Chain Bridge, Budapest

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Impressions of Switzerland

Guten Morgan. Im in Switzerland typing with a German keyboard, so I will make this short. The train ride over here was a lot of fun. I was with five other people in a 6-bed couchette, which is a small compartment with six fold out bunk beds. There were three Hungarians, a guy and two girls; two Swiss, one older guy and a younger guy; and me. Only the older Swiss guy spoke English and after a while I tried to communicate with the Hungarians and got mixed results. We had a lot of fun when I brought out my Hungarian phrasebook and flashcards. My Hungarian learning still has a long way to go. A funny moment came when I tried to ask one of the Hungarian girls in Hungarian if she was going to Switzerland to visit friends or family, except that she thought I asked her if she had a boyfriend. Further attempts to correct myself only resulted in more confusion. Finally we got Zurich.

In short, nem vagyunk Magyarorszagon (Were not in Hungary anymore). Im at the Schlessingers apartment overlooking Lake Zurich and the view is amazing. Switzerland is so much more green, orderly, and is much, much cleaner than Hungary. In Budapest there is graffiti, trash, and dog poo all over the place, not to mention some of the buildings havent been renovated in decades and are sometimes literally falling apart. I never thought that there would be such a huge difference  between  Western Europe and the former Soviet countries. Switzerland reminds me a model train village. Everything seems deliberately put together and everything works like a clock, so go figure. I took the commuter train from the Zurich train station to Bach where the Schlessingers live and the train left right on time and arrived right on time. The trains in Budapest are also very punctual, but sometimes it is as if by accident whereas in Switzerland it appears that punctuality and organization is another law of nature. Im having a great time here and the Schlessingers have been great hosts. They took me to Lucerne to walk around in the old town and across the famous covered wooden bridge. We also went to the transportation museum and then for dinner went to a neighbors house for a "BBQ." Im kidding but the food was very good. One odd tidbit is that here people serve hot sauce and horse radish from a squeeze tube, like toothpaste. Though to be fair, in America we have cheese in a can, which in Switzerland much seem like a sin. The lake is so blue and the scenery is so pretty, its nearly impossible to not be in a good mood. To cap it off, a famous Swiss tennis player owns the apartment one floor up from us. Yes, that one. Ill let yall know if there are any sightings.

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