The Unexpected Switzerland

We all have preconceptions about a country (even if we don’t admit to have them). When I accepted the job in Switzerland, I pictured the Alps, fondues, chocolate – and lots of bankers. Sure, Switzerland does have all this – but it has so much more that is less known to the World.

The Lakes

View from Vevey, Switzerland

Switzerland encompasses a huge diversity of landscapes on only little more than 41,200 km2, ranging from 195 m to 4,634m above sea level. No wonder that, besides for having some of the greatest mountain scenery Worldwide it also houses a surprising amount of lakes. There are more than 1,500 lakes spread across the country, although only 16 of them are larger than 10 km2 (being Lac Léman the largest one).

Wherever you are, you will surely not be far from a lake. During summer, Switzerland’s lakes are painted with sailing boats that go out to enjoy the late afternoon and watch the sunset on the quiet water. When I first moved here, I wondered why someone would own a boat in Switzerland when you couldn’t get anywhere with it. The truth is – the point is not to go somewhere, but to enhance the quality of life by allowing beautiful day trips with family and friends.

The Vineyards

Lavaux, Switzerland

Lying in the shadow of its neighbors, France and Italy, swiss wine is almost inexistent outside of the country. Although annual production can reach 150 million bottles, only about 2/100 are exported. Putting this into perspective: with a population of 7 million people, each person would consume 21 bottles of swiss wine per year. This turns Switzerland one of the top wine consuming countries Worldwide!

The country houses around 20,000 winegrowers, many of which have small productions that serve personal use. It’s not rare to meet people who own a little vineyard in the back of their house, specially in Canton Vaud. Switzerland may have several wine growing areas, but my favorite one is Lavaux, which aside from producing high quality white wine offers one of the greatest views over Lac Leman.

The Cheese

Cheese (London Borough Market)

Cheese might be nothing new about Switzerland – But if you google swiss cheese, you will get more than 3 million images, out of which most of them depict the cheese with the holes in it. Yes, that’s a swiss cheese. It’s called Emmentaler. But this is only one of the more than 450 varieties of cheese the country has to offer. Other swiss cheese you may have come across in supermarkets worldwide are Raclette cheese, Gruyère and Appenzeller. Most of the cheese is made out of cow milk, but you can also find it made of goat milk or sheep milk. Every region has its own local cheese. Swiss cheese range all prices imaginable and can be filled or topped with fine herbs, mushroom mousse, pepper, or truffles (among many others). In fact, one of my favorites from the Canton Vaud is Tomme Fleurette, which is made out of raw milk (a real speciality!).

What qualities does your home country have that aren’t well-known?

20 thoughts on “The Unexpected Switzerland

  1. I find that most people think about cheese and chocolate when they think of Switzerland, but they don't know how good the bread (and bakery items in general) is – and how many kinds they have available in even the most basic grocery shop!I absolutely agree about the lakes, I love the Swiss lakes – I consider myself lucky to live in Zurich, and walking alone the lake is one of my favorite things to do, especially in the late spring and summer.If I may, however, I disagree about the wine. I have not had good experiences with Swiss wines at all – but I do know that like everything, it's a matter of taste.Nice to find another expat in Switzerland!

  2. Hi Katherina, thank you for visiting my blog via the 'party' on the weekend. Your photos are breathtaking…how could you bear to leave such a beautiful place…rest assured though, if you move to London you will find the shopping great and a very interesting city to tour. The English countryside, although not as breathtaking as Switzerland, is really beautiful especially in the Summer when it has all greened up! Rob

  3. We visited Switzerland last month – such a lovely photo! And I did learn that not all Swiss cheese has holes. But then not all Cheddar Cheese comes from the town of Cheddar, England. Cheese is an interesting thing! Love the photos – breathtaking.Thank you for joining my Linky Party. It wouldn't have been the same without you! XOL

  4. What a great link up! LOVE IT! I'd love to go to Switzerland! All of your pictures are beautiful :)Have a great weekend!Stopping by from FTLOB's Weekend Wander :)

  5. CHEESE! I've actually never been to Switzerland, although I'm so close! I should come for a visit!

  6. Calling by from the Expat Linky Party, I am an English woman now living in Italy. It is great to meet you virtually, great post on Switzerland, a country I know well having spent many holidays there.

  7. Welcome to the party. I have Switzerland on my "must see" list of things to do over our 2-3 year expat assignment. It's home to my all-time favorite chocolate, after all! Ever tried it? Villars Lait Cafe. Comes in milk or dark. YUM!

  8. Your photos are amazing, Switzerland is so pretty. I need to go again, I'm just next door in France, but don't get over enough! I'm a new follower.Mimi

  9. Nice to meet you at the Linky Party! I blog about my family's life in Spain. I have been to Switerland only once…to Zurich and Lucerne! I loved it!! I agree with you about the lakes! Amazing! Didn't know about the wine and of course, I loved the cheese! We ate tons of chocolate, did the fondue things and my son bought a knife as a souvenior…obviously, I still have a lot to learn. 😉 I just became you latest follower…

  10. What an interesting post and beautiful photos! Makes me want to explore Switzerland more! And I will, as it's not at all far away 🙂 Thank you for your nice comment on my blog today! xo

  11. BEAUTIFUL! We are on the Swiss border here, but we don't go enough. The ferry is too long 🙂 Isn't everything just nicer and neater in Switzerland. Great pics!

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