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September 15, 2004

Comments

Mike Barrett

I've not been to Zürich but I've travelled all over Europe (I'm from the UK) and spent quite a bit of time in Munich, it's a very old city with lots of interesting architecture. Make sure you visit at least one of the beer halls, you won't find anything like it anywhere else in the world!

Switzerland is very clean and everything runs exactly on time, it's a stereotype but completely true. In most European cities, you'll find hotel and restaurant staff speak pretty good English, and menu's etc. have translations. If you go more off the beaten track then you'll need to improvise a bit. I'd just get a basic phrasebook and know how to say yes (ja), no (Nein), please (Bitte), thank you (Danke) etc.

Money wise, bring some Euros with you for a cab from the airport but all EU ATM's will accept Visa/Mastercard so it's not worth carrying loads of cash.

Having lived in the US, I'd say the biggest thing you will notice is how old a lot of the buildings are. I'm talking like in the hundreds of years old which is something we tend to take for granted over here but that I really appreciated when I returned to Europe.

Have a great time, I'm sure you'll be posting on your experience.

Christopher Grove

Be careful, as I recall Switzerland isn't in the Euro zone (it isn't in the EU either, is it?) which means that you'll need Swiff Francs (CHF) won't you?
As for tips, I agree on the language points. Remember that if you make an effort to speak a little of their language, it will be appreciated, and may well get you a lot more than if you just use English. One thing I will say is to be careful with what you say and how you say it. I remember when I worked in a castle in France, I'd propose information on visits and suchlike in English to English tourists. I can't tell you how many times people said to me that 'that would be great and what's more that would give me a chance to practise my English'... I had a pretty neutral (almost RP) accent, spoke with perfect English grammar, and yet none of them thought that I might actually be English... Personally I found them impolite and condescending (my French colleagues didn't notice as it was subtle), and reacted politely but didn't go out of my way to help them more than was necessary. You never know who you have in front of you, and people will make more of an effort with tourists who try to use their language and don't come accross as impolite (even if the tourist doesn't think he is being impolite). I think that's the best tourist tip I can give, having worked on the other side of the fence.

Christopher Grove

I meant Swiss Francs (and yes Euros are needed for Germany), sorry about the typo.
And enjoy your trip! When are you going? Not popping into France by any chance are you?

Jon Strande

Mike & Christopher, Thank you! Great stuff!!! I appreciate it! Yep, I'm sure that I'll blog about it... whether people want to read about it or not LOL!! ;-)

You both raise a great point about the language - I want to have at least some knowledge about the culture that I'll be in.

Thank you again!

Jon

Heath Row

In Munich, you should meet Doug Merrill at the Center for Applied Policy -- www.aventis-forum.uni-muenchen.de -- eat at the Café Metropolitan on Marienplatz, the city's central square; and eat dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant Blue Nile. Enjoy your travels!

Jon Strande

Heath, thank you very much!!! I will add that stuff to my travel sheet!!

Jon

Mike

Jon,

It's been a decade since I've been there, but Zurich is very beautiful. You'll definitely want to take a boat ride on the lake if you can. As for cash, take every dime you have; it's incredibly expensive! Language-wise, you should have no problem finding english-speaking people in Switzerland.

jamy k

Jon,

I can tell you about Munich/Southern Germany a little since I was there in Dec 02.... if it's not too late... (not sure when you are leaving or have left).
Like your friends above have said.. learn as much of the language as you can.
- bring a tourism book with you like "Lonely Planet"... these books have good advice/tips and language snippets within them.
- you should be OK with a pocketful of Euros/Swiss Francs since AMEX and VISA can get you pretty far.
- the subway system was a little confusing for us... especially how to pay for it.
- stay away from thuggish looking types with shaved heads and swastika tattoos.

A little bad news here buddy.... The hardest thing for me to find in Germany was COFFEE TO GO.... and I know how you love your coffee.
In our experience ... most coffee shops/stands give you a mug to drink your coffee, b(g)lu-wine, or honey milk out of (after a mug deposit), BUT you have to return the mug after you're done so don't walk too far! You may fare well though if you are going to be in the big cities... they have Starbucks there :o)

This is all I can think of right now. This part of Europe is beautiful... hope you get some free time to explore outside of work... let us know how you make out with the coffee.

Jon Strande

Jamy,

Wow, thank you! Well, you've reset my expectations, which is very good. I'd hate to get over there and not know this. I'm going to have to do a little digging now and figure out my coffee plan.... ;-) You know me all too well.

Jon

Mario

I can't be of any advice for travel tips regarding Munich or Zuerich but if you feel in the need of visiting Austria or need some translation work done in German you can mail me.

regards,
mario

Jon Strande

Mario, thank you! I might just take you up on that!

Rob

Jon,
You just need one phrase -
Ich spiele gern bier - "I like beer"
That will insure that you have a good time.

Switzerland is beautiful. You will really enjoy it.

Jon Strande

Rob, thank you! Yeah, if I can learn to ask for coffee, a beer, and the bathroom I'll be fine! :-)

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