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Our holiday in Switzerland   2002 September

When I got on a Croydon tram after getting back from our holiday I thought 'this is a bit like Switzerland'.  (Actually the tram was made in Vienna but that's close enough).  The next stop is shown on an indicator inside the tram and announced on a loudspeaker; a sign lights up to show 'stopping at next stop'.  Then I saw the litter on the floor, got to East Croydon and saw that the trams arrival indicator was broken, inside the station the train was 15 minutes late, got to London Bridge and saw the crowds resulting from a tube strike; and I knew I was back in Britain.  The tube strike actually got into a Swiss newspaper - it being such a strange event in their eyes.

Somebody asked me: 'How was Switzerland - it's a country I've never visited. Is it all gnomes and chocolate?'

Yes it is.  Also woodwork clocks and won't work watches (a Sellar and Yeatman joke) and lots and lots of Swiss Army knives with every conceivable attachment including altimeters - I don't think they have GPS in them yet.  [2004 May update …]  I recently saw an advert for a Swiss Army knife with 64 Mbytes of memory - plug it into your USB port as a removable drive!

Ain't got any pictures of chocolate but here are some gnomes:


Also there be dragons:


And especially in Kanton Bern lots of bears:

02920a Here are two upholding Switzerland's armed neutrality.  The one on the left may look cuddly but it is holding a musket and knows how to use it.  It is definitely a bear inside the helmet on the right.
Bern has both trams and trolley busses giving rise to clever engineering when their routes cross.




FO = Furka Oberalp [Railway] and not anything else that you might think.

And of course they have mountains.  There is a TV channel which during daylight hours just shows real time views from various mountain peaks.  Unfortunately for most of our visit all the views looked like this:


Every Swiss mountain has to have a railway or cable car up it either on the outside:


or on the inside if necessary:


Climb out through that window in the background and you're half way up the North Wall of the Eiger!

But beer-wise even the Swiss admit it's Lager Hell:


Direct your complaints here, where it is brewed:


They have a law:

"Vom 1 bis 7 Tag jeden Monats ist das Sammeln von Pilzen im Kanton Bern verboten!"   "In Kanton Bern gathering mushrooms on the 1st through 7th of each month ist verboten.  On the other days of the month you may collect a maximum of 1.5 Kg per person per day."

Why do Swiss cows have bells?  Because their horns don't work.  Every Swiss cow, sheep or goat wears a bell:


The horns of the one on the right are not working so badly that it has had a curious metal frame strapped to its horns.  The tinkling of cow bells is a delightful accompanyment to any alpine walk.

They are very proud of their dialect.  One of the cultural masterpieces dubbed into Schwiizerdütsch is ...


They call high German 'Schriftdeutsch' - written German - even when it is spoken!

The currency is so stable that coins minted in 1968 are still in circulation - these two are worth about £2.20 and 90p respectively. All the countries surrounding Switzerland have recently thrown out all their currencies and replaced them with Euros.


Flags are flown everywhere - national, kantonal or just of the commune:


We passed allotments where every plot had a flag pole and many were flying flags.

My other 500 pictures of this hol. are available on CD-rom!  
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