Switzerland

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About

Bern, Switzerland

  • Switzerland is a country located in Central Europe.
  • It has borders with France to the west, Italy to the south, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east and Germany to the north.
  • The capital of Switzerland is Berne.
  • Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city and a major center of banking, it also has a thriving nightlife.
  • Geneva is the second-largest city in Switzerland.
  • Switzerland is known for its mountains but it also has a central plateau of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes.
  • The highest point is Dufourspitze at 4,634 m, while Lake Maggiore is only 195 m above sea level.
  • There is no Swiss language. Depending on where you are in the country the locals might speak Swiss-German, French or Italian.
  • Switzerland is famous for a few key goods: watches, chocolate, cheese, and Swiss Army knives.
  • Swiss employment law bans working on Sundays, so shops stay closed.

HISTORY

  • Stone Age hunters have been living in Switzerland before the last Ice Age (approximately 350,000 B.C.)
  • Various parts of Europe came together over the centuries and loosely formed the whole that we today know as Switzerland
  • Switzerland was officially accepted as an independent nation by its neighbours in the 1648 European peace treaty
  • In 1848, Switzerland became a centralized federal state
  • As a neutral state, Switzerland managed to keep a stance of armed neutrality during WW I and II and was not involved in any military capacity


FACTS

    Zurich

    • You are never more than 10 miles from a lake
    • You can’t turn right at a red light
    • There are more banks then dentists
    • The first “Bond Girl” Ursula Andress was Swiss
    • 60% of Switzerland’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric power
    • In 1471, a chicken in Basel was found guilty of laying a brightly colored egg and it was burned at the stake
    • The song “Smoke on the Water” is about the smoke from a casino fire when Frank Zappa burned down a casino in Montreux
    • The average Swiss eats 23lbs of chocolate per year compared to the 11.7lbs consumed by Americans
    • Only one-quarter own their own homes.
    • Most homes have bunkers, a result of the Cold War concerns of nuclear war
    • The typeface “Helvetica” was created in Switzerland
    • Swiss army knives are red so they can be seen in the snow
    • Every citizen is required by law to own a bomb shelter or access to one
    • Switzerland has the highest consumption of soft drinks in the world

Avg. Costs

Alps in Switzerland

  • If you go to a fast food place, you may easily spend up to 10 SFR for a burger, a soft drink and a coffee.
  • In a family restaurant, a meal will cost somewhere between 15 SFR and 50 SFR, self service restaurants are somewhat less expensive.
  • At a fancier restaurant, one can spend as much as 1000 SFR just for a bottle of wine.
  • In the most modest hotels, expect to pay at least 70-100 SFR per single/double.
  • A full meal with 500ml of house wine for two can easily cost 50-60 SFR and up per person.
  • The minimum that budget travellers can expect to scrape by on is about 80-100 SFR per day, and that’s if they stick to camping/hostelling, self-service restaurants or self-catering, hitching (or have previously purchased a rail pass), hiking instead of taking cable cars, visiting only inexpensive sights and confining alcohol consumption to bottles purchased in supermarkets.
  • Admission prices on most museums and galleries range from 5-10 SFR
  • Cable Cars – A short to medium ascent can cost 10-25 SFR. Return trips up and down Mt Titlis and Schilthorn exceed 70 SFR.

 

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Currency

Information is coming soon.

Safety

Chillon Castle

  • Switzerland has a low crime rate compared to other European countries and is generally a safe country to travel in
  • However there has been a recent increase in petty theft and visitors should be alert to pickpockets and thieves, particularly in the city centres and on public transport. Be aware of robberies on overnight trains.
  • Women traveling alone should have no problems.
  • In mountain areas, be sure to inquire about weather conditions at the tourist information office or local train station as you head out in the morning. They should be well informed about severe weather conditions and will advise you about possible avalanche areas.
  • There have been problems with police assuming that any Black, East European, or Arab person without an ID card or passport is an illegal immigrant, and treating them accordingly. That could be a considerable problem if you are travelling alone.

 

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Climate

Schwyz

  • The climate is temperate, but varies with altitude
  • Switzerland has cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters
  • And cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
  • Switzerland is a great place to visit any time of year
  • Average temperatures in Zurich range between 27°F and 36°F (-3°C to 2°C) in January, and 55°F to 75°F (13-24°C) in July

Places to See

Switzerland Landscape

The Castle of Chillon

  • It is located on the shore of Lake Léman in the commune of Veytaux, at the eastern end of the lake, 3 km from Montreux, Switzerland
  • The castle consists of 100 independent buildings that were gradually connected to become the building as it stands now
  • The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1160 or 1005
  • It was made popular by Lord Byron, who wrote a poem about François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk and politician who was imprisoned there from 1530 to 1536

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The Lavaux Vineyards

  • The vineyards stretch for about 30 km along the south-facing northern shores of Lake Geneva
  • Although there is some evidence that vines were grown in the area in Roman times, the present vine terraces can be traced back to the 11th century
  • It is an outstanding example of a centuries-long interaction between people and their environment

 

 

 

The Three Castles of Bellinzona

  • A group of fortification located around the town of Bellinzona in canton Ticino, Switzerland
  • The group is composed of Castelgrande, castle Montebello, castle Sasso Corbaro and fortified walls
  • The Three Castles of Bellinzona have been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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The Abbey of St. Gallen

  • A religious complex in the city of St. Gallen in present-day Switzerland
  • The Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century,
  • The library at the Abbey is one of the richest medieval libraries in the world

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The Grande Dixence

  • A concrete gravity dam on the Dixence River at the head of the Val d’Hérens in the canton of Valais in Switzerland
  • At 285 m (935 ft) high, it is the tallest gravity dam in the world

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The Landwasser Viaduct

  • A single track six-arched curved limestone railway viaduct
  • It spans the Landwasser River between Schmitten and Filisur, in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland

 

 

 

The Aletsch Glacier

  • The largest glacier in the Alps
  • It covers more than 120 square kilometres (more than 45 square miles) in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais

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The Rhine Falls

  • They are the largest plain waterfalls in Europe
  • The falls are located on the Upper Rhine, near the town of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland
  • The falls cannot be climbed by fish, except by eels that are able to worm their way up over the rocks

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Etiquette

Communication Etiquette:
• During initial greetings a handshake is customary
– Women greeting women may lightly kiss on the cheek
– First meeting women will generally shake hands
– Men greeting women with light kisses on the cheek
– First meeting is a regular handshake
• The Swiss are normally pretty polite and direct in their communication
– Depends on the individual
• The Swiss value personal space and it is not polite to stand to close
– At least an arms length
– Polite to excuse yourself if you brush up against them
– Family and friends will touch during conversation

Business Etiquette:
• It is best to plan ahead a few weeks for meetings and appointments
– Show up on time for all meetings
– Expect small talk if they have a Italian or French Swiss background
– If they have a German Swiss background they will get right to business
– Meetings are very strict and follow a tight agenda
• Titles are very important and you are to address people by their title and their surname
– Always wait to be invited to use first names
– There is no set protocol on exchanging business cards
– Best to do so upon initial greeting
• Dress is conservative
– Men – Stylish suits with shirts and ties, jacket and tie tends to be acceptable
– Some industries business casual is acceptable
– Women – Stylish yet conservative suits or dresses and blouses
– Accessories are usually worn – stay subtle
– They value clean and nice clothing

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