Switzerland is Bland!
Stay with me on this... As ever the real reason for this blog is my realisation that the years are passing by, quickly and I didn't really have a plan for my later years or, until recently when I found 5 pensions I did not know I had and that total over ten figures, think I had much in the way of pensions and I needed to formulate a plan. The plan is still in pace, but as a result of some knobhead who decided that the land mass he dictates over wasn't large enough so he decided to invade Ukraine and another bunch of knobheads thinking that leaving the EU was great idea for the UK, the markets are taking a kicking and it is painful viewing, so sod them for now, lets go and see some more of the world. This is the main page https://www.my11yearplan.com/ Start with the bottom post and work your way up. If all goes to plan, and I see no reason why it shouldn't, by the end of 2022 I will have visited four foreign climes. What a difference this year already is to 2021!
In February my younger brother and I went to to Iceland and I wrote about that trip here:
https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/we-went-to-iceland As I may have alluded to in previous, not so witty, posts I turn 50 this year and I have also explained that my brother lives in Switzerland due to him working for Lindt, well in August he moves to Boston in the US, which also happens to be very close to Martha's Vineyard, the location for the shooting of what is without doubt the greatest movie ever made.
There is no argument about this, you just have to accept the fact, and seeing as this is my blog, I get to decide what is written and I get to express my opinions, so I am sticking my thumb to my nose as per Prince Louis at the Jubilee to anyone who disagrees.
https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/963660-prince-louis-caught-making-faces-at-mom-kate-middleton-during-jubilee-pageant With his imminent move, it makes perfect sense, whilst still being single, (yep no change there...)
that I visit the US again and finally get to Martha's Vineyard and do that on my 50th Birthday.
As a swift aside I was due to go there in 2012 when I turned 40, my ex wife had it all planned, unfortunately I was a dick and I left her before it could happen
Sorry my love, I will never forgive myself.
In two weeks time, clearly from the day I am writing this, 19th June 2022, not when you, reader, are reading it, I will be sat on a boat that belongs to a very good friend of mine and we, with other guests will be leaving the bay of Turunc on one of what I hope to be at least three of the same boat trips, yes I am heading back to Turkey for a week of relaxation after nearly two years away. I cannot wait, I have so many friends to catch up with and may even look at some properties to see how the market is to keep this alive. https://www.my11yearplan.com/post/what-is-my-11-year-plan
We went to Iceland in February, I have Turkey early June, the US in September, and at the end of May I finally got to see where my brother lives in Switzerland. At last, I am getting to the point of this post, after yet again rambling on about nothing in general and taking up your precious time, well a leopard, his spots and all that...
After the best part of 18 months of him living in Thalwil, bloody Covid and a torrid 2021 I finally managed to get a visit in, just before he then moves away from it. I flew from Manchester and it was, despite the issues being reported of massive queues, cancelled flights etc., hassle free. As I was queuing for security I removed my earbuds and was getting my electronics from my bag ready for the scanner when I overhead a young enthusiastic lad quizzing his family, older brother mum and dad, about Dinosaurs, it brought a smile to my face as they were all clearly excited about their upcoming holiday and of course Sam loves dinosaurs.
This is absolutely genuine. He started; "I am thinking of a dinosaur that starts with the letter T" older brother throws in T-Rex, 'nope says the lad, mum quips Triceratops, nope, wrong again, brother says it must be T-Rex, I can't think of any other dinosaur that begins with T with a slight amount of annoyance and grumpiness due to getting it wrong.
Quick as a flash dad goes... Pterodactyl... my smile disappeared and I put my earbuds back in and music back on.
This is Thalwil, pronounced TalVil or T'wall during my time there, said in a terrible northern accent. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,8.548507,14z?hl=en-GB
It is a stunning location, a short train journey from Zurich and in the shadow of the alps, nestled on the edge of a lovely lake, the views are stunning, the architecture is captivating and it is so clean. The trains are, as to be expected, punctual, clean and like other parts of Europe, double-deckers so there is always a seat.
Zurich is lovely, there is a glorious walk up a hill, which also has a rather good looking mountain bike park within, we climbed that on the Sunday of my weekend and sat on a terrace taking in the views and enjoying some well earned beers. The Swiss take their leisure time seriously, on Sundays all retail, bars and restaurants aside, are closed, as they are on Bank Holidays, no exceptions. Being noisy in public is very unwelcome, peoples right to peace is strictly managed, yet there are no concerns with sitting in a public space with a few tinnies, something that I found strange, given how frowned upon that is in the UK. Switzerland is not cheap, drinks and food are akin to Iceland prices, but I was expecting that to be the case, although when we got a bill there was the odd comment of "youfuckingwhatwhen" in the style of Jim Jeffries, a favourite of mine and Sam.
The area has smaller local mountains that are accessible to all, by means of trains and well maintained walking routes, these mountains have numerous locations on the route up, cafes, bars and even hotels, and the views are sublime, one that we visited was Rigi,
which offers stunning views of the Alps and down to Lucerne, the facilities are amazing and after a short picturesque train journey you are sipping beer in the sunshine just enjoying the views which always have a crane in them... Honestly it is almost impossible to have a view in that part of Switzerland without seeing at least one crane. I haven't looked into it, but the surveyor in me noted the construction techniques and can only assume that a crane is a requirement on every build, it is quite strange, they are everywhere. Lucerne itself is very picturesque, sat alongside a lovely fast flowing river with gorgeous wooden bridges and medieval buildings.
The banks of the river are festooned with bars, cafes and restaurants and of course as whenever Sam and I are together, beers are required whilst we enjoy the sunshine and the views, not always limited to mountains and architecture, there are some stunning people in Switzerland.
This then caused me to keep sing-songing "Very Good, Very Nice" in the style of Chicken Nugget Man. www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ5JwqpUwa8
And this is where the charm of Switzerland starts to unravel
The service industry in Switzerland is abysmal. There I have said it and what is said cannot be unsaid, undone, taken back, whatever. At the first bar we went to in Zurich it took well over five minutes before we were acknowledged and given menus, another couple were left for over ten minutes despite a waitress walking past them at least five times and them trying to gain her attention.
They never ask if you would like another drink when your glass is near empty either, you yet again start the game of trying to attract their attention or dying of thirst...
ok ok a little dramatic, but hey this is me, you know what I am like by now. When in Lucerne we moved from one bar, after having lunch and a couple of beers, across the river as the Sun had moved behind some buildings (my pedant mind is screaming, the Sun didn't move Paul, the Earth continued its rotation, but that would be childish to point out) to another bar with tables in the Sun.
I asked the waitress, after swiftly, and amazingly, gaining her attention if we could sit at a particular table and she advised that it was reserved before instantly turning on her heel and walking away, despite there being other tables that were apparently free for us to potentially sit at and spend money.
I was amazed, Sam just laughed, after 18 months he was very used to this behaviour.
There was no desire in her to have us come to the establishment and spend money, I have relayed this story to the landlady of the local pub (mmmm that's another story for another time) and she was aghast, well mildly surprised, maybe even a little nonplussed, indifferent even, but come on, my job is to paint a picture in your mind with words after all. The Swiss are also very private and unless you are family or well established within a group, they will not acknowledge you, or engage in small talk, this even seems to be the same for their dogs.
Sam and I are mad about dogs, we adore them and I will always say hello to any dog when I see them in public, I always wave to dogs that I pass in the street (FFS, you really did just admit that, didn't you...), which generally gets you at least a smile of appreciation from the owner and even sometimes a brief chat, not in Switzerland, they look at you almost as if you have insulted their grandmother. The dogs ignore you too. Sam is a very personable man, he makes friends easily, yet after 18 months in Switzerland, the only people who know his name, outside of work, are the baristas at Starbucks, which I found very amusing, and the lovely gentlemen who looks after the building his apartment is in.
Even the local bar, that he has frequented regularly don't acknowledge him with anything other than basic service, there is no friendliness and they will even start to close the bar up, by placing the chairs on the table he is sat at, to indicate that they want to shut up early and he and all other patrons should leave, it is very bizarre. The food is also bland.
What? Its my blog, I can say what I like, the food is bland, there I said it again.
I know that Switzerland is known for many things and food is not particularly one, but it took me right back to my 30 months of living in Germany whilst serving in The Army in the early '90's, schnitzel, bratwurst, chips, a plate of beige anyone?
Ok, this shouldn't have been a surprise as the locations are very Germanic, the architecture, the street layouts, yet they mix the al-fresco dining style of France, Paris in particular so a part of me did expect better food. I don't want you to think this a 'Bash the Swiss' post, it isn't, it is without doubt a stunning country in many ways and I loved my time there. I saw some amazing views, architecture drank way too many beers and got to spend four days with my favourite person in the world, no, not me I am not that conceited, well maybe a little, my brother, Sam, and I would recommend it as a place to visit, as long as you are prepared for the bland food and poor service. I don't think I will go back tough...