Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Strassenverkehrsamt we go

To get the car inspected.

When we arrived in Switzerland, we bought our car from the people who previously lived in our apartment. We are the proud owners of a 1997 Peugeot station wagon.
It's okay. You can admit that you're jealous.

Anyway, because the car is older than ten years of age, it had to be inspected. Brian found this out when he previously went to the Strassenverkehrsamt to register the car.

Our original appointment was a couple of weeks ago, first thing in the morning. But we missed that because Colleen missed her flight and wasn't here to watch Marion for me to go. But that's another story.

So we rescheduled. Unfortunately, we had to pay a 60 CHF fee to do this because we canceled within four days of our appointment time. Yes, four days. They really make you plan ahead in Switzerland! Doctor's offices don't even require that kind of notice.

So our appointment was this morning at 11:04. I asked Brian how long it would take for us to get there. He wasn't sure, despite being there once already. So we did what we usually do when we are unsure of timing, we gave ourselves an hour of travel time. Or, since I was so organized this morning, an hour and 15 minutes of travel time.

We got there an hour early.

I figured it was okay, since I also had to drop off the previous owners vehicle tags. An hour was plenty of time to deal with the lines that I was sure awaited me inside. Even if we are in Switzerland, it's still a motor vehicle administration, right?

Took me 20 seconds to drop off the tags. I asked information, she pointed me to a desk with no line, I walked up, and gave the man behind the counter the tags.


So we headed to the inspection location, just behind the main building. Unfortunately, the woman checking me in did not speak English. And I really only know greetings and 1, 2, and 3 in German at this point. But from watching the cars ahead of me and her repeating herself four times I was pretty sure I knew what to do.

I pulled up in front of the inspection area and parked the car to wait for a little green light to shine. I waited for a light to turn green, but it never did. I think that had to do with the angle though.

Anyway, while I was sitting there I realized that I should probably just wait until my appointment time and then go in, regardless of whether or not I could see the green light. My experience here so far has taught me that the Swiss are very punctual. Plus, cars were starting to pull behind me and, seeing how I was still 50 minutes away from my appointment time, they were more than likely ahead of me.

After 30 minutes, I got out of my car and told the woman behind me to go ahead because my appointment was after hers.

And then, around 10:50 or so, I figured it was close enough and drove into the inspection area.

I pulled forward, stopped the car, and got out. Someone came over and spoke German to me. I used my favorite phrase in German, "Sprechen Sie Englisch?", or "Do you speak English?". Luckily, he did. He wanted me to open the hood and the back door.

He walked away and I waited for several more minutes. The people behind me were starting to be helped but I wasn't. Confusing. Then, a second gentleman came up and starting speaking to me, in German. I used my favorite phrase and he also spoke English. He asked me when my appointment time was and I answered. Turns out my choice to wait was correct. The person behind me had an earlier appointment by 9 minutes, so they moved his car to the lane next to mine so he could go first.

At least the Swiss are predictable. Thank goodness for that!

A third gentleman came over, this time with a clipboard. Finally, my turn! He also spoke English, although he said only a little.

This always makes me laugh. A lot of people I have met answer that they only speak a little English. Then they will talk to me in perfect English, only pausing at a word here or there. If I could speak that much German, I wouldn't find myself stumbling as much as I am!

He was very nice. The first inspection was only visual, then he asked me to take Marion somewhere else as the rest of the inspection wasn't suitable for children. I think they did an emissions test later and that was what he was referring to. Either way, Marion and I hung out on the sidelines, he completed the inspection, and then we were given the all clear.

So, the car has been inspected and I now know that I should check the route with Garmin first rather than giving it my usual hour.

Oh, and another plus to our trip. I also now know how to get to SihlCity. I had heard rumors about a large shopping center, with daycare, since I arrived. And now I know that it is only a 10 minute drive away. Brian's thrilled too!


Jessica said...

Sihlcity is great. You will love it. They even have a 5 D Movie Theatre. That is right... 5 D.. I think they squirt water and stuff. I haven't been yet but plan to. All the best.

Michelle said...

Hi there, came across your blog, very cool! I know what you mean about the Swiss saying they only speak a little English, then rattle off sentence after perfect sentence in English. Also cool to see you have a young daughter with you... we aren't the only ones doing the overseas thing with kids in tow!

Susan May said...

Good Morning, and thanks for an entertaining account of the Swiss version of the DMV! I have to say that I'm thankful to not need a car here in Zürich!

mrsmac said...

jessica- that sounds fantastic! i'm definitely going to have to check it out now!

michelle- thanks! came here from new zealand, how exciting! we've always wanted to visit there.

susan- thanks! and i hear you, while they were better than the MD DMV when I was there, the line when we left was horrible!