Expat diaries: Den Den reports from Heidiland, Part 7

Posted on December 10, 2010


7) Zurich in Snow, from January 2010

It’s -5. I am holding a wonderfully warm and spicy sausage, purchased from a nearby stall, as I cross the street, the hand doing the holding about to fall off because gloveless, as small gentle snowflakes fall and rest in the odd crevices of my face. For a girl who lived her life hovering between +10 and +40, this is something truly special.



What is normal? Until only a few months ago, normal was easing the burning of jelly fish stings by dabbing them with vinegar. Now I live in a country where there is no sea. In winter, the air is loaded with snow, a substance as unfamiliar and exciting to me as liquid nitrogen. Snow that falls acrobatically and periodically over Zurich.

Not understanding snow as much as jelly fish avoiding techniques, my movements over it are like a drunk penguin’s. The locals’ attitude towards me as a snow-virgin does not help either. On my first excursion outdoors after a night of snow, I quickly discovered that my footwear was nowhere close to adequate for the terrain. As I walked painfully on frozen toes, I asked Ferenc whether we could have a snowball fight. He answered (both amused and smug in his superior knowledge) that the snow was far too powdery. Somewhat annoyed by the lack of empathy, I asked him a series of questions about island life which he couldn’t answer as quickly and confidently as he’d do with snow-connected ones. The truth was that my normality was still a thousand miles away and I needed time to re-shift and readjust it.

To that purpose, after I finally got tired of coming home with feet risking a mild case of frost bite and of skating on snow-covered pavements with the very real possibility of falling and further bruising an already bruised body, I went to a shoe store and used my first decent salary to purchase my first decent snow shoes. After a seemingly endless half hour of aimlessly walking through the rows and rows of options, I found the perfect compromise between warmth, style, practicality and price. It turned out that that trip to the shoe shop couldn’t have been timed any better. The next day it started snowing and didn’t stop for the entirety of my working week.


It’s -5 and I am heading back to work in my new boots. As I savour my bratwurst, I can feel love radiating from the tips of my thankful toes.

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com