Last year I had posted my dilemna of where to go on vacation. I was seriously considering a cruise, but wasn't sure it was for me. I still don't know, because I chose Switzerland, about as land-locked a country as you can get. And one of the most beautiful.
The view from my balcony.
I fell in love with everything Swiss. But what I enjoyed most wasn't the mountains (which were breathtaking) or the glacier-fed lakes (so blue and clear you could see the bottom) or even the chocolate (delicious).
It was the people. At a time when I've been battling neighbors who see nothing wrong with turning the car stereo on full volume in the middle of the night, it was a joy to be among people who were considerate and very aware of their impact on other people.
I had been in Switzerland for a week before I realized I hadn't heard a single cell phone ring. I hadn't overheard anyone's potty-mouthed conversation. I hadn't even seen people at dinner texting instead of talking. There were cell phones. I saw people carrying them. Saw them talking on them. Or maybe they were whispering. Because I was never forced to be an unwilling listener to any of their conversations.
Just about everything is recycled. When we arrived at our apartment our landlady gave us directions on kitchen etiquette. From meat to paper towels, just about everything went into a bin to be recycled or composted. The Swiss have the highest recycling rate in the world. Due, in part, to the fact that garbage bags are taxed. The less garbage, the less tax.
Politeness seems to be a way of life over there. Yes, they do put their feet up on the seats of the trains -- after they've taken their shoes off and set a newspaper beneath them. Maybe that's the real reason Swiss trains run like clockwork. It's not that they're obsessed with timeliness. It's just that it would be rude to keep a passenger waiting.