Switzerland: 10 things I’ve learnt about you

The UK and Switzerland are surprisingly similar. For starters, we’re both pretty polite nations and queuing is not a foreign concept, unlike in other countries that will remain nameless (GERMANY). That said, there are many awesome – and some slightly bizarre – things that make Switzerland unique, which you’ll find me witter on about below.

  • You cannot escape gherkins

I like tuna sandwiches. I like surprises. I do not, however, like biting into a seemingly innocuous baguette to be greeted by this omnipresent evil!

  • Being bilingual is no longer impressive – think quadrilingual

With its four official languages (French, German, Italian and Romansh) as well as the prominence of English, Switzerland is a linguistic melting pot and children learn at least one foreign language from primary school level.

British person 1: I can speak Russian and Spanish.

British person 2: Wow, I wish I could speak another language or two!

Swiss person 1: I can speak Russian and Spanish.

Swiss person 2: Is that it?!

  • Manor is something of an institution

Imagine a mixture of John Lewis and Waitrose combined with the popularity of ASDA and voilà, you have Manor.

  • The scenery wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster

If you go on a cross-country journey, make sure your Spotify playlist is equipped with the Grand Budapest Hotel soundtrack. Winding through the snow-topped mountains made me feel like a character from this Wes Anderson film!

  • Subtlety is the order of the day

Decide to talk slightly above whispering level on public transport at your peril: the narrowed eyes of every passenger will soon be focused on you. And don’t even think about running for the tram which is about to depart if you don’t want to become a social outcast.

  • The chocolate is even better than everyone says

While friends in other countries constantly lament the lack of Dairy Milk, I snigger into my Lindt as I work out how many giant bars of Cailler I can pack into my suitcase to take home.

  • Swiss pride is endearingly catchy

These people must have broken records for the amount of national flags within a square mile.

  • You can never wrap up too warm

It’s 25 degrees and even though a summer dress seems appropriate, it’s not unusual to see people smothered in puffer jackets and bobble hats shivering on the streets.

  • Claire’s Accessories is cool again

This temple for magnetic earrings and all things One Direction is a high street staple and it’s not just for kids: it seems to be the one-stop accessories shop for grown women, too!

  • It can feel like half of England has emigrated here

Whether it’s the Essex businessman yelling about stocks and shares down his phone, or the elderly Northern tourists on the hunt for a “decent cuppa”, British people are hardly a rarity.

locarno 111

A bientôt,

Helen

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