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.