Nussbaumen… Carnival at the roundabout

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!)


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!

Gotthard tunnel… again!


Dear readers,
during my last 10 hours’ trip (!) from Milano (Italy) to Argovia (Switzerland) to cover a little more than 300 km, I succeeded in writing the following post during the never ending queues.
My initial aim was actually to send this article to some Swiss newspapers and therefore I wrote it in Italian (this is the language spoken at one entrance of the Gotthard tunnel) and in German (spoken at the other side of the Gotthard tunnel).
Unfortunately I found out later that it is even quite complicate to send letters to Swiss newspapers!! Either in Italian or in German!!
Not to completely trash my hard work during the queues, I allow myself to publish this post in these two unusual languages…
I will translate it also in English, in case you are interested!
By the way, to be consistent with the length of the queues, I think this is absolutely my longest post ever!
If you have no clue of both Italian and German, then you can understand something about Gotthard at my previous post “Gotthard: the biggest bottleneck of Europe!“.

Italian version:

Sono italiano e vivo da 15 anni nel cantone di Argovia.
Quindi da 15 anni, specialmente in prossimita’ delle feste (Natale, Pasqua, Ascensione, Pentecoste, weekend estivi), mi ritrovo sempre in balia dello scandaloso (per non dire schifosamente gestito) tunnel del Gottardo.
Prendo come esempio l’ultimo mio viaggio dell’orrore nel terzo mondo del Gottardo e dintorni: il rientro da Milano al lunedi dopo Pasqua, 28 marzo.
Per prima cosa, un po’ di tunnel prima di quello del Gottardo, si comincia con un bel semaforo rosso della durata di quasi due ore!!
Per cosa???
Poi il semaforo diventa arancione lampeggiante (verde sarebbe troppo azzardato: attenzione in autostrada ci sono tante macchine: pericolo! Pericolo!) e finalmente al terzo tentativo (l’arancione dura solo un paio di minuti ovviamente senza contare l’inerzia che ci vuole per far ripartire i motori!) riesco a passare la prima barriera.
Dopo pochi chilometri (10 km prima del tunnel del gottardo) ancora coda semi ferma che va a singhiozzo: 10 metri ogni 5 minuti!
Una prova di forza per scoraggiare gli automobilisti a non varcare il gottardo?
E’ ovvio e comprensibile anche a un bambino che se si concentrano tutte le macchine fermandole e intruppandole coi semafori rossi, si creano inutili code artificiali!!!
Lasciando fluire il traffico, le code si smaltirebbero da sole o sarebbero ben piu’ snelle.
E chi mette il timer ai semafori? Qualcuno che magari neanche possiede la patente di guida? (Cosa tra l’altro non cosi’ inusuale in Svizzera). Il verde davanti al Gottardo dura cosi poco che i primi con roulotte non riescono neanche a partire, rallentando ovviamente tutto il gruppo…e rendendo gli stessi semafori alquanto discutibili!
Malgrado il meticoloso e (fanta)scientifico timer semaforico a cui sono sottoposti i guidatori prima di entrare nelle fauci del Gottardo, i pericoli nel tunnel non sono affatto scongiurati, anzi!
Nel tunnel ci sono lo stesso code che procedono a rilento, o addirittura a volte si fermano e le auto, i bus, i camion ovviamente tutti VOLUTAMENTE raggruppati uno dopo l’altro a brevissima distanza!

Gradirei dunque conoscere i motivi di tale paradossale e retrogrado “regolamento di accesso” al Gottardo.
Esistono addirittura discipline matematiche che studiano le teorie delle code.
Qualora queste fossero alla base della regolazione del traffico in prossimita’ del tunnel del Gottardo, avrebbero sicuramente trovato qui al Gottardo la piu’ grande eccezione alla loro reale applicabilita’!

Da ultimo alcuni dati:
Il viaggio “Argovia”-Milano dura normalmente poco meno di 3 ore e mezza per circa 300 km. Con la crisi gottardiana, tale viaggio si trasforma in una odissea di almeno 6 ore (nei casi migliori…) o anche 7!
Questi numeri dovrebbero far riflettere chi di dovere, responsabile di intralciare i collegamenti tra tutta l’Europa del Nord e parte di quella del Sud.

Forse per garantire la massima sicurezza al tunnel del Gottardo, i primi semafori rossi dovrebbero addirittura essere installati al confine, a Chiasso!

German version:

Ich bin Italiener und seit 15 Jahren wohne ich im Kanton Aargau.
Deswegen seit 15 Jahren, besonders während der Ferienzeit (Weihnachten, Ostern, Auffahrt, Pfingsten, sommerliche Wochenende) bin ich in der Gewalt vom skandalösen (und sehr lausig verwalteten) Gotthardtunnel.

Als Beispiel, meine zwei letzten Horrorreisen in die dritte Welt vom Gotthard und Umgebung: die Rückreisen aus Mailand am Ostermontag, 28. März 2016 und am Sonntag, 8. Mai 2016 nach der Auffahrswochenende.

Erstens “starten” wir viele Tunnel vor dem Gotthatdtunnel mit einem schönen Ampfel, der etwa 2 Stunden rot bleibt. Wofür?
Denn der Ampel wird blinkend orange (grun würde zu gewagt. Vorsicht, auf dem Autobahn gibt es viele Autos: Gefahr! Gefahr!) und beim dritten Versuch (Der Ampel bleibt orange nur wenige Minuten und dann wird wieder rot, ohne zu zählen die Trägheit, um die Motoren zu starten!) schaffe ich, die erste Barriere zu überqueren.

Nach einigen Kilometern (10 km vor dem Gotthardtunnel) noch eine halb-gestoppte Schluckstau: 10 Meter jede 5 Minuten!
Ist das eine Kraftprobe, um die Autofahrer zu entmutigen, den Gotthatdtunnel durchzufahren?
Es ist selbstverständlich auch für ein Kind, dass es unnötige künstliche Staus bilden sich, wenn alle Autos, Bus, LKWs gesammelt und an eine einzige Truppe angeschlossen werden!!
Wenn der Verkehr selber fliessen dürften, würden die Staus kleiner werden und sich selbst lösen können.
Und wer regelt die verdammten Ampeln?
Vielleicht jemand, der sogar keinen Führerschein besitzt (Das würde eigentlich nicht so ungewöhnlich in der Schweiz sein).
Die Dauer des grünen Ampels ist so kurz, dass die erste PKW-Fahrer mit Wohnwagen schaffen sogar nicht, ihre Autos zu starten und das wird natürlich die ganze Gruppe verlangsamen…und das gesamte “Ampelsystem” fragwürdig machen.
Trotz des übergenauen Sci-Fi-Timer der Ampeln, der für alle Fahrer vor dem Gotthardrachen gilt, sind die Gefahren nicht im Gotthardtunnel beschworen, im Gegenteil!!
Im Tunnel gibt es sowieso sehr lange Staus, die teilweise stoppen sich oder bewusst bewegen sich, aber wie eine unendliche Schlange von gesammelten Autos, Busse, LKWs.

Ich möchte gern wissen, die Gründe dieses abwegige primitive Zutrittreglement zum Gotthardtunnel.
Es gibt sogar matematische Disziplinen, die die Wartenschlangentheorien studieren. Falls diese die Basis für die Strassenverkehrsordnung in der Nähe des Gotthardtunnels wären, würden sie hier am Gotthard sicher die grösste Ausnahme für ihre realistische Anwendbarkeit finden!

Schlussendlich einige Daten:
Normalerweise dauert die Reise “Argovia”-Mailand ein bisschen wenig als dreieinhalb Stunden, um etwa 300 km zu fahren. Mit der “Gotthardkrise” wird diese Reise eine Odyssee von mindestens sechs Stunden (im besten Fall!) oder sogar mehr als sieben!
Diese Zahlen sollten die Zuständige überlegen lassen, weil sie verantwortlich sind, die ganze Verbindungen zwischen Nordeuropa und einem grossen Teil der Südeuropa zu behindern!

Vielleicht, um die höchste Sicherheit am Gotthardtunnel zu gewährleisten, sollten die ersten roten Ampel schon an die Grenze, in Chiasso, installiert werden!

Special gift under the windscreen wiper

Today was a pleasant sunny day and so I went to Zurich with my family to get some sun before the long Swiss winter.
While walking, I saw something which I would have never expected…

A black car was parked in the city centre near the lake with something quite strange under its windscreen wiper…
An advertisement leaflet? No, too normal!
A leaflet with information about some cleaning or moving company? No, too normal!
A leaflet advertising discounts for some dress shops? No, too normal!

Then it should have been something very typically Swiss, you might think…
Not really.
What was the mysterious object under the windscreen wiper?
Look at the picture below and you will have some doubts on the serious, “square” and very normal Confederation…!

2015-10-25 12.09.59

Summer tyres, winter tyres and…shoes

2015-06-28 12.21.57 HDR
Some weeks ago I parked the car and I was ready to have a walk with my two daughters.
Suddenly I saw a weird thing next to a car parked not so far from mine.
The car had some shoes outside it!
This can only happen in Switzerland…in many other countries a pair of “unattended” shoes would not resist so long alone!

I leave you the choice to guess what might have happened:
a) The car driver was tired and took out his shoes to have a barefoot walk
b) The shoes run away from some house and tried to find another home inside a car
c) The invisible man was just standing there and I just did not realise it!
d) They suddenly invented a mid-season kind of car tyres which look incredibly similar to human shoes!

Switzerland: the wonderful country of chocolate, luxury watches, banks and…misterious shoes!

Gotthard: the biggest bottleneck of Europe!

2015-07-25 08.32.57 HDR_a
Gotthard tunnel: this is one of the wonders for which the Swiss are proud.
A 17 km long tunnel dividing Switzerland into two, separating Ticino, the Italian speaking part, and Canton Uri, the beginning of the German speaking part.
Two different Cantons, two different languages, two different worlds.

But this pearl of engineering has become for some years a real pain for all the vehicles which need to cross Switzerland: basically the most of the traffic coming from Northern and Central Europe and going South (typically to Italy).
A complicated system of traffic lights is creating dramatically long queues before entering the tunnel, in both ways, allowing only a limited number of vehicles inside the tunnel at the same time. When I say long queues I mean even 9-10 km, which corresponds to at least 1 and half hour waiting time!!

But the queues created by this genial process are really artificial! Before and after the tunnel the traffic is never so full to justify such queues.
Not counting the fact that, although only a limited number of vehicles can drive through Gotthard at the same time, when driving through after long queues, the drivers are quite mad and the distances between different vehicles are quite small! Is this really safe? Is this really a sound approach to the tunnel safety? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

As a matter of fact, thousands of workers, tourists, drivers are facing a dramatically difficult situation whenever they have to pass through the Gotthard tunnel. This phenomenon is increasing in spring and summer, but it always persists latent during the whole year.
Gotthard tunnel…an oasis of third world inside the super civilised Confederation!
Or are the queues perhaps purposely created to discourage all foreigners or tourists or whoever dare to cross the Land of the Mountains?

And last week…wonderful! There was no queue at the Gotthard tunnel direction North.
What did they invent at the Traffic Department? The closure of one of the two lanes of the highway approaching the tunnel for 4 km for some construction works, to get the usual reassuring queue before the tunnel!! What a scandal! Especially considering that no one was making any repair to the road!

Finally the Gotthard tunnel, although long, is not the longest in the world, but the constant queues at its entrances are probably beating a lot of world records!!


Today I took a long time to cross Brugg by car. The main road was surprisingly blocked and the cars could only drive very slowly. It seems that every Swiss village or small city (including the big cities, like Zurich) is built in such a way that can close itself as an hedgehog!
The same hedgehogs which are often victims of too fast cars and main characters on the ads which are reminding the car drivers of them!