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Why I Love Switzerland

Pauline Kenny

I love Switzerland! We frequently go there for summer/fall hiking vacations, but we have never been there in winter (we are not skiers). We go for the hiking, but we also enjoy exploring the different regions, visiting the mountain towns and taking the mountain rides. You don't have to be a hiker to love Switzerland, but it helps. The feeling that I get being out on a mountain trail, looking at the beautiful Alps and the farms, is just pure joy! The hikes range from very easy to difficult, so no matter your activity level, you can enjoy hiking or walking in the Swiss mountains.

Switzerland is the place to go to avoid tourists

The Swiss mountain towns are full of tourists, but they are European tourists. Grindelwald and Zermatt are popular with Americans, but the rest of the mountain towns are touristed by other Swiss, Germans and Brits. In these towns, we rarely see other Americans. I have nothing against North American tourists - I love running into other Americans in Europe and always strike up a conversation if I can - but it really is fun to be somewhere with no other Americans. You know you are someplace different.

Everyone Smokes (or so it seems) *

One thing we have noticed in Switzerland is how everyone smokes (or so it seems). People smoking in restaurants, in cafes. Cafes with an ashtray on every table. It is shocking being in restaurants that are filled with smoke. Luckily you can sit outside in most places. If you are a smoker, you will love it here!

* Smoking in closed public rooms is now banned, except in special smoking rooms. Rooms are considered public when they're not only accessible to a certain limited group of people. Particularly considered as publicly available rooms are:

  • public administration
  • hospitals and other healthcare institutions
  • Schools
  • Museums, cinemas, theatres
  • Sport buildings
  • Shopping malls
  • hotel and restaurant industry

Rural Switzerland, Cats in Every Field

There are lots of cats in Switzerland. If you are walking by a field, look closely. There will be a cat sitting out in the middle of it, watching for anything that moves so it can leap on it and kill it. One cat per field, or so it seems. Lots of cats in windows too - well looked after cats.

Why do People Dislike Switzerland?

Many people do not like Switzerland, or so they say. We love Switzerland - because we get our perfect vacation here - lots of walking in the countryside and charming small towns to visit. (We also get that from England, and England is better for us because the season is year round. In Switzerland you really only have from June to September - and you can hit lots of rain and cold during that time. Even snow.) Here is my defense against some of the common criticisms.

Switzerland is too neat; even the mountains look "mowed" - Yes the mountain meadows look mowed because they are. Every patch of grass and field is used for hay for the animals. In the summer you see the farmers and their families doing the "haying". It is a wonderful site to see. Some of them build beautiful structures of the hay, to let it dry. One year we were there in July, during a time of heavy rains. The day the rain stopped, everyone was out in the fields cutting the grass. "Make hay while the sun shines."

Switzerland is like Disneyland - Swiss towns can appear to be perfect looking, but they are preserving the old beautiful buildings and the new ones are built in a way that fits in with the look of the mountain town. They don't have much land to build on, so the houses are huddled together in the villages, leaving the surrounding space for farming. Also, the cog railway trains look like toy trains, but they are really marvels of engineering. Using the cog system, these trains go up and down slopes that would be impossible with a full sized, regular train.

The Swiss colluded with the Germans in WWII - Yes, they did. But everyone loves to go to Germany and they were the Germans in WWII. At least the Swiss didn't vote the Nazis into power.

That quote about 1000 years of civilization and you get the cuckoo clock and chocolate - The Swiss can be proud of their country and what they have achieved. The standard of living is high, the Swiss are hard workers, the country works well. They haven't declared war on anyone, they live in a somewhat ecological way (better than we manage in the US), they support their small farms and the farming way of life. They maintain the incredible system of hiking trails throughout the country. This is a country to be admired, not to make jokes about.

The Swiss are anal retentive - They are well organized and used to doing things a certain way, that is for sure. But they are friendly, are well set up for tourists, you can depend on the gondolas working and running, and the hiking trails are the best looked after trails I have seen anywhere. We can benefit from their organization of things.

The Swiss are not friendly - This is not true. The German language as spoken by the Swiss is even more guttural and brusque sounding than when spoken by Germans, so it can seem that they are not friendly by the sound of the words. We have met friendly people and unfriendly people everywhere we have traveled. The Swiss seem friendly to me.

Conclusions

My conclusion? Switzerland gets a bad rep for no good reason. It is on my list of top 5 countries for visiting, and we have never had a bad vacation here. Every summer that we don't go to Switzerland, I regret not going. Go to Switzerland, sit on the deck of a restaurant at the top of a mountain and have a hot chocolate. Walk through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

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