Ass antlers, ear worms, and other problems Germans have

Have I mentioned how very, very excited I am to be moving to a place where they speak REAL GERMAN? Yeah yeah yeah, I know there’s an incomprehensible Bavarian dialect that lurks around, but when you’re not talking to drunk farmers, High German is the default language in Munich. High German, the German I know, love, and most importantly, UNDERSTAND. Yippee!

In honor of my impending return to German-land, I’d like to share a couple of my favorite German words and expressions. Perhaps you’ll even glimpse a bit of why I love this language so (although at the moment, I’m thinking my love for it is purely based on the fact that it’s not Swiss German). Apologies for any misspellings – it’s been years since I’ve actually written in German…

Arschgeweih – those ‘tribal’ lower-back tattoos (literally ‘ass antlers’)
Ohrwurm – a catchy song that gets stuck in your head (literally ‘ear worm’)
Vokuhila – mullet (short for ‘vorne kurz hinten lang’, or ‘short in the front long in the back’)
Kabelsalat – the snarl of cables under your computer desk, behind your entertainment center, or if you happen to be married to a computer engineer, all over your house (literally ‘cable salad’)
Schadenfreude – “Happiness at the misfortune of others? That IS German!” (I really wanted to link to the Avenue Q song here, but I couldn’t find a good video of it. It’s a catchy one.)

And the winner is…

Munich! Congratulations to Munich for being chosen as the home of our next expat adventure. It was a tough decision, but we are really looking forward to getting to know Bavaria a little more intimately. The beer gardens, Oktoberfest, the drunken tourists, the drunken locals… and I’m sure the city has some non-beer-oriented stuff going on, too. Doesn’t it? I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

I’m a wee bit sad we won’t be going to Ireland, at least not this time around. I’m sure I would have loved getting to know that country, too. The one way in which Munich is really a let down for me is the fact that I’ve already lived in Germany before, so the culture doesn’t have the shiny newness that Ireland would have had. Although I suppose one could argue that the deep heart of the former GDR can hardly be considered to have the same culture as Bavaria…

And thanks to everyone who chimed in on my Munich v. Limerick post. It was fun to hear others’ impressions of the two choices.

And the countdown begins

Our days in Zurich are numbered. What is there left to do before we move? What places do we want to go one more time? What things to do, foods to eat, people to see? What are we forgetting? How much chocolate do we need to buy before heading to the US for the holidays?

My impending art opening is keeping me distracted from thinking about moving logistics, for better or worse. Although It’s not quite as big an event as, say, having a wedding a week before you leave the country, which happens to be what we did right before our move from Milan to Zurich. We like to go out with a bang.

By the way, if you’ll be in Zurich on November 2nd, please feel free to drop by the opening. It should be a good time.

And you thought the White Man’s Overbite was an American thing

As it turns out, the Swiss are pretty good at it, too.

So tonight we went to a Wir Sind Helden concert. Now don’t get me wrong – Wir Sind Helden is definitely one of my all-time favorite German-singing bands. Right up there with Xavier Naidoo and the late great Falco. But I’m not such a fan of standing in a smoke-filled crowded room listening to really loud live music while drinking 7-franc Miller Genuine Draft (an atrocity which I’m sure would never happen in Germany, but the Swiss’ taste in beer is a story for another post). At least I had the good sense to hit up the coat check counter at the beginning of the encore, thus saving us an hour-long wait…

Mmmm…. winter


When we weren’t pulling our hair out trying to plan travel this weekend, we were off enjoying some lovely winter-like activities. Zurich is a fabulous place to be in the winter, assuming you like, um, winter. I am sorry we will be leaving before the real winter starts, but at least we are getting a little tease now.

Fondue season was declared officially open on Saturday. I think raclette season is right around the corner. Sure we’ll be bringing our fondue pot and raclette grill with us to our next home, but what if these treats don’t taste as good when you’re not physically located in Switzerland? Best to eat as much melted cheese as physically possible while we’re still in the country, just to be safe.

On Sunday morning we woke up early and went ice skating at Dolder. Environmentalists are unhappy with the fact that Zurich’s outdoor rinks have opened despite unseasonably warm weather, since it’s awfully inefficient to make all that ice. But if Al Gore can travel by private jet, I certainly get to take a little spin around the ice every once in a while. It was glorious. The rink was pretty deserted for a weekend, with the exception of some intense curling (matches? games?) going on in a roped-off section of ice. Given that it was before noon, we resisted the Gluehwein on offer in the snack bar, but it was tempting…

The wintery weekend was topped off with some roasted chestnuts. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that Coop will start selling Zimtsterne before we move away. Sometimes it doesn’t take very much at all to make me happy.

Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Looking for a good time? Try booking a 4-country, 10-flight, 15-city trip using 500 different airlines and a million different travel websites. Around the holidays.

I need a personal assistant.

Update #1: OMG! For the first time in about 10 years of trying, American Airlines frequent flier miles have proven useful. Direct flights and everything! (As opposed to the usual “sure you can use 200,000 miles each to get from Zurich to New York, but you’ll have to spend the night in Dallas and have another 68-hour layover in Nome, Alaska, where we will require you to gnaw off your left big toe before you are allowed to board your final flight segment.”)

Update #2: Orbitz.com, you are on notice. Returning search results with cheap fares and then conveniently updating them to almost TWICE THE PRICE when we click “purchase.” Hang your head in shame.

Score one for butter awareness


They spread it on sandwiches by the gallon. They slather it on pretzels by the kilo. But apparently, the Swiss are just not consuming enough butter.

Their butter levels have become so dangerously low, in fact, that the Swiss Butter Council* has decided to intervene. To increase local butter awareness, the SBC has implemented an aggressive ad campaign to let the public know about how very natural eating copious amounts of butter really is.**

Thanks to TQE’s recent buttery post for reminding me to bring this important subject to my readers’ attention. Now go spread butter on something and eat it. Or your skin will turn unnaturally brown. Or something.

* OK, so I made this part up. There is no such thing as the Swiss Butter Council, at least as far as I know. The people behind the campaign are the mysterious butter.ch folk. Be sure to stop by their site and play the buttermeter game. Increase your butter levels today!
** At the very least, it’s more natural than wearing metallic bikini underwear.

Sion song

We spent the day before the cow fights in Sion, a lovely little Valais city not far from Martigny. The main attractions (beyond the charming downtown walking district) are multiple picturesque hilltop castles which overlook the city. Gluttons for punishment that we are, we hiked up to two castles (one of which is technically a church… shhhh, don’t tell the word police). The views of the city and the distant snow-capped Alps were enough to bring a tear to your eye and make you a tiny bit sad you were about to move away from Switzerland.

And then we headed back down into the city to sample copious amounts of the local wine.