Don’t forget to buy a ticket!

For the first few years after I arrived in St. Gallen, ticket inspections on buses were a rarity. It happened less than once a year, but even then, only on the most popular bus routes. Someone at the bus company must have woken up though, as they now check frequently on most routes. I am getting checked once in every two or three journeys now.

The penalty for no ticket is CHF 100, and if you have forgotten you ticket, it is CHF 5 plus the annoyance of lots of forms and a trip to the main station.

Postbuses it seems are still exempt though. I have still never been checked on a postbus!

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Swiss vote on immigration quotas

I normally don’t comment on politics since it isn’t relevant to practical advice on living in St.Gallen, but this is an interesting topic and does have direct relevance to many people in the city or considering moving here.

I was really surprised when the Swiss voted to bring back immigration quotas for European citizens and also, as a consequence, most likely withdraw from the Schengen agreement that allows visa-free travel around Europe. It was already hard for non-EU citizens to get jobs and permits here, but now it is going to be hard for Europeans as well.

What was interesting was that St.Gallen was one of the cantons that voted most strongly in favour of limiting migration (see graphic below). I was really surprised about this as the canton and city derive lots of benefits from the many international companies in the Rhein valley and from a well known international university that relies partly on income from international students.

In particular, I know lots of people who came to Switzerland to study, in spite of the high costs, partly with the aim of securing employment here after graduation. This was already tough, but now it is going to be very unlikely for many foreign graduates, especially those from outside of the EU.

Screenshot from Swissinfo.ch

Screenshot from Swissinfo.ch

Skiing in Damüls, Austria

Damuels

I just noticed these billboards popping up around town and thought it useful to give a little info. I hadn’t even heard of Damüls until this year, which shows I still have a lot of local knowledge to gain! I was also surprised that the advertisers didn’t try to sell the location a bit more. They seem to assume that everyone knows the ski resort and just need reminding to visit.

I went recently as I was on the look out for somewhere different. What surprised me was the small piece of info that Damüls is officially the snowiest village in the world due to unique local weather trends and averages 9.7m a year. This sounded perfect to me as this year has been a terrible year for snow across the whole region. Hardly anything on the ground in St.Gallen and most places within easy reach have been slushy, icy and unreliable regarding new snow fall. As I speak, it is 15 degrees and sunny outside…

Damüls was good though. I’m sure it has had better years, but there was still plenty of snow. The runs themselves were not so difficult, no really tough routes, but enough variation to keep beginners and intermediates busy for days. A few too many long flat sections though, so kids get tired. Best part was that there were loads of safe off-piste areas to spice things up.

One warning though. On the way there you have three route options. Beware though, the shortest route through Laterns is only open in the Summer. It is closed when there is snow. Take a main road though either Dornbirn (1hr 20) or through Nenzing (1hr 10):