24 May 2008

Swiss knives, chocolate, paranoi, cheese, watches, etc

Switzerland is a country surrounded by a beautiful mountain range, and in the middle of it all there's a bit of a divide - between the German-speaking Swiss (80%) and the French-speaking Swiss (20%). There's a bit of animosity between the two sides - but more from the French part towards the German part, I think.

Did I mention Switzerland is expensive? You have to bloody pay for everything here. If you can't fit your dog in a bag whilst using public transport you have to buy it a ticket. The medical system is said to be one of the best in the world, but medical insurance is compulsory - my friend has to pay 200 Swiss Francs a month towards is (just less than 200 pounds) and even then there is a 1500 Franc excess. People think the Swiss are all very wealthy but it seems that the only reason they are generally well paid is to be able to afford the high cost of living here.

The Swiss are quite proud of their knives, their cheese, their cuckoo clocks and their watches. Arriving at Geneva airport I was overwhelmed by adverts for prestigous watches which were plastered wall-to-wall along the entire length of the travelatore, no less than 500m travelator from the baggage hall to customs desk. I almost felt naked with my 30 dollar Swatch watch - though it is Swiss made, it didn't sport the diamonds and gold that I was led to believe I needed to be like a real man.

And obviously the Swiss are extremely proud of their chocolate. But during a hike in the mountains I discoved the real Toblerone. Toblerone is the name of huge, triangular blocks of concrete which had been organised in a line across the mountainside between 1939-1945 i.e. during World War II, to prevent tanks from making easy passage and hence to defend the country. The toblerone is a start, but then there are the war bunkers, and finally there's the compulsary military service for all men. For a country that has been and is considered to neutral in war and conflict the Swiss are certainly very paranoi.


  1. Anonymous20:25

    Hi Ara,
    long time no speak. You're obviously having a fab time, pics are great and the 'rug' aint bad either!!
    One question, why have you taken out the pic of your gorgeous female friend?
    I'm well and back at work on short hours which is quite nice. Have ditched the wig as I now have a full head of hair, albeit short, curly and all white....yep, I said white! Can't wear dangly earrings at the moment cos I jus look like a lesbo trying too hard!! Bet that made you laugh!
    By the way have you put on weight or is that just your muscles?!! Either way, you're lookin well.
    Anyway, take care but most of all ...... ENJOY!

    Rosie x
    p.s. As Homer would say, toblerone.............mmmmmhhhh x

  2. Hey Rosie!
    So good to hear from you :)
    I didn't laugh at the lesbo image of you, but it did make me smile, lol.
    Put on weight? Hmm... some family said the same thing when I visited Australia. But I think it is my muscles - good observation, haha.
    So when are you going to have a holiday from the UK?
    Speak to you soon (and thanks for staying in touch)
    ara x

  3. Anonymous03:06

    Decided I needed to see the Giant Buddha in Hong Kong so went in february for a few days. Had fun shopping and bartering at the local markets, and nearly peed in my pants when the cable car ( on the way back from seeing Buddha) decided to stop for 20mins right over the lake.....it was really windy!
    Next weekend am going to see my friend who has a place near Almeria in Spain.
    Not sure where I'm going after that, got any suggestions?

    Rosie x

  4. Cool!
    Looks like Buddha was just messing with you a bit then ;)
    Well if you're going to be in Spain anywhere along the east coast is great... BEACHES! Yay!
    But I imagine, being a Brit, you've probably seen most of the east coast of Spain by now, right?

  5. Anonymous17:47

    Wrong! Went to Santander and Santiago on a school trip when I was 12 so needless to say its only a blur of a memory, and went to Madrid 6yrs ago. So does that mean I'm not a true Brit?


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