Who didn’t hear about the idyllic and heal world in Switzerland, where Heidi is running barefoot among the green fields in the Swiss Alps feeding pretty cows and where every Swiss is starting his day with a loud yodel in the morning in front of his chalet, before having a Gruyere and Butterzopf breakfast. No one is more fascinated about the Swiss idyllic stereotype more than Asian people, who love to come and explore what this succulent and wealthy country has to offer.
I am wondering if Johanna Spyri, the author of children’s’ book Heidi, published in 1881, would ever though that hundred years later, her stories of that happy and smiling girl would reach the other half of the world, where in Japan a modern cartoon series of Heidi became very popular. The title “Arupusu no shojo Haiji” sounds everything else that German but had a significant impact on the Swiss life image creation in the Asian countries.
Today’s Switzerland still carrying of this healthy village lifestyle, by avoiding too much industrialization and modernization. Statistics showed that a typical Swiss person would choose living on a countryside over a hectic life in a city, following the Swiss Dream of Heidi’s cult.
On today’s list you will find my favorite “Swiss things”:
Stories of Heidi’s happy life in the wonderful Swiss Alps have become a stereotype of Swiss lifestyle for many countries around the world. I was watching cartoons of Heidi myself as a child and was always jealous of this little brunette girl having a big and smiling Bernard dog.
Most Swiss dog breed that you can imagine were already popular in the middle age. The dogs are known for their life saving skills when it comes to avalanche victims. The most famous life guide dog was Barry, who saved 40 humans lives in the beginning of the 19. century. By the way… did you know that eating dogs and cats in Switzerland is not forbidden?! A terrible thing for me to imagine.
It is a very magical moment to hear the sound of Swiss Alphorn in the mountains, where the echo carries the melody to each tiny slot of the mountains. The instrument is being used for more than 500 years and the longest alphorn is 47 meter long, while the average alphorn has only 4 meter!
Ok, so you got me. The real reason for me coming to Switzerland is the most delicious chocolate on earth. Toblerone is also called the chocolate Matterhorn because of the mountain picture on the package. The company was established in 1899 in Bern Fabrique de Chocolat Berne, Tobler & Cie. The traditional version of this chocolate has a triangular format and contains honey and nougat. Nowadays the producer is providing new flavors and I did totally fall in love for the salted almond version.
This traditional form of swing ringers is a sport form, which reaches swiss middle ages, where it was popular among shepherds. The rules are simple: the fight between two candidates end when the winner overcome the opponent by removing his sawdust from the back. This traditional sport is more popular in particular cantons of Switzerland.
Picture: Domini Bäbler
The cow bell is a typical symbol of an idyllic life in the Swiss mountains and therefore you can buy it in every store in Switzerland. You will quickly discover the variety of the souvenir cow bells – there are painted metal-,porcelain-, chocolate- and wooden cow bells on the market and you will certainly find your favorite.
I love Swiss cows wearing this big cow bells ever since I was invited by a farmer in Schaffhausen to meet the animals on his farm. Well actually I invited myself….We both had a little argument after I was illegally feeding his free range pigs on a sunny summer day with illegal carrots (non-bio food). Soon we came to an agreement – I would stop feeding his pigs without his approval if he would show me little baby pigs and cows at the farm. I was more than happy about this charmed rendezvous!
Chalets are the typical Swiss houses in many mountain villages. The wooden, cozy, tiny houses (often with a fire place inside) are maintained all over Switzerland to give a unique and rural ambience to the landscapes. In some parts of the country building other constructions than chalets is even forbidden.
Swiss watches are legendary! I know 10 brands of Swiss watches at least that I really like. In the beginning watchmaking manufacturers were located mainly in Geneva and later spread all over the Jura Mountains to other parts of the country. Famous for its precision measuring instruments, most manufacturers were located in the French speaking part of Switzerland and in the beginning of 19 came to Solothurn, Bern and later to Schaffhausen.
I am a huge fan of Schaffhausen brand IWC. Maybe because this is the city where I live or maybe because of my first conversation with a Swiss person on a plane to Poland after a successful job interview in Schaffhausen. The International Watch Company is famous for perfect handiwork and fascinating mechanisms of its watches. Unfortunately for me the watches are mainly made for men. No worries ladies – I know an insider secret from a friend, who works there that the company is working on extending the female watch product line.
The 1st of August is a national bank holiday in Switzerland. This day is celebrated to honor the founding of confederation Switzerland in 1291. Every canton is celebrating this day with a day off at work, spending time with friends and family and eventually a huge firework spectacle in the evening.
On the picture below you will see the Rheinfalls which is approximately 10 minutes walking from me. I always go to this wonderful event to admire the gorgeous interplay of color lights of the fireworks and Europe’s biggest waterfalls.