Update: Constance and Magical Groceries

Katie and I continued our adventures this weekend with a trip to Germany. As you know, we are without a vehicle here in Switzerland, and really that’s just fine. The transportation is so accommodating that it’s really easy to go without. I do, however, miss driving. So it was really cool to have one of Katie’s co-workers chauffeur us across the Swiss/German border to the lakeside city of Constance (Konstanz). Diane was awesome, supplying our day-trip with stories and helping us navigate the bordering German town.

Just a forty minute drive, it’s actually a popular destination for a lot of Swiss citizens. The draw? Cheap groceries and shopping. As of 2012, Zurich was the most expensive city in the world. I probably overused this statistic before I left home, but it’s 41% more expensive than living in New York City on average. That’s kind of nuts. So naturally, people are hunting for ways to get around the fact that everything here costs both arms and both legs.

Wanting to fit in with the local Swiss, Katie and I tagged along for a German shopping spree. First, you cross the border and get a real glimpse of just how many Swiss people are heading that way. Zurich license plates clog up the lanes and we ended up waiting about 30 minutes to find parking. Once we did get into Constance, here are a few of the things we noticed:

1. Price Difference – It’s obviously why we went, but the difference is just crazy. Every dinner, every drink, every product. We were especially stunned and ecstatic when we visited Lidl, which already has a reputation as a cheap grocery store in Switzerland. We spent just 35 dollars to completely fill up our kitchen cabinets back home. Some of our favorite deals were the eight nectarines that cost us 89 cents and a pair of massive salmon for just 8 dollars. Needless to say, the deals had us smiling.

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2. Cities on the water are better – That’s one of the only knocks on growing up in Cary and Raleigh. There really isn’t much of a focal point around a river or a lake and I’ve been finding that to be one of my favorite things about these European cities. Zurich thrives around it’s rivers and lake. In Constance, we dined at a table overlooking their massive lake. Everything just seems a little nicer, a little more beautiful with water.

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3. I struggle with shopping – We grabbed lunch a little before 12. I’m pretty sure we finished shopping around 6pm. And while I was excited about all the deals and necessities, it was a struggle. Thankfully, my wife loves me. Sensing my downward spiral, she took me to get ice cream. The child in me stopped complaining after a German sundae and I avoided turning into a helpless statue.

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4. Looking Forward to Christmas– Apparently, Constance hosts one of the best Christmas markets in the area. We’re looking forward to booking a train ride near the start of December and trying to track down little German trinkets for friends and family.

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A church in Constance

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Fancy stores and fancy adult beverages.

What’s next? St. Gallen!

Katie’s given into my nerdy demands and we plan to visit one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Thanks for reading and we’ll have more during the week.

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