Just some stuff that’s come bubbling brainwards as I’ve been walking. First off – cars. The Swiss as a whole, but Genevois in particular seem to love their autos. Geneva is rather affluent and it shows. If you see a Golf, it’s more than likely a GTi (or even an R32). A Ford Focus? ST. I saw two Maybachs (or the same one twice) and two different Ferraris in the space of two minutes on one road.
I walked past a garage outside of which was a fine yellow Land Rover complete with power driven winch on the front. Next to it was a pristine antique Morgan and three Aston Martin DB9s. Ten minutes later I saw a DB7 drive past with the top down. I’d not even heard of the new Audi R8 until I saw one parked at the side of the road, it’s engine gleaming through the rear window.
All this affluence belies a problem though – poverty is rife int he area and it’s impossible to walka round the centre or suburbs without seeing beggars. The do seem to get a fair few handouts though. The most annoying ones I spotted were the couple who boarded the tram with an enormous old electronic keyboard and sang along to it (very badly) in (I think) Italian. I suffered them twice. Argh.
And now some factoids for you:
The “CH” you see on the car stickers for Switzerland comes from “Confoederatio Helvetica”. The Helvetii were an ancient race of Celts who used to live in the Alps and it’s the Latin (and therefore neutral) version of the French, Romansh or Italian terms for “Swiss Confederation”.
Maintaining its neutrality means that Switzerland isn’t in the EU so you can get duty free. The copious border points are popular for the neighbouring French as ciggies are very cheap in Switzerland compared to France. And the chocolate’s better. Mind you, try and find a cheap Japanese watch (my Seconda’s knackered) and you’re stuffed. I think it’s illegal to sell non-Swiss watches or penknives in the country.
Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansh. However, if you’re anywhere remotely touristy you can be pretty much assured of English speakers being everywhere.