I wanted to start talking a little about driving over here. For the most part the rules of the road are very similar to the US. There are a couple of differences though.
In smaller towns parking is very haphazard.
The video was made on the street about a block from my apartment building. On the entire street there are only 4 parking spots, but that doesn’t stop people. The Land Rover is always in the street. I am guessing there must be a law that says if one tire is parked in a drive way, the car is OK. I say that only half joking. This is not just in my town, every smaller town that I have visited, has the same issue. The funny part, to me, is that the driving car is the one responsible if there is an accident.
Speedlimit signs are only posted at the change site. For example coming into town, there will be one 50 KPH (kilometer per hour) sign no matter how big the town, I have not seen another speed limit sign until the speed limit changes again. In town or on the autobahn, that really isn’t a problem. In town, you just know to not go any faster than 50 KPH (side streets you keep below 30 KPH), and on the autobahn you just know it is usually 120 KPH. The exception on the autobahn is in or near a city the speed limit will be 100. What confused the heck out of me were country highways. When you leave a town you might see a sign like this.
and yes I have had to learn to read the signs in German, Italian, and French. For the most part that was pretty easy. Anyway, when you come across a sign like above, it means the speed limit is 20 KPH above the number posted. Why they just can’t post a normal speed limit sign is still beyond me. The other weird thing, is that these signs have only been on the left side of the road, where all the speed limit signs are on the right side. I am just very thankful the car has a heads up display, and it is tied into the GPS system. So far the car has been really accurate, which is good because speeding fines can get expensive quickly. 40 CHF for 1 – 5, 120 CHF 6 – 10, 250 CHF for 11 – 16. Anything over 16 KPH requires going to court, where the ticket can be based on your income!! I have talked to some people, and yes, you might get a ticket for going 1 KPH over the speed limit. The majority of speeding is caught by camera, and in some places the cameras are set for the exact speed, and if you are even slightly over, you get a ticket. My limited experience is that in town almost everyone drives 3 – 5 KPH slower than the posted limit.
The final thing that is still taking me a while to get used to is this: on secondary roads you give priority to traffic on the right. Sometimes it is marked, sometimes it is not marked. So while driving you always have to be watching for someone to simply stop in the middle of the road, as they stopped for a car on the right. Where I see the most is at an intersection walking to the grocery store. It seems pretty obvious to me, which is the primary road, but a lot of the time I will see a car stop because there is a car coming up to the intersection on their right.
I assume, the more I drive the more comfortable I will get, but so far I am still uneasy behind the wheel.
This weekend we took a trip to the city of Einsiedeln. It is about 40 minutes away from the house, and I had seen they have a nice winter hiking trial system. It is right on the edge of the mountains, so I figured there would still be snow on the ground. You will see from the video and the pictures, the snow was lacking. There is a small ski slope there, but it has already closed down for the season.
In the town, the most obvious landmark is the Abbey. The Abbey dates back to 934 when the first church was erected on the grounds. I was unable to take any pictures inside, as the church prohibited photography but the interior rivaled many of the churches we visited in Rome. Here is a link for google images, so you can see a little of what the church looks like. Link to Google Images. There are about 50 monks living in the Abbey, but you can tell from the size, that at one time, there must have been hundreds. The grounds surrounding the monastery are equally impressive, there are very large stables, and a saw mill on the property.
Julie and I went for a 5 mile hike around the town, and the lake nearby. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon; so it was delightful to be outside.
I have come to the conclusion that spring is just around the corner. My winter coats and boots have been put away. I am sitting watching the cleaners in the building next door and the workers are in shirt sleeves, and one is even wearing shorts. The daily temperature is up in the 50’s now. It won’t be long until the flowers in the neighborhood are blooming. That was my favorite season last year!
On a final note, we are nearing the 1 year anniversary of when the world changed due to the pandemic. A year ago, Julie and I were skiing at the Matterhorn. This was just as they announced the first lockdowns in Italy. Oh how naive we were 12 months ago.
The Swiss Government announced last week that we are going to continue with restrictions through the end of March. The restrictions will be: continued work from home and bars, gyms, and theaters will continue to be closed, and restaurants are closed to dining in. The last few weeks I have noticed a lot more pushback in the news. I think, just like the rest of the world, the Swiss are coming close to their limits. The work from home is the one that doesn’t make any sense. There was a study released a couple of days before the new restrictions were announced, that showed how the work from home has actually INCREASED mobility not decreased mobility. The study basically said that when people had to go to the office, they were being more careful on weekends. Now that they are working from home, most people are going places on the weekend instead of staying at home. So the way I read this, the work from home order has actually made things worse instead of better. My anecdotal evidence says that is true as well. Schools have been out of session for the last two weeks due to the end of winter ski break. (I don’t know what else to call it.) and there is no one in town. I think the majority of families took their kids skiing for the last two weeks. Normally people go one week, but now the working parent only has to take off one week, but the whole family gets to play in the mountains for two weeks.
There has not been any more talk of the vaccine passport here, but I think it is only a matter of time before it goes into effect. There has been a lot of talk about treating people differently once they have had the vaccine. IE no quarantine and those kind of things. I don’t know how they will implement any of that without some kind of vaccine passport. There has not been any real talk about when things will open up to allow cross border travel again. I think we are looking at late summer or early fall, but I really do not know anything.
I do think we are almost over the 2nd wave. The case and death numbers are now below the peak of the first wave.
I hope this post found you well. Talk to you next week. Not a lot of pictures to post, and I will have a video of our hike up tomorrow or Wednesday.