Welcome to the House of Switzerland!

April 10, 2012, No comments

Watch out Britain, the Swiss are coming! In 100 days the House of Switzerland will open its doors in London. From 20 July to 12 August the lovely Glaziers Hall (pictured above, beside London Bridge) will become a Swiss cultural centre open to the public and spilling out into the neighbouring squares and streets. And I will be taking part too.

The first House of Switzerland opened in the Nagano Winter Games of 1998  and was part of the Olympic tradition of having national guest centres in the host city. Although the Swiss use their House as a meeting point for their athletes, the media and sponsors, it is also always open to the general public. Anyone can come along and enjoy the events on offer, from open-air concerts and wood carving to traditional Swiss sports such as Schwingen (wrestling in big hessian pants) and Steinstossen (throwing large rocks). Or sample some of the Swiss delicacies on offer, such as raclette, rösti and Emmentaler cheese, as well as my particular favourite, Kambly biscuits.

And I’ll be there to add some light relief and a few hard facts – contributing to the daily newsletter, doing radio interviews, speaking at various events, tweeting and blogging live, organising a treasure hunt around London, and of course writing about the whole experience for those of you who can’t make it there in person. If you are in town during that time, why not come along to see what’s happening at the House? Or maybe pop by and ask me to sign a book or two? Or even just to say hello.

In the meantime, the House of Switzerland is running a great competition to win a trip to the Bernese Oberland: flights, three nights in Interlaken and the fabulous journey up to Europe’s highest railway station at Jungfraujoch. There are ten questions to answer, all relating to the history of British-Swiss tourism, and you have email the ten correct answers to be entered into the draw. The questions appear daily between 4 and 14 April on the House’s Facebook page, but to start you off here are the first six questions:

  1. Which hotel in Interlaken did Lord Byron famously stay in?
  2. When was the British Alpine Club founded?
  3. What was the name of the first skier who appeared in Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland?
  4. The Jungfrau Railway to Jungfraujoch was finished in 1912. How long did it take to build?
  5. Where did the last duel of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes take place?
  6. When did Thomas Cook conduct his first organised tour to Switzerland?

The remaining questions will be on the Facebook page this week. It’s free to enter the competition but it’s only open to UK residents. Do remember not to post the answers here or on Facebook – send them all in one email to [email protected] before midnight on Sunday 15 April. (By the way all the answers can be found in previous posts on the House’s Facebook page). Good luck!

And if you don’t win, you can always visit the House of Switzerland this summer for a taste a slice of Swiss life. See you there!


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