One of the main differences I noticed between Europe and the US is that people are much more cultured. They know more languages and have visited more places and are generally more adept at navigating in a foreign place. To be fair, they have more opportunity to do so since the countries in Europe are much smaller and it is easier to get around.

Another difference is the drinking habits. I think I drank more tea in Switzerland than I have in my entire life, and that’s only because I don’t like coffee. I woke up and was offered tea with breakfast, and then went on a walk around a lake (where I incidentally saw a pretty awesome gnome) and had tea when I got back, and then had tea with lunch, and then again after lunch with a biscuit, and then mid-afternoon on top of a mountain, then again with dinner, and to top it all off we had tea and played cards after dinner. And this is just a normal Friday. No wonder the public bathrooms are all clean and heated. They must spend a lot of time in there.

I stayed with my friend Sina’s family while I was in Switzerland, and when I arrived I met up with her in Berne and went to her last university class of the day (she is studying to be a grade school teacher).  Side note: I may or may not have accidentally sat in first class on the train until I got kicked out.  Oops.  Anyways, this class is about how to teach math, and all I could think the entire time was that kids must hate math in Switzerland.  They have to learn how to tell whether a big number is divisible by 7 (take the last digit, double it, and subtract it from the rest of the number).  They have to learn how to put digits into 3-by-3 squares such that the columns and rows add up to certain numbers.  They have to learn how to do long division with pictures.  I didn’t really get that one, but the class was completely in Swiss German so I’ll give myself a pass there. The point of the story is, I feel so sorry for those kids.

And without further ado, some fun pictures from my trip!  We drove up to the top of a mountain (well, Sina’s grandfather drove because it was a one-lane winding road and we met a giant truck head-on and had to go backwards down until we could find a little cove in the rock to hide in while the truck passed us) and were rewarded with an incredible view of the Alps in the distance as well as some sunlight, which was nonexistent below the clouds. It was also a full 10 degrees warmer above the clouds, and that’s in centigrade! So it’s a lot.

gnome
This guy was smiling at me as I came around a corner. Apparently rubbing his nose is good luck.
mountain
View from above the clouds.
mountain2
Swiss Alps in the distance
mountain3
Cute little chapel on the mountain

 

 

sina
Sina and I enjoying the sun

Sina’s mom also treated me to a traditional family-style meal where everyone gets these mini pans (on the plates in the picture) and puts a thick slice of cheese in them, then adds toppings like chopped onion or dates and puts them in the broiler in the middle to melt.  Meanwhile, sausage and bacon are cooking on the top bit of the stove, and the whole thing is served on boiled potatoes.  A little heavy perhaps, but one of my favorite meals from my entire Eurotrip for sure.

dinner table
Traditional Swiss meal of melted cheese (raclette) and meat and boiled potatoes. It was incredible.

The Christmas market was also pretty awesome, complete with twirly-mustachiod santas and giant horns for the blowing.

santabeard2 horn

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this little gem.  What the heck is American Sauce?!

american sauce

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