, Aldi Suisse started with 5 discount shops in the eastern part of Switzerland in early 2006 The prices are a little lower than at the other supermarket chains, but still significantly higher than in Germany

Food and eating in Switzerland

The world's stinkiest fish dish

Adventurous diners might want to try surströmming, which is coastal central and northern Sweden's entry in the revolting-foods-of-the-world contest It's herring which is fermented in a tin can until the can starts to bulge and almost bursts It all gets so foul-smelling that the fish is only eaten outdoors to keep it from stinking up the house, although it has been known for unsuspecting visitors from other countries to be "treated" to an indoor surströmming experience for more intensity It is considered bad manners not to notify or invite the neighbors before having a surströmmingsskiva, a party where the delicacy is consumed It is claimed that the best way to get over the smell is to take a deep breath of it just when you open the can, to as quickly as possible knock out your smelling sense Surströmming season peaks in August

Swedish cuisine is mostly hearty meat or fish with potatoes, derived from the days when men needed to chop wood all day long Besides the ubiquitous potatoes, modern Swedish cuisine is to a great extent based on bread Traditional everyday dishes are called husmanskost pronounced whos-mans-cost They include:

  • Meatballs köttbullar, the internationally most famous Swedish dish Served with potatoes, brown sauce and lingonberry jam
  • Hash pytt i panna consisting of meat, onions and potatoes, all diced and fried Sliced beetroots and a fried or boiled whole eggs are mandatory accessories
  • Pea soup ärtsoppa with diced pork, followed by thin pancakes afterwards Traditionally eaten on Thursdays since medieval times when the servants had half the day off as it is an easy meal to prepare All lunch resturants in Sweden with any self-respect serves pea soup and pancakes every Thursday
  • Pickled herring sill, available in various types of sauces Commonly eaten with bread or potatoes for summer lunch or as a starter Virtually mandatory at midsummer and very common for christmas
  • Blodpudding, a black sausage made by pig's blood and flour Slice it, fry it and eat it with lingonberry jam
  • Gravlax, a widely known and appreciated cold appetizer made by thin slices of salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill
  • Falukorv, a big baloney from Falun Sliced, fried and eaten with ketchup and mashed potatoes
  • Sweden has more varieties of bread than most other countries Many of them are whole-grain or mixed grain, containing wheat, barley, oats, compact and rich in fiber Some notable examples are tunnbröd thin wrap bread, knäckebröd hard bread - might not be an interesting experience, but is nearly always available, and different kinds of seasoned loaves Bread is mostly eaten as simple sandwiches, with thin slices of cheese or cold cuts Some more exotic spreads are messmör whey cheese and leverpastej liver paté
  • Tunnbrödrulle, a fast food dish, consisting of a bread wrap with mashed potatoes, a hot dog and some vegetables
  • Kroppkakor Potato dumpling stuffed with diced pork

Other Swedish favorites:

  • Soft whey butter messmör, breadspread with a sweetish, hard-to-describe taste
  • Caviar, not the expensive Russian or Iranian kind but a cheaper version made from cod roe, sold in tubes and used on sandwiches The most famous brand is Kalles Kaviar
  • Julmust, stout-like Christmas soft drink that every year annoys The Coca-Cola Company in Sweden by lowering Coke's sales figures by 50%
  • Crayfish kräftor, hugely popular around August, when Swedes feast on them at big crayfish parties kräftskivor Silly paper hats and lots of alcohol included
  • Semla, a cream-filled pastry eaten around Fat Tuesday
  • Rabarberkräm/Rabarberpaj rhubarbcream or rhubarbpie with vanilla sauce other cakes or pies on fresh blueberries, apples, or just strawberries with cream or ice cream are also very popular in the summer
  • Spettekaka A local cake from Skåne in south Sweden, made of eggs, sugar, and potato starch
  • Smörgåstårta A cold Sandwich layer cake, often with salmon, eggs, and shrimps Also often with tuna or roast beef Swedish people often eat it at New Year's Eve, or birthdays and parties

Typical Swedish "gourmet" restaurants serve steaks or other grilled dishes garnished with fragrant herbs such as dill, and vegetables such as Broccoli and red bell peppers Most famous swedish steak is called Planka, or plank steak It is Beef fillet, duchess potatoes, asparagus wrapped in bacon, huge amounts of bearnaise sauce, tomatoes and for some strange reason orange segments, and is decandently good!

As in most of Europe, inexpensive pizza and kebab restaurants are ubiquitous in Swedish cities, and are also to be found in almost every small village Note that the swedish pizza is significantly different from Italian or American pizzas, American pizzas are usually sold as "pan pizza" Sushi and Thai food are also quite popular The local hamburger chain Max 63 is recommended before McDonald's and Burger King, for tasteful Scandinavian furnishing, clean restrooms, no trans fats and free coffee with meals In parts of Norrland it is customary to eat hamburgers with fork and knife - available at Max Another type of fast food establishment is the gatukök "street kitchen", serving hamburgers, hot dogs, kebab and tunnbrödrulle se above

Highway diners, vägkrogar, have generous meals, but might be of poor quality, greasy and overpriced If you have time, a downtown restaurant is preferable Gas stations offer decent packed salads and sandwiches

You can get a "cheap" lunch if you look for the signs with "Dagens rätt" meal of the day This normally costs about 50-120 SEK €5,50-€13,30 and almost everywhere includes a bottle of water; soft drink; or light beer, bread & butter, some salad and coffee afterwards Dagens rätt is served Monday to Friday

The world famous furniture retailer IKEA has stores at the outskirts of 15 Swedish cities These have great diners, which offer well-cooked Swedish meals for as little as 40 SEK, and the store exit usually has a café selling hot dogs for as little as 5 SEK They hope that you spend some money on shopping too Great if you happen to pass by Expect crowds at rainy weather

If you're on a tight budget, self-catering is the safest way to save your money

Vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are accepted in cities, less common in the countryside but you should be able to find a falafel in every smaller town

Drinking in Switzerland

Coffee

Swedish people drink plenty of coffee, kaffe Drinking coffee at home or in a café, an act called fika, is a common Swedish social ritual, used for planning activities, dating, exchanging gossip or simply spending time and money Swedish coffee is slightly stronger than American one Italian varieties espresso, cappuccino, caffe latte are available at most city cafés One coffee will cost you around 25 SEK $3,5/€2,8

Alcoholic beverages

The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is Absolut Vodka, one of the world's most famous vodkas There are several brands of distilled, and usually seasoned, liquor, called brännvin or akvavit When served in a shot glass with a meal it is called snaps not to confuse with the German "Schnapps"

Sweden does produce some outstanding beers, and have in the recent years seen a rise in the numbers of microbreweries If you are looking for great local beer keep an eye out for breweries like "Närke kulturbryggeri", "Jämtlands ångbryggeri" and "Dugges Ale- & Porterbryggeri" You may have some trouble finding them, unless you go to a bar specialized in providing uncommon beer, or one of the well stocked "Systembolag", but you will find a few of them in every major city Despite this the most common beer is the rather plain "international lager" The beer you get in normal food shops is called folköl and has 28 or 35% alcohol You are able to find a varieties of different brands of beers in food stores, Swedish, English and even Czech beer Wine is popular, but the Swedish production is very modest

Systembolaget

Access to alcoholic beverages is, as in Norway, Finland and Iceland, quite restricted and expensive The only place to buy strong alcohol including starköl beer which contains more than 35% alcohol ABV over the counter is in one of the state owned shops called Systembolaget 64 They have limited hours of operation, usually 10-6 Mon-Wed, 10-7 Thurs-Fri, and 10-3 on Saturdays, with long queues on Fridays and Saturdays Closed on Sundays Most shops are of supermarket style The assortment is very good, and the staff usually has great knowledge Please note that Systembolaget does not serve customers under the age of 20 You will most likely be asked for identification This also applies to your companion, regardless of them buying anything

Liquor is very expensive at Systembolaget vodka is 300 SEK a liter, but the monopoly has brought some perks - Systembolaget is one of the world's largest bulk-buyers of wine, and as such gets some fantastic deals which it passes on to the consumers Champagne is also very expensive 1 litre, it will cost you 500 SEK $71/€55 Mid-to-high-quality wines, and exclusive spirits, are quite often cheaper in Sweden than even in the country of origin; sometimes even cheaper than if you were to buy the wine directly from the vineyard This does NOT apply to low-quality wines, however, due to the volume-based tax on alcohol

If you want beer, choose a variety of microbrews All brands are treated equally and there is no large-pack discount Beverages are not refrigerated

Bars and nightclubs

The age limit is 18 to bars and beers in shops to prevent teenage drunkenness, some shops have decided to have a 20 age limit for 35% beer as well, but 20 in Systembolaget Many bars have an age limit of 20, but some especially downtown in weekends have age limits as high as 23 or 25 Bring passport or ID

Some clubs mandate dress code, vårdad klädsel For male guests, proper shoes not sneakers or sandals, long-legged trousers not blue jeans and a dress shirt is usually good enough

Age or dress rules are not rigid, and doormen have the right to accept or reject any patron for any reason other than gender, sexual orientation, creed, disability or race Though illegal, nightclubs are infamous to reject "immigrants", which usually means anyone with hair and skin darker than the average Swede, by pretexts such as "members only" or "too drunk"; men of Middle Eastern or African origin are most troubled You might avoid this problem by dressing properly and behaving well

Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants, save outdoor areas such as terraces, and designated smoking rooms where drinks are not allowed

The prices at clubs/bars are often expensive compared to other countries, a large beer half a liter costs usually as much as 45-55 SEK ~US$7, but many low-profile bars advertise stor stark 04 L of draft lager for as little as 25 SEK A long drink costs around 60-110 SEK For that reason many Swedes have a small pre-party "förfest" before they go out, to get started on their buzz before they hit the town and go to nightclubs

Large clubs can require an entrance fee of about 100 SEK or more at special performances They usually offer a rubber stamp on your hand so you can re-enter as you like

Be aware that you often have to stand in line to get into a bar or a club Many places deliberately make their customers wait in line for a while, since a long queue indicates a popular club At the very fanciest places in the major cities the queue is replaced by a disorganized crowd, and the doorman simply points to indicate who gets in and who does not to be sure to get in either be famous, very good-looking or a friend of the doorman Or simply a regular

Most bars that are open until 1AM will have a free entry policy Most bars and clubs that remain open until 3AM will charge an entrance fee There some clubs that remain open until 5AM Their entrance fee will usually be around 200 SEK ~US$2800 and their entry policy will generally weigh less favourably for the non-rich, non-well-moisturised, non-Swedes, non-friends or non-regulars

In the cold season it is often mandatory to hand in your jacket at the club's wardrobe for a fee, usually around 20 SEK

Authorized security guards carry a badge saying Ordningsvakt, see #Stay safe

Moonshine hembränt is popular in the countryside, though illegal Though some shipments can be as good as legal vodka, most are disgusting and some even lethally dangerous, so you should stick to the real thing

Accommodation in Switzerland

Most tourist areas in Switzerland have a tourist office where you can call and have them book a hotel for you for a small fee Each town usually has a comprehensive list of hotels on their web site, and it is often easiest to simply call down the list to make a reservation rather than try to book online Many hotels will request that you fax or email them your credit card information in order to secure a reservation In general, hotel staff are helpful and competent, and speak English quite well

Hotel rates in Switzerland can get quite expensive, especially in popular ski resort areas

There is also a hostel network in Switzerland for students Types of hotels in Switzerland include historic hotels, traditional hotels, inns located in the country, spas and bed and breakfasts

Working in Switzerland

If you want to work in Switzerland, be aware that you generally need to obtain a work permit

Switzerland signed an agreement with the European Union that allows citizens of the old EU-15 states to work and search jobs at arms length with Swiss citizens In these cases you only need a valid passport and have to register with the local administration The same system applies in general to citizens of the new EU-10 states Eastern European states in general plus Bulgaria and Romania but there are limitations on the number of permits For all other countries in the world the best way is to check with your embassy if there are, for example, exchange programs

Switzerland has an unemployment rate of about 42% Mar 2010 and skilled academics will have good job opportunities

The high level of Swiss salaries reflect the high costs of living, so keep in mind that you must spend a lot for accommodation and food, when you negotiate your salary Still, if you want or have to make money fast, you can save a substantial amount per month while working in a low-paying job In general, you work 42 hours/week and have 4 weeks of paid holidays

Switzerland has no legal minimum salary The salary depends on the industry you work in, with most companies paying at least 3500 CHF per month, for example as cashier in a supermarket Overtime work is usually paid unless otherwise agreed in contract

If you want to check the average salaries by industry or make sure you get the right amount paid, Swiss employees are heavy organized in trade unions SGB 22 and always keen to help you

Cities in Switzerland

aadorf  aarau  aarburg  adliswil  aesch  affoltern  aigle  allschwil  alpnach  altdorf  altstatten  amriswil  appenzell  arbon  arlesheim  arosa  arth  ascona  au  baar  baden  bad ragaz  bagnes  balsthal  basel  bassersdorf  bellinzona  belp  bern  bernex  bex  biasca  biberist  biel  binningen  birmensdorf  birsfelden  blonay  bolligen  bottmingen  boudry  bremgarten  brugg  bubikon  buchrain  buchs  buchs  bulach  bulle  buochs  burgdorf  bussigny  carouge  cham  chavannes  chene-bougeries  chene-bourg  chiasso  chur  colombier  conthey  crissier  delemont  derendingen  diepoldsau  dietikon  dietlikon  domat  dornach  dubendorf  dudingen  durnten  ebikon  ebnat-kappel  ecublens  egg  einsiedeln  embrach  emmen  epalinges  eschenbach  ettingen  fallanden  flawil  flums  frauenfeld  freienbach  frenkendorf  fribourg  frutigen  fully  gelterkinden  geneva  gerlafingen  giubiasco  gland  glarus  gossau  gossau  grabs  granichen  greifensee  grenchen  heimberg  hergiswil  herisau  herrliberg  herzogenbuchsee  hinwil  hochdorf  hombrechtikon  horgen  horw  hunenberg  huttwil  igis  ingenbohl  interlaken  jona  kerns  kilchberg  kirchberg  kirchberg  kloten  koniz  konolfingen  kreuzlingen  kriens  kusnacht  kussnacht  kuttigen  la chaux-de-fonds  lachen  langenthal  langnau  langnau  la tour-de-peilz  laufen  lausanne  lausen  le grand-saconnex  le locle  le mont-sur-lausanne  lengnau  lenzburg  liestal  littau  locarno  losone  lugano  lutry  luzern  lyss  malters  mannedorf  martigny  massagno  maur  meggen  meilen  meiringen  mendrisio  menziken  meyrin  minusio  mohlin  monthey  montreux  morges  moutier  munchenbuchsee  munchenstein  munsingen  muri  muri  murten  muttenz  naters  nendaz  neuchatel  neuenhof  neuenkirch  nidau  nyon  oberengstringen  oberentfelden  oberglatt  oberriet  obersiggenthal  oberuzwil  oberwil  oftringen  ollon  olten  onex  opfikon  orbe  payerne  peseux  pfaffikon  plan-les-ouates  porrentruy  pratteln  pregassona  prilly  pully  rapperswil  regensdorf  reinach  renens  rheinfelden  richterswil  risch  romanshorn  rothrist  rumlang  ruschlikon  ruswil  ruti  saanen  saint-imier  sankt margrethen  sankt moritz  sargans  sarnen  saviese  schaffhausen  schattdorf  schlieren  schonenwerd  schubelbach  schwyz  seon  seuzach  sevelen  sierre  sion  sirnach  sissach  solothurn  spiez  spreitenbach  stafa  stans  steffisburg  steinhausen  suhr  sulgen  sumiswald  sursee  teufen  thalwil  therwil  thonex  thun  trimbach  uetendorf  unterageri  unterseen  untersiggenthal  urdorf  urtenen  uster  uznach  uzwil  vernier  versoix  vevey  veyrier  viganello  villars-sur-glane  villmergen  visp  volketswil  wadenswil  wahlern  wald  wallisellen  wattwil  weinfelden  wettingen  wetzikon  wil  windisch  winterthur  wittenbach  wohlen  wohlen  wollerau  worb  yverdon  zermatt  zofingen  zollikofen  zollikon  zuchwil  zug  zumikon  zurich  

What do you think about Switzerland?

How expensive is Switzerland?
(1 CHF = 1 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant22.04 CHF
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)99.45 CHF
McDonalds meal12.22 CHF
Local beer (0.5 draft)5.58 CHF
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 5.51 CHF
Cappuccino4.23 CHF
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)3.85 CHF
Water (0.33 bottle)3.2 CHF
Milk (1l)1.62 CHF
Fresh bread (500g)2.74 CHF
White Rice (1kg)2.16 CHF
Eggs (12) 5.6 CHF
Local Cheese (1kg) 21.91 CHF
Chicken Breast (1kg) 22.36 CHF
Apples (1kg) 4.2 CHF
Oranges (1kg) 3.8 CHF
Tomato (1kg) 3.57 CHF
Potato (1kg) 2.17 CHF
Lettuce (1 head) 2.21 CHF
Water (1.5l)1.03 CHF
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 13.31 CHF
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.63 CHF
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.32 CHF
Cigarettes7.84 CHF
One way local bus ticket3.52 CHF
Monthly pass for bus80.59 CHF
Taxi start5.89 CHF
Taxi 1km3.76 CHF
Taxi 1hour waiting67.22 CHF
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.92 CHF
Utilities for a "normal" apartment185.65 CHF
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 33.28 CHF
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