Likes & Dislikes

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Switzerland - Jungfrau - l.z. photo


Switzerland Likes&Dislikes
Likes:
1. The beautiful nature, with mountains, green meadows, beautiful forests and fresh air
2. The cities are clean, and this is true even of public transport
3. Mount Rigi
4. Mount Pilatus
5. The Zugersee (lake) which is good for swimming. The water is cold, but you can get used to it
6. The trains and buses, which are punctual almost down to the second
7. The many hikers and cyclists
8. Beer is affordable in shops
9. The public restrooms are clean, and most of them are free
10. It isn’t absolutely swelteringly hot in summer
11. It never feels uncomfortably crowded, even at railway stations
12. People say hello in small towns and villages
13. The environmental awareness of the locals
14. The relatively light traffic

Dislikes
1. The stand-offish, reserved character of the Swiss
2. In many places it’s not easy to get by with just English. Generally it’s manageable, but this definitely isn’t another Holland or Scandinavia. Some people even kept speaking German, even when I indicated that I don’t speak that language.
3. Public transport is absurdly expensive – as much as $240 for a 90km journey.
4. All together it’s the most expensive country I’ve ever visited, beating even Scandinavia
5. I listed the pleasant summer temperatures as a positive, but the weather can change from beach weather to a storm in minutes, and it rains a lot.
All in all, though, I’d be happy to go back any time (Polar Bear, 2017)

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“A gorgeous country with gorgeous scenery, and prices to match! The local shops are fabulous, well-organized and usually without too many customers, but the same could be said of the shopping malls as well. They put a lot of emphasis on cleanliness, and a culturally sensitive tourist is never tempted to leave any litter behind. As for the locals, the thought clearly never enters their heads.
What always strikes me is the peace and quiet. No honking car horns, no shouting, no cursing. The Swiss are polite and helpful, but they keep their distance.
Switzerland is not – for me at least – a culinary giant, but I do like their cheeses, milk and, last but not least, their chocolate. You’ve got to try some, whatever the price!!
Do visit this wonderful country if you get the chance. Go on a hike, visit its beautiful cities, listen to the silence, and enjoy the tranquility… Of course, in the mountains, the baaing of sheep and the restful clang of their bells only adds to the sense of peace. The unbelievable green of the grass is due to a lot of rain and humidity, and also constant fertilization from the livestock (there is a slight smell, but it isn’t out of place, and you can get used to it).

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Yes, it is a wonderful country, with wonderful landscapes, and high prices. The shops are fabulous, tidy and for the most part without many people shopping in them, but the same can be said for the malls and shopping centers. They put a lot of emphasis on cleanliness, and it really never enters the head of a well-bred and refined tourist to litter – while the same goes for the locals. What always grabs my attention is the silence, the calm. No horns honking, no shouting, and certainly no loud swearing. The people here are polite and helpful, but there’s always that typical reserve. Switzerland – in my opinion, at least – isn't exactly famous for its cuisine, but I do have to admit that their cheeses, milk, yogurts and last but not least their chocolates, are sublime – it costs a lot, but it’s worth it!! If you have the opportunity to visit this wonderful country, go on a hike, visit its wonderful cities, listen to the silence, enjoy the tranquility... and, of course, do not disturb the grazing of the sheep in the mountains. The wonderful green of the grass is due to high rainfall and humidity, and to the constant supply of fertilizing manure (it has a slight scent, but it fits the environment and you can get used to it). So put on your boots and backpack and enjoy the sense of awe that Switzerland’s mountains, lakes, and natural beauty inspire.





Practicals

Transport

"Moped riders are jerks. Why? The answer is quite complex. In the morning traffic jams, most of which are due to poorly set lights, motorcyclists drive like cyclists coming home from the pub on Saturday night. To give a concrete example, driving innocently along, one is startled to see a motorcyclist come from one direction, a moped rider from another, neither signaling, crash into one another directly ahead. In fact, this would not be a problem, they do it back home too, and we could get used to it, but it’s still confusing and even irritating. Especially since there are thousands of scooters in cities, maybe more than the number of cars, and all of them use their stinking gasoline-smelling bikes in the morning. This is not the biggest overall problem with motorcyclists, just for car-driving citizens.

Unfortunately, pedestrians also need to be careful on the sidewalk so as not to be hit by a scooter overtaking the line of cars just in front of it. Apparently, the locals are already used to the situation, and we were the only ones tempted to use a few coarser expressions. Of course, it’s hardly a surprise that pedestrians aren’t outraged, since they too fail to follow the basic rules of the road. As a motorist in an alpine country, we have to get used to the fact that pedestrians take no notice of red lights and cars on the road, but casually step out into traffic. At first, we honked the horn, in good Hungarian style, to let them know that we had a green light, but we only managed to provoke outrage from the pedestrian, who was endangering others and himself. Apart from that, Swiss transport also has good points, including the use of the motorway, which, it’s true, is expensive for tourists, but I think it’s a normal and acceptable thing that you have to pay a fee.


"The roads are extremely well maintained, and it’s very rare to find oneself shaking one’s head in disapproval at the state of them. Yes, there are some bad ones, but very few. There are also numerous motorways, and practically the country is covered. Zurich, Switzerland's largest city, can be skirted on a ring road, which allows you to avoid the city completely. Parking is not easy, and you have to pay almost everywhere. You have to learn what the blue and yellow zones mean. The parking fee is not especially high – in fact, it’s similar to the rates in Budapest. Public transport: for me, it’s a real ten out of ten. Well organized, punctual, clean. One thing I really like is the way they’ve equipped the traffic lights with traffic sensors, meaning you never have to wait at the red light for ages when there are no other cars around.”
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"Drivers are attentive and responsible – you never have to wait at the zebra crossing, and motorcyclists also stop, although it is a bit more complicated for them to start again than for motorists.

It is interesting, however, that while people keep to the right on the escalator, they do not wait for people to disembark the bus before getting on. They do greet the bus driver, but in a very perfunctory way.”


Switzerland - Jungfrau - train - l.z. photo

Public safety

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Swiss police force

Background

Switzerland - national flag - Krista photo

Destination in brief

Switzerland in brief


Switzerland is a landlocked country located in Central Europe. Neighbors: Germany (north), Austria and Liechtenstein (east), Italy (south), France (west, northwest)

Size: 41,285 km² (15,940 mi²) - The Alps cover around 60% of the country's total surface area, but you can also find palm trees around Lake Lugano, in the south.

Capital city: Bern – but Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland.

Population (in 2020): 8.6 million – 23-25% of the population are foreigners (more than 80% of them are from European countries)
The average age for Swiss women to have their first child is 30.4 years, which makes them the oldest women in Europe to do so.

Languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh (a descendant of spoken Latin from the Roman Empire!) are the official languages - the most-widely spoken language is “Swiss German”, spoken by just over 60% of the population (French is spoken by about 20%, and Italian by 8%).

Religion: Around two-thirds of the population are either Roman Catholic or Protestant (Reformed-Evangelical) – about 7% Muslim (most of them are originally from the former Yugoslavia or Albania, one-fifth have Turkish roots)

Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)

Average net monthly salary: about 4,600 USD (the approximate salary for a teacher)
The Swiss may have some of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, but they do get good value for money.

Form of government: federal republic, semi-direct democracy

Switzerland is not a member of European Union, but is part of the Schengen area.

Most common surname: Müller
 
Safety: one of the lowest crime rates in the world
 
Best time to visit: depends of the type of travel (skiing or city visits)
 
Most important tourist attractions: Bern’s old town, Geneva, Lake Geneva (Montreux), Interlaken, Lucerne, St. Moritz, Lake Lugano, Zurich’s old town, the Albula/Bernina Railway Line
 
Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, and it attracts ‘suicide tourists’. Please, choose a different reason to visit Switzerland…

Geography

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Switzerland - l.z. photo

Climate

"I used to think that the snow here reaches your waist every winter and it's cool in the summer. Of course, I know the mountains have a big impact on the weather and since I don't live at 2000m, neck-high snow can hardly be expected. However, I didn’t think I would just wait and wait for the snow, and never see any. Or perhaps some, but not nearly as much as I expected. This is good for transport, of course, but we still have to "pray" for a white Christmas here. Summers are a little cooler than at home, but I don’t mind that either. Although this summer was a disaster – it rained almost all summer, especially on the weekends, of course. It was more like a monsoon than a summer. So this year’s trips mostly didn’t happen. So, yeah, it rains, big deal. But you have to be prepared for it in every season. Flood-like rain can strike at any time because there is no such thing here as light rain or drizzle. If it rains, it pours. If you don't want a big surprise, it's a good idea to bring an umbrella or a raincoat.

Nowadays

"The shops and supermarkets are not much more expensive than the European average. With the exception of one thing: meat. As the Swiss state strongly protects domestic producers, there are high customs duties on imports. As a result, people living near the border have taken up a rather strange habit. Germans go to Germany or Austria, while in the south they go to France to buy meat, as it is worth it, even factoring in the cost of gas. It should also be added that no matter how much money a real Swiss has, saving comes first. When Aldi and other low-cost supermarket chains came into the country a few years ago, everyone predicted a bleak future for them. However, the opposite has proved the case: on Saturdays, huge SUVs and Mercedes vie for parking spaces, with their owners looking for a chocolate cookie a frank cheaper than the average. Surprisingly, homeless people are rarely encountered. For some reason, however, punks are much more common around train stations than in other Western European cities. Usually, together with a dog, the reason for which I couldn’t figure out for a long time until someone explained that local governments pay social security to pet owners in many places so that the poor animals get something to eat.

Switzerland - We kindly ask you to use the shower curtain inside the shower tray - Krista photo

Tourist etiquette

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Attractions

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