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Episode 3 of "This only exists in Switzerland"

Published: 04 October 2020

In the third part of the video series " This only exists in Switzerland", ten selected examples await you again, which will amaze tourists and emigrants in Switzerland. Thank you very much for your many suggestions. They have been very much taken into account in this series. Thanks again for your numerous comments and likes. Your praise and the beautiful suggestions spur me on.

In the following you will find the content of the video also in text form. More entertaining and richer in images is of course the video.

Pontooning sport

In other countries pontooniers are only known as part of the military. The main task of pontooners is or was to ensure their ability to move over water, mainly with the help of war and floating bridges. In Switzerland, pontooning is a traditional water sport. The helmsman and fore rider are a team that moves the translation boat or weiling on the water in an optimal way and guides it to the right place. The course can be compared to an obstacle course on the water. The aim is to complete various parts of the exercise as quickly and precisely as possible and in a stylistically perfect manner. This sport requires not only strength but also a great deal of knowledge about the element of water. About four nationwide races are held every year.

First convertible cable car worldwide

Standing on the roof of the gondola with flowing hair and enjoying a fantastic panoramic view, that was the idea of this unique cable car. Guests of the Stanserhorn in Canton Nidwalden, which is over 1,900 metres high, have been able to experience this since 2012. To get to the middle station, you first make your way back to the cable car using the rumbling wooden wagons of the funicular, just as they did over 100 years ago. From the middle station onwards it becomes all the more modern. The cable car with the open upper deck is one of the main attractions.

It's a special feeling to be on top of the roof of the two-storey cabin and experience the ride. Just enjoy the wind and the view without having to have ropes or a roof over your head. The CabriO cable car has an open upper deck, which can also be reached during the ride via a spiral staircase. The cable car can accommodate a total of 90 people, 30 of which are on the upper deck.

Country without capital

The designation of Bern as the capital is incorrect. Even the usual designation "federal city" is strictly speaking not correct. The Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation does not define either the capital or the federal city. It is only at the legislative level that it is stated that Bern is the seat of the Federal Council, the departments and the Federal Chancellery. Why is this so?

When Switzerland was unified from a confederation of states to a federal state with the Federal Constitution of 12 September 1848, there was no agreement on whether Switzerland needed a capital city at all or whether a principle of rotation with several suburbs would be more appropriate, as had been done in previous years. The candidates were Zurich, Bern and Lucerne. The dispute ended in a typical Swiss compromise. On 28 November 1848, the National Council and Council of States elected the city of Bern as the seat of the national government in the first round of elections. A capital city would also have contradicted the strongly developed federalism.

The banknote with the highest value

The 1,000 franc note in Switzerland is the most valuable banknote in Europe in circulation. In second place comes the 500 euro note. Of the leading currencies, the 1,000 franc note is even the most valuable in the world. If all currencies are taken into account, the Swiss banknote is in 3rd place. Only the 10,000 Brunei dollar note and the 10,000 Singapore dollar note have a higher value. The Brunei dollar and the Singapore dollar have the same value and a fixed exchange rate of 1:1, as they are accepted in both countries. Their value is around 6,500 Swiss francs. The Singapore dollar note has not been produced since 2014, but it is still in circulation.

You may find it hard to believe, but there are almost 47 million of the 1,000 note in circulation in Switzerland. Nevertheless, you rarely get to see it. Presumably, the 1,000 note is increasingly used for the physical storage of assets in safe-deposit boxes or outside banks. For example, by people who are suspicious of banks, want to avoid negative interest rates or do not want to pay tax on their assets.

In bus and train nobody wonders about army weapons

In Switzerland it is perfectly normal for soldiers or recruits to travel fully armed on public transport at weekends or on public holidays when they are released home. This sight never ceases to amaze observers and guests, especially from abroad.

There are two particularities responsible for this. Firstly, the majority of the soldiers do not serve in the Swiss Army in one go, but in repetitive courses spread over years. Secondly, after the three-week so-called WK, they take all their equipment home with them, including assault rifle or pistol. The idea behind this comes from the early 20th century. If Swiss troops are mobilised, as many soldiers as possible should be able to enter military service within the shortest possible time. Thanks to the rifle stored in a cupboard at home, including ammunition, they should be able to fight their way to the rallying point if the enemy had already invaded the country.

A Mail and B Mail

At Swiss Post there are two different speeds. Important letters are sent by the more expensive A Mail. Provided that they have been handed in by the close of the counter and the letterbox has been emptied, the letters will reach their destination by the next working day. Less important letters will be sent with the cheaper B Mail, and delivery will generally take place by the third working day after posting.

In 1991 the then state-owned company was no longer able to cope with the flood of mail. To solve this problem, two speeds and two tariffs were introduced. In the meantime the Swiss Post Office has been privatised and the number of letters has decreased. The system with A and B Mail, however, has been retained. With A Mail, one also signals appreciation to the recipient and underlines the importance of the letter.

Bunkers for the entire population

In an emergency, there is enough space in bunkers and shelters for the entire Swiss population. By comparison, in Germany there is space for just under 3% of the population. Switzerland's extensive coverage is unique in the world and is even prescribed in the Population and Civil Protection Act. At the time of the Cold War, Switzerland took the danger very seriously. In 1963 it was decided that there had to be bunkers for all people in the country where they would find shelter in the event of an armed conflict, nuclear incident or natural disaster.

The law stipulates the following: If there are too few shelters in a municipality, shelters must be built when homes are built. In addition to the thick reinforced concrete door, a ventilation system and a gas filter system are among the basic components. However, shelters now only have to be built in larger communities if there are large buildings above them. If a shelter is not built during the construction of a house or if the need for shelter is already covered, a replacement contribution must be paid. Until an emergency occurs, the shelters often serve as storage rooms, cellar compartments or workshops.

The Röstigraben

Sounds delicious, but this ditch is mostly about politics. In particular, it is about the different voting behaviour in individual referendums and the resulting cultural differences between French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland. Since the German-speaking Swiss are in the majority, they have a greater say in the outcome of referenda. Because the German-speaking Swiss are in the majority, the French-speaking Swiss sometimes feel disadvantaged on issues where there is a wide discrepancy. This is particularly evident when it comes to European issues, social policy and environmental issues. The French-speaking Romands are much more open on these issues than the German-speaking Swiss, but they usually have to give way when opinions differ.

The graph of the Technical University of Lausanne shows in colour how similar the voting behaviour is between the municipalities. The more similar the colour, the more similar the voting behaviour. If you now compare the maps with the language regions of Switzerland, you will see that the language boundaries and the boundaries in voting behaviour are very similar. A similar boundary also exists in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, although it is less pronounced. This ditch is called the Polentagraben, but is not as popular as the Röstigraben. In recent years, the importance of the Röstigraben in voting has steadily declined, but there is now more often a sharp divide between the urban and rural population.

The longest staircase in the world

The Niesen cable car in the Bernese Oberland takes you up to the Niesen viewing mountain on Lake Thun. Next to the tracks, a world record is held here. The longest staircase in the world with 11,674 steps. Unfortunately, the stairs are not open to the public for safety reasons. The stairs are primarily used to support the maintenance team of the Niesenbahn. At the annual Niesen stair race, the stairs are also used for athletes. But beware, 1,669 metres in altitude must be conquered during the run. The fastest runners need a little less than an hour for this. By way of comparison, the track takes 28 minutes for this route. And for the hiker, the time from the valley station in Mülenen to the summit is 5 hours.

The Swiss and his apple sauce

Please do not take this issue too seriously now. This is not meant badly at all and should be only a little satire at the end of this episode.

What the British call their peppermint sauce, the Swiss call their apple sauce. Just about every culture has a culinary outrage. Switzerland is in no way inferior. Macaroni with minced meat sauce sounds delicious and it is. In Switzerland, this is called ghackets with Hörnli. It is usually served with a small bowl of applesauce. The German would now say to himself: oh delicious dessert. And now comes the crime. Many a Swiss now takes the bowl, tips it over the croissants with mincemeat sauce and begins to eat with pleasure. As a foreigner, I sit next to it completely bewildered. And that is by no means an isolated act. The well-known dish Älplermagronen, consisting of macaroni, potatoes, cream sauce, cheese and onion, is often served with a bowl of applesauce before eating.

Do you know of any other unique or unusual features in Switzerland? Write it to me in the comments on YouTube. If you liked the video, I would be happy about a Like and a subscription.

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