Jul 8, 2012

Goodbye Helvetica - part one

Still getting on with it (in fact, I will use the extent to which I've been "getting on with it" as an excuse for my absence from these virtual pages. Because I can). Still nothing to report though. "It" remains undefined for the time being, so you'll have to bear with me. I promise you'll know as soon as I do.

In the meantime, ready or not, my departure from Switzerland approaches at the speed of an oncoming tram. Which means it's time to reflect on what I have learned (or stubbornly refused to learn) during my almost-two years in this quirky version of a country.

Warning: I'll probably end up offending someone. I usually do. Whatever I may have said or am about to say, it should not be taken as an indictment of Switzerland as a whole, or the Swiss in general. I have lots of lovely Swiss friends. Well, actually, I have one Swiss friend. She is very lovely though. And in her honour, I will start by counting down the top 5 things I will miss about Switzerland (other than the friends I've made here). I wanted to do a top 10, of course, à la David L., but I couldn't think of ten. Damn, I've gone and offended someone already, haven't I...

5: How every single bus, tram, and train is connected and freakishly on time. So that you can cross the country and schlep up to a high-altitude village in the middle of nowhere, employing five different modes of transportation, and arrive exactly when the SBB website said you would, without having waited more than a couple minutes at any stop along the way. There's some kind of evil mathematical genius behind all this, I'm certain of it.

4: Hiking in the mountains to the constant sound of cowbells. If you only do it a couple times a year, the ringing doesn't get too annoying. And those cows are pretty great-looking. As are the mountains. Breaking out into song à la Julie Andrews is not unheard of (and yes, I know that was Austria, but you know what I mean).

3: Chocolate. Oh heavenly goodness. The Swiss do know their chocolate. Sprüngli and Läderach, how I will miss you (my waistline, however, will not).

2: Trams (yes, there's a bit of a public transportation theme, here). God, I love the trams. Every city in the world should have trams (and I applaud those that already do). Trams are far superior to subways. They're clean and bright and allow you to look out the window and daydream (ironically, in my case, most of my daydreams involve being on the A train...)

1: Drinking Aperol Spritz by a lake, or a river, or whatever body of water is closest (there is bound to be one, wherever you are in Switzerland). There's something about bright orange bubbly alcoholic drinks that just screams summertime. I plan on exporting a cartload of Aperol on my way out of here. Now, granted, Aperol Spritz is also available in Italy. Plus, if you drink it there, well, then, you're in Italy. But it will always mean Switzerland to me...

So there you go. I'm not entirely biased against Switzerland. Give me a ringing cow, some chocolate, a glass of something orange and plonk me on a tram by a lake and I'm a happy girl.

In my next post, I will explore the many mysteries of Switzerland that, try as I may, I have never been able to figure out.