Sunday, October 30, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Welcome event

When we moved to Zürich and registered with the authorities (die Kreisbüro) they gave us a big packet of information.  It had flyers from local shops and for services like haircuts and maid service.  It also had information about a welcome event that included information, a guided tour of the old city (der Altstadt), and an Apero (small get-together with drinks).

We finally registered for the welcome event and went.  There were more people than we expected.  We guessed there were about 200 people there from every continent (except Antarctica).  The information presentation was in an interesting format, being given in 5 languages: German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish, in a mix of written and spoken information so they could move quickly through the material, but that everyone could understand.  The first three are official languages of Switzerland, and English and Spanish are very popular.  My German is still so limited that I understood more of the Spanish than I did of the German.  Still, it was fascinating.

The welcome event is given by an office of the city government - an entire office devoted to helping people get settled and integrated into Zürich.  It seemed like a very Swiss thing to do: recognize that there are lots of foreigners moving to your city, making newbie mistakes, and not fitting in.  Solution: create an office where people can get help, because it makes everyone's life better.

The tour groups were language-based, so we got a tour in English.  We saw a few historic sites including Lindhof, the site of the original Roman fortress in Zürich and many castles.  Now it's a plaza/park and the city passed a law that it can never be a building again because they will never be ruled by a king or emperor again.

We also saw St. Peter's church which has the largest church clock face in Europe.  Our tour guide said the face was so big because, as Zürich grew, it had to be seen from further and further away.  The tower was also used as a fire watch post.

Finally, the coolest historic thing we saw was in a random alleyway.  When expanding the basement of a toy shop, the builders found the remains of an ancient Roman spa.  It had a space under the floor of the spa where hot air and steam was pumped in to heat the rooms from below and it boiled water for baths.  All that was left was the pillars the used to hold up the floor of the spa, but it was still very cool

All in all, it was definitely a worthwhile event.

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