So Swiss: 10 Things I’m Loving About Switzerland Now

How ironic it is for me that I haven’t written anything much in detail about my stay in Switzerland for the past 11 months since I arrived. Yes, few more days to go and it’s going to be my first year. There are supposed to be so many stories to tell, as a matter of fact, but then again, the daily run of my life couldn’t seem to accommodate this another new idea in mind.

Until one day, someone asked me this question, “Do you feel your Swissness growing in you?” I couldn’t say the magic word that I ended up replying, “Maybe I’m getting there.”

It could be nice to look back, reflect and write about the events and experiences so I can better appreciate the life I have here and assimilate well into the Swiss culture (before it’s too late?).

I won’t be painting a rosy picture for Switzerland all the time because I’m equally eager to share the rest of the Swiss quirks too! Everything that is Swiss from a Pinay POV, and that Pinay must be, me.

For now though, it’s better to create a good impression first. So here are the ten things I like about Switzerland.

1. Swiss time is really gold.

What time is it, Swiss?

Switzerland is well-known as a watchmaking country. Most of the top-of-the-line, luxurious watch brands in the world originated from here. The Swiss are legendaries for their dedication to detail and accuracy. A luxurious watch for one, comprises of more than 300 precision parts and long hours of meticulous craftsmanship. As Switzerland has a reputation to uphold, it appears to me that everything here has to be in sync and everyone’s wired to be on-time.

Public transportation is one good example. I have always been an avid commuter ever since in the Philippines. Most of the time, I find pleasure in going through the Amazon-like traffic of Manila. Of course, since Manila traffic is very unpredictable, making (valid?) excuses for being late had become a part of the morning routine.

On a side note, I couldn’t entirely blame Christopher Lao for speaking out loud that he should have been informed (that the flooded road is impassable for a car like his) but when you particularly drive around Manila in torrential downpour that day, common sense is a must; and unfortunately his lack thereof, as well as his lame excuses, being seen on national TV has made him become a laughing matter (and lately, an Internet quick sensation).  However here in Switzerland, it’s au contraire. Waking up late can be the only reason for being so, and should foreseen circumstances ever occur, believe me, the Swiss will also inform you beforehand.

Unless there’s a traffic jam, technical problems, bad weather, life emergencies or any uncontrollable situations along the way, which also seldom happen, the buses, trams and trains in Switzerland arrive on-the-dot, and even earlier than usual.  Undoubtedly it’s good I left my Filipino time behind.

A very funny, creative satire on Lao, but, WTH is Christopher Lao? Here’s one for you in YouTube. This ain’t funny if you can’t read/understand Tagalog, so better skip this video. Definitely, in German, Hitler’s expressing seriousness here.

NEXT: The hills are alive.

10 Things I’m Loving Now – cooking’s like love

Noncooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.- Julia Child

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

1. Cooking

Read more of my cooking adventures at my "Yeah, It's Me Cooking" series.

So my disclaimer is:
“I’m no expert in cooking but I love good food. Now it’s time to stay longer in the kitchen and see if the magic WOKS with me, one recipe at a time.”

Also read my post, Cooking skills in a measuring cup.

NEXT: Milk & Yogurt

10 Things I’m Loving Now – i amsterdam

In Amsterdam the water is the mistress and the land the vassal. Throughout the city there are as many canals and drawbridges as bracelets on a Gypsy’s bronzed arms.

– Felix Marti-Ibanez

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

Whenever I am off for vacation, days before the trip I’d normally google and read articles about my next destination. This time however, I didn’t do much. I was less excited. I only had few expectations. Perhaps I was influenced by what I heard (about the Dutch) and what the trip is primarily intended (for a conference).

Four days hence in Amsterdam, all I can just say is, “Bitin!” Amsterdam, I haven’t had enough of you. I involuntarily stucked myself in the hotel for two days, and understandably, enjoying the city overnight was not enough. It was a one-night stand but you left me hanging and it’s actually, my fault. Wow, this does sound like a heart break alright. Well, most especially, it is undeniably tough for me to move on when I failed to visit Van Gogh museum (sigh).

To know more about visiting Amsterdam, check out the city’s official travel site, www.iamsterdam.com.

1. Canal Cruise

In Amsterdam, the best way to enjoy the city (quickly) is not through a tour bus, but a canal cruise.

No visitor should miss out on a water-borne tour of the splendid canals of Amsterdam. The canals, which were declared a UNESCO monument in 2010, aren’t just a picturesque attraction, but were essential to defense and transport in 17th-century Amsterdam. With the arrival of the automobile, hundreds of canals were filled in nationwide to accommodate the new mode of transport, but Amsterdam has retained 165 of its historic canals, more than any other Dutch city. Definitely a canal tour makes for a wonderful first impression, as the tour boats take in much of the monumental architecture that lines the Canal Belt, the four concentric semi-circles that loop around the the historic Center (reference: goamsterdam.about.com).

NEXT: Amsterdam architecture

10 Things I’m Loving Now – say summer

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. -Gertrude Jekyll

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

1. Summer

A summer place in Geneva

It’s the best season ever, no matter how hot it is gonna be.

NEXT: Thank God It’s Friday

10 Things I’m Loving Now – mad about madrid

Fui sobre agua edificada, mis muros de fuego son. Esta es mi insignia y blasón.
(On water I was built, my walls are made of fire. This is my ensign and escutcheon.)
– Motto of Madrid, Spain

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

My first time to go out of Switzerland and visit another piece of Europe, the Madrid vacation has somewhat made me feel close to home. I couldn’t help but repeatedly say this many times during our stay, “Madrid is like Manila. Manila is Madrid…”.

Madrid’s architectural beauty reminds me of a “could-have-been-better” version of the present Manila, or the old heydays thereof. Castillian baroque, as they put it, stands out in most buildings, and we found this classic design in the area we had stayed, Plaza Mayor.  French and Italian influences are evident in some structures. I must admit, I am envious. I just wish that the old buildings in some parts in Manila, like in Intramuros, Quiapo or Avenida, could have been kept way better than what Madrid has done.

The Spanish people we met at the hotel, in the restaurants, at shops or at the streets, were all very nice and friendly. One time, when we were at the bullfight scene, this man in his 50s volunteered himself to take us some pictures, and upon knowing where we’re originally from, he jokingly said (in Spanish), “Ah, so you’re from the Philippines. You are Spanish! You must have spoken Spanish very well.” Apparently, un poco, seňor! His beaming smile and proud-sounding voice couldn’t stop me from assuming how we remind him (and the rest) of their grand empire many centuries back, and that we are the only country in Asia they once had. Talk about reminiscing the good (and the bad) old times with us, right? Well, this is another story to tell.

Madrid is really a captivating city that never sleeps. Well, most people would take short naps in the afternoons (a siesta), but come nighttime, almost everyone stays out and enjoys the nightlife pulsating with energy. Madrid is also a fashion capital of the country. There are so many trendy boutiques to shop at, and more outfits to choose from. Sorry Switzerland, but Madrid has induced me to the things I mostly craved for for quite some time. Nonetheless, Switzerland is still a different beauty.

Here are the top things I like in Madrid.

1. Bus tour around Madrid


This is a great way to see the city’s fantastic monuments and sights, allowing you to get a good overall view of Madrid, with the flexibility to hop-off the bus to further explore any attractions you particularly like.

And then you can hop-on again to continue your tour as the next bus comes round!

You can hop on and off the bus as many times as you like on either of the routes, or even start one route, and join another at one of the interconnecting stops.

The routes are: Modern Madrid and Historic Madrid.

Read more about the bus tour, click here.

NEXT: Los Museos – Reina Sofia y Prado