Le husband was posted to Switzerland for a couple of months for work in June, so I thought, “Dang, this isn’t the 16th-century and I ain’t doing all the child-rearing by myself. Let’s ALL go!”
So that’s how we found ourselves in Zurich, with one weepy baby who was massively cranky after a 12 hour flight and one very excited toddler.
For some reason, I had left it all up to le husband to find us a temp home and that was THE BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER. Our first home could barely fit a circus midget and was bordered by the railway AND highway and all the noise could wake up a hibernating bear.
We moved after a few days and our second home was marginally better, being bigger, airier and located in the lovely suburbs closer to the old town, which is the ONLY place you wanna be in Zurich if you’re there for a short time.
It even comes with a balcony!
The only problem though, is that this FAMILY apartment (at least according to the advertisement) looked like a stripper’s boudoir, with the dark colors, tacky five-dollar paintings and cheap, shiny fixtures.
Our centerpiece was a redundant piece of dressmaking mannequin that’s tiled with hundreds of mirrors — presumably the go-to home accessory for every exotic dancer. If you wanted to read at night, then good luck cuz the lights are dimmed down LOWWWW so you can twerk for your kids in comfort.
A picture with the piece de resistance.
All this would’ve been really hilarious if we didn’t pay a shit ton of money for this new home. But we did and that’s the thing: if you need to ask how much something is in Zurich — or anywhere in Switzerland for that matter — it means you CANNOT AFFORD IT. No chance, bud.
So forget it, your dreams of ever living here.
To give you an idea anyway, let’s use a Filet-o-fish from McDonald’s — one of the cheapest items on a fast food restaurant menu — as a basis for comparison. In Singapore, it costs SGD2.50. In Zurich, it costs CHF9.90. If edible garbage costs THAT much, you can imagine how much money you’d have to shovel out of your pockets for real food.
Yep, CHF17.90 for five pieces of supermarket sushi.
An average meal (without drinks) for two costs about CHF50. And that’s in a mid-priced, and most likely mediocre, restaurant. That’s the thing about Zurich: the food scene is not vibrant as it is in Asia, because not everyone can afford to eat out and restaurants can really get away with charging sky-high prices for shitty food.
After a few days, I just about gave up trying to find something decent for a reasonable price so I just went to Manora, one of the chain department stores dotting the big cities in Switzerland, and got myself a huge plate of salad.
No, I don’t have a picture of my salad. Here’s a pic of me and a very expensive eclair from Sprungli instead.
At CHF12.90, it’s a STEAL. It’s also self-service so this is where a bit of skill and talent comes in. You load up on pasta, cold cuts, and veggies, stacking them one on top of the other until it looks like a mini Matterhorn. Then you pray a food avalanche doesn’t happen on your way to the counter. You’ll get weird stares from other customers, but don’t worry, as long as the counter guy (who, judging from his blank expression, is probably used to such spectacle) approves, who the eff cares.
Water is free in Manora (another bonus) but if you’re still feeling a bit thirsty after your meal you can always make your way to one of the city’s bazillion water fountains (there’s approximately 1,200 water fountains here, according to the Tourism Website) and have your fill while trying not to look like a hobo.
Mika getting some rocket fuel.
Anyway, apart from the food bit, Zurich is perfectly livable. Our home is within walking distance to three different parks (one with a wading pool for children) and that’s where the locals love to gather on a warm summer’s evening, picnicking, smoking and drinking beer.
A regular day out at our neighbourhood park.
That’s my other gripe: like are you still in your fcking diapers? then why hell would you go to a children’s playground to smoke?
The locals smoke A LOT. Like this people must really detest good, clean air since they get so much of it on the mountains. When we arrived on the first day of the 3-day Zurich Fest, the whole city smelled like a dodgy nightclub in KL.
My boys putting on their party gear.
There was a distinct smell of hash in the air too (Like many other European cities, Zurich has a liberal policy when it comes to drugs). I’d be okay with it if my boys weren’t with me. But they were and I had to dodge the smokers like I was dodging someone with really bad BO.
But the city made up for it. With this:
You didn’t think the Swiss knew how to party.
But the entire old town has been turned into a carnival, complete with shows and rides.
The atmosphere was electric.
He’s got a ticket to ride…a pony!
Also festival days, there was so much love. People were making out everywhere. And there was music. Lights. Dancing. Laughter. And best of all, reasonably-priced food.