I (heart) Switzerland

For the third time in three months I have left Switzerland. It is about time that I jot down some observations about that country that I have been carrying around with myself.

(insert:  I actually left ZURICH, the biggest, most cosmopolitan city in that country. However, what I want to share applies mostly to Switzerland as a whole….)

Anyone can look up Switzerland on wikipedia or google.  There are a few things about that country, though, that you might not find there OR in that lovely book above that I got for my birthday….

  • Going to the movies in Switzerland (is expensive) is a pleasure. You can watch EVERY movie in it’s original version – with TWO or THREE languages in subtitles.  The official languages in Switzerland are German, French, and Italian. So I go see an American movie and can follow the story in the other languages. (There is still some screen left, believe me)
  • Household garbage collection happens in large containers. Every household needs to buy city-approved plastic sacks that will then be deposited in those containers. There are containers near every house.  BEWARE if you throw in garbage in an unapproved sack.  The city actually has detectives who will go through your garbage to find AN/ANY indication WHERE the garbage might have come from.  And fine you. Yes, they do.
  • Switzerland has roughly 7.8 million inhabitants. In my mind, they try to run a TRUE democracy:  On EVERY measure this country tries to pass, they collect the votes of EVERY Swiss person.  The last (controversial) measure was whether or not mosques can erect a tower. You may remember that it passed and caused a huge reaction from the rest of the world. But – they even ask EVERY inhabitant whether or not they approve the drilling of a new tunnel through the alps. Now, that is DEMOCRACY!
  • Until very few years ago, Switzerland – the whole country of Switzerland – had EXACTLY TWO grocery store chains. No independent grocery stores, no small grocery stores – no, TWO names.  That’s all. These grocery stores also supply the country with their baked goods. Hardly any independent bakeries are left either. A few years back, the Swiss FINALLY allowed TWO more GERMAN grocery chains to open doors. You can now buy your groceries in FOUR grocery stores chains in that country. That is SAD.
  • Okay – these grocery stores have an incredible selection. Shopping is easy and convenient.  You find EVERYTHING from typical meat to gluten-free products.  Free range eggs to organic produce. Delicious cold cuts to AMAZING local cheese. Organic cotton clothing.  Bamboo shirts.
  • WHAT I DON’T GET:  Most everything is packaged on plastic trays and plastic bags. It is just as bad as Japan. The amount of garbage they generate is AMAZING.  I really don’t understand that – and so far, nobody has been able to give me an explanation. Maybe someone needs to introduce a ballot measure to change that.  Would be interesting, hm?

3 Responses to “I (heart) Switzerland”

  1. 1 Rob
    May 21, 2010 at 08:38

    I’ve read those garbage bags are taxed at about 50 cents per bag, and people often leave plastic packaging at the stores to avoid having to put the waste in their trash can at home. Heard or seen anything like that?

  2. May 21, 2010 at 09:09

    I believe they are sold much more expensive than 50cents. And yes, people sometimes leave plastic packaging at the stores – I still don’t understand why they package so extensively. Also, the convenience and ready-to-eat meals are growing at a rapid pace (more and more space is devoted to that segment in the stores) -and you should see the packing on those!

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