chestnut book blog

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Switzerland

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I read once that you should go to at least one new place each year. Switzerland was my first new place for 2014. I’ve skirted around the borders before, in France, in Italy and Germany, but Switzerland itself was a bit of an unknown. As you can see though, it was beautiful:

The Slopes, Nendaz

The Slopes, Nendaz

Haute Nendaz, looking towards St Bernard's Pass

Haute Nendaz, looking towards St Bernard’s Pass

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

 

We stayed in a beautiful chalet and this book was on the bedside table in our room – Swiss Watching: Inside the land of milk and money – I couldn’t resist a flick through! With a slight disclaimer that I didn’t have time to read the whole thing, what I did read was very good. Not only was it funny, but it also summed up some of my own observations of Switzerland. Here are a few headlines:

– The countryside, lakes and mountains  are absolutely stunning, but there is a surprising amount of ugly graffiti in towns.

– CH is used on Swiss number plates. I was confused by this as it seems to bear no resemblance in any language used in Switzerland to the country’s name: La Suisse, Schweiz etc. This book informed me that, because of the many languages used in Switzerland, and the Swiss love of consensus, they chose a long dead language to use as their international registration code. Confoerderatio Helvetica – the name for the area from an ancient Roman tribe.

– I love cheese. I didn’t like fondue as much as I thought I would though. There is much more to Swiss cooking than fondue though. See here for some examples we tried. The food was eye-wateringly expensive, but excellent quality wherever we went. As we were in the french-speaking area it was also (luckily for me as I’m not a huge fan of German food I’m afraid) more French than German influenced.

– This bit made me laugh: ‘But the Swiss and the British are more alike than either realise. Both societies are ruled by etiquette and red tape, and outsiders find it hard to make friends or become fully integrated. Added to that both share a reluctance to commit to European federalism, have a common distrust of the Germans and want to keep their own currency.’ Massive generalisations there, but more than a grain of truth I think!

– Switzerland is, of course, land locked. This book argued that the mountains have historically served a similar purpose to the sea and helped keep Switzerland somewhat isolated and remote. I thought this was interesting. I also found that I was very aware of not being anywhere near the sea, for the whole time I was in Switzerland. This was a bit strange and unexpected. I think I must have been a sailor in a former life because I love the sea and could never live in a land-locked country I don’t think.

All in all, we had a wonderful time in Switzerland and I’d recommend it for a short visit. I won’t say too much about the skiing we did itself, apart from to say that I came home in one piece, but with some huge bruises!

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