Having been in Swizzerland for over six months, I feel that I have started to worm my way into Swiss society by slowly learning French and eating unearthly quantities of cheese. I have also begun forgetting to indicate, I like my white wine a little bit sparkling and see litter as a personal affront to my sense of civic pride and well being. Thankfully I haven’t started dressing like a seventies Campari advert, but I think that only happens after a year or so…so I’m told.
So, what else is great about this land-locked land?
- Parking In Engerland – especially in London – parking is a total and complete ball ache. You have to pay to park the bloody thing outside your house; you have to pay to park it on the street, where pay-and-display costs 20p per second; you have to pay extortionate amounts to put it in a multistory car-park – even if that car-park is in a mall and you are going there to spend money. Switzerland has a much more sensible approach to parking: they think that if you own a car there should be somewhere convenient to store it while it’s not in use . Multistory car-parks are cheap and plentiful, with handy LED lights above spaces that indicate green if it’s a free space and red if it’s not (all because of those bloody Smart cars, I wager) – though the spaces in these car parks are tight like spandex. Also, on the street there are white spaces (park for free for up to 15hrs), blue with a clock-sign (park for up to 3hrs but display when you arrived), metered spaces (which are quite expensive, to be honest) and resident spaces. If there are no markings then you can park for as long as you like. Easy. Ish.
- Coffee The Swiss are proper serious about coffee. Even if you go to the smeggiest (though in Switzerland this is a real relative term) truck stop at the side of the road, rubbing shoulders with guys with more hair on their backs than words in their vocabulary, they will serve great coffee. Not just a good filter coffee, but a proper café creme and then they’ll pop a dainty, little biscotti on the side as well. In Engerland coffee has been branded, packaged up and chained so that you can buy the same shit coffee anywhere you want. The Swiss also got so offended by instant coffee they invented Nespresso (and jolly nice it is too). But, I still can’t figure out why they can’t make – or sell – decent non fruity tea.
- Brocante There is no Ebay in Swizzerland. Yes, you read that right. There is no opportunity for concert tickets to be bought up by greedy opportunists and then resold to genuine fans at double the cost. No. There is no way to sell pirated DVDs but advertise them as genuine. There is no opportunity to make all your money from postage and packing. No. The Swiss, though, love a bloomin’ bargain and instead of car boot sales, antiques fairs or second hand shops they have bundled the whole lot together and call it: brocante. There are shops that sell brocante and fairs that sell brocante. They are, on the whole, bloody awesome and you can buy anything from car parts to old vinyl to season-old snowboards.
- Parlez-vous Francais? By a series of linguistic paper cuts, I starting to get to grips with the language. Most Swiss put me to shame and speak French, English and some German (in the German part it’s vice-versa – obviously) but I think it is a sign of respect to at least try to speak the language of the country you reside in. I can easily conduct most transactions and engage in basic conversations…but the Swiss – knowing your accent – don’t immediately flip into English. No. They slow down because they know that you are learning their language and they try to help you. In Paris they would just switch straight to English…or punch you in the face. Depending on what time it is and whether you used tu or vous to order a latte.
- The Great Outdoors Switzerland is a very pretty country. Is has an abundance of soaring mountains surrounding picture postcard lakes…swathes of beautiful forests and idyllic alpine villages. What I love is that the Swiss see this environment as something that must be walked, climbed, skied, cycled or scaled. You see whole families hefting themselves up 3,000m mountains…whole peleton worth of bikes whisking through villages at the weekend…and every lake has flotillas of yachts zig-zagging across them. The Swiss really enjoy their country.
- Swiss Wine When I was in London, browsing through a bookshop, I had this sudden thought: back home, I drink loads of Swiss wine but I know nothing about it. So I found the food and drink section and pulled out a authoritative looking reference book on wine (it was heavy, that was my criteria) and looked up Swiss wine and…nothing (then I remembered that I was in here to actually buy a specific book, so my research was not exactly extensive.) We are surrounded by vines and it’s a big deal here and the wine is good. Not just good table wine, but good. I think it is made for domestic consumption only. I guess the Swiss feel they have given the world chocolate, multi-tools and Roger Federer but their booze is crossing the line.
That’s it for now. This is related to the following posts (for any new readers…yeah, right):