In Switzerland, it seems that everything is a little finer. The chocolate is more exquisite, the seats in the waiting lounge are more comfortable, the staff is more courteous. The landscape is awe-inspiring and the linguistic confusion is almost complete. I like you, Switzerland.
This Easter weekend I got to spend with my dear friend Michelle who recently moved to Konstanz at Lake Constance. You have to imagine that I basically never see mountains let alone mountains plus magnificent lake so I was rather impressed. I was even more psyched about the border crossing any inhabitant of Konstanz very naturally does. Michelle picked me up by bike at the station and then we just went to Switzerland. Within five minutes. Outside of the EU. The last time that happened must have been ten years ago when I went to the U.S..
It was also the first time I went to Switzerland (people stare at me in disbelief when I tell them that). The last day I spent in Zürich and going there, we were actually stopped and checked for our passport. Somehow the feeling of showing your identity card to board a plane to Sweden feels much different than three armed border control people stopping your bus.
In Zürich where I met with my former co-worker from Stockholm, I experienced a feeling of schizophrenic alienage. The conflicting information “Great, I am still within a German-language area”, “But when they talk I am lost”, “These people give me foreigner looks”, “But now she is speaking understandable German again” confused my brain. It is most amazing to speak your mother tongue while at the same time being so very clearly identified as a foreigner.
Also, Swiss prices. So I know it is expensive. My friends tell me they don’t do grocery shopping in Switzerland even though they live there. But it is a different thing when you are standing in front of a shop that seriously wants to charge five euros for a bretzel. Five euros. After I had learned that a normal waitress makes 4200 euros a month, I do understand how that works but I still wonder why Switzerland is so off with its monetary dimensions compared to the neighbouring countries. I am positive there is an economic explanation for that and you are welcome to give those in the comment field, thank you.
Only Liechtenstein where you pay 20 euros for four postcards, can compete. Speaking of that little beauty patch that I hold so dear (ever since I made up a ridiculous but extremely convincing story in Uppsala about how I was from Liechtentein), I finally got to go there. It was raining cats and dogs. The people were unfriendly. There was almost nothing to see. But I still was delighted. Few things fascinate me as much as microstates. I also bought a sticker with the Liechtenstein colors saying “Gott – Fürst – Vaterland”(God –Prince – Fatherland) which seems to be the national motto. In one of the churches in the capital Vaduz (there is not only one town! There is also Schaan. Like, right next to Vaduz.), they have a book with a list for each day of the year. The list states those who have died in the parish and it even though it goes back to the 1800s, there are never more than six names on it. Only in Liechtenstein.