Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a town called Konstanz, on the German side of the German-Swiss border. You’re living in this town and then Germany adopts the euro and suddenly it’s cheaper to shop here than in that expensive country next door, Switzerland.
Much as Canadians travel across the border for cheap shopping in the States, it doesn’t take the Swiss long to realize there’s cheaper shopping in your German town. Especially since Zurich is only a 50 minute drive (or 90 minute train ride) away.
Suddenly the Swiss are flooding in (and the Shengen makes it even easier). Soon, statistics will tell you that on any given Saturday, there are more Swiss in Konstanz than Germans. Yikes! Your first thought is, get out of my town, please! But your second thought is, wait a minute, maybe if I invest a little in setting up shop, I could take total advantage of this. And that’s exactly what seems to have happened (though I’m sure there are still some who wish the Swiss foreigners wouldn’t come).
On Saturday, two of my new friends, both named Kate (easier for me) and I rented a car and headed over the border. Kate U (who works in primary IT) drove, while Kate B (who teaches kindergarten) navigated. I provided comic relief.
Switzerland has a cool car sharing program called Mobility. It works kind of like those bikes that you can ride around town now, in various big cities. You sign up for Mobility, put in the date and your location and it tells you which cars are available near you. Once you register for a car, you go pick it up (they’re parked in various places). Swipe your Mobility card across a sensor on the front of the car and it unlocks. Keys are in the glove box. There’s a gas card, too. When you return the car you get a bill a few days later based on how long you had the car, how far you drove and if you had to fill up. Very cool.
The town is filled with shops and two big malls – one right outside the train station and one right outside the biggest public parking garage. Covering all bases. And there was so much stuff. Honestly, if you can’t find it in Konstanz, you can’t find it. It’s like someone went to Switzerland and made a list of everything that’s expensive. Then came back to German and built one store for each item. Plus, because of the time we went, every store was having great change-over sales as they swap from summer to fall.
I managed to bag myself three tops, a new winter jacket and a microwave for 200 euro total. I call that a win.
Everybody come and play
Throw every last care away
Let’s go to the mall today
Let’s go to the mall, everybody!
– Let’s Go to the Mall (Robin Sparkles)