Zug millionaires are non-practising

From time to time, journalists turn up in Zug tasked to write stories of affluence and privilege for the UK media.

They search fruitlessly for the spoors and watering holes of the rich, the exclusive bar, or shop or restaurant. They trudge the streets – and this doesn’t take very long in compact Zug – in pursuit of evidence of extravagant consumption and signifiers of affluent life. Invariably, the only icon to consumption they find is the single Ferrari dealer on Baarerstrasse. There they construct a story around the long waiting list for the most expensive model –dishonestly making no comparative reference to the long waiting lists common to all Ferrari dealers worldwide.
The really interesting story in Zug is that there are millionaires and billionaires living here, but they are non-practising.  Few of the icons of wealth are visible here. There is a marina on the Zugersee, and a waiting list of 200 for the mooring slots, but in the main, the boats are just practical cruising and sailing tubs, no Ferrari equivalents, Monaco it is not.

A cup of coffee costs much the same anywhere in the city. You cannot buy an expensive cup of coffee if you try. This is not a problem in London. But you can’t find a cheap cup of coffee in Zug either, and for me that sums it all up. There is a flattening up of differentials here. No special provision for the rich or the poor. It just isn’t possible to be poor in Zug the way it everywhere else. To be poor, you need to be provided for. The provision of inferior facilities and amenities is lacking here.

But also lacking are the private health clubs, exclusive bars and stretched limos, the private schools (the only ones are those set up by the ex-pats, and they offer inferior services compared to the Cantonal version). There is no special access via money to private medicine as in the UK, because all medicine is private and all citizens have equal access to it.

For example the public swimming pools here are of superior quality to the private clubs I used in London. Even if there were private pools, I wouldn’t need to use them. In London if you haven’t got enough money for a car or taxi, you must use expensive and unreliable public transport. In Zug, everyone (i.e. including billionaires) uses the public transport system in preference to the auto, because it is faster, more efficient, high quality as well as being inexpensive.

In London if you are poor you can find inferior accommodation, transport services, food, and clothes. In Zug there is a basic level below which there is simply no supply. You can’t be poor in Zug because there is no provision for it. The most inferior housing is still vastly better than the worst housing in London.

To be a practising millionaire you need places of worship, and they don’t exist in Zug

Heidi is more reliable than Elizabeth

In the UK the train was usually my last and reluctant choice, though the UK performance isn’t too bad, after all, 90% of British trains arrive on time.

In Switzerland the equivalent is 98% of trains.

But that 8% difference !

Considering a trip from Lindenpark, Zug, to Basel?

 The journey time by train is one hour and thirty-six minutes.  Although this is eighteen minutes longer than the average Zug/Basel journey by car, me and Heidi would always take the train.










Reise mit




Baar Lindenpark



Mo, 07.12.09


ab 10:17

an 10:19





S1 22141


S-Bahn Linie 1





ab 10:29

an 10:49





IR 2325


InterRegio ,  



Basel SBB


ab 10:54

an 11:53





IR 2170


InterRegio ,    R  


Check out the risky connection intervals.

There are only 10 minutes between the arrival of the Zug train at 10.19, and the departure of the Luzern connection 10.29.

…and  just 5 minutes between the arrival of the 10.49 Luzern train and the departure of the Basel train. Yikes!

But even gaps of 2 0r 3 minutes are comfy to the Swiss. You may not be able to set your watch to the trains in Heidiland anymore, but that’s only because the electronic watches are now more accurate than the traditional spring driven instruments 

In the UK this margin would rule out rail travel as an option compared with the car. You would have to build so much safety margin of into the schedule (at least 45 minutes between scheduled  arrivals and scheduled departures), that  the car would be a better bet.

Provided your journey didn’t include the M25, or the M1, or it was on a Sunday morning before 7 am perhaps…..

When Heidi met Aladdin in Menzigen

Menzigen, Kanton Zug,  has a population of 4289, and it surged by 8% for the afternoon,  as the matinée audience for the English Theatre Group’s version (very good indeed) of the trad panto, Aladdin, took their seats.

Most of us in the audience were the usual flotsam and jetsam of ex-pat career boosters, tax exiles, hedgies (the ‘adults’), and our delightfully behaved offspring, the majority of whom knew when to shout and shout loudly they did.

There was a minority of curious Swiss who distinguished themselves by dressing as if it were the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, exhibiting the air of a team of anthropologists visiting a pocket of darkest Africa to make a study of tribal life there. The Swiss children were impeccably behaved when they weren’t confused by the mayhem, but only began to join in the shouting towards the end.

You can take the pantomime out of England but you cannot take England out of the panto.  Patrons queued for 20 minutes during the 20 minute interval to be served a cuppa and a bun, but the buns ran out.

I loved it.

Heidi doesn’t waste wax on her legs…

But tons of it gets used each year during the Kerzenziehen (“candle dipping”) season.

There are all these heated cylindrical reservoirs of molten wax scattered around the floor of the church hall, and swarms of children from about four years old run around dipping string into them. They hold the string with their bare hands (I kid you not, no safety goggles or protective gloves or signs on the wall saying the wax is hot).  After a dip the string is cooled in the air for a few moments (i.e. the children then run around with the waxed string) before being dipped again.

This procedure is repeated until a decent candle shape emerges. The candle is then improved and decorated in a dedicated area and then wrapped and weighed. The wax used is paid for by weight. The whole thing takes about an hour or more and the atmosphere is fanbloodytastic!

I love this time of the year but……. there is no wind in Zug. After three years I think I have only noticed wind two or three times. When it rains the rain comes down, cloud to ground, in a straight line, unlike in London where it will feel like being in a car wash.

But one consequence of this is a persistent mist throughout the city during the first half of many days in the winter.  So on misty mornings like today, when I am desperate to see Sammy sun, I switch to the TV channel which is dedicated to the Zugerberg webcam and check if the sun is visible there. More often than not, the cam will scan over Zug (you can’t actually see the city, only the blanket of mist covering it) and show the bright sunny uplands above it.

Twenty minutes later I am parked and walking, all sun-glassed up, with my kids to the play area. Another thirty minutes and I have a good fire going and the kids are working up an appetite for the Würst I am about to cook on it.

Snow is in the air..

I have been feeling excited for days waiting for the first snow of the year to fall in the city. I know that snow has already been falling on some of the nearby slopes because a few snow roofed cars have been arriving for work some mornings.  

Last week  I had winter tyres fitted to the car and checked out our snow boards and kit in the Keller.  At the edges of the city,  roadside snow poles are back in place – we are ready!

Over the next weeks the temperature gauge in my car will drop from +2 as I drive out of the underground car park at 05.45 am, to -10  in the seven  minute drive to the swimming pool

Often I read the newspaper for a few minutes before the Bader Meister opens up, but after a couple of years here, I am now  so acculturated that I feel guilty dumping the supplements of the Financial Times I won’t read in the changing room bin before I swim.  I know someone else will have to empty the bin and separate out the newspapers to a waste paper box for recycling.

What is happening to me? If you scratch me, soon I may bleed Emmental