Is it Swiss Sunday already. Seems only seven days since we had the last one.
One of the things that strikes you about your time in Switzerland is the sound. In the Alps it is just the sweet sound of gentle wind – absolutely nothing else. On the hills it’s the hypnotic sound of cow bells. The waterfalls sound so magical. The thunder is almost Thor like as they echo around the mountains. The rivers always seem to be cascading over rocks. Even the sound of the Swiss Horn takes on an ethereal quality. The restaurants like anywhere can be noisy. But it’s a very polite noise.
The other thing that strikes you is the range of languages you here. In England you only here English really, yes different dialects but just one language. In Switzerland it’s different. One day we tried to count how many different ones we could pick out in a pizza restaurant in Spiez.
- Swiss German
- American (sorry)
With me being there you could also add speaking Bo****ks.
The place is so multilingual. The trains do announcements in German, French, Italian and English. It’s the one mainland European country you can get by in by just speaking English. I remember buying tickets for a bus somewhere near Zermatt. The ticket man apologised for his poor English. Then spoke in near perfect English for about 5 minutes about England, it’s weather and our fondness for warm frothy beer. Listening to him speak so fluently just emphasised my deficiency’s in my own language. It doesn’t even feel like it’s good enough to be my second language.
Another time a train guard came to check our tickets. I can see his image so vividly.
“Dad it’s Super Mario” – he was the spitting image of him.
The guard looked at our tickets then said he would come back. Oh no what have we done. A few minutes later he came back and sat down. He apologised that English was only his fourth language. He then spoke to us for twenty minutes until the train arrived in Geneva. He talked about English Politics, the English Football Team and how he respected the British Royal Family – but he didn’t like Charles as he was too much of a tree hugger. He loved reading about Churchill. The bloke could name most of our Royal Family, the London Major, most of our Government and our Football Players. His knowledge of another country put my knowledge of his country to shame. I couldn’t even name the Swiss President. This shouts out two things. The merits of the Swiss Educational system and the narrow mindedness of the English one.
I do know now that the Swiss President is Ueli Maurer….