Month: April 2014

Tunnel Vision

The $250 view (only seen once crisis averted)

When your kid is sick, your whole focus narrows down to a fine point. P was really unwell on Thursday so I had to do an emergency dash to the the Kids Medi Centre in town. I tried calling a couple of local pediatricians (you don’t take children to normal GPs here apparently) but none would see a “new” patient at short notice. I guess I need to get him on the books at one of these places for future situations. I am a bit rubbish with doctors though. Neither myself, HI nor P has been ill very much, thankfully, so we generally don’t think about it until it’s almost too late!

Anyway, I’m really glad this place exists. It is right at the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) so involved an unexpected tram trip into town. Usually this would be a pleasure, but tunnel vision meant I barely noticed my surroundings. Running around Bahnhofplatz like a crazed mother-bear trying to find the door to the bloody place before P spewed. The little gem held it in until we got to the reception, making for a dramatic entrance. ha ha ha – oh I have vomit on me.

We are still in the process of setting up our medical insurance here. Everyone legally has to take out health insurance within three months of arrival/ living permit being granted. The irony is, I had spent that very morning filling out the forms for ours. But since it’s not yet in place and I don’t have a Medical Card, I had to pay upfront for the doctor. CHF 218! (roughly = AUD / USD). OWCH. Then another CHF35 for the medicines, which I would also be able to claim on health insurance if we had it. Luckily, it will be backdated to 1 April, so I should get some of the money reimbursed.

Anyway – once P had thrown up and squirmed through the examination, he perked up a lot. So much so that by the time we were leaving the doctor, he didn’t want to go (because they had a cool fish tank in the waiting area). I was relieved, seeing the light at the end of the sick-toddler tunnel, so figured w’d hang out a bit and get our money’s worth by snapping some pics of the view. I guess their prime pozzy adds to the cost of treatment? And maybe there’s a charge for vomiting? Whatever. He is much better now, and that’s all I care about.

Rush Rush

“It was Spring, and the brook was full to the brim with its water. And the water moved in a hurry, as all things move in a hurry when it is Spring.”  – Scuffy the Tugboat 

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A few years ago I made a resolution along the lines of “Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread…”

And one of the things I’m really liking about Zurich so far is the slower pace. There’s definitely time to smell the roses here – or rather the blossoms right now. Wow, spring has really sprung! This is particularly noticable compared to London where you don’t smell many flowers on the daily commute (too polluted) and you don’t slow down (too busy!).

It is spring though, and all things move in a hurry when it is spring (see quote, above). It is also my natural tendency to rush. Sometimes I get so caught up in the urgency of the moment that I just want to get everything done now! now! Now! This can result in things that are too hectic, not best quality and, y’know, the good old – making a situation worse where doing nothing would have meant it dissipated or even disappeared. It can also result in RESULTS. So it’s not always bad.

PROS: I generally meet deadlines. I don’t forget much. I get things done. Sometimes you have to strike while the iron’s hot! Don’t think too much – or it might never happen. It makes me a good worker, even if it also means I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie/stress bunny. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the efficient, busy side of myself. I guess if we’re talking Myers-Briggs type traits, it’s part of my ‘preferred style’. But.. but…

CONS: Sometimes, it’s not the right way. It’s often worth thinking twice. Look before you leap. And often that produces a better outcome in the end. Something more measured, correct, kind. Plus, as I said, doing nothing can be better than doing something (particularly the wrong thing) in certain situations. A headlong rush can also mean not acknowledging the reality of the situation (although, this can also be helpful – eg, when you hate your job but need to do it anyway).

Anyway, this is a rather long-winded, soul-searching way to say that I realised something this week. I had a German fail and more than that, a mum fail. Dropped P off  to nursery a bit early and there was a different carer there. In my head the words bounced about: Wie heissen Sie? Wie heissen Sie… (What is your name?) which would have made the whole situation easier/better. But I DIDN’T SAY IT. I hesitated because I was afraid of getting it wrong. In this particular situation, it was not a good reason to wait. Walked home, kicking myself… but then HI says – “hey, there’s plenty of time: in a month you’ll be more confident”. And it hit me – he’s right, we’re here for the duration. It’s going to be years. I will speak German (maybe not well, but I will speak it) and I will read it too. Because there’s time.

So what I realised is, for once in my life, there is no real rush. The German will happen, and so will all those other things: settling in, feeling connected here, having another baby (maybe?!), making friends… I do find it a little hard to accept but it’s true and that actually makes me feel pretty good!



Novel note: Reading The Count of Monte Christo for the first time. Now there’s a story that knows how to take its time (I guess it was originally serialised?). This dude is in gaol for 14 years and even he takes 3 years to learn German (and a few other languages). From prison. With nothing else to do. OK so it’s not easy. Also: Facebook era it ain’t.

“Fortunately Dantes had learned how to wait; he had waited fourteen years for his liberty, and now that he was free he could wait at least six months or a year for wealth.”


Bon Voyage Mimi

Old Mimi

It’s been roughly 1.5 months since we moved to Zurich. I think some of the novelty is wearing off and the reality is kicking in. I know this because things have been running a bit ragged this week.

I had my first pang of missing my house in London (the garden, or rather the washing line!)  as I hung out yet another load of wet clothes in the subterranean “drying room” of our apartment block. It’s actually a good system – all the washing machines are in the basement along with a shared drying room that has washing lines and a dehumidifier (and a small window at street level that always stays open). Clothes dry surprisingly quickly in there, too. But I’m a bit of a clothes-washing addict: I could pretty much do a load per day, except that I feel bad about hogging the drying area – it’s not that big. (And a pang for the environment).

Housework in general is another reason why it feels like the novelty is wearing off. Instead of floating about and loving the apartment, taking joy in keeping it sparkling and neat, I’m feeling annoyed that it’s messy and needs cleaning. I do not love or really even like housework, but I feel a bit like – what else am I here for?  I probably shouldn’t even open that can of worms…

This is coupled with the fact that P is taking a bit of time to adjust to all the changes of the move – he is refusing to settle in his new “Big Boy Bed” at night and when he finally does he’s not sleeping so well (he was previously a champion sleeper), he’s crying when we drop him off at daycare and generally being a bit of a bratty toddler…

Plus we lost Mimi* – P’s favourite toy. A much-repaired grey bunny. We have several Mimis but this was the favourite: “Old Mimi” (there is also New York Mimi, the Nursery Mimi and … uh… Other Mimi). I’ve told him she’s gone on holiday and he seems to accept that. He’ll come out at odd times with “Old Mimi’s on holiday mummy”. We tried everything to find her (retracing our steps, contacting lost & found of everywhere we went, a social media appeal!) but to no avail. It’s hard not to feel like Mimi is a casualty of the move. Although of course the loss could have occurred anywhere.

The thing is – I thought Old Mimi would be with us for the long haul. She was P’s favourite from such a young age and she’s been to Sydney, New York and now Zurich with us. But her loss so soon into our Zurich adventure means that, in the mists of time, she’ll be a “London” thing. It’s yet another a turning point from our old life into the new. I might be clutching at straws, but right now I feel like I have given up so much that I’m extra sad to say goodbye to this rabbit-shaped tie to the past. So I won’t say goodbye but instead:

Bon Voyage Mimi – I’m so sorry we didn’t notice your departure and I hope you’re enjoying your travels. Our new life continues apace. Wish you were here x




* apologies to all Facebook friends who must be heartily sick of hearing about Mimi by now!

MFO Park and Oerliker Park

Here’s some pics of the two parks I mentioned in my  previous post: MFO Park (the “High Line on dope”) and Oerliker Park (Stoke Newington on Crack). It wasn’t a blue-sky day but I think it still looks pretty awesome. Feel pretty lucky to have this cool shit on my doorstep.

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A bit more about the area, thanks for asking! 🙂

The two parks pictured above, MFO Park and Oerliker Park, are in Neu Oerlkion, a former industrial area in the northern Zurich suburb of Oerlikon that’s been developed as a living / working / playing / leisure space in recent years. This Wikipedia Oerlikon entry and this page explain it nicely.

Neu Oerlikon is literally on the other side of the tracks to where I’m living in Oerlikon – a 15-20 minute walk that involves crossing to the other side of Oerlikon station. I guess the futuristic architecture around there is to do with its industrial roots and the fact that it’s all being built new and on a fairly large scale, it would seem!

The  “blue blinds” building is all apartments that overlook Oerliker Park. The “steel sky” and Bombadier buildings are businesses I think. Centre 11 is a pretty ordinary shopping centre with a big Coop (one of the main supermarkets here) including a huge DIY (or in German: BAU-hobby) section. I snapped the industrial lift because it looked slightly out of place there – it is kinda too cool for the rather daggy surrounds!

I should do some photos of the older bits of Zurich around Neiderdorf too eh? The street/area I’m living in is on a bit more of a “human scale” – there’s the 1908-built church across the road, my 1930s apartment block – but is not quite so photogenic 😉

Soft Shock

Spring in Zurich

The weather’s come on all warm and springlike. I’m a bit tired and woozy. Although I hate to mention illness in a public (online) forum, it’s relevant that we’ve had sinusey colds and are not sleeping so well. P is still getting used to his “big boy bed” and needs a bit of reassurance through the night too, which doesn’t help. But I don’t really have anything to do so there’s a sort of pleasant… drift…

It’s the perfect day for sitting lazy in the sunshine. Maybe drinking beer. Except I don’t have anyone to do it with, and I’ve got some responsibilities (a toddler to pick up, vacuuming to do, a bit of paid work, blogging, working out what to do with the rest of my life).

I wish I had my fingernails back, a cleaner and some local friends. Not necessarily in that order.

I’ve been wondering about culture shock. I don’t know if hasn’t kicked in yet, or it’s just been very gentle. I haven’t found myself gasping at the huge spectrum of difference I’m faced with. Everything feels pretty normal and nice. Maybe the crash comes later? Or maybe Zurich is just similar enough to both London (a busy European city with lots of banking) and Sydney (there’s an echo of Australia here for me –  pleasant, affluent, quiet, aware of its position of advantage). Maybe it’s the wash of languages rather than being faced with a solid wall of German. I don’t know. But I’m not complaining.

I walked through this incredible park the other day. It was like an idealised world or Stoke Newington on crack: Stock-photo students lounging on benches placed in an arty giant-gravel piazza, happy neighbours playing a round or 2 of ping pong on the public tables, parents and kids enjoying a state-of-the-art playground. A few streets on, the incredible looking MFO Park – which is like the New York Highline on dope – a lazy vertical park dripping with foliage, populated by more brochure-style students and multicultural peeps. P was asleep in the buggy so I didn’t stop anywhere, just noted it all down for future reference.  Need to get among it…


UetlibergOr Swiss Hospitality… Am I taking this too far? 😉

We had friends here over the weekend, which was lovely. I talked myself hoarse (I’ve missed chatting to people!) and explored some previously known and unknown bits of Zurich. It’s all still so new to us that even the things we’ve been to before have fresh aspects to discover every time. Niederdorf  is lovely and it feels like I’ve only just scratched the surface of the cool stuff that’s there. And Uetliberg has been improved since my last visit with a new kids’ playground.

I took my first trip out to Zurich airport on the tram – a very easy, 16 minute journey. In fact I went twice because we were so excited about seeing each other that we left a bag behind, so we had to go back for it. I was pleasantly surprised that said bag was just sitting calmly at the information desk and the smiley ladies handed it over after we’d identified the contents (a beautiful housewarming gift, so glad we found it!). They said they would have held onto it for 24 hours before sending it to the official Lost Property. Now, I may be wrong here, but I reckon a mysterious bag abandoned at a UK airport would probably be removed and destroyed, not returned with a smile.

Another first was paying a babysitter so the adults could go out to dinner. I think this was more of a big deal for myself and HI than P. Life with a baby/toddler/child is a series of milestones and this was one. It was fine, of course. We had a cheerful, traditional Swiss meal at Zeughauskeller where we shared a table with some business traveller-types who were talking watches (we figured they were enroute to BaselWorld watch fair). Ironically, it seems the Keller is one of Zurich’s few family-friendly dinner spots, with babies/children at many surrounding tables! Still glad we left ours at home though…

I think we need to get our mojo back with choosing bars. The places we went for cocktails after dinner were not great. The Jules Verne was too crowded and Hotel Rivington looked amazing but the bar staff were complete cocktail amateurs and the setup just wasn’t right for a cocktail bar (I have since read it’s “great for brunch”).  Oh well… now we have a babysitter, we can continue our exploration of Zurich nightlife and hopefully find some really excellent places. All it costs is money. A lot of money. Woh