The Röstigraben Letters – September 2021

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture

Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from z’Nüni and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s September letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her September letter here.

Chère Kristin,

September… One of the two months of the year that always fly by before I know it! September and June, end of school year and start of a new one! 

The school routine settles in in our household, but it usually takes a while after those laid-back summer months. New school schedule, new outfits for sport activities, and we already had our first parent teacher meeting at the little one’s primary school, which is quite amazing if you consider we never even met his last year’s teacher due to C….

I’m sort of relieved you were confused as well about our discussion on school levels on both sides of the Röstigraben! Considering even my Swiss husband didn’t follow the Swiss system until university, we always feel a bit lost with how it works. Apparently our eldest must have a week of internship this year within a company, but since he hasn’t brought the information home yet, we still don’t really know where to start. Plus, this being difficult times, I don’t know how many companies really accept internships. I know in my office we haven’t had interns for a while. 

I think you are right when you say moving Cantons can be a nightmare. My husband moved from Geneva to Vaud and back during his studies and it was a bit like emigrating to another country really. 

I hope our children will experience this encouragement of learning the local languages as you say, preferably with an exchange, but somehow even normal things do not really seem to happen these days. Our youngest still has never accompanied us to work and has only been on one school trip for one week, while our eldest has done both 2 or 3 times. A trip to another Canton with another language really seems like such a great opportunity but for now, I don’t see this happen. 

I really feel for you about not being able to visit Australia… I hope the borders will open up soon and that you will be able to go! We will be going home again this October since when we went to the Netherlands, my husband was not with us, so he really wanted to go as well. I find that quite cute, that he as a Swiss, misses my home country as well. He has plans of cycling in the rain and eating fish dishes. 

September usually feels like an extended summer month in Geneva, but the weather was quite instable this month right? We still had sunny and warm days, but also lots of rainy ones! 

Jeune Genevois

The start of September marks Jeune Genevois In Geneva. A public holiday which always comes right at the beginning of the school year, roughly 2-3 weeks after the kids just started, on the second Thursday of September. ‘Jeune Genevois’ means ‘Genevan fast’. It is a sort of Thanksgiving. The first Genevan fast was around 1567 and was held for Protestants undergoing persecution. Traditionally in Geneva at Jeune Genevois people eat a plum tart. My guess is because it is the season, and usually after fasting people ‘celebrate’ with a meal. But that is my guess on it. So, plum tarts are all over the bakeries and stores in September. It is a tradition which is treasured in Geneva, but that at the same time divides us once again from the other Swiss since Geneva has Jeune Genevois, but not the Federal public holiday which is usually one week later. Did you have that ‘ Jeune Federal’ like most of Switzerland does?

Tine de Conflens

The advantage is that Genevans can go and explore other regions while people there are not off that Thursday and Friday. Most people do this, even if it is just popping over to the Canton Vaud for a day. And we did just that this year! We went close to Lausanne and took the kids to a new trampoline park, and then a short hike to a beautiful waterfall not far from Lausanne called Tine de Conflens. It was really beautiful and normally it can get a bit crowded on the weekends. But since we were there on our Thursday public holiday, we got to enjoy this mysterious beautiful spot without too many people. The Tine de Conflens has started to get a bit of Instagram fame, but still felt like a hidden gem in Switzerland. 

On the Friday, the kids had to go to school again, even if a lot of people do take them out of school to make it a long weekend. Our kids did go to school, but we went on a weekend away on Saturday and Sunday anyway, and we were really close to Zug!

Rapperswil, on the other side of the Röstigraben

I still would like to visit Zug some day since I hear more and more from you about this Swiss city, but for this time, it was Rapperswil on our list! I was excited because this weekend break had me going to two Swiss Cantons I had never been before: Canton Schwyz and Canton Sankt-Gallen. We stayed in Pfäffikon in Canton Schwyz and walked over the longest wooded pedestrian bridge in Switzerland towards Rapperswil in Canton Sankt-Gallen. The first time I had ever seen Lake Zürich in my life by the way!

Rapperswil was really nice. I assume you have been there, since it’s not far away from you? Rapperswil is known to be the city of roses of Switzerland and honestly, I never knew. 

The next day we went to Alpamare water park for some fun for the kids. Our little one had recently been to Aquapark on the other side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and it is quite similar: lots of fun slides, a waves pool and more. The kids had a blast, and so did we really!

I can’t wait to hear more about your early fall trip to Scuol Kristin!

And yes, congratulations on your rebranding launch of z’Nüni! Very well done!

I actually must say I had never heard of this word, and we don’t have the equivalent which changes with the part of the day you are in. We have the same snack, but it’s called ‘gouter’ in morning, in the afternoon, or whichever time of the day. Agreed from this side of the Röstigraben as well, it is more than a snack! The ‘gouter’ is very important here as well!

As I write this letter I am all prepared for friends arriving in Geneva from Amsterdam tomorrow. This hasn’t happened for so long that I am all excited! We are going to be around Geneva, but we will also explore some beautiful nature in the Canton of Valais this weekend, which I will tell you all about in our next letter! Their beds are made, and I even already cooked a seasonal pumpkin soup for tomorrow’s dinner! What are your favorite fall recipes Kristin? I am such a big soup lover that fall really marks the start of soup season for me. 

As September is almost gone, I would like to wish you a great start of October on your side of the Röstigraben Kristin.

A bientot,


Make sure you read Kristin’s September letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

Röstigraben letters

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