…and then THIS happens.

One week after living in our flat, I came home to this in our guest bathroom:

Maybe I need to preface a bit… a few days after we moved in, the workers finishing the business space below our flat knocked on our door and said they were searching for the source of a water leak. We let our tap in our guest bathroom run for ten minutes and they verified that their was a problem with the pipes behind our walls.

Somehow, they had failed to notice this plumbing error in the year and a half that we were waiting for them to finish our flat. I’m sure if the water had actually been turned on for our pre-acceptance visit they might have noticed this problem before we moved in. Great planning guys.

Instead, with most of our boxes still packed up and scattered around the house, we had to give our key over to some people working for Allreal that we don’t really know or have a personal contract with. (Accountability??) Then we had who knows how many workers coming in and out of our house to repair the pipes, fix the wall and re-tile.

Our bathroom cabinet and mirror were dismantled and all hope of unpacking and organizing the guest bathroom and hallway closets was lost.

To say that I was less than impressed with Allreal would be an understatement. After all our problems with them messing up the grout and taking the lazy/shitty method of fixing their mistake, they had to rip tiles out anyway to fix their plumbing error. I was furious!

Whereas we used to enjoy a separate toilet and shower room in Zürich, suddenly we were reduced to one bathroom in the morning. It made showering and sharing more difficult for an already tired, sore and grumpy Katie.

Allreal fixed the pipes relatively quickly, but they had to keep coming each day to re-do the wall, re-tile and grout everything. In the mean time we locked our office every day for security reasons, and I stupidly almost lost the office key and spent an infuriating 30 minutes searching for it when I got home one night, wanting to organize and unpack the locked office.

Busting open the wall also coated our entire flat in a thin layer of dust that you can see when I rolled up the floor protection for the weekend. I realized that in addition to everything being covered in dust, whenever we walked on the floor cover, we would just track all the crap on top of it all over the rest of the house and after awhile we were both walking around with grimy feet.

This coat of dust made it all the way around the house through closed doors as well. I still have to wipe down all the kitchen cabinets, all the tiles and surfaces in the bathrooms, wash the floors and at some point wash the surfaces in the living room, bedroom and office.

That doesn’t make moving any easier folks.

By the weekend they had patched the wall up, but they still had to paint it and grout around the sink cabinet.

In the mean time, I was swiffering to at least make the place walkable over the weekend. Just a little work and look what was all over my Swiffer!

After a week and a half or so of repairs, we arrived home and the floor protection was gone. But our key was not returned… It appeared as though they were done, but I noticed they forgot to grout between the floor molding and the wall tiles, so we have a nice gap in the wall where water could run between the wall. Again, I was not impressed.

And throughout the whole week… the toilet paper roll in the guest bathroom started dwindling until it was gone. Now, since neither Kay nor I were using the toilet during the repairs, I am kind of thinking we had some random men shitting in our home while we were at work. Just a hunch… I’ll never know, but we also found a very random, disgusting spot of blood (?) on the toilet rim when their work was done. If that doesn’t gross you out… well, what would?

Maybe it sounds harsh that I wouldn’t want workers using our toilet, but there has been an open public toilet with two stalls available halfway down the stairs in our building plus lots of port-o-potties outside. And I’d be fine with them taking a leak in there, but the fact that they used up an entire roll of toilet paper just ticks me off.

Other than that, I was finally free to organize this bathroom finally (and CLEAN it!!) Which reminds me I wanted to tell you about how Allreal did a crappy job re-grouting our tiles. See the soap dispenser and the towel grip and everything below? Guess who was too lazy to remove the bathroom fixtures and cabinets before re-grouting?

Just guess!

Of course I didn’t notice during our inspection, but afterward I was inspecting our towel hooks because the ones we wanted were discontinued and I’m not totally happy with the ones we ended up with. I thought it was strange why there was white grout all around the edges of the fixture, so I unscrewed it to discover this:

Jep. Those jerks drilled out all the grout in the bathroom, but DIDN’T EVEN REMOVE THE FIXTURES. WTF. This is as bad as leaving the light switch covers on and painting around them, which they actually ALSO DID. Lazy fucks! We have to cut all the outlet covers off any time Kay wants to change something to our outlets because there is paint all over them, gluing them to the walls.

The grout looked especially stupid when they removed the bathroom cabinets for the repair and you could see where they squished the white grout in and where the old grey grout was still there. Unbelievably lazy.

The “quality” of Allreal:

That’s supposed to be a straight line of white grout. If that’s their definition of quality, well… it’s certainly not “Swiss quality.”

Below the sink I encountered more of their genius. During inspection I thought it was clever that they put that hole in the shelf so that I can raise the shelf higher around the pipes, until I actually went to do so.

Look who drilled the shelf hole slightly too far forward so that it does not function at all. Comical.

Kay said he can maybe cut further back so that we can get the shelf around the hole, but one has to wonder why they even bothered drilling a hole there at all if they weren’t going to measure it. Really.

And after they took the protection sheet off the floor, they managed to get grout or paint or something on the floor leading to the door. We complained about it and when they finally returned our key (while simultaneously tracking dusty footprints all over the living room and into the kitchen) they had smudged or sanded the floor a bit, but the marks are all still clearly visible below. For a brand new home, it’s disappointing.

The final straw was when I was sitting on my throne in our master bath and I realized there is a crack in the toilet seat that is only really visible when pressure is put on the seat. Maybe they came and shat in this bathroom too? I wouldn’t put it past them.

I give up! I thought owning a brand new home was supposed to come with less problems.

Let this post be a testament to Allreal’s craftsmanship (or lack thereof). There has been a lot of talk about quality going downhill when people here hire foreign labor with cheaper overhead and I’m pretty sure all our flat’s problems are a direct result of untrained workers and lack of supervision.

We will also have to live with most of the mistakes as they are “within the tolerance” as Allreal so eloquently puts it. They don’t care that I can still see traces of grey grout in ALL the tiles in the bathrooms on both the white and the dark grout and I’m sure they don’t care that we have paint all over our outlet covers.

Just take caution in case you ever think of hiring this company to build for you. And then don’t hire them.

Braunwald 2013

On our second weekend in the new flat, we headed back to Braunwald again to try out my birthday present – climbing gear – and went to do some via ferrata climbing.

Below is the start of the short hike from the Braunwald station up to the start of the via ferrata.

I was having some trouble at the start… my newish climbing sticks were having trouble staying open and my point and shoot wasn’t taking pictures on my SD card, so I ended up using the iphone, which was a bit of a pain while climbing.

And while we started without a cloud in the sky, I joked to Kay that when we got to the top we’d be covered in fog/clouds. Well lookie here!

*Shakes fist at mountain* Why?? Every time! Sigh.

At least these clouds were coming and going, but you could see as the day warmed up that air was pressing up from the valley and wrapping around the mountains.

It actually made for nice climbing though. When the sun was out it got a bit too hot, but when a cloud would encompass you, you would be covered in a nice cool mist. It was very refreshing!

Mind you, I was only taking pictures with the iPhone during the non-scary, stable-footing areas. So if you think any of these are scary, imagine what I was doing when I was too nervous to take the phone out for fear of dropping it!

It was actually right before this shot below when we started the red-line (intermediate) trail that there was a part Kay said was a bit “tricky”. Well, apparently tricky to Swiss = freaky to non-Swiss. It was just a little overhang wraparound that had some “tricky” footing and nothing really below it besides a huge drop, so I had some panic moments as I struggled to overcome my fear and find the footing around it.

Of course with via ferrata, you are hooked in the whole time with your two clips, but still… I didn’t necessarily want to fall 10m and hang by some rope and wire with no real footing to recover. That would have freaked me the eff out.

Actually we took a look at the start of the black trail (expert) and I decided that it would be too difficult for me that day, but on the descent we started hearing screams from the black trail. It sounded like a woman screaming for her life, but Kay thought it was a little boy who was climbing with an older man we saw.

Still, it is very disconcerting to hear shrieking echoing around the mountains! It really sounded like whoever it was, they were having a hysterical breakdown.

“Are you OK?” asked my sweet husband intermittently. Usually he asked during times when I was in fact pretty scared and trying to keep going.

Or maybe I was just taking a picture break. 🙂

Those white patches in the back are actually snow. Normally I think the snow is all gone at this level, but we had a really terrible spring and late start to summer, so there was still a fair amount of snow around the top, but not on the trails.

By the way, can you tell that I totally picked out the same helmet as Kay? Matchy matchy. He hates it. 🙂

Panorama view at the top of the red trail, where we decided to have lunch in a nice grassy area.

The way down was fairly steep and there was not so much to grab on to… we actually had to hold onto the wire a fair amount which made Kay nervous. At the very end there was something like a a 30m/100ft ladder to climb down, also suspended over basically nothing, where at the end you would climb to the left and further down. Descending that was also pretty freaky, although less so than the other area because at least on a ladder I know where to put my feet!

Then we hiked back to the cable lift and rode down with these beautiful views.

I love the mountains! Why don’t we visit them more often?

There was also a magical waterfall on the way down. I could almost get used to living up here if it wasn’t so far away from reality.

For now I think we’ve agreed that we should try out some more red lines before I attempt a black line. I’m sure Kay would be fine, but the look of the start of the trail made me nervous. Another day!

A big move for two

After our handover we had a very Swiss “last meal” of Ghackets mit Hörnli, or noodles and ground beef with applesauce. It was delicious and kept us running for a long time that day.

We picked up a transport van from Mobility instead of a traditional moving truck because it was cheaper and easier to drive and park and then we started moving!

Our old flat was on the 5th floor (Floor 4 in German), had four and a half flights of stairs and no lift. Because Kay and I were moving by ourselves, we had to get a little creative bringing down the boxes.

Kay used his special Mystery Ranch backpack to strap in 1-2 boxes on his back and carried an additional 1-3 boxes down in his arms. With his magical backpack he dealt with all our heavy loads while I put lighter boxes in some giant Ikea bags to carry down with backpacks and bags on my back and boxes in front. Between the two of us, we were both getting around 3-5 boxes down in each load. No fighting and moving in at the new place with a lift was a breeze.

After three loads on the first day we called it a night and then finished the next two loads on Saturday. We still had the transport rental for another few hours so we headed to Ikea for lunch and to buy some Billy bookshelves for our office now that we are in need of new storage space.

We didn’t forget to enjoy a meal of Köttbullar and Daim cake of course!

Allreal was sweet enough to gift us this thoughtful gift basket to welcome us to our new flat as homeowners. It was the nicest thing they have done for us ever.

Inside was also a 5 year “lost-your-keys” subscription tag that lets someone drop your lost keys off in a mailbox to be returned. Kay made me put it on my key ring. Psh. It’s not like I’ve ever lost my house key in Brazil or anything…

The kitchen was completely covered in boxes, but on the Sunday after our Friday/Saturday move I had opened all the boxes and put almost everything away. I found out things like that Kay has a freaking ton of Matte Leão tea from Brazil! All those orange boxes. Sheesh!

21 empty boxes later, the kitchen was finished!

I celebrated on Monday with a beer. Ok, that’s not the real reason why I had beer just then… but I’ll save that for another post.

Coffee machine all set up, thanks to Kay. I’m kind of in love with it. It grinds our beans and gives me frothy cappuccinos. 🙂

One of our first meals on the balcony. We ate outside a lot the first weeks because the weather is great and the inside is a mess.

Enjoying the innenhof.

This is our new view for the next few years. I hope we enjoy it. It sure is not quite the same as what we had in Zürich.

Back inside, the living room is still mostly a mess. I asked forced Kay to help me flip the dining room table right side up so we could fill it up with crap.

But lookie what Kay did while I was busy organizing the kitchen! He installed our hammocks (both!) on the balcony! Hoorah!

We bought a cheap umbrella from Ikea to help combat the sun, but it falls over all the time so we are thinking of returning it. It’s pretty lame and that sun is killer right now.

Here in the bedroom you can see the sale light shades we purchased. Kay haphazardly installed them in the bedroom and office so we have a temporary light solution. Thank God for electrician husbands!

We also have temporary clothing stands and boxes while we figure out our wardrobe situation.

More grilling and relaxing. We worked hard on our Monday and Tuesday off buying things at stores, assembling, unpacking and organizing, so we deserved a little “us” time. With the kitchen in order, we could actually put together things like grilled ratatouille and bouillon marinated steak!

And my last bit of success now was organizing the bathroom, which took a solid 4 hours after a week of living here. Maybe more. I have a ton of makeup…. but look at that giant drawer of organization!

So. That was that. I was tired of moving, sore as hell and my back literally ached for the first week after moving, partially due to our very crappy sleeping-on-the-floor arrangement that we had for so long in Zürich. Poor back!


It’s been a crazy couple weeks as the internet was cut, we moved and waiting to get back online at the new place. Oh how I missed internet! Sweet, sweet internet.

On the Friday of our move we got up at 6:45am to get to the notary office by 8am sharp. Our appointment (all in Swiss German, yikes!) didn’t last long. We were given some papers to read over and sign and then the deed was officially, legally passed over.

After we were done at the notary we popped into the Gemeindehaus to register because we had de-registered in Zürich the day before. (You must register where you live with the authorities at all times, no gaps!) Kay paid 20CHF for us to re-register and 45CHF went to the Bundesamt für Migration (immigration) simply because I am a foreigner. 😉

I asked if I could complete my new Ausländerausweis at the same time because we married in the summer so every July/August I have to do it. But I forgot that I have to get the stupid form signed by my employer, despite the fact that my permit is supplied directly through my Swiss spouse. Argh. That means another trip to the Gemeindehaus for me! (I joked to Kay that I should be a house wife so my forms are easier to fill out!) When I returned to the Gemeindehaus with my signed permit form, I paid an additional 102CHF for my annual foreign residence permit, putting my fees 147CHF over a normal person like Kay’s. Le sigh.

Back at the flat we completed our inspection and things looked… surprisingly OK. The grout job in the bathroom was still not as good as if they had done it correctly the first time, but to be honest, I’m pretty anal about the small details. But I’ll get into that later… with our keys in hand, we were finally home owners!!

Up next, the move!