Michaela Merz

‎A day in Zurich for 5 francs

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I have read that in Cambodia in 2011 92% of population had to live on less than 5 francs per day (www.qaundl.com). I told this to my little one (soon 9 years old) and together we thought how this is doable at all. Of course, one cannot compare Switzerland with Cambodia in this respect but poverty is everywhere.

Without being arrogant we wanted to try how we could have an exciting, eventful day in one of the world’s most expensive cities, in Zurich, without being hungry and without reducing the programme.

And thus we went to Zurich city with two scooters, one bathing towel, swimming clothes, a little camera, one large bottle of water and an inflatable ring. The scooters we needed because we would not afford public transport. In the bakery we asked whether they had any bread from the day before, which we could buy at reduced price. They had some and we got it for one franc. Thus breakfast was catered for. Then we went across the city and enjoyed the art. My little one played at the slot machine and did not win anything. At the Sechseläutenplatz we watched playing toddlers at a water fountain. At the Migros supermarket we bought two reduced price sausages for two francs and put them on the public electric grill at the lake near Zurichhorn. We went swimming and enjoyed the sensational summer weather. Afterwards we again crossed the city and went to the Lettenbadi swimming at the river Limmat. We blew up our large swimming ring and jumped into the Limmat. Once, twice, perhaps 20 times that afternoon. We floated with the stream with about 1500 other people, who had had the same idea on that Saturday afternoon. We had a lot of fun. Sometime we both had enough. We went again to the Migros supermarket and bought a large piece of apricot tart, at reduced price for 2 francs and shared it. Then we made a journey from playground to playground and my little one climbed like a monkey, went down the slide and thought the programme great. Then we arrived at the Josefwiese and sat down in front of the “jenseits” for a free concert. My little one was hungry but did not really want to eat the bread we had bought in the morning. Since he was doing tricks on his scooter with total strangers, he was asked whether he would like the sausage left on the barbecue and he immediately said yes. That way he got his second sausage that day. And that way we had money left for two large ice creams, which we ate in the evening when watching the free film show “Spirited Away”.

It had been a long day with events, discussions with strangers, unexpected, exciting things. None of it we had planned. It had just turned out like that. Food-wise note the right things but the day cost us exactly these 10 francs and we did not have to abstain from anything. Zurich may be a terribly expensive city but what one can experience on such summer day cannot be exceeded. To live one summer day long of 5 francs is fun, to do it every day would probably wear on our strengths. And thus we went to bed with abundant gratitude to be so privileged that we don’t have to survive with just 5 francs.

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