Sunday, 4 October 2015

Put your money where Switzerland is

Goodness, it’s been two months since the road-trip was actually happening and I had started to tell you a bit about it. It came to an abrupt end when I realized I wasn’t getting any sleep and I wasn’t enjoying my trip after all because of the exhaustion. So, I gave myself a break. And you. I hope you didn’t mind… although, secretly, I hope you missed us and my recount.
So, a short reminder: I had stopped where the narrative described to you our voyage in France. All nice and sweet. Nostalgia, hidden dreams I would live in rural France one day, anonymously and serenely (with the money I would ideally have earned from writing). Deep sigh and let’s drive on!
It was pouring down with rain the day we left France and headed for Switzerland. We crossed some mountains, had some road work deviations, felt a bit lost and silently scared. The houses began to change aspect, they were bigger and bigger, to the point where they became colossal and I didn’t understand the reason behind it: were these people living together with their huge extended families, were they all into tourism, what was it? It was an overwhelming trend though. 

The weather got bitter and bitter until everything got terribly sour – we got to the border and, straight there and then, had to pay the Swiss vignette for the whole year! YES, A WHOLE YEAR for simply staying one night! Swiss style, I was about to find out. In Switzerland, it’s all about the money. If you don’t have it, you’d better stay away. Just plan your trip around it.  One more thing: we discovered Visa wasn’t good enough for them! “Ohhh (in disgust), we don’t accept Visa!” How outrageously snob!
We visited Lausanne to start with and we were quick to do it because there were very few parking spaces and at 4 Euros per hour, you speed up your steps straight away. Did I like Lausanne? Would I ever go back and revisit it? Did I feel any buzz? No. It was raining, the buildings were massive and intimidating, the streets wide and impersonal, the shop windows bland, on the whole - truly uninspiring. Even Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) didn’t make me change my dismal mood. It was expanding there, hidden in the mist, unfriendly and a bit menacing - I felt - and all we had left to do was go back to our car. Shocked on our way back by a pair of flip flops in a shop window costing as much as our rent for a month, we thought “Wow, what sort of country is this?” Surely not one for us to hang in for long.


We arrived in Zurich late in the afternoon, after a  multi hour ride, gazing at the perfectly trimmed fields, in a perfect hue of green, surreal almost; we checked into our hotel and didn’t feel brave enough to get out of our room before doing some detailed research about how much they might charge us for the air we breathed. Okay, I exaggerate, obviously, but that day I felt fed up with this country. A good night sleep in a clean bed performed miracles, alongside with a sunny morning, because I woke up to a bright and vibrant city, charming little streets, beautiful churches, smiling people, some of them actually shopping in those terribly expensive shops where I didn’t dare let my eyes go in, let alone my feet. Yes, there were these awfully extravagant ladies coming out of the most expensive cars - chauffeurs regularly left outside to wait standing by the car, in their posh uniform - stopping for a chilled out shopping session, like you do… It wasn’t just one! I saw at least five, bang in the medieval inner city where I thought the pedestrian zone was. Clearly, the Bentleys must have a concession made for them: they are not cars, they’re vehicles to stop the fine ladies of Zurich from walking in their high hills on the cobbled streets of that pedestrian zone. OO These are supposed to be my eyes popping out of their orbits, if I were to make a comic strip out of this story. Ok, we’re not this lucky and never will be… I was lucky enough though to enjoy the lovely weather that day, to enter The Fraumünster Church and to admire the marvellous stained glass, to walk on the Augustinergasse, and adore the beautiful shop windows, to admire The Haus zum Rüden from the other side of a calm and crystal clear Limmat River. The most elegant men were walking nonchalantly, probably on their lunch breaks from their jobs in a bank, clearly, because otherwise what would they live out of when everything is so outrageously expensive!?! And I promise you, I didn’t see one woman or man that looked like they might have been a cook or a cleaning person, no way! They all looked like bankers and their posh, well maintained wives who live in the city with the highest standard of living in the whole world. It must be so! Go and see for yourselves. Zurich is worth visiting, I loved every corner of it, I would go back or even live there, if I could ever afford. That was it for me and Switzerland: hot and cold, hatred and love, quick and sweet. Never going back though, until they stop this absurd road taxing for a whole year with no intermediate payments or until I marry a banker. Au revoir! Aufwiedersehen! Adio!
Next stop: Austria. Stay tuned!




  1. What an exciting description! I fill all the boxes above...funny, interesting, cool, well writing, nice photos, informative. The waiting for your new script was not in vain. Bravo!

  2. Cate luni a durat calatoria? :-) Ati castigat la Loterie? :-D

  3. A durat mai putin de o luna si nu, n-am castigat la loto. A fost un road trip modest cu buget redus, la indemana multora. Am rezervat camerele cu 6 luni in avans, am calculat luni de zile traseul si consumul de benzina, nu am folosit nici un mijloc de transport in comun prin orase - ne-am bazat pe propriile picioare si cred ca am parcurs multe zeci de kilometri pe jos, am mancat consistent la mic dejun cat sa ne ajunga si pentru pranz, nu am facut deloc shopping... cam astea sunt trucurile. Tot ce am cheltuit cash a fost pe benzina, pe bilete la muzee si concerte si pe putine si mici souveniruri ( si doua carti postale pentru vecina mea Maureen :) ) .