I have now been living in Switzerland for just over 2 months. I find that really strange to say, seeing as I have lived in the same place (even the same house) for my entire life. But things change. And as much as I love Canada, I really love Switzerland. This post is about a few of the little things that I love about this place.
1. (Good) Public Transportation. No, this is not a new concept to anyone who has traveled in Europe before, but I feel that living here gives me a better appreciation of it. The system of buses, trams, and trains is really amazing. It’s not just that there are a lot of routes, but they run very often. And as for the trains, it’s great to be able to get around easily without a car. It’s extremely reasonable in terms of time and price to take the train down to Ticino for the weekend to go climbing, for example.
2. Distance. The European idea of distance is much different than in Canada I find. A big climbing trip for me at home would be to drive down to California or Texas, which are multi-day 20+ hour drives. Switzerland is so close to so many amazing climbing areas though, so a long trip is only a few hours by car.
3. Density. When I’m on the highway, I keep expecting to turn a corner and see nothing. As in no cities, just a large expanse of forest. I suppose that’s the Pacific Northwest in me. But you just keep driving, and there is always another city, another village, and another ski area just around the corner or out of the next tunnel. An interesting consequence of this is that you are never out of cell service, which can be a good or bad thing.
4. Tunnels. Man, do they ever love their tunnels here. In two months here, I have definitely gone through more tunnels than I have in the rest of my life combined. I suppose that with such a dense population, and the fact that roads were often built after the towns, you didn’t have much choice except to go through the mountain because there were already people living on the outside of it. Or you know, it could just be that their civil engineers didn’t want to be shown up by the mechanical engineers 🙂
5. German Pronunciations. I am trying to learn German while I’m here, but there are some sound that as a native English speaker I have quite a bit of trouble with. Specifically, the “ch” sound (just imagine pronouncing it as c-h-phlegm) and rolling the “r”. A few times I have tried to tell someone “achtung” (watch out), pronouncing it more like “akk-tung” only to have them tell me that my “accent is so Canadian!”.
6. Sundays. By law, stores all close on Sundays. At first I thought it was a little bit annoying, because you can’t just run to the supermarket if you need some food. But I have come to appreciate it – it means that on a Sunday you can’t spend your day shopping and instead you have (forced) time to get outside and enjoy the mountains!
7. Chocolate. I think this one almost goes without saying. Swiss chocolate is really good and relatively cheap here compared to buying it elsewhere.
8. Swiss People! I believe the stereotype is that Swiss people are not so friendly, but I have only found the opposite. Okay, so maybe people don’t talk to you when you’re on the bus, but that’s the same as in Vancouver. The climbing team in Zürich has welcomed me with open arms and made this place feel a little bit like home.