Download Swiss Watching: Inside Europe's Landlocked Island by Diccon Bewes PDF

By Diccon Bewes

Swiss looking at is a light-hearted but revealing trip round Europe's so much person state. From looking Heidi and discovering the simplest chocolate to reliving a bloody earlier and exploring an doubtful destiny, Swiss looking at proves that there is extra to Switzerland than banks, skis, francs and cheese. One state, 4 languages, 26 cantons, and 7.5 million humans (only eighty% of whom are Swiss): there is nowhere else in Europe love it. Switzerland could be surrounded by means of land, however it is an island on the middle of Europe. Welcome to the landlocked island.

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The landscape, and especially the weather, also meant that the Swiss always had to be careful with everything. Surviving the winter took planning and prudence, while compensating for the lack of natural resources needed inventiveness and attention to detail – all pretty much traits the Swiss still show. Cut off by the mountains, Switzerland has acted like an island for much of its history, living in splendid isolation from the world around it. Or at least thinking it did. However, just as Britain discovered at the start of the twentieth century, so Switzerland realised at the beginning of the twenty-first: no land is an island.

In Switzerland they had bigger problems in the shape of the Alps, but they conquered those as well with roads and railways that are the envy of the world. Ever since the opening of the Gotthard Pass in the thirteenth century, Switzerland has sat at the crossroads of Europe. And it still does. A high-speed corridor of intercity trains and motorways running through the Plateau intersects with the crucial transalpine routes tunnelling under the mountains. It may not be a member, yet, but ironically enough Switzerland is at the heart of the EU’s transport network.

But in their hearts, and minds, they will always be a landlocked island. 25 SWISS WATCHING Swiss Watching Tip No 1: Meeting and greeting A drinks party, or Apéro, is one of the best places to get to know the Swiss – not because they need some wine before they can relax, but because this all-purpose Swiss form of socialising is held at every possible occasion. Organising a leaving do for a colleague? Throw an Apéro. Want something less elaborate than a sit-down dinner? Have a stand-up Apéro. It can be merely a glass of something alcoholic with some nibbles, but most stretch to finger food, be that savoury tartlets or little cups of pumpkin soup.

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