Last week I complained about how expensive groceries are in Switzerland. Today I paid $46.40 to have nine of Peter’s shirts laundered ($5.10 each). You might have seen my facebook post yesterday about the fact that a watermelon in Switzerland costs $20. Or have a mentioned that a big mac meal at McDonalds costs about $16?
Since we live in Basel, right next to the France and Germany borders, grocery shopping in Switzerland isn’t my only option. I can cross the border and grocery shop in Germany or France for substantial savings.
Here is my receipt from Germany yesterday:
2 boxes cereal: $7.49
4 jars spaghetti sauce: $10.97
Balsamic vinegar: $10.01
2 Mozzarella cheese: $1.38
2 Ricotta cheese: $4.74
3 packages cookies: $3.98
Pepperidge Farm cookies: $3.75
Rice pudding: $1.24
16 Oreo cookies: $2.24
3 bags potato chips: $7.48
Tortilla chips: $1.24
8 AA batteries: $2.12
Despite the huge savings compared to the Switzerland stores, I really, really hate to grocery shop in Germany. Grocery shopping in Germany requires the following (I timed myself with a stopwatch):
Walk to bus stop: 4 minutes
Ride bus to tram stop: 9 minutes
Ride tram to Germany border: 21 minutes
Walk (partially uphill) to grocery store: 16 minutes
Total travel time: 50 minutes x 2 = 1 hour 40 minutes
The travel time isn’t the biggest issue since I have plenty of spare time on my hands. Here are the issues:
1. The heat. Lately it’s been about 80+ degrees with about 80% humidity most days. I realize that 80 degrees isn’t THAT hot when you’re sitting on a beach, or walking from your air conditioned house to your air conditioned car to the air conditioned grocery store. It is very hot when air conditioning doesn’t exist, you’re walking everywhere, and you’re growing a child in your uterus.
2. The weight and burden of groceries. Try lugging your groceries around for 50 minutes. Try lugging them around for 50 minutes on and off buses and trams and walking uphill with them. Try doing that when you’re hot, sweaty, pregnant, and grumpy. After a while you can feel every jar of spaghetti sauce and every carrot and you’re wishing you’d bought less. Not. Fun.
3. The frequency. Since I have to carry everything home, I can’t buy very much at a time, which means I have to make this trip frequently.
4. The other people. Being hot and carrying lots of stuff stinks. But doing it with a hundred other people really, really stinks. Everyone is hot, everyone is sweaty, everyone is grumpy, everyone has their arms full of groceries and everyone is jammed into the same non air conditioned bus/tram (are you sensing a pattern from my Vatican Museum experience?).
For all of these reasons I often break down and grocery shop at the store two blocks away from my apartment in Switzerland rather than making the terrible journey to Germany. Peter says it’s because I hate money, I say it’s because I value comfort over money in cases like this.