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Mr Shev’s 'Great things about Switzerland' part one

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Mr Shev may be new in town, but it doesn't take long to spot a few things at which Switzerland excels. Here's his first take on what's great about Switzerland.

Okay, it may be a touch early to start eulogising about all things Swiss – but there is more to Swizzerland than neutrality and moustaches.

Life here is basically easy because the Swiss are as efficient as Terminators. There is a good reason why they haven’t gone to war: they’d be too good at it. They would eradicate entire armies with teutonic precision and turn airbases and barracks into laser level carparks so that they could park their Audi tanks in perfect formations and then have a fondue.

Although this portrays the Swiss as a league of potential serial killers, I rather admire their aspiration to perfection; not accepting anything unless it is just so. Because of this I reckon there must be – at best – 10 Swiss people in the UK.

Without further ado, here is the usual bullet pointed, digestible tract:

1.    Cheese
The UK has cheddar and the Swiss have Gruyere. Game over. You can go into a shop and ask for a piece of Gruyere the size of your head and they’ll just nod and hand over a huge slab in exchange for coins. You can also buy Vacherin for fun. This is a good thing.

Vacherin: Oozing with goodness

2.    Snow management
This Swiss would only get worried if there was another ice age – like the one in The Day After Tomorrow – and even then they’d get annoyed if the trains didn’t run on time. There was a shot in the film that showed the arctic tundra stretching as far down as northern Africa. What it didn’t show were the roads in Swizzerland that were ploughed and gritted as the big freeze took place. I think that the Swiss snow-plough all year round; with sad, imported labour lashed to the steering wheels like lost sailors.

3.    Chocolate
The UK has Cadburys the Swiss have Lindt. Game over. I really like chocolate – but I am a bit of a chocolate snob and only like stuff that has cocoa in it. You know, the most important ingredient. Cadburys tastes like sh*t and Swiss chocolate tastes lovely. All of it. Even the budget brands.

Even stuff they feed the ducks (they do this so that they can emotionlessly watch ducks on a sugar rush land on frozen ponds). Okay, they don’t feed ducks chocolate, but they could, it’s that cheap.

4.    Litter
There is no litter in Swizzerland. It is just not there. I’ve looked for it, I even had a sneaky peak inside a litter bin and there was nothing in it. I went to the déchet (Swiss recycling centre) and it was immaculate, like it was about to have a visit from Sting or something.

Dechets and paper receptacle
Swiss recycling receptacles

The streets and shops are spotless and when we popped across the border to France (and the food mecca that is Carrefour), the filth was noticeable – it was like stepping out from an Apple Store into a medieval moshpit. I openly admit to being a neat freak but the Swiss make me feel like a bum.

5.    Public transport
I got the train (again, pristine) the other day from Rolle to Lausanne and it was due at 15.37 and the Swizzers on the platform were tapping their feet and tutting at 15.36. You could see the train pulling in, but apparently it was late. The driver was humanely destroyed.

It’s a kind of otherworldly experience when you arrive from a place where a train timetable is a work of fiction, sprayed with arbitrary times that merely give you something to look at as you toe a half eaten Burger King on a urine smelling platform waiting for a train with a multitude of issues and seemingly endless obstacles to overcome. You then feel half grateful that it’s actually arrived at all so you don’t mind standing for five hours next to the toilets that don’t flush and probably never have.

In the UK the train companies are all about brand and experience and all the train companies have swooshy logos and strident livery on ageing rolling stock and every station has about six different food franchises so you have choice. It’s very important to feel as if you are having a great train experience rather than actually having a great train experience.

In Swizzerland the train company is called SBB and, in contrast, is pretty no-nonsense: the logo is dull, the trains are boring and there isn’t a huge choice of snack bars; but that’s because SBB worry more about the trains getting to where they need to get to on time.

Zopf (Swiss bread)
Zopf: Swiss 'braid' bread

6.    Bread
I always thought the French made bread better than anyone. UK bread is full of raising agents, stabilisers and preservatives so tastes kind of rubbery. There are artisan bakeries popping up everywhere (they used to be known as just bakeries, back in the day) baking loaves of bread on the premises…but each loaf costs as much as a half litre of Scotch, so they should taste blooming good.

The Swiss, it transpires, are belting bread bakers and their bread is simply exquisite. You can – at a push – buy bog-standard sliced bread (a la Sunblest) and it’s made in Germany and is called Inglander Shiester Borden…or something; it has a picture of a Royal Life Guard, for some inexplicable reason.

That’s all folks. I should be posting with more regularity – but I am reet busy with work and I have moved to a new country. Though I did impress myself today by asking for an Allen key drill bit for an electric screwdriver and actually finding it, as opposed to arriving in the lubricant aisle or biscuits for cheese aisle. So…progress.

Mr Shev is a British expatriate, now living in Vaud, Switzerland. Follow him as he blogs about parenting, animation, kids, food and more at Mr Shev's Blog. He's also a finalist in the MAD Awards for UK mum and dad blogs; vote for him here, in the Funniest MAD Blog category. Congratulations Mr Shev!

Photo credits: Vacherin by edseloh; Swiss recycling receptacles by Salim Virgji; Zopf by kochtopf (all

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