44: Switzerland: Sweet on street re-surfacing

New shellacked version of asphalt on the left; old matte version on the right.

If the Swiss know how to do anything, it is how to do a thing many times. They are obsessed with it. As an example, a perfectly sound stretch of pavement in front of our favorite bookstore on Nidaugasse has been resurfaced three times in the past year.

The first time made sense – there was underground work being done in the neighbourhood. The second time was a mystery, with the same asphalt topping being peeled off and then applied fresh. Last week, the workers were at it again, only now the new coating of asphalt has a distinct permanent shine to it along with some white flecks that make it look like polished cut granite. It is as though they are moving furniture, trying out one thing, eyeballing it, finding something just a little bit off, and then trying something else.

If you’re going to leave livestock penned up all over city streets, it is just possible that the asphalt will need resurfacing more often. This donkey petting pen is part of a festival that last year had a very angry Holstein cow who repeatedly charged at the fencing. Hotheaded Holsteins are nowhere to be seen in this year’s festival.

In my opinion, their aesthetic sensibilities are telling them to spend the big bucks and put down cobblestone, but their economic sensibilities say it is too expensive, so they are incrementally upgrading their asphalt. It’s one thing to do this when shuffling a sofa around a living room, but another thing when it involves heavy machinery.

Nonetheless, that is the Swiss way. It would never go over in North America. For one thing, Canada is too big to treat road surfacing as window dressing, the United States is too broke and in Mexico (yes, I do know Mexico is part of North America), road crews are too busy cleaning off the latest grisly drug-war kills to get around to repaving anything.

We are still here for another 44 days. My money is that it is 50/50 that they’ll redo the surface before we book out.

Weekend wanderings – Off to Appenzell, also known as cowbell country

A Swiss cow, WITHOUT a cowbell. What is the land of cheese coming to?

I did not make up the nickname “cowbell country” for Switzerland’s Appenzell region. The Swiss did that all by themselves.

How the cowbells earned higher billing than the cows themselves is beyond me, but we aim to find out. In the meantime, we wonder what kind of conversations dairy farmers have out there. Instead of discussing how many heads of cattle they oversee, maybe they discuss the pitch and tone of the cowbells.

“Good chiming on the up-pasture trip yesterday,” Franz says.

“Yah, yah, it vazt gutt!,” Johann replies.

My goal will be to see the cow museum. Woo hoo!

Dave’s goal will be to get me to ride the Kronberg bobsled ride. Click here to see it. Skip to the 20-second mark to get straight to the ride. Skip to the 1:20 mark to see how close the “bobsleds” get to each other at the bottom of the ride.

Dave says, “What could go wrong?” and I have to admit it looks not-so-bad, except that is the same thing he said just before I slid down an enclosed waterslide tunnel at Whitewater in Atlanta, minutes before I got lodged in said tunnel, which eventually spit me out in a tangled glob of humanity. I will only tell you what that ride was like if someone asks me. It’s better not to ask.

In the meantime, this blog will likely pass the 3,000 mark some time today. As one editor told me, “It’s the photos, dummy. Nobody cares what you write. They care about the pictures.”  Editors. You gotta love’em.

Happy weekend!