18 Januar.2022

The apartment suddenly got a LOT more quiet this week, even with Julie working from home! Kaylee left for Madison on Saturday, and since both kids are back in the US the apartment just feels empty. It is getting a good cleaning this week, though! It is kind of strange having Julie home again so much. I think I am going to have to get a big whiteboard so that she can write down the days and times of her meetings. I have to work around the meetings so I can do house work.

George and Kaylee

I think I mentioned this in an earlier post this month, but 2022 is giving off such a strange sense of Deja Vu. Last year we were also in the middle of a work from home ruling. However, last year (if I remember correctly) we were in a kind of forced lockdown. Restaurants and bars were closed. The only exception were those in hotels. I remember thinking how stupid it was that you could go skiing and be in a gondola with people; you could go to a hotel and eat in the restaurant or bar, but practically all other entertainment venues were closed. Of course we were all hopeful because the vaccine was being rolled out, and we we naively believed that everyone would get the vaccine and it would be the end to the madness.

Now here we are a year later. By a lot of measurements in a much worse place with the virus, but the only real difference is that no one has any optimism for things to get better any time soon. Enough of the downer talk!

After the trip to Basel last week, we really did not do a lot. Kaylee and I went and visited the Lindt Museum in Kilchberg, but other than that we worked on a puzzle.

This puzzle was a lot more difficult than the previous puzzle. The blue alone took us most of a day. It would have been longer, but Kaylee noticed there were some electrical lines running diagonally across the sky. So we had to examine every single piece, and look for a “hair”. We eventually had to separate all the blue by shape. Then we would try each piece one at a time until we got one to fit. 🙂 Kaylee called it “Puzzling by brute force.”

I did get around to making some videos of our Basel trip.

30 seconds in Basel
Crossing the Rhine

Julie and I had seen some advertisements for something called the LILU Light Festival. This is something the city of Luzern started doing a few years ago. We thought it looked pretty fun; so after seeing off we bought tickets and took the train to Luzern. I wanted to take the train, because I had the thought the festival might have a sort of Christmas Market vibe, and wanted to be able to partake of adult beverages and not have to worry about driving home. Well my thoughts turned out to be WAY OFF THE MARK. It was nothing like a Christmas Market, and there was no booze to be had. Primarily because the crowds were so extensive, that it would have required a multiple hour wait to get anything.

Most of the show was outside but you could buy tickets for the inside light shows. We thought about buying tickets, but once we saw how big the crowds were, the last place we wanted to be was inside a building standing shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers! As it was, Saturday Night is the first time I can remember wearing a mask outside when we were not required to wear one.

The festival was supposed to have these light exhibits set to music. However, at most of the displays you could not hear anything. I am glad we went, but probably will not go back next year.

The rest of the week should be pretty quiet. Hopefully, I can think of something else to write about!

Talk to you soon!

12 Januar. 2022

I thought I would get this written earlier; so before I get into the meat of this post: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!

Reading the news this week I came across two stories that really got me thinking. The two stories have nothing in common, other than the fact I used to live in one place, and I now live in the other.

dateline Green Bay WI



In a nutshell Green Bay started to freeze over, so people had to get out on the hard water and fish. A pretty large group were in one area, and the wind picked up. Next thing these people know they are no longer connected to the shore, and are floating out into the middle of the bay. At least one person was smart enough to have a cell phone with them; so they called 911. Five government agencies had to respond to rescue the fishermen. (I say men because there might have been some women on the ice, but typically these stories are all men, because we are the ones that are dumb enough to be first on the ice.)

What amazes me about this story, is that I am no longer amazed. This seemed to happen at least once a year while we lived in Wisconsin. I seem to remember it happening more at the end of the season, because most people do not think about how fast the ice starts to get bad in the spring. Yes, the ice might still be 12 inches thick, but in the spring the ice gets soft and honeycombed; so the thickness is very deceiving.

It took me years before I would finally drive one of my vehicles out on Lake Winnebago. I never lost that sick feeling I would get in my stomach whenever I was in my truck, though. No matter how cold it was my window was always down. I wanted to be able to get out of the vehicle as quickly as possible if it started to go down!

Lake Winnebago Feb 2018

My friends and I would go out ice fishing and sturgeon spearing every year; some years the ice was more secure than others, but it was really the picture below that would ease my fears.

sturgeon spearing supplies

For some reason I was never as worried about getting OFF the ice as I was driving on the ice!

Getting back to the story. This story makes me angry every time I hear it. I was not angry that people were rescued. I do get angry about the fact that (to my knowledge) the individuals that choose to put themselves in that situation never got a bill for the cost of the rescue. Fire Departments in the area have spent 100’s of thousands of dollars or more on special boats and other equipment that allow the first responders to get from shore, across the water, on to the ice floe, and then back to shore. I always thought the people should have been responsible for at least some of that cost.

I think the other reason this story resonated so much is that I really miss ice fishing. This weekend we would be heading up to the border of Minnesota and Canada for four days of ice fishing, cross country skiing, and fellowship with some of our best and longest friends. Have fun on the Gunflint!

Dateline Gambarogno, CH

For years I have been reading stories about small towns in Europe offering homes for 1 Euro. These stories almost always happen in small towns that have had an economic collapse for one reason or the other. The reality is the old saying “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is…” comes into play strongly. These are homes that have been abandoned for years or decades. The cost to bring them to a state where they can be lived in can be in the high tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The icing on this cake is that if you are approved you have a very limited time to start and finish the remodeling projects.

The latest story I saw was from the village of Gambarogno. This village is in the Italian portion of Switzerland. The village is trying to sell “rustici”, these are old stone houses. They are probably hundreds of years old, but have been abandoned for a long time.

Julie and I have visited the area once. We hiked through one village that had a lot of these old stone homes. They were mesmerizing. We were so mesmerized by the houses we did not even take any pictures. 🙂

This story resonated with me for two reasons. The first being it is true example of the old saying. The homes are advertised as having a “lake view” with a lot of other attributes that lead the reader to think that these are perfect weekend getaway or holiday homes that just need a little TLC to bring back to life. NOT SO FAST. A follow up article was an interview with a person who paid the 1 CHF and started the process of taking ownership.

She went down to see the properties and discovered the following: Yes, many of them technically have a lake view, but the lake is very far away, and at most you can see a sliver of the lake. There is no road leading to the houses. It is an hour hike from the nearest parking spot. There is no electricity running to the homes, nor does the community have any plans to run electricity to the homes; even worse the community will not allow you to put solar panels on the roofs because that would take away the authenticity of the home. There is no water. Most of the homes do not have roofs any longer and are little more than ruins. Finally, even if all you want is a hiking shack with no amenities; you have to rent a helicopter to get building materials up to the house. This alone will add thousands to the cost of refurbishing the buildings.

The second reason the story appealed to me was this quote;

“I have nothing against German-speaking Swiss tourists who buy a rustico,” Della Santa told SRF.  

“But I don’t like to see people coming who have absolutely no desire to integrate, who don’t speak a single word of Italian. 

“Anyone who buys a one-franc rustico must be interested in the history of the place. This is not for people who just want a holiday home in the sun.”

This quote showed exactly what living in Switzerland is like. Let me explain.

In many ways I get the feeling that Switzerland is bi-polar. Out on the streets the people in Switzerland are smiling and extremely friendly. They will bend over backwards to help a visitor. The country realizes what tourism brings to the table, and act appropriately. Before the pandemic, I found that almost 9% of Switzerland’s GDP was due to tourism. I do not mean to imply that the people are friendly just because of the money tourists bring in. Where we live tourism is really not a big deal, but most people give a smile and friendly greeting on the street. Then you try and compare the hoops that Switzerland makes people jump through to actually move here, and you get the feeling that non Swiss people are expected to keep off the grass.

In all the European Union countries it is very easy to just pick up and move. It is almost the same as moving from one state to another in the US. However, even for EU citizens it is not easy to just pick up and move to Switzerland. An EU citizen can move without pre approval, but they have 14 days to register with the town they move to. However, before getting a residency permit, they either have to enter into an employment contract, or be able to show the ability to live without income for the duration of your permit. This basically means showing enough savings to last you for five years. If you lose your job, you can only stay in Switzerland for six months to look for another job. So meeting this is simply difficult but not impossible. The immigration policies are the biggest sticking point between Switzerland and the EU. In fact treaty talks broke off this past summer because the EU wants more access, and Switzerland wants things even more restricted. Trying to live in Switzerland for someone not from the EU is even harder. Basically the only way it can happen is for a company to sponsor your permit application, or simply be incredibly wealthy. 🙂 Even then it is hard, as Switzerland only allows about 4000 residency permits every year to non EU citizens.

Getting back to the quote. The mayor of this village expresses it very clearly for all of Switzerland. It is not enough to simply want to live here. We want you to become one of us and diversity is not appreciated.

One of the other American’s we have met has lived abroad extensively. She and her husband are on their third (I believe) assignment outside the US. She explained to us that this has by far been the hardest assignment they have had. Outside of other ExPats she has been unable to make any local friends. I do not think our friend has an introverted bone in her body. She will reach out to any and everyone she meets. It just goes to show how hard it is to “fit in” here in Switzerland if you are not Swiss.

I do not intend for this to be negative. I am 100% sure that a lot of what I have experienced living here would be the same if I were European and moved to the United States for a short time. What struck me about that quote was the simple fact that it was said out loud. I think most countries treat ExPats and Immigrants differently than citizens, but they would put on a different face and say in public that everyone is welcome. That just isn’t the way things are done here.

I still have not decided if that is a good thing or a bad thing. 🙂


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Our visits with the children are almost over. George left last weekend, and Kaylee leaves in three days. We love seeing the kids, but the weeks after they leave are harder, because we realize how little we get to see them now. I am sure that is the same problem all our empty nest friends experience. It just seems worse when you know it is a 10 hour flight and thousands of dollars to be able to see them again. We are looking forward to May, as we head back to the US for graduations.

I will have another post this week of our visit to Basel, the Lindt Museum, and hiking.

Talk to you soon!

6 Januar 2022

Today marks a dark anniversary in the history of the United States. The first time a presidential handover was not handled peacaefully. I will not comment any more than that…

We were fortunate to be able to spend another New Years Eve in the alps this year. It was extra special because our children were able to be with us. I do not know if Engelberg celebrates that much more than Andermatt, though Engelberg was drastically louder. In Andermatt we were staying at a hotel that was away from the center of town. We did not have a balcony; so we watched the fireworks from inside the hotel room. In Engelberg, we stayed in a hotel two blocks from the train station. The neighborhood was more boisterous simply because of the people walking home from the center of town. We had a great time standing on the balcony yelling “FROHES NEUES JAHR!” to all the neighbors. We did not have as good a view of the fireworks display, but it was still a very fun evening. Most of us were going skiing the next morning, though, so we called it a night when the noise subsided about 1 AM.

After the headache of getting back home (See my last blog post.), we were ready for a relaxing few days in the mountains. We did learn something about the car we have been driving for the last year, though. It only has seating in the back for two people. This made us a little uncomfortable since there were five us needing to ride in the car. The kids improvised. They put the smallest in the middle, and then wrapped the seat belts around all three of them. If we had gotten stopped, I am sure I would have gotten a ticket, but we got away with it. The most ironic thing, is that Julie’s company just started giving us car options for this year since the lease is up on our current car. We now have appointments made at different dealerships; so we can see the cars before we take one!

The trip to the mountains was a lot longer than normal. It is normally about an hour drive from our apartment to the train station in Engelberg. Well, there must have been a lot of other people heading somewhere to celebrate the New Year, because the autobahn was at a standstill. I could not figure out why the GPS system in the car was telling me to get off the highway, but after the second exit, I realized it was trying to steer me around the traffic; so I got off the autobahn and started following the GPS. That was a mistake. Instead of traveling along the highway at 15 KPH, we were now on city streets traveling 5 KPH. After another hour of trying to get through Luzern, the GPS kept trying to get me to re route AGAIN. I knew we were only about 2 kilometers from the autobahn at this point; so I ignored the GPS, and got back on the highway. By this time the traffic had dissipated; so the last 30 minutes of the trip went smoothly.

After arriving in Engelberg, we went and got our skis from the rental store, had a nice dinner, and then crashed. Julie and I were exhausted. We both got a little sleep on the plane but that was it for the day.

New Years Eve we had arranged ski lessons for some of the group. Young George (showing he is much more like his old man that he wants to believe), went straight up the mountain, as high as he could get to ski down. Unfortunately, on that side of the valley the snow was awful. There was only one run open so he skied that a few times, and came down for lunch. After the lesson, we went over to the other side of the valley where there was actually some snow. It was still pretty bad low on the mountain. There were a lot of rocks and mud peeking out from the snow. It was a fun afternoon though. We ended our ski day by skiing down to the bottom of the mountain. This was HAIRY!!! There are two ways down the mountain: Gondola, or one ski run. This mean that at the end of the day at least 1/2 the people on the mountain are using the exact same space on the mountain. Every level of ski proficiency was on display for this 1/2 to 3/4 mile ski run. Even more exciting were the hair pin turns and the run being only 10 yards wide in spots.

Young George and Kaylee on the slopes of Mt Titlis

New Years Day only three of us wanted to ski; so we headed back up Mt Titlis. We did not head all the way to the top, but we found some fun runs and spent about four hours tearing up the slopes. Thank goodness the snow was A LOT better further up the mountain. Mt Titlis was a fun ski area. I hope to visit it again this winter and try some more mountain skiing.

In the afternoon we turned in our rented equipment and met up with the rest of the group. Kaylee and I were the only ones who had been up Mt Titlis. When we were there this past summer the weather was awful and we could not see anything; so we took the entire party all the way to the top The pictures below are: When Kaylee and I were at Titlis in August, a panoramic picture from the top and a group shot from the top. I thought you might like to see the differences between a clear day and a cloudy day.

Cloudy day at the top of Mt Titlis
Clear view from the top of Mt Titlis
Gabby, George, Kaylee and Julie at the top of the mountain

After enjoying the top of the mountain we headed back to town for a relaxing dinner, and to head back to Rüschlikon the next day. It was another whirlwind trip to the mountains, made even more hectic by having to scramble and try and meet Zürich’s Covid requirements that we did not even know about until we got back and started getting emails about sending proof of our covid tests.

Since being back home, we are managing covid tests for the return trip to the US. Gabby was the first to head back. George leaves in about 36 hours, but we get Kaylee for another week. I am learning a little about what my parents started to go through when trying to get different schedules to line up. Between limited number of vacation days, and two different universities starting up at different times I feel fortunate that we were able to have everyone over at the same time this year. It might be the last time that all of us are here together!

Julie is back to work this week, but Switzerland has a mandatory work from home rule in place; so for at least the next three weeks I have been relegated to the kitchen table and she has taken over MY office! Just like everywhere else COVID seems to be leading the news here. I was just reading an article this morning that explained the train system is having to cut routes, and that in some of the most popular ski towns restaurants and even hotels are being forced to close because to many employees have caught the virus. I was very surprised that the government did not issue new mask mandates. The health department released a study that FFP2 masks offer 70 times more protection than the surgical masks that most people wear. Many countries in europe have mandated the FFP2 masks and will not allow cloth or surgical style masks. I have noticed that since we left for Christmas the mask compliance has gone up a lot. For the most part people have been really good about wearing masks, but November and early December it was very noticeable the number of people that would not wear them on the trains, or had to be reminded to put them on inside a building. Since we have been back, I cannot remember seeing one person without a mask on the trains, and a lot more people are wearing them when going from building to building. Personally I am holding out a lot of hope, that this will be the last big spike in COVID cases. It is probably a pipe dream, but I am going to hold on that hope as long as I can!!

It finally got cold enough that I had to move the bike into the basement. I had taken a couple of weeks off from exercise after the St Jude’s 1/2 Marathon, but with the New Year I knew it was time to get off my behind again. I tried riding out on the balcony, but it was just way to cold. So for the next couple of months I will be spending about two hours a day down in the basement putting many kilometers on the bike. The weather is just so lousy in January and February, that I will probably jog only a couple of times in the next few months. That should be OK, though, I have my eyes set on a three peak mountain ride the middle of September this year. To accomplish that I need to put a lot of hours in the saddle this spring and summer.

I hope your New Year has started out as good as mine! Enjoy the pictures, and I will talk to you next week.

11 November 2021

This will be my last post from Switzerland for a couple of weeks. In 4 days I will be heading back to the US. I am going to spend some time in Wisconsin and then head back to Indiana to spend Thanksgiving with my parents. I will probably write at least once per week, because I am sure I will have some amusing stories to relate.

There is probably a 99.9% certainty that something will not go right with the Wisconsin DMV. I mean what can go wrong while trying to get an ID that has an address on it, but the only address you have is in another country? I have already talked to someone in Madison, but just because that person understands my problem is no guarantee that someone in Appleton will. If I had not talked to other people, in my shoes, that let the license expire to learn the headaches I would just let it expire. That being said, I do not want to retake all the tests when we eventually move back. I am not so much worried about getting the ID. I am not getting the Real ID (where you have to show proof of citizenship as well as residency.). I figure when we move back I can worry about the Real ID. What I figure will cause problems will be asking the person to have the ID mailed to a different address than is on the ID. According to the person I spoke with, I have to keep my old address on the license, because that is the ID I have to provide to keep my voting eligibility. Yet since we moved so long ago, the Post Office will no longer forward any mail. So I have to use my daughter’s address as the mailing address.

One thing that still has me ticked off about Switzerland is the health insurance situation. I have talked before about how Switzerland runs the whole country on the same system as Obamacare. It works, and overall health care is very good here. What has me angry is that when we moved here two years ago. I was given the “basic” insurance that every company is required to provide. This is OK as long as I am in here, but it does not cover a thing if we travel to another country. I do not worry about for short trips, but spending two weeks in the US scares me a little in case of an accident. I think I do need some coverage. Anyway, I just bought a policy that covers up to $1million in expenses. Max I could be on the hook for is $20,000. So pretty similar to the long term policies in the US. The cost is about $80 for two weeks. At first I thought this was expensive, but then I started thinking about how much money was taken out of my paycheck every week and how much my old school district had to pay. I realized that $80 is a heck of a deal. There is still much confusion on my part why my insurance company would not let me upgrade to a policy that would cover me in other countries. Julie was eligible for that one right away. The price increase would have been $150 per month. Based on my track record with doctors here, that would have been a good deal for the insurance company. Anyway, it is all bought and I am ready to head back to the US next week.

For those of you that get our Christmas cards, do not be alarmed that they have a US stamp on them, and are mailed from Indiana. I spent this week getting the cards ready. If I were mailing them from here it should have been done about a month ago. The mail is so inconsistent with the US. Sometimes letters take 6 days. Other times they take 6 weeks. The other reason for doing them now, is that it costs about $2 to mail something to the US from here, but I have a bunch of 40 or 45 cent forever stamps. So I have them all addressed and stamped so I can drop off and save about $100 on postage. Even with the increased postage, here, it is not enough to keep the Swiss Post in the black. There are talks about limiting service just like the talks that have been going on for decades in the US. I am not sure what the cost of postage really needs to be, but it is not high enough to keep the system running.

Below I am reposting the videos that were made in Murten. I learned that I should never update this thing on a weekend, because absolutely no one goes back and reads it. I do not get a lot of visits on my blog but I enjoy the writing, and it gives me something to do. On a normal day about 15 people visit my site. On a day that I post something that usually goes up to 30 – 40. Again, not a very big reach! 🙂 That being said when I posted these videos on Saturday only three people visited the site! So if you are interested to see a little more of Murten, please click on the videos below.

I hope you have a great rest of your week, and the next time we talk I will be back in the USA! Hopefully with some good stories to tell!

6 November, 2021

As promised I will be posting the two videos from Murten, but before that I have some more living outside the US things to share.

First to update you on the visit to the pharmacy. It took three trips, but I finally got the stuff Julie needed. I still have to say I am even more confused by the experience. My second trip back, the pharmacist took the card, but BEFORE she did anything else, she looked online at the medication, and saw they did not have it in stock. She did order the stuff, and told me it would be in the next day. She scanned the card in the system. So I come back the third day to pick it up. I had the card ready to go, and looked at me and said, “I do not need the card. I scanned it in yesterday.” So what gives? They do obviously keep the information from the card in the system. Was the first person just not treating me well? All she had to do was look up my wife’s information from the prescription. I guess I just got lousy customer service, instead of finding some real difference between stores over here vs stores in the US. 🙂

Our cable TV woes are still continuing. We now have three competing theories. One technician at UPC claims there is a bug in the programming, and that many people are impacted. Another technician claims that it is either the electrical current in the apartment, or the power supply for the cable box is bad. I still think it has something to with the construction going on around the building.

For the first theory, I started a thread on one of the forums I monitor. They have a section titled TV/Internet/Telephone. So I thought it was a natural. I figured if it was an update issue, there would be some other people respond. The thread has been up for almost a week, and the only responses I have gotten are “UPC is a crap company, and no one should ever use them.” and “there is something wrong with your cable box. You should probably switch it out.” So based on my limited sample size. No one else is having a programming problem with their UPC box. In regards to the, electrical theory. The technician wanted me to plug the box into a different outlet. That did not do anything. He then asked if I switched the power supply out when I got the new box. Neither of them have had any impact on the problem, because I did switch out the power supply. Here is the interesting thing. Last Saturday and today, the box has not rebooted ONCE. This, to me, leads some credence to my theory that all the construction is somehow messing with the cable signal. Of course no one from UPC wants to come and check on that. That might cost them a lot of money to replace the cable down the street. Oh well, we probably will not be customers for much longer. I am ready to just ditch the whole thing now, but Julie is afraid there will be problems while I am back in the US. So I guess we wait until after the Holidays to make the switch.

For those of you that are Facebook friends with me, you heard this rant yesterday, but it is a pretty good example of how complicated things are now days, so I thought I would share it here as well.

So I am traveling back to the US in 9 days. To get back into the US I have to provide proof of a negative COVID test, I am not sure about the vaccination status, because the rules are different for citizens. Yesterday I get an email from United Airlines about making the trip easier. They want me to get in and upload my documents before traveling. This is normal. We did the same thing when Kaylee was here to travel back and forth from Italy. So I log into the United site. I upload my passport information (for the second time). but am stuck trying to upload the COVID information. I figured I should be able to at least upload my vaccination information, but United has tied the vaccine into the test. So without one I cannot upload the other. This is where it gets silly.

The instructions state that all documents have to be uploaded at LEAST 72 hours before you fly. So for me that means by next Friday morning. Unfortunately, The documents have to be uploaded BEFORE you would have any information in regards to your Covid test. The test has to be taken 3 days before you leave. So if I go in at 8 AM to take the test. I won’t get the results back before noon. That service also costs me an additional $100. For the normal Covid test, the cost is still $150, but the results do not come for 24 hours. This makes it impossible to meet the 72 hour deadline.

Where it became even more funny. Is that in the section regarding the Covid test. United says I cannot take the test until the 14th. So if I wait until the 14th, I cannot fly back home, because I won’t have the results back I do not think I can even pay for the fast test on a Sunday. So I guess I will simply do what all our visitors did this summer. Take the test about 48 hours before I leave, and ignore having to upload the documents. Hopefully it will work out fine. I will be very angry if I get to the airport on Monday morning, and cannot fly home. Reminder to George: I get in to Indianapolis at 7:00 PM Monday the 15th. Don’t forget, you are picking me up and driving me to Mitchell. 🙂

Here are the videos from Murten:

Driving through the old section of Murten
The City Wall of Murten

Julie took some nice pictures from the town, so I thought I would share some of those as well:

Thanks for reading. Not sure what I will post about next week. I am going to be pretty busy getting ready to head back home! Talk to you soon, though.

4 November 2021

First off, Happy Birthday to my Father. He is 84 years young this week. He certainly is not as spry as he was 30 years ago, but he still loves getting out and doing things. He walks every morning, and spends time in the garden or other maintenance tasks on the farm. If it were not for computers he would probably still be practicing medicine as well. He still gets excited about travel, and he and my mother are already making their plans to come back to Europe next year. Anyway, Happy Birthday Dad! Glad we got to talk. I hope you like your gift, and I am looking forward to seeing you again in about a week and a half.

I had one of those “Oh Crap! Life is a little bit different here moments yesterday.” I had to visit the Apotheke (Pharmacy) and get something filled for Julie. We have visited this store multiple times. Of course I had never picked a prescription up before. I thought it would be like the US. Show up with the order, give your wife’s name, date of birth, and some other information, and you would get the medicine. Not here. I am sure they keep records that Julie has gotten medicine there in the past, but I could not get the order filled, because I did not have her insurance card. Honestly, I do not see how that matters. The way the insurance works here, is that I am the middle man. I pay for the drug, and then I ask the insurance company for the payment. I am sure it has something to do with the fact, that some drugs are no cost to the user, and then there is an arrangement made for payment, but I do not know for sure how it works. I do know that because of data privacy rules stores do not keep all the information they have about people in their data files. I am guessing that insurance information is one of those things they choose to not keep.

Technology did come through for us this past weekend. My son was in the “Moot Court” competition for his law school, He made it to the final round last Saturday. My parents, and some other relatives and friends were able to be there in person, but not so much Julie and I. His school, though, was very accommodating for us. They set up a zoom meeting; so we could watch him compete. The time difference was a little inconvenient for us. We wound up eating a really FAST dinner, and then sitting outside the restaurant watching his arguments. Julie and I were given a LOT of strange looks by the passerby’s but it was worth it.

Before I tell you a little about the town we visited. I got a lesson that my language skills are NOT nearly as good as I think they are. We show up to a restaurant, and exchange greetings with the server. This was done in German. So after the greetings in German I say: “Wir haven eiene Reservierung um seben uhr dreissig. Der Name ist Julie Sorrells.” Translated to We have a reservation at 7:30. The name is Julie Sorrells. Pretty simple and I thought I said everything right. However, she gives me a BLANK state. She had no clue what I said. So I tried it again. Still nothing. So I tried using the word for appointment (termin) thinking I butchered reservation so badly. Still just giving us blank stares, but then starts saying something that I cannot understand at all. Julie adds in, from behind me in English, We have a reservation…… The server immediately starts smiling, and shows us to our seats. The rest of the evening we conversed back and forth in German and English both.

I am really not sure what happened. I am convinced I said everything correctly. I did ask online, if I said something wrong. Here was the feedback I got:

1) Most said there was nothing wrong. She was just surprised to hear German. Julie made the reservation online and in English; so she was probably expecting an english speaker.

2) Like many Swiss people she speaks multiple languages. She was conversing with almost all the other customers in French. So the thought is that she is probably learning German just like I am. Since I do not speak German like a Swiss person, she probably did not understand my accent.

3) I did not use the common form for time. In German the normal way to say 7:30 is halb acht or 1/2 8. Honestly I struggle with this one, because in the US you would never say “It is 1/2 to 8.” You would always say, ” It is 1/2 past 7.” I always forget with the half, and think past instead of to the hour. I do need to get better at that.

The online feedback seemed to agree on number 3 the most, but I struggle to buy that one. What I said was not wrong, just not the preferred way of saying it. I think number 2 is probably the most likely explanation, but we will probably never know.


So our trip this weekend was to the village of Murten. Murten is about 150 KM from our house, so about a two hour drive. Murten is located in the canton of Fribourg. It is pretty close to the French Border. Friburg is the start of the French speaking area of Switzerland; so Murten is truly a bilingual village. Below is a picture from the church bulletin. You will notice that not only the mass order is written in two languages. Look at the song. The verses switch back and forth between French and German. This certainly made the Mass harder to follow. In German, I can usually follow about 50% of the service, and 30% of the homily. Last weekend those percentages were cut in half. Even during the homily, the priest did some in German, and then some in French!

Murten is a VERY old settlement. Archeological finds around the city are from 8000 – 5000 BC. Unfortunately, the provenance of those finds cannot be proven because the records have all been lost, but in the 1970’s during some road construction some additional finds were made that dale from 5000- 2500 BC. That is still pretty darn old! In Swiss History, the town is first mentioned in 515 AD. It was mentioned as a defensive site. The lake on one side, and the shape of the hills around the lake made Murten a natural defense. Murten is one of the few places that have maintained the old city wall. Parts of the wall date back to the 1100’s. The wall was made bigger for the next few hundred years, and in 1476, the city was under siege for two weeks. You can still see some of the bullet and cannon ball marks to this day! Starting around 1500 the town had really started to outgrow the walls; so parts of the wall were torn down, and as is common here were replaced with houses like pictured below. However, what makes this place unique, is that the majority of wall was preserved as it was originally built.

There are still a couple of spots where you can climb up to the battlements and look over the town, and the countryside like you could almost a thousand years ago! I will be putting up a video that we made walking along the old part of the wall; so you can really see what it looks like. The picture below is a panaramic photo I took from near the center of the wall,. You can see from the White tower on the left all the way along the wall to the tall tower on the right

The name of the town comes from the Celtic word for “Lakeside Fortress” One of those examples where the name describes the thing exactly.

Murten is an example of the thinking that lack of transportation can make or break a town, Back in the 1800’s Murten’s future looked very bleak. The government was putting in a rail line on the west side of the country that would go from North to South. The line was originally planned to go through the town, but it was rerouted through the Canton Seat of Fribourg. For the next 20 years the town struggled to survive because there was no transportation. Around 1875 a rail line was finally installed from Fribourg. That allowed tourism to become one of the driving forces for the village.

My final thoughts on Murten. I was very surprised by the number of homes in the old part of town. In most villages I have seen the old part of town has been preserved for business. Sure there are homes above the store fronts. Murten is a little different. The old part of town is about 4 blocks wide by about 6 blocks long. About 2/3 of the buildings are primarily business. However the section of the town closest the wall is primarily homes. There is an occasional storefront, but the majority of the buildings seemed to be homes. It looked like a really nice place to live. The other big shock was to find the grocery stores and some of the other retail establishments open on Sunday morning, Outside of the larger train stations or the airports, this was the first time in two years I have seen a grocery store open on Sunday. I think that is a sign that Murten’s number one industry is now tourism.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I will have two videos and some pictures on Saturday or Sunday to post.

27 Oktober 2021

So this week has been one with a lot of frustration, and it is only Wednesday! I am hoping that by the end of the week it will be a bit better.

So Julie and I have been having cable TV problems for a few weeks now. The cable box simply decides to reboot itself. Some days it might be only once. The worst day has been five times in a 50 minute window. As a technology person the one thing I always feared were problems that seemed random. They are always frustrating to the user as well as the “fixer” so I know a little about how the technicians at Sunrise/UPC are feeling. What is the most frustrating is that we pay for cable TV, yet we really only use it for about 50 minutes a day. When we are having our morning coffee and breakfast the BBC is on; so we can see about the weather, and keep up with what is happening in the world without having to consult a dictionary every 30 seconds. So when the TV reboots itself multiple times in that 50 minute window it becomes very annoying.

I am convinced it has something to do with the construction going on around us. The reboots ONLY happen when someone is working. However, UPC does not appear to share my concern. At this point I am going to give them two more weeks, and then I call a competitor.

My second frustration has me convinced that if travel does not pick up after the pandemic, it is solely due to the airlines. I do understand they have it tough. They lost a lot of business starting in 2020 and that money is lost forever. They have scaled back in a lot of ways, but this has also made the travel experience that much worse.

It started off with the kids coming over this summer. Kaylee somehow managed to not have any major changes in their flights, but George and Gabby were a different story. The morning they were departing, the flight was cancelled at 3:00 AM. They did get a text message about the flight, but who in the heck reads text messages when they come in at 3:00 AM? Most of us have gotten to the point we do not even have an audio notification to a message we just get a visual pop up. By the time they woke up and found the notice they should have already been at the airport boarding the one other flight that was leaving that day. It was nice in that we got to spend another day with the kids, but a pain in the butt for them.

Like a good traveler I made my reservations for Christmas months ago. We try and schedule the non-stop flight from Zürich to Chicago, and then connect to Indianapolis from there. It should have the least amount of headaches, because there are multiple flights all day every day from Chicago, or if the worst happens, we can rent a car and drive to southern Indiana without that much of a headache. So the first change was fly to Washington and then to Indiana. Not that big a deal, still just one stop. The next change was fly to Newark, then to Indiana. Again not a big deal. The icing on the cake came this week. We fly from Zürich to Newark, Newark to Chicago, and Chicago to Indianapolis. Even worse we only have 1.5 hours to get through customs in Newark and to the new terminal, and 40 minutes to change terminals in Chicago. The other thing that made me angry is that instead of getting into Indianapolis at 7:00 PM we do not get in until 10:50 PM. That 4 hours is the difference between being able to sleep at our destination vs having to pay for a hotel for the night, because I will be exhausted.

Now I have not had the pleasure for flying into Newark from over seas. Maybe it is possible to get through customs that quickly, that is not my experience in any other airport I have visited though. So if we miss that flight we spend the night in the airport. You know they will not put us up in a hotel, because the airline does not control how fast customs moves. Assuming everything goes perfectly and we make the flight in Newark. What do you think the odds are that this plane takes off on time? So now we probably miss the flight to Indianapolis. So the way I see it, unless everything goes absolutely perfect, there is almost zero chance we make it home without having to spend a night in an airport.

Here is what makes me INCREDIBLY ANGRY. So I am logged into the United website. I am looking at all the available flights they have. Somehow the original flight we had booked is now back on the schedule. So I wait for my 90 minutes on the phone and ask about that flight. I asked why we just cannot go back to the original flights we had reserved. I was politely informed that is possible, but it will cost an additional $4500 per ticket!!!!! To get back on the SAME flight that I booked originally, and UNITED kicked me off? I have many things I can call that situation, but the most polite is BULL SHIRT!

In United’s defense the flight is a Swiss Air flight, but because United has limited flights into Zürich they have a partnership with Lufthansa (they own Swiss). So I do not really know which company kicked us off the flight, but it does not seem right that I have to pay extra to get back on a plane that I originally booked, and that I did not choose to leave. The other part of this situation that really honks me off, is that looking on the website there were multiple ways to complete our flights that were easier. For example, if I wanted to have a 2.5 hour layover in Newark there was a directy flight to Indianapolis, that I could take instead of routing through Chicago. It gets me there almost three hours faster, and United does not have to pay for the added weight on the third flight. To me that saves them money. I guess I need someone that knows airline economics to tell me if that is true, or not. It sure makes them more money for me to have some convenience because they wanted to charge me an extra $300 per ticket to make that flight.

There is a very strong possibility I am over reacting to this. I would guess that before now, I averaged 1.5 flights per year. We thought we would be flying a lot moving here, but I am still just a little above average. I have flown twice a year since moving here. I just know on my two trips back to the US, I have not had any issues with flight changes, but this year they have been awful. Even worse it seems the flight changes are never in the favor of the passenger.

What makes me even more upset, is that I am already looking at giving the airlines even more money in 2022. Julie and I want to visit Budapest and Greece. Both of these trips will involve air travel. Not to mention, Julie really needs to fly back to the US in the spring to visit her parents. She has not spent any time with them in three years. I guess the bottom line is that I really need to meet one of those incredibly rich people that supposedly live here in Switzerland. I need to find that one friend, and convince him to let me use his private jet whenever I need one! I guess I need to start hanging out at different places than the grocery store and library. How hard is it NOT to become an alcoholic but drink every day? Asking for a friend…

Not much else to report this week. The weather is definitely heading toward fall. We do not see the sun much anymore, and the temperature is down in the single digits every morning. We will be driving to the town of Murten this weekend. Murten is located right on the border between the French and German sections of Switzerland. In fact, so far it has been the first city that I have always seen the french name and the german name used together. The town is called Morat in French. The town is one of the few that have preserved the medieval city walls that surrounded the population. So next week I should have some more pictures to view instead of simply reading my rants.

I hope you have a good week.

Talk to you soon.

two years and here are some of the things I am still confused about. :)

7 Oktober 2021

At age 54 my wife and I really never thought we would find ourselves selling almost everything we owned and putting down roots in a country where we did not even speak the language. Yet, here we are two years later. Our initial thought was that we would spend a couple of years touring Europe every weekend, but of course Covid and the pandemic put a HUGE crimp in those plans. We have had the chance to explore in Switzerland. Even after two years, here are some of the things I still just do not fully understand.

Why does switzerland not have a capital and why is it really bern?

In most European countries the capital city is also the most “important” city in the country. Whether that means population size, or industrial might, there was something that caused that city to become the capital city. In Switzerland Bern is only the sixth largest city. When the Confederation of Helvitica was started in 1291 until 1798 the capital city was wherever the Federal Diet chose to meet. This rotated between the cantons. After Napoleon invaded in order to centralize the government he initially set the capital in Aarau and then Luzern. In 1803 the Diet then began rotating between six of the cantons. This system lasted until 1848.

In 1848 parliament voted to seat the federal government in Bern. The feeling at the time seemed to be that Bern is located centrally in the country, and it was already a large enough city to handle the growth that seating the government would bring. Here is the important part. In all of the laws that set the federal government to meet in Bern, none of the laws call Bern the capital. The laws simply state The Federal Assembly meets in Bern and The official seat of the Council, Departments, and Chancellery is the City of Bern. Not one law officially calls Bern the Capital. The old wives tale is that this goes back to the days of the initial federation. Not one city or canton is supposed to be more important than any other.

For all practical purposes though, Bern is the capital of Switzerland.

when is toast not toast?

Which of these is Toast? As someone from North America, I would say the picture above this text is bread, and the picture to the right of this text is toast. To me toast is made when the bread goes through the chemical reaction caused by applying heat to bread.

In Switzerland though, the “bread” in the top picture is called toast, and as near as I can tell there is not another word for the careful burning of the bread. So my english speaking mind gets confused when a breakfast place asks if I want my toast toasted. 🙂

The bread Switzerland seems best known for is Zopf. It is made from white flour, salt, sugar, butter, yeast, and milk. Before baking the dough is rolled out in 4 long strings and then braided. The Swiss traditionally eat Zopf on Sunday mornings, but Julie and I have found it makes wonderful “French Toast” and also really good sandwiches!

I found some amazing arguments online between people arguing about toast, and when bread becomes toast, but I have never found any explanations as to how the square bread came to be called toast. I think it may be because real brot (bread) is probably never put in a toaster. At one point it seemed someone was going to report me to the local authorities when I made the mistake of saying online that I made french toast with Zopf! I think I made the mistake of admitting to a mortal sin here in Switzerland.

Where can I find swiss cheese in switzerland?

People in the US know all about Swiss Cheese. It is a very mild flavored cheese. It is white in color. Some times there are more holes in a slice than actual cheese. Well over here the vast majority of the cheese is “Swiss” cheese. This is only because the majority of the cheese you find in Switzerland is made in Switzerland. Unfortunately, we have never been able to find the exact cheese we are looking for.

What North Americans think of as swiss cheese is basically a knockoff of a true swiss cheese called emmantaler. A true emmantaler is much harder than the cheese we were looking for and it has a stronger taste. It turns out the cheese that tastes most like the swiss cheese we were used to is actually Dutch!

I thought for the last 25 years I was living in the cheese capital of the world, Wisconsin. Sorry Cheeseheads…. There is really no comparison. The styles and varieties of cheese you find everywhere are leaps and bounds above anything I ever found in Wisconsin. Even in the smallest grocery you will find varieties of cheese that could only be found in specialty stores in the US.

The only cheese product I have found missing in Switzerland are cheese curds. I really miss that squeaky goodness that is only found in a fresh cheese curd. Oh well, in about 6 weeks I will be back in Wisconsin for deer hunting, and I will be looking for that first Kwik Trip across the border from Illinois so I can buy a bag.

how did a country this small not develop one common language?

Language is normally the one thing that every citizen in a country shares. Sure there might be dialect differences, but the base language is the same. This never happened in Switzerland. The best explanation I found for this is that Switzerland is a country of “will” not of shared culture. The 26 cantons were originally separate sovereign states that agreed to work together because they were stronger together than by themselves. Each one had it’s own customs, army, and language. When the 26 cantons agreed to work together and forge a federal government there were agreements that each canton could keep the language they were using.

Here is the breakdown by language. About 68% of the country speaks German. (This is even more fragmented, because there are multiple dialects of German through the country.) 23% of the country speaks French. 8% speaks Italian. Less than 1% of the country speaks Romansh. I do not think I have ever heard Romansh being spoken, but I have read it is a combination of Latin and Italian.

Outsiders view having four languages strange. I admit, it does make reading instructions on packages more difficult. The print has to be a LOT smaller than normal, because instructions are always written in German, French, and Italian. (The Romansh speakers get the short end.) Sometimes it can be frustrating, but in any tourist related operation English is always spoken, and the only places I have had to rely totally on my limited German are grocery stores and gas stations. Even in those places, if we are completely unable to communicate the employee always goes to find one person that speaks English. 🙂 I think the Swiss take great pride in the fact that language is not a part of what makes them Swiss. When I think about the language barriers in the country, I always think about an article I was reading during the European Soccer Cup this past summer. The Swiss team did very well, and for a couple of weeks the soccer team was the main thing in the news. The article asked how fans of the team interact with other fans from a different part of the country. The answer was simply “We yell and cheer in our native languages, and then when we need to really say something, we all talk in English.”

A final thought

This weekend is one of those times living far away from family is tough. My Mom’s side of the family is getting together to celebrate the life of my Uncle Jerry Sadek. My Uncle Jerry came into my life when I was a very young boy. One of my most vivid memories of Jerry, was the look of concern on his face after I woke up in the first aid room at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort. Jerry and I thought it would be a good idea to go skiing the morning after I drove straight through from Indiana. I got about 200 yards from the ski lift and passed out from a combination of altitude and exhaustion. Jerry skied down the mountain behind the ski patrol sled and waited for me to wake up!

Jerry was a man that loved hard and played hard. He was the life of every party he attended. He could sometimes be gruff and annoying, but in the end you knew he always had your back. That he would do his very best to protect and defend the ones he loved. We had a lot of good times on the slopes of Breckenridge, and the beaches of Hilton Head. Family get together s will not quite have that same spark for a while. I am sure the rangers on heaven’s golf course will be kept pretty busy for the rest of eternity.

1 October 2021

What happened this week? Well….. I went to the dentist for the third week in a row. Julie has a wrist that will not stop hurting, and road repair season has started near our apartment.

In regards to the road repair, I think we will be living with this one all winter long. According to our landlord, and a letter from the town, the town is replacing all the sewer lines. Back when the lines were installed there was no thought of separating storm water from “black water”. So there was one big pipe run, and that handled everything. Unfortunately, as many communities have learned YES, MILWAUKEE, WI I am talking about you. That can be a big problem with a lot of raw sewage being released. Thank goodness they have not had that problem here, but the increase in rain the last few years has the town worried about the future. They are digging up all the sewer lines, and then installing separate runs for the two systems. I am being hopeful that there will be no emergencies on this block for the next few months, because access via the street is going to be very limited the next few months. Between the construction on houses and the street there will be many times that you will not be able to get to our apartment by car.

We got another good lesson this week on how the Swiss government handles immigration. One thing that does make immigration management easier is that thousands of people are not lined up at the border to get here. The federal government sets the rules, and sets the quotas on who can come in. The canton (state) government is responsible for approving immigration, ensuring the quotas are kept, and they run the verification systems. The local government is responsible for monitoring where everyone is living. We got another example of how efficient this system is just a few days ago.

If you remember from a couple of months ago, Julie had to have her passport renewed. I was so impressed with how quickly the US government replaced her passport. On Tuesday, Julie got a letter from the town. The letter was reminding her that the passport was set to expire in November, and prompting her to get it renewed if she had not done so. They also requested that she make a copy of the passport and get it to the town hall.

Efficient, may not be the correct word, but it is what comes to mind. One drawback to this system, is that some cantons interpret the rules differently, and once a decision is made there does not seem to be a means of appeal. I was reading an online post from someone in my shoes. This person is a non-eu citizen, and is here with a spouse. Like me, this person is wanting to work, but unlike me the canton they live did not grant him/her a work permit. Unfortunately, she cannot appeal the decision. There could be more to the story. For example, I had to prove that I met the requirements for a “highly skilled” individual. (No jokes from the gallery on that one.) Meeting that requirement involved my resume and college transcripts. I wonder if this move had happened 20 years ago, when I was just getting out of college with my MIS degree. I am sure there is not much demand for immigrant retail managers here, and would just having a degree but no experience be enough to consider me highly skilled? Of course the kids would have been little then; so I probably would have still had to be the Hausmann. It is hard to work, when the kids come home for an hour or two every day for lunch.

In other Swiss news….. There was a referendum over gay marriage last week. It passed with about 65% of the vote. This is not going to be like the US where the day the courts ruled marriage constitutional people started queuing up. According to some of the reports I have seen, it might be a year or more before same sex marriage is fully in place. Same sex couples are seen by the law as equal in almost all ways. The two big things that will change are: 1) partners can jointly adopt now where before only one “parent” could legally adopt. 2) lesbian couples can now seek medical help having a baby. Not sure how that last one was ever enforced, because a single woman could get fertility treatments, but not a lesbian? I guess that goes to show that laws designed to discriminate do not ever have to make sense. This was another one of the political questions that was very interesting to follow. A lot of people were making the arguments that individual cantons should be able to decide this. In some ways when I hear political arguments here, I feel like back in the US!

I just made reservations for two Christmas Market trips this year. I do not think Julie is very happy with me. Because of deer hunting in WI, I will be missing two weekends of Christmas Market time. We are going to visit Strasbourg, France and Prague, Czechoslovakia. So she will just have to get enough Christmas from those two cities, and I am assuming Zürich will have their markets again; because we really enjoy going downtown and listening to the singing Christmas Tree! Strasbourg is about a three hour drive, but we are flying to Prague. One benefit of Europe is that airline tickets are pretty inexpensive. It is about an 8 hour drive to Prague, which is pretty closed to the breakeven for driving vs flying. The trip by air, should take about 5 hours, but with delays……. Taking a train is not going to work, because with the transfers, the train is a 14 hour trip. The round trip cost is cheaper by train, but when I look at the time difference; that eats up any of the savings to me.

I also know winter is coming, because I have an appointment to put on my snow tires next week. Also because on an English Forum I follow, the annual winter vs summer tire debate started up again this week. I do not know why this amuses me, but it really does. Before I moved to Switzerland I spent 30 years in either Minnesota or Wisconsin. Not once in those 30 years did I ever own snow tires, and there is a lot more snow there than here in Zürich. I concede the fact that snow tires are better than year around tires, but I also think that when people get in accidents in the winter, it is not because of the tire it is because they forgot that you have to slow down when driving on snow and ice. I am thankful that Julie’s company provides a place to get the tires changed and they store the tires as well. When I got online to book my appointment, I was able to book a VIP appointment, and get quickly. If I had to wait for the normal appointment I would not be able to get the car in until November. I also got an alert on my phone that some of the mountain passes have already implemented their winter tire rule, and online I saw that some of the auto passes will be closing for the winter in the next week or two. I wonder if I will actually need my “WINTER”coat this year. I have only worn it once in two years, and I did not need it even then.

I hope you have a good weekend. Talk to you next week.

28 September 2021

This past weekend, I was able to check one thing off my lifetime bucket list. I do not remember when I learned about Liechtenstein, but ever since I had always wanted to visit. There was something about a country that does not even have 40,000 citizens and is the fifth smallest country by area that fascinated me. I grew up in Lawrence County, Indiana. Lawrence County is about 70 miles south of Indianapolis and is about 450 square miles in size. Liechtenstein is only 61 square miles!

Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy. The country, however, is ruled by a Prince, not a king. The monarchy is a hereditary position. My understanding of their government is the prince is the political leader, the prime minister runs the government, and the parliament drafts the bills. The prince has veto power over parliament, but I am not sure if parliament has any capability to over ride a veto. Because the country is so small they also practice direct democracy. Any eligible voter can propose a referendum, but they need 1000 signatures to get on the ballot. 1000 may not seem like that many, but remember the population of the country is not even 40,000 people so it is a pretty big number in reality.

I have to say I was quite surprised by how modern the capital is. I was expecting it to be like many of the smaller Swiss cities we have visited. I thought there would be two distinct flavors to the city. One that was old and traditional and another that was new and modern. Vaduz seemed to be all modern. Outside of the Schloss, there did not appear to be any old buildings. Even the church looked to be new and in many ways it is new. The church was built in 1874. I say it is new because the castle was built approximately 7 centuries earlier. 🙂

Julie and I were a little surprised about the castle. The castle is used by the crown prince as his living quarters, but we were expecting at least part of the castle to be open to the public. I mean a building that was built that long ago has to be expensive to maintain. If they opened up a third of it to the public, and charged 20 CHF to visit I bet they could recoup all the maintenance costs from tourists. I read there are about 130 rooms in the castle, and you know the Prince is not using that many of them to live in. 🙂

Julie and I outside the Vaduz Castle

There is a covered bridge across the Rhine that enters into the town from Switzerland. At one time there were 13 bridges similar to this one that crossed the two countries. However, there is only one left. This bridge was built around 1870. Once modern things like concrete and steel came into use the old bridges were left to fall apart. In the 1980’s this one was the last one standing, and the two countries realized they needed to preserve the history so the bridge was refurbished. Now it is used for horses, bikes, and pedestrians.

One final note about Liechtenstein. One thing we really did not realize is that once we were in Europe our US passports would never get stamped. In the two years I have been here, the only stamps added to my passport are leaving and entering Switzerland and the US. Julie had to get a new passport this year so we took the passports with us just to get a Liechtenstein stamp! There is no international airport (that I am aware of) so the only place you can get a passport stamp is the tourist office!