(I published this post on 05.11.2007 – I am recycling it now)
A Friday spent in Zürich – there are much worse travel destinations one could choose when itching to go and see new places. I had never been to Switzerland before and I soon discovered my knowledge of the country is really limited. Prejudices and fixed ideas, yes, no lack of them, but what about some real-life, Wikipedia-drawn knowledge of the tiny country? So I went and “read myself in” a bit.
Right after we had crossed the border (Having to take my passport with me was something really, really new after such a long time. Alas, no one wanted me to provide it.), we started asking ourselves But where are the mountains?, thus trying out the But-where-is-the-Eifel-Tower-syndrome regularly befalling tourists in Paris. In the end, we didn’t get the chance to see any where there should have been some, because of the mist.
Our play with prejudices (Look! Clock and cheese factories everywhere! See those Milka cows? Have we crossed the border and left the country already?) was rudely interrupted in Zürich, when we needed cash to buy some food – you see, there are no banks in Zürich City! Well, at least not many. And no cash dispensers, if you’re hungry. But they do have many bakeries, there is one on every corner, emitting unbearably attractive smells.
Anyway, after having got some cash, which required running around this lovely city for quite some time, I needed to get a good look at the banknotes. That’s right, I had never seen Swiss Franc before. And the term Rappen skipped my mind long ago. At first I found them all beautiful but decided later on that Euros make a much more serious impression.
On the whole, we didn’t do anything special apart from eating sandwiches and taking photos (sorry, all you Prada, Armani and Rolex fans out there) and buying cheese and chocolate. MUCHOS cheese and chocolate. Also, we were dilligently ignoring the “Gruezis” in the shops, saying “Hallo” instead and hoping this will make us appear like German tourists who intend to schlepp all the chocolate and the cheese back home, rather than staying in Switzerland.
To put it in a nutshell: You can do nothing wrong whatsoever if having just decided to drive to Switzerland, admire the views and buy bags of Swiss cheese and chocolate. It is not a cliché: they are delicious. They do say it might be a good idea not to move to Switzerland but remain a tourist instead: the Swiss like to keep themselves and their country to themselves.
I don’t care, as long as I am allowed to take my cheese with me.
(“Hell Are Other People”)