Good Gritti

Grittibänz

One of the most adorable things about Christmas in Switzerland has got to be Grittibänz. These “sweet bread men” (rough translation) can be seen all over the place and are a typical Christmas-time food in Switzerland. They start popping up in bakeries around December 6th, for the feast of St. Nicholas, and no Swissmas gathering would be complete without one!

Grittibänz at Migros

Tons o’ Grittibänz at our local Migros supermarket.

Public opinion is split over whether they are meant to represent Samichlaus – “Santa Claus” in Swiss German – or just regular ol’ bread men. Either way, these lil’ guys are very cute!

Grittibänz at Work

Some Grittis having a conversation at the coffee corner in my office.

The bread itself is sort of like a challah bread and the Grittibänz can be decorated with twigs, chocolate sticks, or raisins. They sometimes even have a little clay pipe (not edible … I found out the hard way, thinking it was hardened sugar … bleagh!).

C&A Grittibänz

A store near our apartment had a “free Grittibänz with purchase” promotion. I was all in!

*Fun Fact*: when my family was visiting me here in Switzerland for Christmas a few years back, I told my brother that “Grittibänz” meant “hello” in Swiss German. He basically went around Zürich saying “bread man” to one and all. What a guy! Luckily, he can take a joke and I’ll definitely be bringing him a Grittibänz for Christmas in NYC this year to make up for it!

Garrett & Grittibänz

An ad for Floralp (Swiss butter) featuring Grittibänz and me losing my sh!t over finding the ad in the newspaper.

Happy Holidays from Change of Underwear!

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Switzerland: where water flows like … water

Poland SpringsI’m not a big fan of having to pay for drinking water. If I live in a place where the tap water is perfectly drinkable, it irks me to have to buy a bottle of water to drink, when free stuff is just flowing out of the taps.

In America, we’re much less into bottled water than in Europe. Ok, I mean, maybe if we’re out on the town and buy a hot dog from a street vendor, we might buy a bottle of water to go with it. But in general, America is a big tap water drinking nation. At restaurants in the USA, waiters bring you a big cold glass of tap water without even needing to ask for it (unless, of course, you’re at some fancy-schmancy place where they offer you San Pellegrino… at a price). At home, we just turn on the kitchen sink when we’re thirsty (unless you’re my Mom, who since moving to California from Massachusetts, thinks the local tap water tastes weird … but that’s an exception and a totally different story).

When I lived in Italy, I noticed that they had some ornate water fountains around on the streets and in the piazzas that you could fill a bottle up with or even drink directly from. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what the deal was and was hesitant to drink from these fountains. They looked purely decorational, plus the water is constantly flowing from these European drinking fountains. There is no “on/off” switch that you need to press.  The concept was so foreign to me.

We, of course, have free public fountains in America, but they are usually indoors, located in places like a school, gym, or waiting room. They’re clearly for drinking and are pretty standard.

typical water fountain

typical water fountain – easily seen all over the USA

These fountains in Italy that I’m talking about were decidedly more ornate and were located outside on the street, in the open air. They were part of the ambiance of the city … but you could also get 100% free, completely drinkable water from them. So cool, right? I used them often, and whenever I knew I would be out for the day, I would just toss an empty water bottle in my bag so I could fill it up whenever I was thirsty. Free thirst-quenching win! Here are a few examples of Italian water fountains:

a water fountain in Milan

water fountain in Milan

water fountain in Bologna

water fountain in Bologna

Now that I live in Switzerland, I can enthusiastically report that Zurich has tons of free drinking fountains all over the city, and it’s awesome! There are so many, in fact, that when I have visitors, I make them play the “water fountain game” where the only rule is that you must take a sip from every new fountain you see as we meander around the city. Now, I carefully chose the phrase “make them play” because there are so many fountains that my visitors usually end up water-logged, begging me to quit the game. They can’t. Fun!

These fountains range from very simple to simply astounding. Some even have a separate spigot near the ground for dogs, like this basic Swiss water fountain here:

Simple Fountain

I spent a lovely sunny afternoon strolling around Zurich taking pictures for you of some of my favorite fountains that you can drink from. Just click on any of the below photos to see ’em all nice an’ big!

 Well, that’s all for today. Let’s close with a water seeeeelfie!

Seeeeelfie

 

 

I’m baaaaaack!

working on my blogOk, so it’s been over one year since my last blog post. For shame!

What’s the deal? What’s been going on? Well, dear blog readers, I have two reasons. One more excusable, and one not so much.

  1. The good excuse: Moving to a new country and experiencing a new culture that brings a new language, new people, new customs, new cuisine, new traditions, and new ways of going about life takes a lot! It takes time and it takes energy. Honestly, I’m very excited to bring Change of Underwear back to life, but even now, after almost one and a half years in der Schweiz, I’m still not all that sure on what I’ll be writing about for my posts on Swiss life. It takes a while to be able to get into a culture and discover those interesting pearls that only one who has spent any significant time in another land can find. Also, Switzerland is very multicultural, with influences from all over the globe that can make it harder to pinpoint specifically Swiss things. Not to mention the fact that  my knowledge of the German (or Swiss German) language hasn’t really grown that much, which only adds to my difficulty in getting into the culture to the max.
  2. The inexcusable excuse: I haven’t had time! With moving to a new country, getting situated, and starting and maintaining a new job, it was really hard for me to set aside the time to dedicate to this blog. I didn’t like that I wasn’t blogging, but my job has been keeping me really* (*read: too) busy and the fact that I wasn’t having amazing ideas rain down upon my head didn’t exactly contribute to my motivation.

But, the good news is that I’m back! The tell-tale sign that Change of Underwear is at it again is the new logo that I’ve got which is also on the Facebook and Twitter pages for the blog. Isn’t it fun? It’s me and all the nations of underwear that are relevant for the blog … plus a bird! My friends at DesignLibero did it for me. Thanks guys! The logo really needed a makeover!

Change of Underwear logo

I’m ready to write again and I’m ready to share my experiences, opinions, and ideas with you all.

To those tried and true readers: thanks for sticking with me.

To new underwear changers: thanks for joining, and I hope you’ll like what you see.

To all of you: I’m looking forward to getting back into the blogging world and interacting with you guys here on changeofunderwear.com. Please feel free to leave a comment with any ideas, suggestions, or things you want to know more about.

Now,  *rolls up sleeves* let’s do this thing!

Time to change my underwear

Unpacking in our new apartmentHow often do you guys change your underwear? My mother would expect the answer to be “every day”. I guess she’d be appalled to know that I’ve finally just changed my underwear again after a little more than seven and a half years. About time, huh? 😉

Ok, ok, I’m not talking about real underwear, and if you thought I was then I’m pissed at you for thinking so low of me (although sometimes I do skip a day … or two … sorry Mom!). I’m speaking in the metaphorical sense. I mean “changing underwear” as “stepping into a new culture“. My very first blog post initially talked about this (and sort of explained the title of the entire blog). I think it’s kind of a cool way of thinking about it, though if you asked me for some riveting story behind how I came up with that metaphor, then you’d be sorely disappointed. I was just brainstorming for a name for my blog and happened to have my own pair of stars and stripes undies and a pair of Italian boxer-briefs that I had bought to take home to my brother as a Christmas gift. I thought to myself “well, it’s certainly more fun than taking a picture of myself with two flags”, and there you have it. A blog was born! But I digress…

My original blog banner ... it's gonna have to be reworked now

My original blog banner … it’s gonna have to be reworked now

Crazy but true. After all these years I’m leaving Italy. Actually, I’ve already left. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this directly from our new apartment in Zürich, Switzerland!Zürich Map

What happened? Did I get sick of Italy? Certainly not! I love Italy very much and it will always have a special place in my heart. What happened is that my boyfriend got relocated for work. I’m always up for new adventures (that and the fact that we’re in love and want to stay together). So here I am in the land of chocolate, skiing, and fondue.

What does this mean for the blog and for you, dear blog readers? It only means more exciting stuff! The blog shall go on! It’s going to have to undergo some restyling graphically and in terms of its set-up, but we’ve come too far now to just let it fall into online obscurity! I’ll still be writing about life and experiences in Italy because I’ve still got lots to say about it. However, there will also be posts on life in Switzerland as well. Bonus! I’m also going to try and add a German Phrasebook to the Italian one, but you guys have to give me a bit of time with that one. I mean, I’m just beginning to learn German myself!

Thumbs UpAnyways, I want to thank all of you for your support, comments, and inspiration. I need to ask you for a bit of patience these days as I get my life sorted out and settled into Switzerland. I promise that I have not forgotten about you and there is definitely good stuff on its way.

I’ve had a litte more than seven and a half great years in Italy. I’ve fallen in love, made amazing friends, experienced and learned so much, and had a ton of laughs along the way. Grazie Italia. Grazie di tutto!

Now, let’s get into this new pair of underwear and see what it has in store for us!Swiss Underwear