by Beat Estermann, Geneva
There might be more about Switzerland than just Zurich. And seeing it is worth getting up very early in the morning – at least this is what our Armenian friends and a whole bunch of Swiss students thought when they met on Saturday morning at 7 o'clock at the Main Station in Zurich.
Civil Servant Status for the Bears!
Our first destination was the Grand Theatre in Bern, also known under the name of "Bundeshaus". Here, we could catch a glimpse of the official Switzerland, learn about the political institutions and even rest on the awe-inspiring seats that are usually occupied by the members of parliament. – This really impressed our Armenian friends, but unfortunately, they had to realize that simply sitting on an important chair does not always make a person very influential – but insn't Critical Theory out?
After the well directed Parliament show it was definitely time for a stroll, and of course, some people took advantage of the occasion and got lost - but somehow, we all ended up at the "Bärengraben" where the bears, humble as they are, are spending their monotonous days asking for fruits and vegetables, nurturing secret hopes for a better life down at the Marzili.
But hoping alone is of little use in Bern; yet what is the alternative? – Demonstrating! – There we went and took part in the demonstration against the new Federal Law on the Status of Federal Government Employees. Amazed to see people singing, dancing and having fun at a demonstration, our Armenian friends quickly joined the party and somehow ended up standing amongst red banners calling for a communist regime – isn't it cute, the Swiss version of Communism?
After the big demonstration, which, as it turned out a few weeks later, didn't have much more effect than a bear's humble wishes, we went to the Berner Münster (Cathedral) where, after climbing the huge tower, we enjoyed the view on a Big Little City from a bird's perspective – I bet the bears down there in their miserable pit wouldn't even dear to dream of a view like that!
Save the Dragons!
After our visit to Bern, we were finally approaching the Alps. However, it was already dark by the time we arrived in a nice little village called "Beatenberg". Apparently, this place hadn't been so nice in earlier times, when it was inhabited by a big dragon enjoying herself very much amongst the locals, who, in turn, seem to have feared her very much. Local history has it that then, in the times of early Christianism in Switzerland, a monk, who's name was – guess what? – "Beatus", came along one day, stopped the feast and killed the beast. Greenpeace kept quiet and the brave man "Beatus" was even celebrated as a big hero. – This was surely one of the blackest days in the history of Swiss dragons!
Our own arrival at the place was somewhat less spectacular, but the reception very friendly and warm. And together, in the house of Christina and Andreas, we were having a really good time, eating Raclette, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and playing silly (and also some highly intellectual) games. There is just one unpleasant incident I can recall: after dinner, when everybody was still peacefully sitting at the table, someone remembered that the dishwasher was broken, but of course, this wasn't a real problem: the Armenian men, gentlemen as they are, declared right away (after some initial hesitations though), that they would be happy to do the dishes. The excitement among the Armenian women was great, surprisingly great – less surprising was that on the next day, the dishwasher was working again as usual…
Morning Has Broken…
On Sunday morning at eyebreak, a huge alpine panorama revealed itself in a splendid light, and Mt. Eiger, with Mt. Monk and Mts. Virgin, appeared as a respectable substitute for Mt. Ararat. We started the day with a walk up the hill, followed by a copious brunch. After the brunch we set off on an excursion to the top of a nearby mountain, where we didn't encounter any dragons who seem to be extinct in the area, but – FLUTSH – a snowball in your face! Besides the snowball party, we enjoyed the marvellous view on the neighbouring mountain ranges. When we got back after a nice walk on a lonely path leading us through snowfields and forests, we had a quick dinner, for it was already time to hit the road again. On the way home: a quick stop in Luzern with a sight-seeing tour of the type "The Whole of Europe in 72 Hours". And then, back in Zurich, we all went to get some sleep after this great trip, dreaming of far away mountains, voracious dragons and dishwashing men.
Rumour has it that this wasn't the real end of the story, but these are just rumours, for who would believe that a car can turn into a stubborn donkey, which not even Arsen can get to move on again, or that some people would travel on to Winterthur to enjoy the smashing Sunday-Night-Life there, or that three plus three is five and easily fit into a Mini packed to the top with luggage…?