Tip of the day: free wine-tasting at Coop

Are you interested in wine? Do you need to do your grocery shopping this evening? Well head over to the large Coop Gallusmarkt near Neudorf and combine the two :-). There is also a 20% discount of all wine until Saturday and today the Coop is open until 8:30pm as usual for late Thursday shopping.

Best bet is to head there are 7pm as the Coop is normally fairly empty after this and you can avoid any queues. And the great thing is that the man who is in charge of the wine tasting stand speaks perfectly good English and is always up for a nice chat! Definitely a man who enjoys his job!

Slightly blurred photo for you, but then I was driving a trolley at the time…:

wine tasting

Shopping in Austria: Dornbirn Messepark

It’s no secret that shopping in Switzerland is expensive. It can also be difficult to get bargains. Normally I would shop online, but there is no amazon.ch and many items on amazon won’t ship to Switzerland.

The most useful and one of the closest shopping centres for St.Gallen is in Dornbirn, Austria.

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Before I talk about the benefits, there are a couple of problems with this though.

1) The connections to Dornbirn by train are ok, but you will need to get yourself on to a bus the other end. This means that aside from the cost of transport, the journey will be the best part of an hour on public transport. if you go by car, it is a 25 minute drive. Not bad, but if don’t already have a car, it will be cheaper just to do all your shopping in St.Gallen.

2) The Swiss border guards know what you are up to. They are probably doing it themselves! Often the, border crossing you use is going to be empty, and if it isn’t they will probably stop anything from about 1/5 to 1/10 cars. You can either take a risk or download a list of what your limits are and don’t go over. Meat in particular is great to buy in Austria, because it is so much cheaper. Unfortunately you can only carry 500g back without paying import tax. If they do stop you and charge you, it will definitely cost more than just shopping in St.Gallen.

Dornbirn Messpark
This is a regular shopping centre a few minutes from the Swiss border. Compared to e UK or US, it is nothing special in terms of size or selection. But it has everything you need for a low cost shopping trip:
– Interspar (groceries). Go once, compare the prices and consider that you could easily save CHF 20-30 on your regular weekly shop. Not everything will be cheaper though.

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– Mediamarkt (electronics). Mediamarkt have a big shop in St.Gallen as well and if you compare prices online, there is very little difference. However in Dornbirn, the store seems to always have more discounts and specials.

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– Hervis Sports. The place to go if you want any sportswear or equipment. You’ll get most things for less than half the price you’ll find in St.Gallen. Just this weekend, they had bikes on special for as little as €199.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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