Leaving St.Gallen

I’m sorry to say that after many years in this beautiful little town I am moving on. It has been a pleasure to be able to provide this blog and I hope that people to continue to benefit from it for years to come :-). I won’t delete any content, but I’m afraid that eventually most of the information will become out of date.

But who knows. One day I might move back and I will for sure start to blog again. And thanks to everyone who followed the blog and all of the e-mails of support I received.

And if you ever decide to move to Frankfurt next, why not take a look at my new blog: www.frankfurtexpat.wordpress.com

As if I would actually stop blogging entirely 🙂

Enjoy St.Gallen!!


Long summer evenings

Wondering what to do in the evenings? Tonight of course you have the excitement of St.Gallen Fest in town, where yet again the city centre fills up with places to eat and drink, this time with a music theme. The highlight is about 10 mini stages hidden down various side streets with performers playing all sorts of music.

Tomorrow though you are going to be at a loose end. So why not pack yourself a picnic, a crate of cold beer, and head up the hill to the Drei Weihern (three lakes) on the no. 5 bus line. Spend the afternoon in and out of the water or just simply sitting on the grass enjoying the music that is often provided.


Admittedly, it may feel like the whole town is there sometimes but the atmosphere is good and the evenings are long and warm.



And not sure who organises the music tent, but it can sometimes be a good selection :-). The locals seem to enjoy it though!


Openair St.Gallen

This weekend sees St.Gallen host Openair, one of Switzerland’s biggest music festivals with 30,000 attendees daily. If you don’t already know about it then you are already too late. Tickets are sold out already as usual and there are no ticket sales on the day.

The event features local, national and international bands often with some pretty big names. The whole thing is located out to the west of town with everyone camping out around the three stages. Crowds have been turning up for the last couple of days with camping gear on their backs hoping to get there early enough for one of the best spots. This year is going to be a bit of a mud-bath, so an uphill spot is advisable!


Dedicated buses are running from the main train station regularly, so that the many visitors don’t disturb the daily life in St.Gallen. For any one who is interested though, there is one almighty party going on down by the river!


N.b. credit for the photos goes to the Openair 2012 facebook page. I didn’t want to go up in a balloon for the overhead shot 🙂

Looking for an international network in St.Gallen?

While St.Gallen is not exactly on the same level as Zurich or Geneva for its expat community, there are still plenty of us in the area. You just need to know where to look!

Internations has started running regular meetings in the city and they seem to be gathering some steam. So, if you interested in meeting up, create an Internations account and register for the event. Next one is this Thursday.


OFFA Horse Show

The OFFA is very similar to the OLMA in October, but pretty much all about horses. It is even hosted at the same venue.

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This is pretty good fun and maybe a bit more interesting for people with families as well as the event is more spread out in the surrounding streets. Not everything is related to horses, but most of it is. The event is from Tuesday until this Sunday and although you have missed most of the days now, the best is at the weekend. Here is a complete schedule for you. There is also a child friendly guide for people with small children.

Highlight: This year there is a 300 horse parade through the streets of St.Gallen on Saturday morning at 11am starting at Vadianstrasse (near the train station) to the OFFA.

Now, let’s be honest, this could all get a bit smelly, so for those of us who just want food and drink can enjoy the many interesting little huts lining the streets around the OFFA main event:
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The beer stand can’t be avoided…
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And there is even a shop to buy horse meat! (presumably for those horses who don’t last the full 6 day event…?)
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And, of course, the traditional Swiss ‘Cornish Pasties’ shop…?
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St.Gall Toastmasters

The good news is that a new chapter of Toastmasters has just opened up in St.Gallen and is conveniently located in the market place at the Marktplatz restaurant. If you have heard of Toastmasters before then you need no further explanation other than the link below.


But if you haven’t heard of it before, Toastmasters is an educational collective that gives you the chance to improve your public speaking skills and confidence. It is also a great way to meet up with other English speakers for a reason other than drinking :-). The aim is to encourage a bi-lingual club so if you are also looking for an outlet for your German practice, then this could be the chance.


Christmas market

The St.Gallen Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) opened this week (29th November) and managed to coincide with the second major snowfall of the year. This is significant because, let’s be honest, a Christmas market without snow somehow just isn’t as authentic.


The market is in the old market hall but overflows around the Marktplatz and up towards the cathedral. To be fair, it isn’t really a very impressive Xmas market given the scale of some of the places available in the rest of Europe, but it is kind of quaint and makes the city look pretty under snow.


The shops are not particularly inventive or Christmassy and they sell the same things each year. The highlight is definitely the gluhwein sellers (see below) which are packed, in spite of being ludicrously expensive :-). Its worth it though.


Get your self a couple of glasses of gluhwein, served in a boot (!), head to the raclette stand and then on to the pancake stand for a nutella pancake. Finish with a stroll up to the cathedral and it’s monster (but undecorated?) Christmas tree.

All in all, it won’t take you more than a couple of hours, but its worth it once in a while.




Officially the biggest event in the St.Gallen Calendar – Olma! Now don’t get your hopes up too much, it still just a glorified farmer’s market, but there are some moments of fun to be had.

Firstly the location. There is permanent exhibition space just East of the city centre just past the Radisson, but the actual event is normally for about 2 weeks towards the end of October.

This year the festivities are from the 11-21 October and while there is a whole website and an Olma flyer unfortunately it is all in German (or French) (as is their Facebook page) so you can guess that this is designed for the locals and not overseas tourists. Still plenty of fun to be had for a day.  Here’s a few highlights:

1) Pig racing (!)
I know, sounds fascinating doesn’t it! And it is what it is – pigs running in a circle with numbers on their backs.  A good laugh for the adults and fun for the kids!

2) Sausages galor (Olma Bratwurst to be precise)
Pay attention to people who get free vouchers through the post. There are lots of these vouchers floating around in the run up to the event.  Someone always seems to have spares.

I borrowed the image from their website 😉 didn’t really get this close…

3) Beer and Appenzeller
There is a whole hall full of booths selling the full range of the region’s alcohol.  Personally I  can’t stand the Appenzeller spirit but the beer makes up for it.  Only drawback is that this hall tends to be busiest and it can be tough just trying to push your way through to a bar.  Lucky that there are so many bars really…

4) Free food
While most of booths are selling food and there is a proper restaurant, head over to the tasting hall.  You will get hold of plenty of freebies to supplement that bratwurst you just had. Excellent chance to test all of those local cheeses before you buy them in the coop 🙂

5) Farm animals
Now whether this is really an attraction or not, I leave up to you. All I will say is that there are some seriously huge bulls. The parading horses were a little tedious, but then I’m not a farmer.

There are a lot of halls (take a look at the Olma flyer before you go) but many of them are missable unless you are interested in farm or building equipment.