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Life of Ryrie

Adventures in family life

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Expat

The main focus of this post is ‘Expat Life’.

Tunnel Vision

I have become a bit obsessed. Not with Taylor Swift, not even with David Gandy’s swimwear (ahem).  Nope.  Tunnels.  Yep, you read that right.  I have become a tiny (actually, maybe a lot) obsessed by tunnels.  The Swiss are also obsessed by them, there are at least 220 of them in the country.

It is understandable that the Swiss have become adept at building tunnels – I mean why waste time going over a mountain when you can just drill straight through it.  It also fits well with the Swiss national character.  Secretive, efficient, impressive attention to detail, but with a tendency to appear in surprising places.  It’s this latter that convinces me of their obsession and which has sparked mine.

Continue reading “Tunnel Vision”

Innsbruck

Ascension Day meant that in our Catholic canton the children were off school for a long weekend.  We decided to make the most of our central European location and take a short(ish) trip over the border into Austria and explore Innsbruck.  I have to admit that the only thing I knew about Innsbruck was the hosting of the Winter Olympics (which the city has done twice, the last time being in 1976) but my husband has happy memories of childhood holidays spent in Igls, just 5 kilometres out of the city at the foot of the Patscherkofel mountain.

It took us about four hours to make the journey from Steinhausen; wending our way through the small, but perfectly formed, gem of Liechtenstein, before threading our way round the Arlberg Pass, rising to a height of just over 1,800 metres, and arriving in the heart of the Tyrolean Mountains at Igls.  It’s easy to imagine the bustling, hyperactivity of Igls in the winter as it seemed that every street had places to hire skis, snowboards and sledging equipment with a cable car station for the Olympic resort just a few hundred yards from the centre of the town.  However, what with it being May, skiers had been replaced with hikers and cyclists, a far more sedate crowd.  We stayed at the Sporthotel and any hotel that greets its guests with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine gets my recommendation every time, the perfect antidote to four hours in the car with the children!

Continue reading “Innsbruck”

Snow in May

On our recent trip to Innsbruck we passed through St Anton am Arlberg on the Arlberg Pass.  We stopped at the top of a windy road at St Christoph am Arlberg at a height of just over 1,800 metres the children were bemused and delighted to find – snow even though the temperature a little further down the mountain was in the early twenties!  An opportunity to take a few photos…

Sparkle & Shine

The children have just been lucky enough to enjoy a couple of days off from school (Ascension Day break) and so Steve and I decided to make the most of our geographical position and nipped over the border (through Liechtenstein) to Austria.  Three days, based in Igles, visiting the location of the 1976 Winter Olympics, Innsbruck.  The full account of our trip will be blogged later this week but in the meantime here is a post (written by Tilly) about Swarovski Kristallwelten which we visited on our final day and which is twenty minutes outside of Innsbruck in Wattens.

Tilly took along her notebook and what follows is her report on our visit (along with photos taken by both Tilly and Joshua)…

Continue reading “Sparkle & Shine”

Ha ha ha – stop, thief!

Did you hear the one about a bike that was stolen from a secure underground garage?

It was in Switzerland.

I know, I doubt the punchline made you laugh, it certainly didn’t make Steve chuckle, but it’s definitely a joke.  In the same week that ‘safe’ Switzerland was named the happiest country in the world(!), Steve had his bicycle stolen from our ‘secure’ garage.

When we were about to embark on our Big Adventure everyone, almost without exception, commented on the fact that Switzerland was a safe country.  Well, I have news for you, Switzerland is not as safe as you might think it is.  Having done a little bit of research* I have found out that even though general crime levels are indeed lower than in the UK, the incidence of Intentional Homicide is higher in Switzerland.  The number of murders with firearms is five times higher than in the UK.  There are 53% more car thefts per 1,000 people in Switzerland compared to the UK.  In addition, about 23% of the population are immigrants (high immigration usually being connected to high crime rates).  AND our children had to participate in a routine ‘lock down drill’ at school, just in case some loon decided to take issue and terrorise 900 primary school kids.  So why do we have this perception that Switzerland is safe?

Continue reading “Ha ha ha – stop, thief!”

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This year I could have bypassed the UK General Election, but I didn’t.  I registered for my postal ballot papers and duly returned them in good time – even though the pre-paid envelop clearly wasn’t going to be pre-paid when returning from Switzerland.

Low turn out figures REALLY annoy me.  I believe that you should have to vote.  Too many people have died, and are still dying, for this simple right.  If you haven’t popped to the polling station yet, get your butt down there.  It takes five minutes.  Revel in the fact that you are free to put an x on a piece of paper.

Bloomin’

One of the loveliest things about Switzerland isn’t the fondue, or its proximity to the rest of Europe, or even the view from the balcony, nope, it is actually the Blumen fields.  The whaty fields I hear you ask?  The Blumen fields.  Now let me explain.

Many of the local farmers dedicate a corner (actually sometimes more than a corner) of their land to flowers.  Tulips, dahlias, lilies, sunflowers, and many more besides.  Between April and October these fields allow members of the public to select a segment of the rainbow to take home with them.  As with everything in Switzerland these multicoloured delights don’t come for free with each stem costing anything from 80 rappen to 3 francs.  The joy comes from the fact that you pull over from the road, grab a knife that the farmer has kindly left for your convenience(!), you wander along the rows choosing the blooms that catch your eye before you leave your payment in the honesty box.  Yep, you read right, not only are there half a dozen knives left out (health and safety clearly not an issue here) but there is also an HONESTY BOX!!!

For me the humble honesty box sums up the difference between Switzerland and the UK.  In England (or Scotland, or Wales or Northern Ireland for that matter) honesty boxes are as rare as hens teeth.  I guess that in a society where local newspapers report thefts of charity collection tins then honesty boxes are laughable.  If you do happen across the odd small holding where eggs are for sale the honesty box is practically cemented to the ground, gloriously contradicting its title and leaving you to wonder whether even the owner can access it.

The Blumen fields are more than just a pretty patch of land that generates a few extra francs for the landowner, they illustrate a society that still has faith.  Faith in each other to do the right thing.

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Switzerland – Five Recommended Expat Blogs

I can’t believe it.  ExpatFocus.com have included me as one of their five (yes count them, only one hand needed!) recommended blogs for expats living (or thinking of living) in Switzerland!  I am so delighted I can’t even begin to express it properly.  It means that people actually read my blog!  So, if you do read lifeofryrie.com (and you’re not a blood relative) THANK YOU!

To find out a bit more about me and my expat experience you can read my ExpatFocus interview by clicking the link…

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If you would like to keep up to date with me and my expat life (intermingled with a bit of family stuff) then click the ‘Follow’ me button to the right of you…

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…GREEN!

Beautiful, bountiful, lush Swiss Spring Greens.

 

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