a time trip to the 1950s

even though the place we live at here in switzerland has a rather rural character — there are several livestock markets throughout the year down at the station square, very few regions regularly vote more conservative than ours — einsiedeln has a surprising cultural live. one of the driving forces is the chaernehus, which several times a year hosts cabaret, an exhibition, and stages a play.

this year’s play is kino etzel — which @jmdhh and i went to see tonight. kino etzel is played in the old cinema, kino etzel and is a tribute to the old swiss rural cinema of the 1950s. until the of 2010 einsiedeln’s kino etzel was still operating and it had been lovingly kept in the style of the 1950s — i loved it. unfortunately, the end of 2010 was also the last curtain for kino etzel — until this year when the chaernehus theater group decided to make it the subject of their 2012 production.

we had made seat reservations and when we arrived at 20:00 were greeted by cloakroom attendants in 1950s outfit — the price to leave our coats was 1950s as well: CHF 0.20 (tickets were 2012-ish price-wise though 😉 we had not only reserved seats in the show but also in the pre-show restaurant: the gallery had been turned into a typical 1950s swiss restaurant complete with a 1950s swiss menu, lovingly decorated with furnishings from that era. due to running a bit late but still had time to have an einsiedler beer and something to eat before the show started.

the play itself is a mixture of cinematic, theatrical, and musical elements — sometimes intermixed (the initial showing of a piece from the 1950s schweizer wochenschau about the bad wolf in wallis1 was aborted by two 1950s policemen storming the cinema and reading out the regulations of the canton of schwyz regarding cabaret shows. all elements of the play work together to re-create the 1950s — and for most of the show it works quite well (the football piece was a bit drawn out and trying to imitate loriot but not quite achieving that really).

all in all: a very entertaining and interesting show, well worth a visit!

“kino etzel” is on until 11 february 2011

  1. nothing really new then. 

switzerland — behind the scenes…

ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of touristic switzerland? ever wanted to know how the swiss manage to present one of the most beautiful places on earth in such impeccable order? ever interested in the music that drives the swiss?1

wonder no more: here’s a rare behind the scenes look at switzerland:

now you know the true story… 😉

  1. well, some of them… 

felsenputzing, take 2

if you thought my post about [_felsenputzing_](/blog/2009/04/08/felsenputzing) was a joke, think again. courtesy of avid [_tagesanzeiger_](http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/) reader, [mrs d](http://50mm-traveller.net/mrs-d/), the link for all of you who want to become expert felsenputzer: [register here](http://www.brunni.ch/felsenputzerkurse.html).

indians, my tax declaration, swiss banking secrecy

if you’ve been following the swiss press over the last couple of weeks you might have noticed that the finance minister of my home country, mr steinbrück, managed to get most of the 7-plus million swiss all excited — well, angry is probably the better word for it. what happened? and what does it have to do with my tax declaration?

well. most of the larger EU countries but also the US have been trying to negotiate better ways of cooperating with switzerland on the exchange of financial information about [swiss bank accounts held by their respective citizens][wiki-swiss-banking] — in particular information on those accounts whose owners the respective governments suspect of tax evasion and worse. [since 1934 switzerland had a banking law…][wiki-swiss-banking-1934]

> …which codified the rules of secrecy and criminalizes violation of it _[[wikipedia: banking in switzerland][wiki-swiss-banking-1934]]_

basically (and i’m simplifying a bit here) only swiss banks knew about your accounts, nobody else would. ever. ideal for protecting your privacy. but also ideal for protecting your ill-gotten gains from interested eyes — except, well, except if you live in switzerland: in contrast to most other countries where your taxes are withheld from your salary right away, in switzerland you have to pay them yourself and usually in one lump sum at the beginning of the year and you can also go to the tax office and request to see what your neighbor filed and declared as income and as assets, which introduces a kind of social checks and balances system for taxes. also, the swiss make a fine destinction between forgetting to include facts in their tax declaration and tax fraud — a distinction that most non-swiss fail to understand.

since 1934 there have been repeated attempts by various countries to penetrate the swiss banking secrecy: the european countries with less luck, the US with considerably more success — perhaps due to the [long lasting swiss–american love story][swiss-us]?[^1] as of a couple of weeks ago, switzerland was only willing to lift the bank secret if the requesting country could provide proof of tax fraud being committed by one of its citizens…

…then came mr steinbrück, the german finance minister. a man in need of money and also a man with a certain rough charme, he started firing verbal broadside after broadside against the swiss banking secrecy act. actually, it was not just mr steinbrück but also mr obama, mr gordon, mr sarkozy, and probably others, but for some reason the swiss press latched on to every uttering of mr steinbrück. some of which where really downright rude, others were not only rude but downright stupid. most of them (and their ripostes from swiss politician) on kindergarten level — that is, rather refined.

things came to the boil, when parts of the [OECD][wiki-oecd] started talking about a “black list” of tax havens and possible sanctions against any country that found itself on that list — and, oh, dear, [they mumbled something about including switzerland][wiki-oecd-ch] unless, unless switzerland would adopt article 26 of the OECD model tax convention.

some right wing swiss politician fancied themselves in the middle of a war by then, the swiss finance minister kind of said “only over my dead body”, the press was having a feast. a week or so later, the same finance minister announced that [switzerland would adopt article 26 after all][swiss-oecd-26], prompting cries of outrage and “traitor!” as well as heated discussions in parliament and pubs alike.

enter, stage left, again, mr steinbrück: smart guy that he is, he mentions in a interview with swiss television that there never was a black list, and that it was just a ruse to scare the tax heavens worldwide, “like the threat of the cavalry against the indians”. that, to put it bluntly is not only rude but also rather stupid[^2]

now, he didn’t really equal the swiss with the american indians — but that subtlety was lost on the swiss press and subsequently also lost on most of the swiss population. if we had heated discussions before, we now were in the boiling pot. mr steinbrück became the most hated man in switzerland. somehow the swiss fascination with america didn’t extend to being compared with the american indians.

this is were my tax declaration and my proposal to solve this problem comes in 🙂 as i mentioned earlier in switzerland you have to pay your taxes in one go early in the year. your tax declaration is due by march 31 (that is, yesterday). every year my wife and i collate all the various bank statements and then figure out the official currency conversion rates for our german bank accounts (not an easy undertaking, for some reason the cantonal tax authorities hide that information in huge lists of stock price listings, not immediately obvious if you do this kind of stuff just once a year), apply those to the bank statements, tabulate them and transcribe them into the tax software. tedious. annoying.

so, here’s my proposal: why not give each country’s tax authority the right to automatically access the information about all your bank accounts in each country at year end and have them obtain the current balance as well as earnings on that account — and in return they pre-fill the tax declaration for me? including downloading those 20-plus megabyte PDF files and looking up the official currency conversion rates at year end? just an idea 😀

[wiki-swiss-banking]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Switzerland
[wiki-swiss-banking-1934]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Switzerland#Banking_law_of_1934
[swiss-us]: http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/nameri/vusa/bilusa.html
[wiki-oecd]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oecd
[wiki-oecd-ch]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oecd#Action_against_tax_havens
[swiss-oecd-26]: http://www.news.admin.ch/message/index.html?lang=en&msg-id=25863

[^1]: well, at least in the swiss–US direction, not sure whether the US population at large is even able to distinguish between switzerland and sweden…

[^2]: who is going to believe mr steinbrück and company in future after such a statement?

the most scary walk ever…


i’m sitting in the saddle spot between mount zindelspitz (to the south) and mount rossalplispitz (to the north). half an hour ago, mrs d, i, and fredi, our friend and [outdoor guide from blue dimension][blued] got here after a climb up from lake wäggital, up through some frozen and snowed over patches — just my luck really: we hired fredi’s services as an outdoor guide to help me get over, past, beyond, and ultimately safely away from those exposed sections of today’s walk, and i had not really banked on having the additional challenge of _iced over_ slopes… anyhow, just getting to the saddle spot was already quite exciting for me — just a couple of meters to the east of where i’m now sitting is: _nothing!_ to be exact: about 1000m (about 3’200ft for you non-metricals) of nothingness, 1000m of straight down nothingness.



the path to zindelspitz is looking ghastly from the point of view of a confessed [acrophobic][] such as myself — that and the 1000m of nothingness right in front of me already had me politely but firmly excuse myself from the expedition to the peak of zindelspitz. so, mrs d and fredi have set off by themselves and i’m waiting for them to return.

having calmed down from my initial panic attack i spend the time trying out my new camera (got the body last monday from [digitec][] and the 28–300mm lense arrived on thursday from [adorama][]): i’m just blown away by the vibration compensation feature which allows me to shoot 300mm at 1/30s!

[digitec]: http://www.digitec.ch/
[adorama]: http://www.adorama.com/

after about 30min a young walker comes down from zindelspitz. watching him it seems to be so easy, so effortless, just like taking a stroll to the station in the morning. sigh. sometimes i wish i had that same non-concerned-ness about exposed places, sometimes i wish that i, too, could just ignore those gaping abysses of nothingness… eventually he passes me and continues up towards the peak of rossalplispitz — which i’m supposed to scale today as well. following his progress i begin to have second thoughts, and third thoughts, and fourth thoughts. in fact, i can’t stop thinking that i must have been bloody raving mad to have agreed to today’s experiment, ropes or no ropes. i briefly entertain the idea of returning back to the lake right away, the memory of the iced slopes and that bit of having to scramble put a stop to it, though. sigh.

after a while i can hear the voices of mrs d and fredi and then see them navigating the chain-secured part and coming back down to me. yet, before i can even voice my concerns i find myself on the ascend to rossalplispitz! gulp!

…and the first part is kind of ok, i manage to persuade myself that that tiny piece of void to my right is not really important. soon it gets steeper and steeper though and the scenery becomes breathtaking — literally so in my case. panic sets in. luckily we have fredi with us, experienced fredi and he helps me take a break, take a deep breath and calm down again, and we try the last 50m scrambling up to the peak. it would have been nice, could i report that it went all swimmingly, but it didn’t. half-way up i get another panic attack and it takes quite a bit of encouragement, patience and even the encouraging words of a young swiss-french lady overtaking me to get me going up again…


…and i make it! i really make it up to rossalplispitz! it’s an exhilarating experience! the views are fantastic — as is lunch out of the rucksack up here at over 2100m altitude! yes, sure am i concerned about the way down, but i also enjoy being up here and am grateful for fredi’s help and patience (and the encouraging words of that swiss-french lady).

[blued]: http://www.blue-dimension.ch/out/index.shtml
[acrophobic]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrophobia


after about half an hour we get our kit together — fredi is very kindly going to secure me on my way down and so i’m being “put on a leash” as i call it. the descent of the scramble bit is every bit as frightful as i imagined it to be, but being secured via the rope i manage to get down to where the path is — and then have to manage the final “piece de resistance”, about 50m of narrow path with the aforementioned 1000m of nothingness to my right… with fredi’s help and securing i do manage it and it becomes much easier after that. phew.


we make our way through rocks, but nothing as scary as what i’ve just put past me. the landscape looks almost alien being slightly covered in snow dust.

at hochfläschen hut we break for a well-deserved coffee — and enjoy the view back (rather impressive 🙂 and chat with a young couple who had passed us on our way down.

a rather exciting walk. would i do it again? hmm…i guess that yes, but not alone 🙂


* [pictures](http://d2h.net/blog/v/dr_who/2008/2008-10-18-rossalplispitz)
* [slideshow](http://d2h.net/blog/v/dr_who/2008/2008-10-18-rossalplispitz/slideshowapplet.html)



we are just back from five fantastic days in [engadin][]! all of last week we went on a snowshoe hike each day — enjoying fantastic scenery, lots and lots of sunshine, and excellent food. the whole week was organized by the [dav summit club][] as part of their _genuss plus[^1]_ program, meaning we got to stay in [s-chanf][] in a very nice hotel with hot shower ensuite (!) and excellent 4-course dinner meals every night!

[dav summit club]: http://www.dav-summit-club.de/
[engadin]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engadin
[s-chanf]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-chanf

[^1]: which translates as, roughly, “enjoyment plus”…roughly…


the engadin is one of the nicest areas of switzerland. i especially (given my vertigo) appreciated the rounded mountain tops without dramatic chasms! the language spoken there is [romantsch][], an ancient language with place names that could have come straight out of the _[lord of the rings][]_.

[romantsch]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romansch
[lord of the rings]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings

in case you are interested, [we’ve taken a couple of pictures for you to enjoy :-)][pixs]

also, here’s the list of [googleearth][] tracks for each day:

* [monday, 2008-02-18, muntische](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/20080218-pix.kmz)
* [tuesday, 2008-02-19, piz murtiröl](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/20080219-pix.kmz)
* [wednesday, 2008-02-20, piz campagnun](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/20080220-pixs.kmz)
* [thursday, 2008-02-21, munt griatschouls](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/20080221-pixs.kmz)
* [friday, 2008-02-22, chamanna d’es-cha](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/20080222-pixs.kmz)

[pixs]: http://d2h.net/blog/v/the+tardis+crew/2008/2008-02-17–22-s-chanf
[googleearth]: http://earth.google.com/intl/en/

afternoon snow shoe hike to gueteregg


cough, sneeze — i’ve got a cold 🙁 one of the consequences of that is that i’m not really up for a full day snow shoe hike, even though we have splendid winter weather: lots of snow, it’s cold, and we have full sun shine…

…so, after a lie-in we have breakfast, buy some lights at the local [EKZ][] store and only then start for an afternoon hike from [willerzell][] up to the [mountain pub at gueteregg.][gueteregg] we enjoy fantastic views across lake sihlsee and the mountains surrounding einsiedeln and have a substantial soup at gueteregg before heading down again.

[gueteregg]: http://www.gueteregg.ch/
[willerzell]: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willerzell
[EKZ]: http://www.ekz.ch/internet/ekz/de/eltop/produkte/lampen.html

we do miss the bus by 7min, but luckily make it in 30min across the viaduct to the other side of lake sihlsee and then past the monastery back home.

fantastic afternoon (even though i’m absolutely knackered).

in case you are interested:

* [link to our pictures](http://d2h.net/blog/v/the+tardis+crew/2007/2007-12-15-gueteregg)
* [google earth track log][]

[google earth track log]: http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/2007-12-15-gueteregg-w-pix.kmz “google earth track log with links to our pictures”