Back From Switzerland!

Switzerland was fantastic! We had a great time staying with friends in Zurich and visited several other cities around the country. There’s so much to write about the country: the languages, the food, the people, the architecture… But if I had to pick three words to describe Switzerland they’d be “chocolate”, “watches”, and “mountains”.

Switzerland is unusual in that there isn’t a single common language, but three (Swiss German, French, and a bit of Italian) that are used somewhat mutually exclusively by the population. I asked a number of people what unified the country and one guy half-jokingly suggested it was the chocolate. That may have been an exaggeration, but the Swiss are really into their chocolate. Of course, Swiss chocolate is excellent. But it’s also quite pervasive. In the supermarkets, there’s an entire section devoted to just chocolate.

The Swiss also place a great deal of importance on watches, or more generally, time. There are watch stores everywhere (can you spot the $100,000 watch?) and clocks on at least a couple major buildings in each city. Everyone is quite punctual. Even in the Italian region (and Italians are charitably described as being punctuality-challenged), the people are quite punctual. This means that it’s very easy and reliable to schedule long trips using buses, trains, and boats. I suspect this also also influences people to be so very clean and orderly. Or, maybe it’s the other way around.

Finally, I think the mountains play a big part in making Switzerland so … well, so very Swiss. For one thing, you can see the Swiss Alps from so much of the country. But it also has an effect on the weather and the melting snow and glaciers on the mountains lead to some spectacular waterfalls and tons of rivers and lakes pretty much around the whole country. On result of that is that there’s lots of hydro power availble throughout the country and many fountains that just keep on running fresh water all day long, which in turn encourages the populace to walk around a lot more. It’s funny how a thing like geography can influence culture.

4 Responses to “Back From Switzerland!”

  1. Sonja Says:

    What about the CHEESE! We’re really glad you and Tracy came for a visit. It was a blast seeing you again and being able to show you around!

  2. Mach Says:

    Oh yeah … the cheese! And the milk! Come to think of it, the beef was great, too. I think all those mountains make for some super cows or something.

  3. NinjaHERO Says:

    Mach, are you some kind of international diplomat or something? How come you know people in every country? Is this the friendship magic of Machdice?

  4. Mach Says:

    Hah, no, these are friends from grad school. One of the benefits of having smart friends is that they end up getting jobs all around the world. Now if only I find a friend that works at a luxury resort on Kauai…