VISITING SWITZERLAND 

This mountainous country hosts one of healthiest & wealthiest populations in the world.  Average life expectancy is 82 years. You can find 30 of the richest business man and women in world:  Dynasties like Este Lauder, Paloma Picasso, Henri Nestle, Mr. Heineken and  Bernie Eccleston.  They have special bank accounts and pay low taxes.

The scenery is outstanding, with houses that look like Cuckcoo clocks dotted up the mountain sides.

You will find no famous monuments or buildings; few memorials to past heroes, or the dead, and no war memorials.  They were un-bombed during the world wars, so boast well preserved historical centres.

Now, name a famous Swiss celebrity besides Roger Federer.  Martina Hingis, the tennis player, was actually born in Slovakia.  I think Ursula Andress the actress and the band Yello are about it. Heidi is the most famous name, but she is fictional.

There are no celebrity chat shows or interviews, and the gossip magazines are all from Germany.

Lots of famous people did live, or do live in Switzerland, due to no paparazzi or celebrity culture.  They can sustain relatively quiet lives. Freddie Mercury lived in Montreaux, Tina Turner lives in Zurich, Shania Twain resides in Geneva and David Bowie lived in Lausanne.

 

In small towns and villages, they trust each other to do right thing. There are few fiddles or frauds. Village shops are known to leave goods outside, or covered up during lunch hour.

Mountain villages are very clean with no litter and polished shop windows.  You will see discarded cigarette butts, as they are not regarded as litter. Graffiti is an act of rebellion and simply ignored.

There are 3 official languages, as well as local dialects.  Depending which border you are closest to, it will either be French, Italian or German, with the latter being the most widely used.  You will find that most people in touristy areas speak excellent English. I do advise you to learn a couple of local phrases, like hello and thank you in whatever the local dialect is.

 

If they can’t afford it, they don’t buy it. Forty percent of people have no credit cards.

If you need an appliance, the shops will deliver and you will be trusted to pay within a month.  Handing over 200 SF note to pay for a chocolate bar is not a problem, as people tend to pay cash anyway.

They have a very high hourly wage even in low end jobs.  Everyone is well trained with even Kindergarten teachers needing to partake in a 4 yr apprenticeship while they study child psychology, and learn the official three languages; German, French and Italian.  Hair dressers study for four years, lorry drivers for three and Santa takes  psychology lessons.

The Swiss invented Velcro, Stock cubes, dried soup, cellophane, aluminium foil, the Toilet duck and the electric toothbrush. They also came up with the birdie song and sold 40 million copies of it.

As the country is mainly mountains, they have needed to find industry that creates small products, The main exports are watches, false teeth and eyes, medical aids and drugs, human and animal blood, chemicals and minerals.

 

On Sundays and Holidays, the country slams shut, all but the train station.

In flats it is illegal to do laundry, mow your lawn, wash windows, recycle, do DIY or move house.  Everyone is taxed per dog, with the rate being around 125 SF per puppy.   There is no state religion.

 

Everybody is insured to the rafters, as doctors charge by the minute.  It could cost you 500 SF to walk into a speciality clinic, or 25 SF to ring your doctor for your test results. Drugs are the most expensive in all of Europe and supermarkets cannot sell medicine whatsoever, so Switzerland is full of chemists.

 

They have a massive military with 8 percent of the national budget going on military training and equipment.  Every man between 20 to 44 years of age does military service, with the number of required hours decreasing year by year. Their employers must give them time off for it, and you must attend.

The country is wired up with bridges that blow, tunnels that close and there are a multitude of hangars, bases and bomb shelters in the mountains.  Every person must have access to a bomb shelter, if they don’t have a private one.

 

You can use Euros in some places in Switzerland, but your exchange rate won’t be so great.  When you get your Swiss Francs, take a look at the best protected currency in the world.  There are 15 security features from visible watermarks to two tiny sections which contain a mini biography of the person featured on the front of the bill, but only visible through a special microscope.

 

With western travellers, most find Switzerland to be the place most of them want to return to. Delightful scenery, fresh air, mountain walks, and some of the finest cheese and chocolate you will find, Switzerland should be a stop on everybody’s itinerary.

Be aware, larger centres like Geneva and Zurich, do have problems with drugs, theft and prostitution; like most heavily populated European cities.