Wednesday, 2 July 2008

famously friendly

Switzerland is famous for many things. We tried to list them to keep us amused as we sat in what was rather amazingly our first serious traffic jam on our now 3 month long trip as we queued to go through the San Gotthard Tunnel: cheese, yodelling, William Tell, chocolate, raclette, clocks, army knives, neutrality, banks, mountains, winter sports, the Matterhorn, fondue, lakes, Heidi and so on.

What really should be added to this list is friendliness. We were quite unprepared for just how friendly and welcoming the Swiss people are. From the couple who offered us the use of their stove on the Luzern campsite to the couple of Swiss lads who challenged us to game of tablefußball on the streets of Zurich. One lovely lady, Lucia, not only helped us solve the puzzle of the Swiss bus ticket system, but explained about the little lake boats we were entitled to use with our travel cards, how we could watch a free live broadcast of Carmen from the Opera House and where we could hear some Persian pop music. And this was all before we got to Bettina's flat!
I first met Bettina in a campsite in Liechtenstein 8 years ago when I was inter-railing around Europe. We got drunk on Schnapps and she had to help me get back to my tent! Now Kate and I have called in on her and her German boyfriend Peter in their gorgeous apartment (flat wouldn't do it justice) in the pretty Swiss spa town of Baden. Their hospitality has been overwhelming: raclette and wine, a comfortable double bed, laundry services and the best guided tour of a town we've had since Seville. It was the least we could do to buy them lunch. After which, we dropped in on Bettina's lovely mum for coffee and kuchen and she completed our good impressions of Swiss hospitality by presenting us with Swiss souvenir candles and serviettes to take with us in the van. Truly delightful people.

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