Where is Switzerland?

July 29, 2012, 1 Comment

Got a question about Switzerland? That was my challenge for the visiting public. But some of the questions in the first week at the House of Switzerland have been rather surprising, starting with ‘Where is Switzerland?’. A bit hard to answer that one without going into too much detail or being too vague, but ‘In the middle of Europe, between Germany and Italy’ seemed to satisfy them. Other questions during a week of chocolate-melting heat in London were easier to answer, such as these six:

  • What is the highest mountain?
  • How does the cheese get its holes?
  • Can you drive across Switzerland?
  • What is the longest river?
  • Where did Heidi live??
  • Is English an official language?

(The answers: Dufourspitze, bacteria, yes, Rhine, Maienfeld and not yet)

And then there was my favourite question – ‘Why do the Swiss have seven presidents?’, my answer being that they need one for each day of the week. Saturday’s president was Eveline Widmer Schlumpf, who made an official visit to the House the day after she had been waving a little Swiss flag to welcome the national team into the Olympic stadium. Given that the athletes parade in alphabetical order by country, she’d had to wait a good 90 minutes for Stanislas Wawrinka to lead Switzerland in, carrying a much bigger Swiss flag. I’m sure Frau Widmer Schlumpf used that time to digest what she had seen during the magnificently British Opening Ceremony. Bond and Bean, no problem, but NHS nurses and village cricket might have stumped her.

Showing the Opening Ceremony on the giant outdoor screen drew the biggest crowd yet into the Red Zone, where it was standing-room only for much of the night. The beer from Appenzell went down a treat along with bratwurst & mustard (all Swiss of course), and Stan the Man got the biggest cheer of the evening. One day later and the assembled Swiss could only moan loudly as Fabian Cancellara crashed out of the cycle road race. At least Federer could lift Swiss spirits with another win at Wimbledon. Same court, same result but how odd to see Roger in red instead of the regulation Wimbledon white. Here’s hoping he wins enough matches to wear red to his medal ceremony in the Red Zone.

So after nine days here, I’ve decided that the answer to that first question has to change. Where is Switzerland? For the next two weeks it’s in the centre of London. It is at the House of Switzerland.


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