If you haven’t been reading this blog from the beginning, do yourself a favor and read about the first time I tried to do laundry in Switzerland, or the time I finally figured out how to use my dryer – many weeks after purchasing it! Then you will fully understand how ridiculous it is that I had issues doing laundry upon my return to Switzerland!
In my temporary apartment, there are shared laundry rooms, but my building doesn’t have a basement, so I didn’t know where to find it. On my first day in Switzerland, I actually stopped an old man entering my building to ask him where the “machines for washing” were located. Rather than blowing me off, he took me into the building next door (which I would’ve never known to do!) and down three floors to the furthest basement, and to the locked “buanderie,” which my apartment key opened! And sure enough, there were three little laundry rooms, each with a washing machine, dryer, and a stationary tub.
Each apartment has an assigned laundry time, so I wanted to find the laundry room as quickly as possible to find mine. Mondays from 2:30-10:00pm. Since there are no exceptions, I need to make sure I leave the office by 5:00pm (if not before) to have time to do my typical 2-4 loads.
Each load is paid using a pre-paid laundry card. When I arrived, the agency told me to give the building concierge 30 CHF to put money in the card. I had his address (the building across the street), but not his phone number, so I went over and rang the doorbell. No answer. I decided to write him a letter and leave it in his mailbox, since I wanted to get this sorted before the weekend. When I didn’t get a response by the next day, I got his phone number from the agency. I was surprised when his first question was whether I already had a laundry card. I told him the agency gave me a white card, but that it looked like it was for parking. He said he would come over and check.
Turns out the card to enter the parking garage is not the same as the laundry card. And, you have to pay 40 CHF, if you don’t have a card, since he has to activate one for you. I gave him the cash on the spot, so he would have a few days to take care of this before my assigned time. I was shocked when he came back a few minutes later with a programmed card for me! He explained to push the card in and wait for the beep, and since I’d finally figured it out in my last place, I figured I would be a pro. (He also explained to me where the trash is for the building, but I clearly didn’t understand, because I’ve looked everywhere over the past month, and I cannot find it! I’m sure the neighbors are going to report me for putting my trash in their dumpsters.)
I left work around 4:15pm on the first night – just to give myself time, if there were any issues. Plus, I hadn’t done laundry in 2-3 weeks, so I had a lot to do. I took the laundry hamper, detergent, and laundry card down the elevator across the sidewalk to the building next door and down another elevator. Thankfully, my laundry room was open, so I didn’t have any issues with someone trying to take my spot. Phew!
I separated my loads into piles, loaded the washing machine, poured detergent into the right place, shut the door, and inserted my laundry card. At which point, it told me the card was inactive. WHAT?! Impossible! He just loaded money on the card! I should also note that the concierge was away on vacation that week, so there had been signs in all elevators instructing residents to load money on their laundry cards before he departed. This made me assume the substitute wouldn’t be able to help, which would push me to wait another week to wash clothes for the first time!
I inserted the card at least three or four more times – slowly, quickly, nothing was working. I kept getting the same error message.
Because the laundry room is three floors underground, I had to take the elevator back up to the street level to get a cell phone signal to call the substitute landlord to ask for help. Thankfully, he was already at the building, and he came down to the laundry room in just a few minutes. He inserted the card just like I had, and it worked! I was grateful and frustrated all at the same time! He clearly thought I was an idiot.
Even still, I’m 50/50 on whether or not the card works on the first try! Why is this so hard for me?!
I managed to wash all of the loads, but I’m always guessing which buttons to push. I’m clear on the temperature, but I’m lost trying to figure out which cycle is which or how long it will be once I’ve pushed all the buttons. It’s a mystery!
I also attempted to use the dryer, but it didn’t try my things at. all. I decided it wasn’t worth getting frustrated with it, so I hung my things all over the apartment to dry. Bath towels, kitchen towels, clothes – everything was hung to dry wherever I could find a place.
The good news is that my new apartment has a washer and dryer in unit! I cannot wait to be back in a place where I can do laundry (almost) any time I want. This is still Switzerland, and they don’t appreciate noise late at night – even noise from a washing machine.
Unrelated to laundry, another fact about Switzerland is that it has enough bunkers to accommodate the entire population – in case of nuclear disaster, I guess. Here you can see the intensity of the bunker doors in the basement of the apartment – just outside of the laundry room. Paranoid much?