OK, I don’t know if these are technically “facts about Switzerland” but these are my observations after 9 days of traveling through the country. (I originally compiled this post on mobile, using all iPhone photos, but have since gone back and updated now that I’m home)
These aren’t complaints or jabs, I truly love international travel for all of the fun quirks and experiences that you can’t get at home. And some are just questions – if you know why something is the way it is, let me know in the comments!
Swiss Quirk #1: Colored Eggs
They sell colored eggs in the grocery store! I saw this more than once, including hotel breakfast buffets, so it’s definitely a thing. Maybe they just don’t want to save all the fun for Easter? (I googled this once I got home and I think the colored eggs are already cooked. But they were on the shelf – I know eggs don’t need refrigeration and it’s an American thing, but I always believed hard-boiled eggs spoil faster and do need refrigeration…so I don’t really know.)
Swiss Quirk #2: Hamburger Prices
The country is full of cows, yet it is impossible to find a burger for less than $20! (I know, they’re dairy cows, beef is not super common) In this case, a bacon cheeseburger was $16 more than a regular one! Overall, Switzerland is a very expensive country, and I knew that going in, so I am not trying to be the cheap American complaining about prices. I just found it odd that beef was so expensive and that there was such a huge price difference between a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger! (
Swiss Quirk #3: Quiche
My saving grace from expensive menu items was quiche. It appeared frequently, and was usually the cheapest item on the menu, leading me to call it the “ramen of Switzerland.” However, it’s all relative, as this quiche lunch was still $16!
Swiss Quirk #4: Cleanliness
Switzerland is super clean – I don’t know if they chop your hand off for littering, but you just don’t see any litter. I took this pic in the Zurich train station while waiting for a train. Chicago public transit is so grimy, I never see people cleaning, let alone scrubbing a freaking pole! Kudos, Switzerland!
Swiss Quirk #5: Doors and Windows
I continue to be stymied by doors, windows and showers! I could see chairs outside this door, so I knew it had to open, but was also afraid of being the bullish American who broke the door. It took me 3 days to figure it out! (Also, there’s no screens, which is cool except for giant moths. So much for sleeping with the windows open!)
Swiss Quirk #6: 80’s Music
They love obscure 80’s music here. It’s playing everywhere (except the schoolbus I rode today which was playing some pretty profane rap music – hoping those baby ears don’t understand English!) They love 80’s music so much there’s a store in Verbier named…
Swiss Quirk #7: Smoking
Smoking is everywhere! I suppose that’s all over Europe, but it’s annoying when you’re not used to it. Especially when dining outdoors and the “smoking station” is right next to your table! High up on mountain passes reachable only by foot, I had people ask me for a light!
Swiss Quirk #8: Train Tickets
Train travel is apparently on the honor system. You are supposed to buy a ticket, but most of the time, nobody asks to see it. At least not the 4 or 5 times I’ve ridden so far. (I was eventually asked to show a ticket, and luckily I had one – however, it’s pretty random, although I was told by a Facebook fan that you will be fined heavily if you cannot produce a ticket) It’s so odd to me as an American, though, where you need to pass through a ticketed turnstile just to access our train systems!
Swiss Quirk #9: Hotel Guest Cards
Many hotels offer a guest card which offers access to public transportation – this can be the bus, trams, lifts, train, etc. Be sure to ask at the front desk before venturing out and spending your own money. (If you stay in Zermatt, your hotel will likely have a cute little electric car to take you around!)
Swiss Quirk #10: Trail Markings
I was shocked at how well marked each and every trail is. Even in town, you will see signs directing you to the correct trail, along with distances or time to each spot. As someone who constantly second-guesses my own sense of direction, this was immensely comforting, even if I did have to add another 50% to the time estimates, haha!
Swiss Quirk #11: The PostBus
Public transportation in Switzerland is amazing! Every little mountain town has bus service through the PostBus. It is great for hiking as you can pretty much catch a bus (or train) all over the place. And they are prompt! It’s a bit expensive, but so is everything here.
I can’t promise you won’t be terrified as the bus tackles narrow, switchback roads, but it’s definitely an adventure!
What did you find odd or interesting on your last international trip? Let me know in the comments!
(PS – for more photos and stories from my trip, head over to my Facebook page!)