Before visiting Switzerland, my expectations about this country were very low. I have a close friend there and she hates it. I am very used to listen to her complaining about how cold it is, how ugly, how she hates winter sports, how she misses Portugal weather and how swiss people are cold and racist against Portuguese people.
Of course I knew more about Switzerland: they manufacture extremely expensive watches. They also are masters in cheese and chocolate. And, of course, they have the Swiss knife. I also heard about Switzerland being a Tax Haven, with trustworthy banks to abnormally rich people keep their “dirty” money. I heard about CERN.
I landed on Genève. My first impression? Everything was so FUCKING expensive. Second impression? Everything was so FUCKING luxurious. Luxury shops, from the most expensive brands. The streets were super clean, and the yatchs were in Lac Léman like if they were mocking me, calling me poor.
But you know what I easily learned about Switzerland? The most beautiful and outstanding things are completely free. The sights, the mountains, the nature. I visited Genève, Montreux, Crans-Montana and Sion. Of course I was impressed with the luxurious life of some people. I thought about how poorly wealth was distributed in the world. How some spend millions on a challet and others don’t eat for days. However, I couldn’t stop opening my mouth amazed with those beautiful landscapes. Some were idyllic – in Montreux, for instance, the Château du Chillon framed in Lac Léman was a sight worth of staring for hours. Some were just so natural I could cry.
On our trip through the mountains, my friend commented to me that Switzerland was one of the countries with the highest suicide rate. For a second, I was shocked. Then, I thought, maybe because it is such a cold weather, with snowy days, that make people depressed. We stopped on a bridge that linked two mountains. It was one of the places where people often go to commit suicide. Sad, isn’t it? There was a cartel, with a help number, and it said something like “there is another option, please call this number”. And that place, where so many have thrown themselves to the abysm, was so beautiful. However, I though how ironic those sights were. It was beautiful indeed. But Nature, in there, was equally beautiful and dreadful. It was wild. It was joking with weak humans who dared to build bridges, roads, and tunnels to tame her. Winter was difficult and the mountains isolate populations for days.
These are my Swiss Paradoxes. Expensive country where the best is free. A country with a dreadful beauty.
Here are some pictures of my trip to Switzerland (the free part), in 2013.