Switzerland: cheese, chocolate, mountains and money; all of these are there in great profusion, but on my second visit I found a few more things!
I've come to the conclusion after 20 years in the yukon that November through the first half of January are the months to leave to the wolves and the mouth-breathing lunatics who willingly stay without considering their options.
And so when the opportunity came to spend 6 weeks in "the island without oceans" I didn't hesitate, nor was I disappointed! What switzerland lacks in sharks and starfish it more than compensates for in splendid scenery, hiking trails everywhere, excellent food, friendly people, skiing and hockey
If you choose to pay the Swiss a visit, bring money. My first small cup of Starbucks pike (and last) cost right around $7 Canadian! However, there is no cause to panic because with a little effort, deals like good quality bakery bread for a couple of francs can easily be found.
This is a partial list of what my friend and I did in the region of Biel, near the French border:
We attended a hockey game with 17000 fans, most of them standing shoulder to shoulder thru the entire game, and yes there was yelling.
We hiked up to the "Grand Canyon of Switzerland, the great Creaux de Van and took too many pictures of the cliff and the "Ibex" or "Steinbok" which dwell there. We camped up there on new years eve and enjoyed a birds eye view of the fireworks in the countryside below.
We hiked three canyons near Biel, we pedalled around Biel lake one afternoon, about a 40 km jaunt, good for me!
We visited Lucerne, Bern, Zurich and Interlaken, all enjoyable and interesting places to visit. And of course, we visited Eigar, Jungfrau and saw some skiiing but way too much fog to see the mountains! These things happen in January sometimes... I was repeatedly told that January is not the best time to visit Switzerland, but if it is the worst, it is still not all that bad!
The political system operates quite differently from our "choose your dictator" for the next four years nonsense, with seven people ruling the country rather than just one. The other major difference is that every expense over a certain threshold triggers a referendum, and although this can slow decisions, it is also an effective way of preventing authoritarian rulers from running in ways contrary to the public good. We would benefit from such a system here in the west!
My general impression is that the Swiss have things well under control with a high quality of life. In six weeks I don't recall seeing a single homeless person. If they are, it is only because they choose to be. Probably as a consequence, crimes occur only sporadically; the streets, trains, buses and buildings seem well-maintained, and the people I met were polite, friendly and helpful. I very much enjoyed my time in S'land and definitely intend to return!