Once upon a time, I was looking for Love. I looked and looked and looked and got sooooooo close, but it wasn't until I stopped looking when I found it. I always had a faith in Love and knew deep down that I would, one day, find him. What I didn't know was that I would have to leave my home and native land of Canada to find a new life in Switzerland.
We have been traveling back and forth between the two countries since we met in Canada, in 2010. It has been hard to decide where to ultimately settle down and I suppose we will have to eventually come to a decision, but living in Canada is great for so many reasons and living in Switzerland also has many wonderful reasons to stay. Both places have their similarities but there are vast differences, of course!
Let's start with WINE! Well, you can go to the local grocery store (here it is called COOP - pronounced coh-ope) and you can purchase a tasty bottle of Chardonnay for three Swiss Francs. My favourite is the Rioja, and it is eight Swiss Francs a bottle (or chf for short, that's right, there is no money symbol like we have in Canada $) In any case, wine is NOT expensive and it IS delicious. There's no such thing as "Dep" wine or Depanneure wine, the stuff you can buy at the corner store in Quebec does not exist here (PHEW!) AND you can drink wherever you want, on the bus, on the train, you can even drink in the car. Yes, open bottles are allowed in a moving vehicle. Even the driver is allowed to drink ONE beer, should he or she desire it to be so.
Every where you look, it just looks different. Even in the forest, it is different. Sometimes if I am in the deep woods, I can imagine that I am in British Columbia, but you know you are not in Canada. The houses are different, the landscape, the architecture is really incredible. If you look up when you are wandering around in a city in Switzerland you will be amazed. They (in some cases) paint designs under the lip of of the roof. I sang at a house concert the other day in a house that was built in 1552, initially as a tanning house, where they would take care of skins and leather. There were still iron hooks coming out of the ceiling and there was a tower at the top of the house, which you had to enter via the skinniest (sketchiest) staircase I had ever climbed. I guess I could never play in a place like that in Canada.
Yes, the view here is much different. I was raised in the County, big sky and flat! You can literally ski down our back yard here, or toboggan! The mountains in this photo are our local area peaks, this view is about a ten minute drive from where I live. We live in a valley so you can't see any peaks from our windows. It's okay though, the hills are alive around here! In the Spring, the farmer brings his Sheep to graze on the grasses around us. They wear bells, so there is always harmony of sound outside. It's quite pretty! The cows also wear bells but the sound is MUCH much lower, as the Cow bells are much bigger than the Sheep bells! At the end of each Summer, when the farmers bring their cows down from the mountain tops (in some areas, they graze in the Summer a way up high in the mountains) it is a big and beautiful celebration. All the cows are honoured and dressed up with flower tiaras. It is a very loud and beautiful display!
An Easter tradition here is also a little different. Where WE paint and colour eggs -in my Canadian family, anyway- They decorate eggs here too, but instead of blowing out the insides (for pancakes and waffles!!) they are hard-boiled and eaten later. They make a game of it actually, to see who has the strongest egg, they are knocked together and the one that smashes last, wins. They are boiled in tea/coffee/onion skin and/or beet water but only after they have been decorated with leaves and flowers (held on with the help of a nylon stocking, while being boiled. Yes, the eggs are wrapped up and boiled in tights!) My sister-in-law (or Schwager Schwester as they say here) bakes Zöpf, a delicious braided bread and displays the egg on this. Very beautiful AND delicious!
I guess this blog could go on forever. There are many things about living in Switzerland that are new to me, a Canadian. Perhaps I will dedicate another patch of writing to what is happening over here in the 'Land of Chocolate 'N Cheese!' But for now I will leave you with this: things are definitely more organized here. People seem to "follow the rules" too. As an example when you are going up or down the escalators, if you don't want to walk, you stand to the right, if you want to walk, you walk up to the left. It is rare to see any people blocking the way. Also, when you are on the train and you want to put your feet up on the seat across from you, you take off your shoes or if you don't want to take off your shoes, you place a newspaper on the seat and the transit system runs pretty smoothly at a reasonable price (when you have a 'half-tax card!) The streets are clean, it is rare to see litter and at a certain time of year, when there are decorations out and about (giant glass balls on trees, candleabras in restaurant window ledges etc) they don't get stolen! There really is a safer feeling to the cities. Oh, and the cheese is just out of this world. At any given time, I have at LEAST five types in my fridge. YumMy!!
The people of Switzerland are kind people. They get a bad reputation for being reserved but really, they are just respectful of your privacy and in some cases, shy. In most cases though (as there is ALWAYS an exception to every rule) the Swiss people (I have in my life) are loyal and interested in living! There is a healthier mindset here, and outdoor activities prevail over indoor activities.
But to be sure, Canada, I am coming home!!! Soon...