Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heidi Part Deux

I feel that I didn't quite do justice to the visit to Switzerland, so what will follow will basically be a series of pics and a brief description.

I had mentioned that the snow had followed us down there and we went out to romp in it on the Sunday.
Here you can see that I'm just getting all coiled up to go "romp".


Where there is the expectation of snow is most often up in the hills. We were not disappointed:

Get ready.....more romping:

Considering I was only wearing running shoes ('cause I'm just so into winter) we didn't go too far off the beaten path.

Down at the beginning of the pathway there is a little hut, that can be used to get warmed up if necessary. Having the orderly society that the Swiss do, they have what to me looked like a system that requires users of the area to have a card that must be shown to go on the trails. Seems archaic I suppose, but how often do you hear of hikers getting stranded out in the wilderness with the resulting massive search efforts that follow? Seems the Swiss have been there and done that, and realise that there's a better way. We were allowed to go a little ways without any formalities.

Normally there are a couple really fabulous vistas from that elevation, but that wasn't the case for that day. Pretty sure the visibility is far better in the summer.

The farm country could pass for just about anywhere in Europe, and the crops seem to range from vineyards to sunflowers.
No sunflowers to be seen at this time of the year of course.

Mind you, by simply looking the other way, there is a stark reminder of just where you are...

Now, in spite of the "orderliness" of Swiss society, I was surprised to see a vendor at the side of the road, selling pizza. This was more reminiscent of something one would see in a place like Puerto Rico, with the exception that this is a new vehicle, and in PR it would be a beat up old school bus.

There are two additional things that struck me as evidence of Swiss culture.
Firstly, from the age of 17, every Swiss citizen has to report for military duty. A choice can be made to serve in a "weaponless" fashion, but you need to have a letter from your local canton explaining the reasons why. Even then you may be required to practise with a wooden gun, and in some cases (seems to me it was the conscientious objector ploy) you'll need to see a shrink. For women it's voluntary, but they can serve in any fashion they choose.
That link to the wiki article makes for a good read, even though it's a bit lengthy.

So to see the fortifications in every little town is not out of the ordinary. This is the "Ch√Ęteau de Morges", which not only houses four different military museums, but also the military personnel for the area.

And in some towns, it's easy to see just how the notions of fortifications is taken into account....
The thing is, one does get a sense of being relatively safe....and although doors do get locked, there is such close tabs being kept on just about everyone who comes in, that any "undesirable groups" are simply just not welcome. You can fill in the blanks just about any way you want, but this sign put up by the Swiss People's Party pretty much tells the whole story.

This is one of the reasons (so I was told) that Switzerland would rather not become part of the EU, and that's simply because they then fear there would be an influx of foreigners from some of the former eastern bloc countries.
Aparently though, there are certain groups that have no problem coming to Switzerland for at least a visit...and then maybe leaving behind some money.

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Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.