My first encounter with the Swiss health system.

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Number of new cases per day, per New York Times as of 17 May.

Switzerland is slowly reopening as the number of daily coronavirus cases declines.  Museums, shops, and restaurants opened last week, as well as primary schools; barbershops and gyms opened two weeks earlier.  Many restrictions still apply, though, and the goal is to remain cautious lest we trigger a large second wave of infections.

So on Wednesday when I started feeling mildly ill, with a slight difficulty breathing, I began to be concerned.  It took more effort to speak, and my voice deepened.  After two nights of difficult sleep while finding it hard to breathe, I decided to contact the university coronavirus testing center.  It’s only a few blocks from here and I’d noticed its sign a few weeks ago.  Read on to see how it all turned out.

Continue reading “Negative”

Spring flowers

Spring flowers burst forth in March and continue to this day.

Spring has been truly beautiful in Zürich, starting in late March with the daffodils and flowering trees.   The city plazas and hillside gardens have all been in bloom, making it a delight to walk through the hillside neighborhoods. Every week a new phase seems to begin – the wisteria and chestnut trees have faded, but the azaleas are now bursting with a range of hues. Over time, I’ve captured a few photos of these colorful displays, and share them in a gallery here. Below is our neighbor, the Liebfrauen church.

Liebfrauen Kirche, near our flat, Zurich.


The Landesmuseum is again open for visitors.

It’s a dreary, rainy day today so I pulled out a photo from Monday’s sunny morning.  I was walking along the Limmat river and liked the way the morning sun reflected off the Landesmuseum tower and the placid river.  The museum re-opened that day, and I hope to go back for another visit soon.



I was way overdue for a haircut.

Unfortunately, I was coming due for a haircut just as Switzerland closed all the barbershops (and other services*) on March 16. Although Switzerland re-opened barbershops and nail salons on April 27, it was only yesterday that I finally decided to give it a chance and get a haircut (Haareschneiden), 15 weeks after my prior haircut.   I picked a cheap place near the university, put on my brand-new mask, and headed in. The barber was wearing a mask, and sanitized his hands between customers, but otherwise there appeared to be few of the protective measures I’d expected.  Still, the haircut came out well, and now I’m set for another couple months.


*, March 16: “Postal and banking services can remain open, as well as outlets offering take-away or delivery food, though hairdressers, barbers and prostitutes were among those told to shut down activities.”  – Wait, what? 

Last week I saw one upscale hair salon trying to lure customers with champagne al fresco.  Maybe I should have gone there…

A Zurich hairsalon tries to lure in customers with free Champagne.

Fanciful carvings

Zurich’s old buildings often carry elaborate carvings.

As I walk the quiet streets of the neighborhoods on the Zürichberg hillside we call home, I try to look up from time to time.  Many of these multi-family apartment buildings used to be, I believe, grand homes of wealthy businessmen perhaps a century ago, and each has its own distinctive style.  Many have elaborate ironwork on the balcony railings, or classical figures carved in relief. The lion is especially common, because two appear on Zürich’s coat of arms, and the Lion is the namesake of the local hockey team.  But I found this particular building, with an elaborate combination of an eagle and a snake, above a mustachioed man, to be especially captivating.  I wonder what it means?



On May 11, Switzerland began its second phase of reopening.

Today Switzerland began its second phase of a slow reopening of the country since the stay-home and shops-closed orders took effect on March 16. (Two weeks ago they reopened barbershops, salons, and gyms.)   Rail services have resumed their full schedule.  The official site says “Classroom teaching at primary and lower secondary schools will again be permitted. Shops, markets, museums, libraries and restaurants will be able to reopen under strict compliance with precautionary measures.”  Indeed I could sense the change immediately during my morning walk through the neighborhoods above me.  Children were again on their way to school – which I had always enjoyed seeing in months past… though today I saw most of them accompanied by protective parent(s).  Not everyone is happy; read on.

Mom and daughter off to school again.  (The reflective tag above the girl’s backpack is standard for all schoolchildren under a certain age.  Smart move!)

Continue reading “Reopening”