© 2012 Lance. All rights reserved.

Impressions

(Image: Altstadt Zug by ponte1112)

So far, Zug seems awesome. We got to our hotel mid-morning yesterday and slept until mid-afternoon. Then we spent the evening wandering the town. We had dinner at a Chinese place where Arica had eaten during a prior visit, and it was pretty good. We ordered a dish called “Wonderful Tasting Chicken,” and it was. We also found a beer that I enjoyed, which was a relief. (Beer is not nearly my largest concern about our impending move, but it is definitely on the list. I don’t much care for German beer, and I have been worried that I would not be able to find anything here that is similar to the unfiltered hoppy IPAs that have become so common in the U.S. The beer from last night was no Dogfishead, but it’ll do.)

I have not seen much of Zug yet. Our hotel is (and our wanderings last night were) in the old part of the city. There are two layers to the old part of Zug: the smaller, inner Altstadt, which was walled sometime in the 13th century, and the surrounding area that was walled late in the 15th century. You can see both layers in the map below (from Wikipedia). A little below the center of the image, along the 13th century wall, is a clock tower. That’s the tower that appears in the photo I posted yesterday, and its spire on the map rests on our hotel.
Old Zug
Across the lake you can see the snow-capped peaks of what I figure are probably the Glarner Alps. Here is a more modern (and prosaic) map of Zug:

Most of the Swiss I have met so far do not live up to the level of orneriness I have been told to expect. But then, most of the Swiss I have met so far are in the service industry, so let’s save that topic for another time. The level of interaction between strangers on the sidewalk would be unusually low in a similarly-sized town in the southern U.S., but it seems to be about what you’d expect in a larger U.S. city. It is true that goods and services in Switzerland are expensive. We saw this in Zermatt, but I figured that around 10-20% of the cost was attributable to our being in a fancy-pants resort town. I’m not sure I was right about that. For example, a grande mocha at Starbucks here is roughly twice as expensive as the same drink in Atlanta.

But I’m not sure why Starbucks exists here. Part of the appeal of Starbucks at home (for me, anyway) is that they offer a consistently high-quality cup of coffee across all of their locations. If you’re familiar with U.S. food service industry standards for coffee, you will understand the deal that has been stuck between Starbucks and the U.S. consumer. But my (admittedly limited) experience in Europe has been that you will get a good cup of coffee at any place that considers coffee to be part of their business. That includes, among others, restaurants, bakeries, and highway rest stops. So I don’t get why you’d pay more than $5 for a cup of Starbucks coffee. (The mocha is more like $10.)

Of course, I tend to assume that I am right about everything (except when I assume that I am wrong about everything), and I am trying to remember to put that assumption on hold. When I first learned that Swiss traffic lights show yellow both when going from green to red and when going from red to green, I had lots to say about why that makes zero sense. Later, I learned that the Swiss expect you to turn off your engine while waiting at a red light, which makes sense of the extra yellow. Erik Rasmussen gave Arica a vocabulary word via Facebook that means “out of place” and said that it is a good one for expats to remember, but I’m pretty sure he made it up. Anyway, Facebook has locked me out of my account for the sin of trying to access the site from a new location (how is it possible that every interaction with that company makes me hate them more?), so I’ll have to follow up on that later.

One Comment

  1. I love the first sentence of your last paragraph. I’m tempted to hardcode it into the top of each of my blog entries.

    You are dead right about Starbucks only being popular in the US because coffee everywhere else sucks. Not so in Euroland. In Spain, if you’re intent on having crappy coffee, you can order a “café americano”, which is the regular coffee with water added to make it crappier.

    I’m so delighted that you guys are getting the expat experience. It’s a delight. I’d recommend that you blog every minute of it, but you seem to be doing so already. Continue.

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