Some things that make Switzerland Famous

I suppose you have to admire the Swiss.  Here, after all, is a county that is small. mountainous, has virtually no natural resources and yet has managed to become the richest nation on earth” – Bill Bryson, ‘Neither here, Nor there’

In April 2007 we visited Alpine Switzerland and driving through the meadows and hills on our way to Liechtenstein we stopped at a delightful little place for lunch.

It was a perfectly lovely setting and we sat in the sun and enjoyed our food but the best was yet to come because when we decided to use the washrooms before resuming our journey we were amused to find what simply has to be the best loo in the world with a mechanical cleaning process that included a 360º scrubbing and automatic disinfection of the toilet seat.

This was really impressive but I was a little concerned about health and safety risks associated with it beginning in advance of the occupier leaving the seat, which could have been especially painful for a man if he was to get his valuables caught up in the procedure.

Switzerland it has to be said is not the most exciting country in the World so this started us thinking and we tried to agree on five things that make it famous.  We were going to do ten but this seemed absurdly ambitious!

Our final choice might have included cowbells, yodelling, fondue sets or emmental cheese, maybe Roger Federer or Ursula Andress but in the end we agreed upon, in reverse order…

5. Swiss watches of course – that was rather obvious.  I have never owned a Swiss watch and never will because I really fail to see the point of spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a wrist watch when a simple Casio will do the same job for just a few pence.  I once bought one in a petrol station for £1.99 and it lasted for several years.

4. Cuckoo clocks, because even though they are strictly speaking from Germany the Swiss were important for the ‘chalet’ style that they introduced at the end of nineteenth century and is the sort of cuckoo clock where it is common to have a  music box somewhere in the mechanism with tunes like ‘Edelweiss’ and ‘The Happy Wanderer’.

I once had a problem with a cuckoo clock in Germany – Trouble With a Cuckoo Clock

World's Biggest Cuckoo Clock Triberg Black Forest

3. Breakfast cereal Muesli, which was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss doctor and nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital in Zurich.  I imagine that this solved the problem of bed-blocking!

I am not a big fan of Muesli, I always think it looks like something that I should put out on the bird feeding table…


2.   Toblerone, the Swiss chocolate bar found in every airport duty-free shop that was invented by Theodore Tobler in 1908 in his factory in Bern with a design supposed to represent the Matterhorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps.

I confess that I rather like Toblerone but then I am rather fond of almonds.


but most of all we had to agree upon on…

1. The Swiss Army knife.

Various models of Swiss Army knives exist, with different tool combinations for specific tasks. The most common tools featured are, in addition to the main blade, a smaller second blade, tweezers, toothpick, corkscrew, can opener, corkscrew, slotted screwdriver, flat-head screwdriver, phillips-head screwdriver, nail file, scissors, saw, file, hook, magnifying glass, ballpoint pen, fish scaler, hex wrench w/bits, pliers and key chain. Recent technological features include USB flash drives, digital clock, digital altimeter, LED light, laser pointer, and MP3 player.

That is a startling collection of potential weapons in one utensil but I can’t help thinking that it was a good job Switzerland didn’t go to war with Germany in 1939 because I can’t imagine Hitler’s crack Panzer division being turned back by an army wielding nail files and toothpicks.

Manufacturers today  supply over fifty thousand a year to the Swiss Army which works out at a new knife for every soldier just about every three years or so.

Have I missed anything?

24 responses to “Some things that make Switzerland Famous

  1. I imagine there are sensors to detect all but the tiniest of private bits . . .

    I can agree with 1, 2, 3 but I’m not all that impressed with 4 and 5. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. Just not my thing . . . but, I’ll happily photograph them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen a toilet like that in Bruges, but most of my trips to Switzerland were high up in the Swiss Alps staying in a tent or a mountain lodge …. toilets somewhat basic. Memories of Switzerland? Good trains, confusion between French and German speaking districts, buying things in one currency but getting change in another, potato rosti for breakfast, lunch, dinner!


  3. I do have a weakness for Toblerone but it can play havoc with your teeth. 😃 I’m with you on cheap watches but I absolutely would have to include Federer xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I once owned a Rado because my father own a men’s shop and gave it to me for free, since then started with Casio and last few years none use my mobile phone. The one missing is all the stacks of money from not so good governments in Swiss banks!


  5. Neutrality…maybe not invented, but perfected.


  6. I once had a teacher bring me back a cuckoo clock from Switzerland. I am sure there was a message of some kind there. I had it for years.
    I traveled with a Swiss Army knife this summer on my backpack trip— the smallest lightest one they offer. I used it for cutting cheese, rope and other things that needed cutting.
    Speaking of cheese, what about Swiss Cheese, Andrew?
    As for testicle eating toilets. No thank you.


  7. I would go for breathtaking train journeys and vertigo inducing bridges! Can’t fault your list though. I will be there in Jan with the precise reason of ticking off Liechtenstein. Not expecting anything earth shattering!


  8. The ever efficient Swiss… cleaning your bum as it swishes out the toilet. Don’t the French have a better solution? O_o


  9. I’m with you on the muesli; and I don’t mind a bit of Toblerone at times, now tell me; are those instructions on the top of the cistern?


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