Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Things I've Learned About Switzerland

* People from County Aargau wear white socks and are bad drivers. Everyone from that part of Switzerland dreams of the day they qualify for a Zurich license plate.

* Regressive tax (i.e. rich people pay lower tax than poor people) *is* illegal, but some areas tried to introduce it. Rich foreigners can negotiate with the government about how much tax they have to pay. Michael Schumacher and the boss of IKEA are examples of people who got a good deal. But if they didn't pay low tax, they wouldn't live here, so it is acceptable to the Swiss general public.

* Girls from Lucerne are hot, but incredibly mysterious.

* Collecting Panini stickers is a mainstream activity for men and women of all ages.

* A British marine lost his foot doing the insane Cresta run, and didn't know he'd lost it until he tried to stand up at the end.

* There are no more Fraulines. It's one of the words most anglo-saxons know in German, but it is actually archaic. In the movie Music and Lyrics, Hugh Grant was lying when he said he had dated a Frauline. because if he had, he would have known.

* Switzerland is the last remaining country where fascist-sounding tannoy announcements are commonplace. Being on a crowded tram and receiving traffic information in German makes your sweat turn cold.

* When dentists say 'brush your teeth after meals', the Swiss really listen. Everyone keeps a toothbrush in their locker or briefcase, and the worst time to go to the toilets is about 1pm when they are full of people scrubbing away bits of pasta and pesto and flossing and gargling.

* Sheep, goats, and warthogs are standard pets in Zurich.

* You can drink from the fountains, and the water in Zurich's lake is said to be clean enough to drink. It's probably not.

* Swiss people don't know about Dodos; are unfamiliar with The Scorpions's 'Wind of Change'; are unlikely to know which Ronaldo you are talking about (even in context); tend to take my ex-girlfriend's side in the 'Shanghai Pizza Argument' story; don't immediately see a connection between County Schwyz and the name of their country (Schwyz was one of the original three counties - it seems pretty connected to me); When Swiss waiters hear me speaking English, they ask if I want milk with my tea.