There’s not much to see nor do in this little town of Zug. It has a good reputation and taking a look at the prices of property here, it’s bloody expensive! One thing I noticed throughout Switzerland, it isn’t flash. Yes, you will see expensive shops, cars, houses etc. but nothing looks very new and definitely not ostentatious. That being said, everywhere you look, looks well maintained. Pavements are clean and maintained, public space and gardens are manicured; not over-the-top, just well cared for. Nothing here seems to be done to impress, it’s just done to a high standard, everything…and that impressed me.
First impressions of Switzerland
I’m writing this before writing about my time in Switzerland, even though it’s my last post about the country (for now). Even so, my opinion was set after only a few days. I like Switzerland, I really like Switzerland. Quaint, pretty, well run cities and towns. Endless picturesque countrysides. Outdoor activities no matter the weather. Hiking trails dotted with fresh mountain water drinking fountains. Secluded getaways with unimaginable backdrops and surroundings. No country is perfect, they all have problems. Though, Switzerland is the closest place I have visited that shows how things can (should), be run. Combined with the awesome people I met….I’d like to live here.
Having little exposure to Swiss people in work or socially. My perception of the Swiss was limited to a small handful I had met, mostly in my travels. These were a mixed bag; super friendly (Like Natascha whom I met in Thailand), but mostly quite off’ish/aloof (like the guy I hiked Rainbow Mountain with springs to mind). These negative leaning perceptions were totally blown out the water during my time in the country. Everyone I met, socially, in passing, at the shops, restaurants etc. were super friendly. As pleasant as the countryside of Switzerland those I met had a personality to match. Switzerland is definitely a place I could live and retire in. How things are run, managed and maintained here, the rest of the world must seem an absolute mess to the Swiss!
The Swiss have a well-earned reputation of running things like clockwork. My experiences reinforce this stereotype. It boggles the mind how some countries can get it right, others not at all!!! Public transport here is amazing. Always on time, clean, quiet and comfortable. Whether a bus or train, getting from A to B is a pleasant and orderly affair. This makes planning a trip a pleasure; not having to factor in delays and “what-if’s”. Like Japan (the ultimate in public transport), here the public transport is like a science and they take displeasure in delays. I love the UK public transport, especially the trains and Underground, but the amount of delays (in frequency and time) is terrible. Switzerland’s weather is more extreme than London, yet a leaf on the rail can delay a train in the UK! Why? Who knows!
My image, both in perception and actual experience of Switzerland is many things, mostly “clean-cut”. Healthy, outdoor living, austere and prim and proper but not pompous. Surprisingly, not just because of my perceptions nor global trends, but I couldn’t believe how many people smoke. Smoking on train platforms, for years band in most (maybe all) European countries, here is the norm. Not banished to the outskirts of public areas, or out of site, here it seemed you could smoke almost anywhere (within reasons). Obviously not on the trains, though compared to most other places they are still very liberal.
General costs in Switzerland are comparable to London, only slightly more expensive. Cumulatively, everything costs just a little more. Whether it’s a bottle of water, coffee or food. Sometimes by only a few cents, other times a few pounds. Nevertheless, these fractional increases add up. As much as I don’t like pay taxes because of it’s value for money. I wouldn’t mind as much if I saw it being spent properly. Case in point, Switzerland. I’d happily pay more tax if the result was a clean and well run community like the Swiss.
…Zug beach…Lake Zurich
One evening Kim suggested we head down to the beach. Odd term to use considering Zug is in the middle of Switzerland, which in turn is a land-locked country. I had walked to the lake on my first day. It was midday midweek, quite deserted. Sure, nice views, but nothing special…at least where I went. Well, once everyone returns from work, that’s when the lake shore comes to life. Like the Spanish/French/Italians and Latin American’s use their Plaza’s as communal gathering places, the lake “beaches” is what the Swiss use.
Every table, grass embankment, decked area was full of people! Eating, drinking, some places had live music, sun tanning and swimming. All ages enjoying this massive communal swimming pool that is Lake Zurich. Deep crystal-clear water to cool, recharge and socialise. There was a sense of commonality, community, and appreciation of home time. That is something clearly lacking when I was in the UK. Other than pubs, most people go home and wait for the next day at work. Not much else to do. Here in Zug (and I’d experience the same in Lucerne), it felt like a holiday season – it being a Friday obviously helped. Though if the weather is good the beaches here are always full of people.
Next, I would be off to Munich. Leaving Switzerland I felt recharged. Before leaving I was already thinking about visiting again. Ever since I have been keeping an eye out for property to buy…not as easy as I thought (price and process) but I’m still exploring options years on. Final thoughts on Switzerland, great place in every respect.