Switzerland has a lot going for it.

One of the world’s safest and most stable countries. No bad history with any of its neighbors (though that whole “we stole millions from Jews in WWII” thing is a pretty large cultural stain). A strong currency. Chocolate, clocks, and fondue. Banks that will very ably hide your money from inquisitive tax inspectors back home.

On the surface, there is no reasonable case to be made there is anything at all imperfect about this country.

Which is exactly my problem with it. It’s too clean. Everything is in place, just so.

The trains and buses all run perfectly on time. The people are that ideal mix of friendly, but not overly familiar. The quaint mountain villages are exactly as if they came off the movie screen and into real life.

It’s all just a little too perfect.

Perfection has its place in the world, but it makes me queasy, as if I was in a horror movie but not able to hear the foreboding music.

Don’t get me wrong; I like Switzerland (as I like most places). But while I do generally like places where things work and run on time, every time I go to Switzerland I just wish a little something would go wrong or not according to plan.

I’d love to see a little less of pedestrians waiting at the stoplights, as if they were in Germany.

It would be great to have an occasional power outage or even a train arriving ten minutes late.

If anything, just to see how they’d react to the unusual.

hdr zurich switzerland river with boats and dogs

then again… it is damn pretty there

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I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all. Read more by Michael Hodson and connect on Google Plus.

9 Responses to “A Snapshot View of Switzerland. Too clean. Too pristine.” Subscribe

  1. Zubi Travel January 21, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Great post.
    I think it’s a culture thing; someone visiting from an underdeveloped country would definitely appreciate Switzerland.
    Also I think a Swiss will love a trip to India or similar…

  2. Fida January 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    We do everything for perfectionism (ah, these isms). Now we’ve got even a coaching program going that will teach us friendliness 😉


  3. Jennifer January 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Just got back from Zermatt, Switzerland yesterday. I wish it had gone perfectly as planned because then I would have actually seen the Matterhorn, visited Glacier Paradise, and gone parasailing. But an unexpected winter storm curtailed our plans.

  4. Audrey | That Backpacker January 23, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    That was my issue with Zurich, too. It was just so clean, organized, and frankly, a little boring for my liking.

  5. MaryAnn Safferu January 29, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    I am a 1st generation Swede born in the USA who likes organization, punctuality, cleanliness, etc.

    I am now an expat American living in Mexico, two countries where very little goes exactly as planned: traffic snarls, dirty streets, buses that are late or too early so you miss them, etc. I’d like to spend a couple weeks in Zurich just to assure myself that it is possible to have clean streets and an infrastructure that works.

    More than two weeks though would make me expect it in Mexico, which would take all the fun out of living here. 🙂

  6. Alana - Paper Planes February 6, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    I think even going back to the U.S. – after living nearly 2 years in SE Asia – will be too clean/structured/perfect for me.

    One of the big I LOVED after first making the move to Thailand was a sense of anything goes!

  7. Mariella February 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I’m a tiny bit scared of admitting to it because the reaction is usually abhorrence, but I have the “too pristine” problem with… Vienna. So picture book pretty. Not for me.

  8. Francesca May 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I just got back from Zurich yesterday. It was my first time visiting Switzerland and as much as I loved it, I can completely understand what you mean. The scenery of the mountains and the Lake was beautiful from the top of Üetliberg though.

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