Switzerland is an easy country to dream about. Beautiful mountains, economic prosperity, low crime, and a benign climate. And don't forget the chocolate. Who wouldn't want to live there?
The dream of Switzerland simmered inside me for years. It didn't exactly burn hot because I always like where I lived, be it Salt Lake City, Grenoble or London, but Switzerland was always there as an option. Something that would be great if it worked out.
Switzerland is a hard country to get used to. It's so quiet it's almost boring, even the big cities are villages, the rules can feel stifling, and the cost of living is absurd. Former farming villages understand urban design as ladling up concrete until there's nothing else left. Why would anyone choose to live there?
I've been here for three years and a half. The observations above still ring true, both the positive and the negative ones. But I notice that the positive aspects are slowly gaining the upper hand.
To what I mentioned in the first paragraph I can now add a few more upsides. Public transport is nationally coordinated down to the last bus up a lonely mountain road and always on time. Water is potable unless the opposite is indicated, including lakes and rivers. Prices look ridiculous only when converted into other currencies.
Today is Swiss National Day, which celebrates the founding of the Confederation. In 1291, representatives from three adjoining areas got together by Lake Lucerne to swear they would be there for each other and kick any invaders' dirty butts. The oath has not only held but also attracted a couple dozen surrounding territories to join, making the Swiss Confederation what it is today.
We went to Zurich today, not to participate in any festivities but to escape the heat. Summer has been scorching for a few weeks now, with temperatures in the 90s and no rain to speak of. Going to the city might not seem the smartest escape, but Zurich's got the lake.
Lake Zurich connects the city with the mountains, creates a steady breeze and offers limitless diversions. There are parks, playgrounds, cafés, bars and ice cream stands, but they all pale relative the to the main attraction. In summer, people come to the lake to jump in and swim.
We went to a lido a bit up the eastern shore. The grass was green and soft, our spot in the shade, and the city all around us. The water was warm and clear, though I didn't drink it, and the slide provided what felt like hours of entertainment for the girl. Even the boy slid down a few times. When everyone was exhausted, we took a boat back to the station for the train ride home. Switzerland is a good country to live in.