30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25: Some Shots From Switzerland

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Biel’s “beachtown” is up and open for visitors. Admission is free, and visitors can lounge all day if they like, but only vendor-served food and beverages are allowed inside. Not being able to read the German/French/Italian signage, I popped open a can of Coca Cola at last year’s beachtown and was quickly informed about the ‘no-outside food’ rule.

In classical Swiss fashion, however, the staff told me this discreetly, quietly, politely and said it was fine for me to finish my Coke, but please remember to buy from a vendor next time. I’m okay with this. After all, vendors’ fees contribute to the creation of this oasis.

Bouncers in black uniforms stand at the gates, possibly to keep out Biel’s increasingly cantankerous street crowd of alcoholics and druggies.  Alcohol is served in Beachtown where we’ve never seen anyone misbehave, but then we’re usually back in our hotel room before ‘party hours’ really begin. Nonetheless, this is Switzerland, the land of good manners and we expect that for the most part, the Swiss keep it reined in.

There’s all kinds of food available inside, including some delicious smelling Thai fare that we plan to sample soon.

 

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32: Switzerland’s Sweet Slide Into Summer

The Swiss have got some things figured out perfectly, like how to have fun with what they’ve got, as we were reminded on our weekend stroll. The photograph above is the beginning stages of Biel/Bienne’s summer tropical pavilion, brought to Switzerland courtesy of some backhoes, truckloads of white sand and potted palm trees, all kissing up to the shore of Lac Biel.

This happens every year here. It’s funded by the municipality, it is a wonderful slice of Caribbean-living, and why not? The summer season is starting to cook, the temperatures will ride up to the high 30s and the humidity brings into question whether Switzerland really is an alpine country.

I cannot imagine something similar going over back in our home of Victoria, British Columbia. There, such a drastic environmental alteration would produce a band of swooning protesters and broiler-hot five-hour town hall meetings, where apple pie and “I didn’t fight in the Second World War to see my country come to this” motherhood statements would be flung around the room. I shrug. It is Victoria and it is what it is, but I wish they could see how it is done here.

The Swiss muck around with their environment repeatedly, but as for degradation and damage, no worries. The same equipment that creates this tropicana will be back in the fall to sweep it all up, replant and renew the area. They hold massive festivals here in our little town, chucking things around that would bring Victoria bylaw officers to their knees in horror (imagine drifts of confetti over a foot deep on Douglas Street), but quick as flash as soon as the festival is over, in comes the Swiss backhoe brigade to set everything right again. The morning after every festival, there is not a clue it ever happened.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to lazing on a cushioned wicker lounger, munching on hotdogs and sipping on iced tea under the shade of a palm tree on a white sand beach, all only a 15 minute walk from my hotel.

Dave wanders into the park and wonders, where the heck did all this sand come from? And the beach furniture? And the hot dog stand? From June 2011.

 

Before the beach, 2011: How the park usually looks – asphalt, lawn, shrubs, rock-line shore. Yes, I would like some palm trees, thank you.