What To Expect From Switzerland & The Swiss When You Arrive Here

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I have been here for 20 years so perhaps I am used to the living standards and
environment, let alone the Swiss people themselves. However, I have racked
my brains and after having talked to a few clients, I have picked out a few
common observations that your average visitor here would surely point out
when here. Therefore, if you do come as a tourist, and I strongly advise that
you do, this tips you will prepare you for your trip to Switzerland.

1. Cleanliness

So on arrival at either Zürich, Basel or Geneva airports, you will be struck just
how clean and even how sterile airports are compared to other airports in the
world. This sets the tone as Switzerland has to be one, if not the cleanest
countries in the world. On a stroll down a street in Switzerland, lots of people
have remarked to me about the absence of any litter and it is absolutely true. I
had one guest, a guy from the USA who set himself a challenge to find a piece
of litter during the 2 days he was with me and his colleagues. Let’s just say he
could not reach the challenge. So towns, mountains, lakes and basically
everywhere is clean. This cleanliness comes down to doing things right and
orderly and professional and organised and efficient and clean and ultimately
Swiss!!

2. Crossing The Road

Secondly there`s crossing the road. No jay walking here, people press the button and religiously wait for the green man. There could be no cars coming for miles on both sides but no one crosses and if somebody does jump the gun
and cross before the green man appears, it`s probably a foreigner!!

3. Prices

Third and you probably know this already, it`s very expensive. Wages are high
and I suppose this means, the cost of just about everything from Hotels, to
food and drinks to trips up mountains is high with very few exceptions. An
example would be a pizza margarita costing 17chf, a glass of wine 8chf and a
trip up a mountain 75chf which by anybody’s standards is expensive. Basically
if you here with family for a week and you are keen to do things, you must be
wealthy as a week could easily cost over 5000chf depending on your style of
stay etc. Luckily there are Airbnb`s here and you can buy transport passes
which will save you for trips etc and you can always do picnic lunches.

4. Languages

Forth is the language. Now if you do end up on the west side or the French side
or the South-East side, better known as the Italian part, you are fine if you
speak those languages and in general you are fine anyhow as the Swiss are a
very educated race and those working in Tourism will speak English and at
least one other language. However, if you end up in Central Switzerland where
I am in Luzern, do not expect the locals to speak German and you can practice
your A level German with them. No, they speak a strange dialect of German
called Swiss German which is simply nearly impossible to understand and I
would not even bother trying to! Best of speaking English.

5. Timing

Fifth is surprise, surprise is timing. Everything runs on time here. Trains and
meetings etc. If a train is due to leave or a meeting or concert is due to begin
at 2.45pm, then it will leave or start at 2.45 in 99% of cases. So never assume a train will be a minute late as you will simply miss it. Likewise, for dinner
reservations, always let the restaurant know you will be late and as a couple of
side notes, do not be too surprised to see a dog or dogs in the restaurant and
when it comes to tipping, remember that service is included in the bill so no
need to tip unless the service is really exceptional.

6. Low Crime Rates

Sixth, there is hardly any poverty and people are by and large well looked
after and civilised, educated and have jobs. In general unemployment is very
low, inflation also and the country is simply very well managed. Going further,
Switzerland is not in the EU and the borders are controlled so you will not see
many immigrants or refugees here. Entry and works permits for foreigners are
tightly controlled. Society is orderly and crime is very low too and the chances
of a tourist being a victim of crime are very low indeed.

7. High Fitness

Lastly you will be struck by how fit most people are. There are exceptions to
this for sure but if you do see overweight people, there is a good chance they
are tourists. The Swiss watch their diet and most do have some form of fitness
regime and participate in a number of sports and ski and hike on the Swiss
Alps.

So there`s a few fairly common idiosyncrasies you will definitely find here in
Switzerland. Nothing too bad, in fact most are pretty positive and make
Switzerland the fantastic country it is. To summarise you probably have the
impression Switzerland is high end and high cost. It is. In a way, you pay for
what you get here, hence the high standard and cost of living. However I would
strongly encourage anybody to visit Switzerland – just save up before you
come !

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