Monday, February 16, 2009

XXIII: Weekend

Switzerland is a silly country. Aside from all of its obvious, kitsch characteristics... like Swiss army knives, cuckoo-clocks, cheese, chocolate and that one place where they collide atoms in Geneva (CERN for all you Dan Brown fans) - my favorite is probably the fact that the people there are lacking any REAL type of national identity.

This last weekend, I've learned in great detail and experience that the country is split into three very distinct regions (which shows that I've always been shite at geography) - French Suisse, German Suisse and Italian Suisse. And these three regions all speak their own languages.. you guessed them: Swiss French, Swiss German and Swiss Italian. Although the languages are very similar to their basic counterparts, the answer to why France, Germany and Italy didn't just claim their respective pieces of Switzerland and make it their own is beyond my immediate knowledge - but in any case, I find it kind of funny.

Why don't they just speak plain Swiss? Wouldn't that make it easier for the natives? And that stupidly long acronym for the national train station, CBB CFF FFS, could probably then be shortened to just ONE set of three letters. But wait, that would just be too easy. And perhaps this confusion is what keeps them from taking anybody's side and refusing to become part of the EU. But yeah, "just plain Swiss" doesn't exist. Maybe the whole country is designed to be the most confusing tourist spot in the world. Who knows?!?

Anyway, Allison and I made it out to Switzerland (aka Confoederatio Helvetica... yeah, I don't know how they got "Switzerland" from this name) over the weekend for a Valentine's Day weekend ski-trip, and it was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. But it was also a bit ridiculous.

We left the "comforts" of London around 5 a.m. on Friday morning to catch our 8:05 Easy Jet flight to Geneva. But before I could even get to the airport, I was lucky enough to have my American debit card sucked into an ATM machine, never to be seen again, because apparently the bank was having technical difficulties. It wasn't my fault... but that still left me without my normal debit card. And I probably won't get another one for 2 more weeks. How convenient. It seems that all the forces are constantly working against me being here in Europe - but whatever, I'm finally starting to get used to these unfortunate situations. Thank God for credit cards.

Geneva was pretty. That's probably the only word I have to describe the place, because there's really not much more to it than that... except for maybe the super-expensive food and the unfriendly train station staff.

At least they have a geyser in the middle of a lake. It's called Jet d'Eau (Jet of Water... how clever).

After figuring out how to take a train, we ended up about an hour away from Geneva to meet up with Chris in Neuchatel. He and his flat-mate Jason were nice enough to let us stay with them and be our hosts for the weekend. They took fabulous care of us.

Neuchatel was cute. What else am I supposed to say about a little Swiss French town with a population of 50,000? We didn't stay within city limits long enough to really get a feel for it. And since Allison and I don't speak French, we let Chris take care of EVERYTHING. It was kind of nice getting to be the follower...

On Saturday, we took a day-trip to Lausanne, which was pretty much the epitome of adorable because of its snow-covered rooftops, cobblestone streets and giant cathedral on top of a hill.

But the absolute BEST part of Lausanne was this toilet I found in a random cafe:

It looks like any other toilet, I know. BUT here's the crazy part- instead of a lever, it has a twist-knob that you use to flush it. As you can tell, I enjoy the small things in life. Moving on....

Sunday was nothing special - just snowboarding in the Swiss Alps and a traditional fondue feast. SLAAAAASH the most perfect Swiss Day EVER.

That's the Eiger in the background (a.k.a. the mountain of glorious death):

No, we didn't ski that. Instead, we opted for a nicely steep and amazing mountain called Mannlichen (not to be confused with Man Lickin'). It just doesn't get better than that...

Actually, I lied. The fondue was the cherry on top of it all. Or should I say "cheese..." I was only a few congealed-emmental forkfuls away from OD'ing on the best meal of my life.

Luckily, Allison and I made it back home to London all right. We even got back in time to make it to our night class today. Not to sound pretentious or anything, but it still boggles my mind how easy it is to jump over the pond for a weekend getaway to Switzerland. Oh yeah, did I mention I went snowboarding in THE SWISS ALPS!?!?! Man, life is good.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I'm glad you guys had fun! And now you can appreciate the wierdness of Britain even MORE in comparison!

p.s. I want to Fondue