What’s the difference between the two images?
The first one is the Swiss flag sign….the second, the Red Cross sign.
The use of the red cross on a white background, which is actually the Swiss flag reversed, was granted to the International Red Cross to commemorate the organization founded by Henri Dunant, citizen of Geneva ([url]http://www.eda.admin.ch/washington_emb/e/home/geninf/flag.html[/url])
From the chaotic and un-landscaped Italian expressway, the scenery gradually changes into that of green rolling meadows, pine trees, farms that are spotlessly clean with their logs perfectly stacked up and of course, all those mountains that Switzerland is known for.We always saw Switzerland in her all-snow glory (and that I strongly advise that you visit it when the mountains are covered in snow…It’s magical! It’s like stepping into a postcard!)
Switzerland in winter
This time – in October, which is still mild – the mountains are green with vegetation but dotted with the orange, yellow and red colours of trees that will soon shed their leaves in the winter.
You know that you are in Switzerland when you hear the tinkling of bells coming from cows. These bells which are hanging from cows’ necks have become a Swiss icon, similar to the cuckoo clock which originated from there. And you bet, we had seen so much cows in just one day, not only in the meadows but also within residential areas, practically peeking at someone else’s windows. So if you think cattle is only prevalent in India, you are mistaken!
Lucerne in October
Because of the 3 countries bordering Switzerland (Liechtenstein is the 4th but too small to influence it – only 33,000 inhabitants in a 160sqkm of land) – France, Italy and Germany – the architecture, language,food, culture, etc change accdg to which region you are. We have been to French-influenced Montreaux, the German-influenced Zurich, the Italian-influenced Lugano and what a big variation of everything – as if Switzerland itself is really a part of France, a part of Germany, or a part of Italy but since it is not, the common denominator is ORDER – CLEANLINESS – PERFECTION – PRECISION! For example, those unmaintained-looking Renaissance architecture in Italy (which i find charming anyway) will be perfectly painted, no speck of stain whatsoever in Lugano, Switzerland. Maganda pa rin pero nawalan na ng Italian charm!
They have 4 official languages – German, French, Italian and Rumantsch, hence road/store/food/etc signs and labels are translated into 4, even 5 to include English!
We stopped in Lucerne and the first thing we noticed is the artistic nature of the people who have inhabited the place centuries ago. Most buildings in the old town are painted with frescoes!
a village square
Did you know ….
– that all Swiss homes and public buildings like schools and hospitals have underground shelters where they can hide themselves in case of war or even a nuclear attack! that these shelters are well equipped with food, water and all necessary things for survival whilst underground.
– that all homes keep guns for self-protection. all able-bodied men between 20-30 are registered in the army and issued with a rifle in the event of an alert
Switzerland is a CASH society. Our visa/mastercards are mostly left unused except when withdrawing cash from ATM machines, but withdrawing is very limited as the minimum amount of choice are either 20 CHF (Swiss Franc) which is 16 USD or 100 CHF or 79 USD.
In getting into a shop, restaurant or a hotel, always look if the visa/mastercard/amex/JCB etc card signs are stuck by the door or window, if not, then you are most likely be asked to pay in cash!
Unlike in France, Italy and Belgium, fashion doesn’t seem to be a national pastime, at least in Lucerne. People here are dressed more for comfort rather than for the show.
We were looking forward to a nice meal. There are lots of international restaurants around the lake that it is very difficult to guess which one would be good. (I compare scouting for good restaurants to looking for a wife or a husband – sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you get so unhappy!)
Menus with their prices are displayed outside of restaurants. All prices are way too high, but since we are in Switzerland, we thought… “oh what the heck! let’s have a greal meal!” A nicely decorated Italian restaurant attracted our attention. Even the indoor decor was charming – with huge candle chandeliers and hanging pots of plants on the ceiling. We ordered lasagna and a half-bottle of red wine. When our order came, at the ridiculous price written on the menu, the plate (or shall i say the steel bowl where it was served was too disappointingly small for our hunger! ) The cheese was so overcooked it was almost melted rubber! and the taste of steel (on the bowl) seem to have gotten incorporated in the tomato sauce. it was so unpleasant, the ugliest lasagna i have ever had!
The waitress came and asked if the food is alright – without hesitation I said “NO! the cheese is like rubber!”
waitress: but i see that you have eaten it all!
me: because it is so expensive, i might as well finish it!
waitress: you could have told us, we could have given you another one!
me: oh really? ok, next time!
my husband swear that he saw her face getting red! that was the last time we saw the back of her. feeling that we are now getting ignored, we decided to go to the counter where we paid our bill.
Lesson of the story: Never eat around lakes, rivers etc of a big town. the food is usually crap and expensive! It’s usually the small family-run restaurants away from the crowd that offers very good value for your money.