Best rail pass for 16 days in Switzerland

Best rail pass for 16 days in Switzerland

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4702 posts
expert
Nov 20, 2017 - 12:15 PM

Hi Lucas-

<<"I'm always amazed anything gets done here really - between their

democratic representation to the power of the average resident / hotel

owner!">>

If you can get a copy of Jonathan Steinbergs "Why Switzerland" it will teach you a lot. I have the 2nd and 3rd editions, and pass them out to some of my more thoughtful friends who are concerned about the direction of government behavior and political processes in the USA.

One of the ways that you hold together a country with multiple languages, different cultures, and a very wide income gap between the richest and poorest is to make sure that everyone gets a say. And, the consensus approach to doing things works...just slowly. In a consensus system as used in the Federal legislative bodies, you may not get your way every time, but you don't feel like you are being screwed.

The complex proportional voting scheme used for various elections makes sure that the minorities get a say. So, once things are settled, the objections are minimal. The Swiss learned something from the Sonderbund War. Instead of the adversarial "Winner Take All" approach, used in the USA, the system minimizes "losers" and protects their rights.

My limited experience is that the Federal bureaucracy works effectively, does not require bribes, and gets things done- once they are agreed upon.

Concerning the objections noted by Alpenrose....the Eiger Nordwand is a very big deal. Defacing the views is akin to a crime, in my opinion.

And, that big old hotel at Kleine Scheidegg is a wonderful old Swiss tradition. The owner has early breakfasts for those climbing various routes on the Eiger. And, Alpenrose's comments fully illustrate the power of individuals in a country with "bottom up" political processes.

Switzerland has a strong network of people in governement, business, universities. And, the Berner Oberland is an important tradition in its own right.

Just to illustrate some possibilities...I'd not be surprised if many swiss politicians had stayed at he hotel at KS, and have fond memeories, as wellas a connection the the von Almen family who run it.

And, the very special Hotel Schönegg in Wengen is managed by the daughter of Adolf Ogi, a well-loved and famous Swiss politician and former memebr of the Bundesrat:

www.swissinfo.ch/eng/d irectdemocracy/direct-democracy_former-swiss-president-ogi-slams-radical-right/41245164

His views on consensus are worth noting.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Nov 20, 2017 - 12:18 PM by Slowpoke
Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 20, 2017 - 4:41 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Yes, it is a unique country I've learned since living here - I stand by my views! I'm still amazed they get things done here. But of course they seem to like how it works.

You seem to be aware of quite a lot of the almost daily ins/outs for someone who doesn't live here/isn't Swiss. Are you as well read on other countries or is it just Switzerland?

Last modified on Nov 20, 2017 - 4:44 PM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4702 posts
expert
Nov 20, 2017 - 5:37 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas-

<<"You seem to be aware of quite a lot of the almost daily ins/outs for someone who doesn't live here/isn't Swiss. Are you as well read on other countries or is it just Switzerland?">>

I began to travel to Switzerland in 1980, have visited the country more than 80 times, which probably adds up to about 400 or 500 days in the country, and I quickly appreciated how well it works. I visited other countries in Europe as well, since then, but our laboratory was in Geneva, so I got my weekends in Switzerland. I picked up several Swiss contacts on a Compuserve forum...you're probably too young to remember Compuserve ;-) ...and some are still friends. I've visited over 80 times, and my nature is to learn about things, and my technical training makes me interested in the mechanisms behind the surface appearances. My training as a chemist required that I learn to read German, which was consistent with my German family heritage. Parents of grandparents, mostly, immigrated from Norther Germany, near Bremen. I also began to learn to speak it in school, and have continued during my visits to Switzerland and Germany. However "Merci vilmal" still amuses me.

My knowledge of other countries is much more superficial. However, I always read as much as a I could about any country before visiting it, and the "Insight" series of visitors guides have been helpful, among other sources.

<<"Yes, it is a unique country">>

I completely believe that, and it caused my to dig into the politics and culture. Steinberg's books have been immensely helpful.

<<" I'm still amazed they get things done here. But of course they seem to like how it works.">>

Many Swiss think things happen to slowly. However, what you have experienced seems to be related to a cultural attitude, stronger in the German-speaking regions, but characteristic of all regions. The Germans have a phrase;

"Alles in Ordnung."

The Swiss in general seem to like it that way. Don't you?

Or are you like the expat person from another less well organized country, who lived in Switzerland and visited our lab one day.

When asked how he liked Switzerland, he complained: "It's so boring. Everything works."

I like to understand the how and why of "everything works."

Slowpoke

PS- here is one to think about, if you like puzzles.

I find that Cristoph Blocher may well have been the inspiration or model for Donald Trumps behavior in politics. ;-)

Last modified on Nov 20, 2017 - 5:41 PM by Slowpoke
Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 20, 2017 - 6:02 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Good for you for taking such an interest in another country other than your own.

Definitely Trump is close to Herr Blocher - there's always one now in every country it seems now.

Expats all have different attitudes towards Switzerland I've noticed! It seems quite similar to Canada to me (not culturally of course or politically) but in the general life I can have here vs. Canada - pretty similar.

Now a friend of mine here from Argentina (he would say calling Argentina simply unorganized is too nice) LOVES this country and never wants to leave now.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4702 posts
expert
Nov 20, 2017 - 6:37 PM in reply to Lucas

<<"It seems quite similar to Canada to me (not culturally of course or

politically) but in the general life I can have here vs. Canada - pretty

similar.">>

Have you begun to learn the local version of Swiss German?

I have not, but I can assure that if you master that, you'll gain a lot more insight into the daily life of the Swiss. And, you get a lot of smiles.

Slowpoke

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Nov 20, 2017 - 11:49 PM in reply to Lucas

>> You're really up to date on your Swiss news Alpenrose! Do you have relatives here that keep you in touch with or do you just subscribe to daily Swiss newspapers?

No relatives there unfortunately, and no Swiss heritage!

I just read articles online. As I can read German, French, Italian and a bit of Rumantsch, I have access to a wider variety of information, and a greater level of detail, than what is available in English.

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 21, 2017 - 7:45 AM in reply to Slowpoke

No Swiss German no, except the usual pleasantries/expressions when talking to older neighbours etc.
A gentleman in my building only speaks Swiss-German and our conversations are hilarious (I don't think he realizes how little I understand him!).

Its tricky to pick up much Swiss-German here actually...Almost everyone (Swiss or not) speaks "high German" to me once they hear my accent (or notice my lack of German speaking abilities entirely). I can understand it much better and they know that. :)

Plus My German wife has me focus on "traditional German" as it were. ;)

Last modified on Nov 21, 2017 - 7:45 AM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4702 posts
expert
Nov 21, 2017 - 8:22 AM in reply to Lucas

<<?No Swiss German no, except the usual pleasantries/expressions when talking to older neighbours etc.">>

Even that is a help.

<<"Almost everyone (Swiss or not) speaks "high German" to me once they hear

my accent (or notice my lack of German speaking abilities entirely). I

can understand it much better and they know that. :)">>

At least they don't switch to English. ;-)

<<"Plus My German wife has me focus on "traditional German" as it were. ;)">

Probably easier to learn....lots of learning aids. My hearing is supported by very powerful hearing aids, and a bit of unconscious lip reading, but they still trip me up when people pronounce individual letters of the alphabet or say a word that I'm not expecting. Sometimes, even a German word that I know sounds just enough different due to the individual speaking that it needs repetition. It has made it much harder to learn a new language, or, for that matter, to improve my German.

However, over the years, I've run into a few people from Germany who believe that their language is "purer" and feel a need to use it as an example. Needless to say, that attitude does not endear them to the ordinary Swiss people that they run into in daily life.

<<"A gentleman in my building only speaks Swiss-German and our

conversations are hilarious (I don't think he realizes how little I

understand him!).">>

I've run into that once in a while on trains...on locals or secondary lines, mostly. Typically,a Swiss gentleman will try to be friendly and try to strike up a conversation. They don't get very far, unless he can handle "Schriftdeutsch" (traditional German).

Slowpoke

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 21, 2017 - 12:32 PM in reply to Slowpoke

It took close to 2 years for them not to switch to English on me...still 50/50.:)

Some Swiss I know talk about how hard it can be to understand other Swiss depending on where in the German regions they each come from. Oy. I'll stick to Hochdeutsch/Schriftdeutsch that's for sure.

Apparently German from Hannover is the höchste of Hochdeutsch/Schriftdeutsch - haven't been there yet but I'd love to hear it. Apparently that's the dialect German news broadcasters use on national news programs.

I find the easiest to speak as an English native is the dialect from the Leipzig area.

We've really taken over this thread!

haha :)
Last modified on Nov 21, 2017 - 1:46 PM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4702 posts
expert
Nov 21, 2017 - 1:16 PM in reply to Lucas

<<"We've really taken over this thread! ">>

Ooops. ;-(

Slowpoke

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