Two viewings tonight. The first was pretty dismal: a boring two bed apartment with a boring view in a boring part of town. The second was much better, sited closer to the city center and fronting onto a busy street with a very quiet balcony at the back. Around, there a few signs of personality with a few good looking restaurants and a totally bizarre shop called something like “Hi-Fi Nostalgia” with nothing but piles and piles of high-end, expensive but old hi-fi components stacked up in the front windows and, peering inside, well into the back of the shop. Nothing but Sony, Denon, Technics, etc., tape decks, turntables and tuners – completely and utterly useless and probably highly inefficient…I loved it.

Inbetween viewings I finally sort out of annual travel card: I plonk 693 CHF on a “personal ZVV 9 o’clock pass for Zurich municipal and neighbouring zones”. Basically what this means is I can now use buses, trams and boats all over Zurich city center and in each neighbouring region (not the entire canton of Zurich but right out to the airport) for the next year after 9 o’clock on week days and all weekend.

There is a vast, bewildering, array of travel passes available; in fact, it seems to me like lots of things here offer a huge choice of options (medical insurance being another): my only guess is this all part of the culture of efficiency, allowing the individual spend only what they want/need/can afford and allowing companies fleece the rich but still extract some money from the not-so rich. At least, that’s what the first 50 pages of “The Undercover Economist” taught me. Anyway, I particularly love the idea of the 9 o’clock pass – it’s almost tailored for lazy late-rising people like me with no fixed working hours and it encourages people off the trams at rush hour. That sort of efficiency I could learn to like.

I did ask the lady at SBB about a 9 o’clock general abonnemente – I love the idea of being able to travel anywhere on the Swiss network but can’t see myself justifying a 3100 CHF travel pass; maybe they have a 9 o’clock version of that, too?  – but was told that, apart from some rumours in the media about it possibly happening which were basically made up (she didn’t seem to hold a very high opinion of the newspapers coverage of SBB), there is no such thing. Oh well.

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