Conclusion - Thoughts, Videos, etc.
First, a brief update. I’m not dead yet and my back is feeling better (yay!), and we finally got our luggage back late Friday night. I’ve been able to resume fairly normal activities and no longer have to take pain meds, so hopefully this is over and was a one-time thing.
We’re still feeling the jet lag a little bit – just enough to be annoying – but life is almost back to normal. In July, we’re moving to a new apartment, so that’s our next significant upcoming event.
Let’s start with the food, of course. [Meals are linked to their respective posts.]
Top 3 Meals
As I mentioned multiple times, food (and everything) in Switzerland is very expensive. The good news is Switzerland isn’t particularly known for its food [like France or Italy, say], so it’s perfectly fine to just eat in the grocery store. The Swiss do it all the time. Restaurant food isn’t bad by any means, but bread, potatoes, cheese, and chocolate (the Swiss staples) aren’t worth paying over $30/person if you eat out every meal – especially when you can get the same thing in a grocery store for <$10/person.
Along the way, you notice subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences between Europe and the US. Even between countries in Europe, there are significant differences in culture, driving style, language, friendliness, etc. Here are a few observations:
- The traffic lights go Green > Yellow > Red, and then Red > Yellow > Green.
- Speaking of traffic laws, everyone in Switzerland is very respectful of speed limits (rarely did you see anyone speeding). In Italy and France, everyone drove like maniacs, especially the Italians.
- Traffic circles are everywhere, except in the busier parts of the cities. We would often drive for several hours (not on a highway), and would only stop maybe once or twice. I’m glad these are becoming more popular with the DOT.
- Road signs show the closest destination at the bottom, and then move, rather going top-down like in the US.
- The roadways seemed very empty, since most Swiss take trains rather than drive.
- Everyone is very quiet and respectful of other people. In the cities, even where there are hundreds/thousands of people around, it’s so quiet you feel like you need to whisper.
- The Swiss are giants. Their average height has to be at least 6’3″. No wonder they’re such great tennis players, with that kind of wingspan. [Update: apparently it’s not that high, but it sure seems like it.]
- It was much more common to see dads out and about with their babies than moms.
- As one would expect in Switzerland, everything runs like clockwork. However, no one was in any kind of hurry whatsoever; everything was very relaxed compared to the US. Basically the entire country was shut down from Saturday through Monday.
- You rarely, if ever, would see people on their cell phones, although it seemed most everyone had an iPhone. The entire country was very technologically advanced, but they certainly weren’t obsessed with screens like Americans.
- A good example of their technology is mobile payments. I could use Apple Pay almost everywhere, which was great for security and convenience reasons. I paid with my watch at >75% of establishments.
- Greetings (and other common phrases) vary widely depending on what region of Swizerland you’re in. In Zürich, the phrase is grüezi (pronounced grEET-tzeh, with a heavily rolled ‘r’). In Bern, it’s grüessech. In the Italian/French regions, you use the respective languages.
- Almost the entire country says merci for ‘thank you’, though it’s usually pronounced “mur-see” instead of the French “mare-see”.
- Ciao seems to be fairly universal as ‘goodbye’.
Lost Meal // Weird Chips
In Day 1, I posted in the Toronto airport before we got on our flight, so I missed a meal on Air Canada (which was a nice airline, by the way). The food, however, was just okay. We got some kind of half-and-half pasta dish with red sauce and Alfredo sauce, with some oversized-tortellini-like filled pasta shells. It came with potato salad (a strange pairing with pasta) and a brownie.
In the Toronto airport, we tried one of Canada’s most popular snacks: ketchup-flavored potato chips. I’ll post my reaction, as documented by Faith, below.
They were disgustingly tangy. I actually ate the whole bag though, because I was hungry and didn’t want to waste them…guess I’m not that picky when I’m hungry. I think the Canadians would have better luck making maple-flavored potato chips.
What we Don't Miss
Despite it being such a wonderful trip, not everything about it was picture-perfect. Here’s what we don’t miss, split by anything we individually feel particularly strongly about (sorry for all the adverbs):
- The prices of everything, especially food and gas
- Weird shower curtains/doors that don’t keep all the water in
- Navigating while Isaac drove
- Having to keep track of important documents (passport, etc.)
- Trying to communicate
- Sleeping in hotel rooms
- Having to search for parking
- Meat being outrageously expensive
What we Miss
On the other hand, the things we miss far outweigh what we don’t miss.
- Having a fountain with cold, fresh water every 20 yards or so
- Farm-fresh, non-GMO, preservative-free food everywhere
- People actually obeying traffic laws and being smart drivers
- European food
- The beautiful scenery
- Swiss organization
- European joghurt
- People not rushing around, and not being on their phones
- Traffic circles
- Having hotel beds that are separate beds pushed together – it’s really nice having your own cover and not feeling your bed partner tossing and turning during the night
As promised, here’re some videos that we previously didn’t have the Internet speed to upload. Apologies for any that are in portrait instead of landscape aspect; we took these mainly to send to friends rather than publish on YouTube or the like.
Reussbrücke - Luzern, Switzerland
This wooden, adjustable needle dam has controlled the flow of the lake for centuries.
Cowbells // Evening Stroll - Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland
Our first night, we took an evening stroll down the valley.
Pont d’Aël - Valle d’Aosta, Italy
Walking through the Roman aqueduct in the Aosta Valley.
Chess Match - Zürich, Switzerland
Locals play a Sunday afternoon chess match on Lindenhof Hill in Zürich.
Walking by Zürichsee - Zürich, Switzerland
Strolling by the lake in Zürich, Switzerland.
Thanks for reading along as we explored Switzerland (and a few other countries). We hope to go back some day and see the parts we missed (we didn’t get to see at least ⅓ of Switzerland). We’ll certainly keep you posted on our future travels, wherever we decide to go next. Currently, we don’t have any plans in the foreseeable future, but I’m sure we will eventually! Until then, we’ll be resting/recovering in Boone, awaiting our next adventure.
Let us know if you have any questions/comments/etc., and we’d be happy to respond [now that we’re back]! Until next time…
– Isaac and Faith