The best Swiss specialty!

Photos: On the way to Livigno (IT) from Switzerland. Queue for the train with car loading (Vereina) plus queue before the tunnel (Munt La Schera) afterwards. Total waiting time: 7 hours! Unbelievable in a civil country!

What is Switzerland famous for?

Banks, chocolate, watches, mountains, rösti, heidi and…. RED TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND QUEUES!

Traffic regulation belongs to Switzerland as human life to Saturn! Absolute zero!

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His majesty, the speed radar!

This morning, while accompanying my daughters to school, I noticed a new glorious temporary installation: his majesty, the speed radar!

“It” was proudly watching the internal street of our village, to check any possible car driving faster than 30 km/h! Right decision: no car will put small children in danger any longer.

Call “it” as you wish, but as a matter of fact, the horrendous radar / speed trap / camera / big red eye is a real institution in the Confederation! Exactly like chocolate, watch, bank, cheese fondue and mountain.

And “it” is also a great money collector for the public administration, whenever some car falls under its claws.

I was so impressed and frightened by this steel policeman, that I almost wanted to modestly introduce myself to “it” and, bowing, already leave “it” a small monetary contribution…

“Refreshing” roundabout


Wettingen is proudly the biggest “village” (as opposite to city or town) of Switzerland!
Basically a big village near the city of Baden, historical home of the multinationals ABB and General Electric (former Alstom).
Even if Wettingen is not a city, on its streets you can find something unique! A roundabout with some figures wearing swimsuits and taking… shower! And the showers are real, they have real water!
Of course the showers are working only in summer! We are in Switzerland, everything is planned!

Money, money, money



[Photo of ABBA’s “Money money money”: from hitparade.ch]

Even if the title is the same as the successful song by ABBA, this story is just a boring “black and white” matter of Swiss francs, bills and burocracy.
Due to the fact that Switzerland is the country of all welfare records, including the highest prices of the world, a lot of people living near the border prefer to buy stuff in Germany.
Some weeks ago we went to Germany to buy some tyres. Coming back, with the tyres proudly making themselves visible from the trunk, we were stopped by the severe customs officer.
Having bought these tyres in Amazon with delivery in Germany, we did not have any receipt. By the way, for some ununderstandable rules, the tyres shall always be declared and the relevant 7.7% Swiss VAT shall be paid! (Apparently, also tyres which are lying in the trunk shall be considered as a single piece with the car, and therefore their VAT shall be paid).
How did the custom officer calculate the VAT? Basing his figures just on my verbal declaration of the possible price of the tyres!
Strange, right?!
Price and rigorous VAT calculation starting from a verbal supposed price, but the relevant receipt given to me as bumptious bill with Swiss flag and four languages to say “Swiss Confederation”.

Very vague about the rules, but very precise when it goes to money!
Should the famous ABBA song eventually be proposed as new national anthem of the Confederation?

The power of Swiss nature


Last Wednesday I just arrived home when the fury of the sky fell on the Earth.
In Ehrendingen and surroundings a violent hailstorm started and went on for half an hour, followed by violent rain!
The main road crossing the village became an impetuous river with half metre water, and all the fields and streets became white as in winter!
The force of nature was impressive!
The buses and cars still on the road became like insects into the sea.
In some neighbouring villages they even remained without drinkable water for some days, because everything was contaminated with mud.
A lot of basements, houses, shops where flooded and invaded by water and mud.
A real scary scenery.
But thanks to the assiduous work of the fire brigade, in a couple of days all the main damages where fixed and the mud and water sent away and dried.

Unfortunately, as in this case, even the quiet Switzerland can sometimes become very… angry and upset!

Nussbaumen… Carnival at the roundabout

2017-02-05-12-16-20
Yesterday I was driving through Nussbaumen (Gemeinde – community of – Obersiggenthal) and I noticed again its main roundabout.
We can define it as a “seasonal” or “multi-purpose” roundabout.

Thanks to the various poles, depending on the season or on some particular event, the roundabout can be “made up” with suitable flags or decoration.
Now we are approaching the Carnival time… or, as they say here, “Fasnacht”.
And that’s why the area is now full of flags showing a funny character with fake nose, laughable hat and pretending to dance.

Welcome in Nussbaumen, a town with more than 30% foreigners, where you immediately see when it’s Carnival time!

Gotthard tunnel…again! (Now in English!)

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Dear Readers,

as promised in my previous post “Gotthard tunnel…again!“, here the English version.

I am Italian and I have been living for 15 years in Canton Argovia.
Therefore, especially on public holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, summer weekends, I have been dependent on the scandalous (not to say disgustingly managed) Gotthard tunnel for 15 years.
Just for the few who might not know, the Gotthard tunnel is a 17 km long, 2 lane (one for each direction) tunnel separating the Italian from the German part of Switzerland and it is located on the main highway connecting Southern and Northern Europe through Switzerland!

As examples, my second last horror journey in the third world of Gotthard and surroundings: the return journey from Milan on Monday after Easter, on 28th March, and my last one: the return journey from Milan on Sunday, 8th May, at the end of the long weekend for the Ascension Day.
First of all, some tunnels before Gotthard, everything starts with a nice red traffic light lasting almost two hours!
What for?
Then the traffic light blinks and becomes orange (green would be too adventurous: attention! on the highway there are a lot of cars: danger! danger!) and finally, at the third attempt (the orange lasts only a couple of minutes without considering the inertia needed to restart the engines!), I succeed in passing the barrier.
After few kilometres (10 km before Gotthard tunnel) there is again a semi-still queue which is moving very slowly: some 10 metres every 5 minutes!
What is this?
A showdown to frustrate the drivers not to drive through the Gotthard tunnel?
It is obvious and easy to understand even for a child that, if you concentrate all the cars stopping them and blocking them with red traffic lights, you create useless and artificial queues!!!
If you let the traffic flow, the queues would dissolve by themselves or would be much shorter.
And who is deciding the timer for the traffic lights? Someone who perhaps does not even have a driving license? (Which would not be so unusual in Switzerland).
The green light in front of Gotthard is so short that the first cars with caravans cannot even start, slowing down all the group and making even the very traffic lights quite disputable!
Despite the meticulous and scientific traffic light timer which all the drivers have to undergo before entering the mouth of Gotthard, the dangers and risks in the tunnel are for sure absolutely not diminished, on the contrary!
In the tunnel you can still have queues which are moving very slow, or even stop, and all the cars, buses, trucks are willingly grouped one after the other within a very short (too short) distance!

Therefore I would like to know the main reasons of this fallacious and retrograde “access rule” to Gotthard.
There are even mathematical disciplines studying the theory of queues.
In case these were the background for such traffic regulation, for sure they would have found the biggest exception to their real applicability here near Gotthard!

Finally some data:
The journey “Argovia”-Milan normally takes a little less that three and half hours for about 300 km. With the Gotthard crisis, this journey becomes an odyssey of at least 6 hours (in the best cases…) or even seven!
These figures should make the responsible persons think, the people responsible of encumbering the connection between Northern Europe and a wide part of Southern Europe.

In order to grant the best possible safety at Gotthard tunnel, the first red traffic lights should perhaps be installed even at the border with Italy, at Chiasso!