Let’s face it – it’s a strange place. Encircled by beautiful mountains, Switzerland is famous for its scenery, cheese, watches, chocolate, skiing, drugs, and corruption…oops, I mean banking. A small bottle of water costs $5, a sandwich is $15-$20, and they think that they are doing you a favor!
It has a slightly dubious history. In World War II they pretended to be neutral but it was really a friendly outpost of Nazi Germany. Up until two years ago, most people kept a private bank account in Switzerland that was not traceable in any other country. It was thus a tax haven for the rich. It is the home and headquarters of football (soccer), the Olympics, and the Red Cross. It is also where Charlie Chaplin chose to live the remainder of his life after being kicked out of the USA for being a communist sympathizer. The Great Dictator! One of the most brilliant anti-fascist movies of all time.
So, why do I keep coming back to Switzerland? It is because I like the efficiency of the place. There are trains that climb up mountains on cogs, trains that you can put your car on to that hurtle you through insurmountable mountains and save you hours of driving, and toilets that are very clean compared to most of their neighbors. But most of all it is such a damn beautiful place with famous mountains jutting up above the clouds like the Matterhorn and the Eiger. It is just so stunning. Driving through the tunnels that have been beautifully carved in the mountains, I am aware that Swiss tunnels are the cleanest tunnels in all of the world, like they have a team of cleaners coming in at night to spick and span the walls. Not a wink of graffiti and the streets are clean.
So I guess that I have a bizarre love affair with the place. When I ski between Italy and Switzerland, I confess to loving the rösti, the raclette, and the fondue (really good for the cholesterol) a little more than the pasta. Yikes – what I am I saying?!
Every year I ski in Switzerland. I love the comfort of the place, the width of the slopes, the guaranteed snow, and I guess the Swiss are not that bad after all!