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 I won’t delete any content, but I’m afraid that eventually most of the information will become out of date.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!!

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):

Rock Story

Are you wondering where you can find a little life in St.Gallen? If you are interested in football, the Europa League to be specific, then why not head into town this Thursday (29th August) at around 6pm for kick off. St.Gallen are playing Spartak Moscow and numerous bars are going to be showing the game. This would either be an excellent evening for a night out, or if you don’t like football, an excellent evening to avoid the city centre!

Now for a recommendation on where to watch it. A great place to go is Rock Story in Augustinergasse. This is a cosy backstreet near the Marktplatz and aside from being a great place to go anyway for a drink, the atmosphere is great if you want to watch some sports. In addition, the staff speak excellent English and are always welcoming. In addition they have a table with a private beer tap in case you want to reserve space for a group! On warm evenings, people spill out into the little car-free square in front which Rock Story shares with a few other bars.

All in all, a great place for a night out!

RockStory

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.

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

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

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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.
birdseye

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!

tents

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!

Night

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 🙂

Cycling Route through Eggersriet

 

 

Distance: 26.7km
Duration: 2 hours (3hrs with children)

Ok, I know that if you look out of your window right now, its raining. But trust me, it was really nice out this morning! The snow only stopped falling a few short weeks away, but already we are getting some great days with around 20c. The sun is out for a good 13-14 hours a day now so time to get on a bike and explore.

This route is a nice easy option for an adult with a fun downhill for the the last quarter all the way into St.Gallen. The first stretch once you leave the town is a little hard on the legs so I wouldn’t recommend for children under 10. You will also need to make use of opportunities to stop and recover, as there will be stretches where there is just no place to stop.

When you get to Eggersriet though, the hardwork is all over and from B to C on the map you’ll be able to enjoy some really pretty scenery and great views all the way to Germany.Eggersriet route

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.

Internations

Gyms and Fitness

St.Gallen is pretty well served when it comes to gyms but not so good in terms of the variety of courses and group fitness available. The problem seems to be space with many gyms having a shortage of space for group activities. Below is a little map for you of the gyms in St.Gallen, but first a few general pointers:

– first, gym membership can be expensive in Switzerland. So is your health insurance. But many insurance companies will reimburse the cost of annual gym membership. This can be from about 200-800 CHF but varies between companies and can depend on your policy conditions, so check!

– consider getting the Migros ‘Intercity-Card‘. For CHF 1450, it gives access to lots of places around Switzerland in case you need to workout in a random city. More importantly it includes the swimming pool, fitness and wellness rooms at Säntis Park and Hotel Einstein – both great facilities.

– if you are a student, use the university’s facilities! They have a great range of clubs and a gym for free.

– group fitness choices are fairly limited. The Klubschule Migros has the best range of courses but not necessarily the best in quality or at the right time. Definitely the place to check first though. There is no Crossfit in St.Gallen at the moment (sorry!) but Zumba has completely taken over. Plenty of yoga and pilates and a lot of random one-off courses.

– there is a women only gym but very few courses. Just a fitness room I’m afraid…

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.

http://stgallentoastmasters.wordpress.com/

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.

 

Cheap Skiing day trip to Davos

Skiing can be an expensive hobby, but there are some bargain deals to be had. The main costs for a skiing trip are: equipment, hotel, skipass and transport.

I can’t help much with equipment other than the tip that if you expect to ski more than 10 days, at least buy a pair of boots. End of season always has lots of bargains in town, or head down to Dornbirn in Austria and get them really cheap.

The hotel can be eliminated, and transport and skipass reduced with this simple tip: use the Heini bus and do a day trip to Davos. It picks up from outside the Walhalla at 7:00 and from Blumenwies swimming pool at 7:05. You get your discounted ski-pass on the bus. Bus leaves Davos at 16:30 and will have you back by about 19:30.

The nice thing about this is that you don’t need to think about parking or that sleepy drive home after a long day on the piste. And you don’t have to settle for a low resort with dubious amounts of snow – Davos has plenty.

Cost:
adult with skipass CHF 62
Child with skipass CHF 27

Book online here:
http://www.heini-car.ch/reisen.html

Heini-car