I woke up at 6:30, put on clothes, packed up the last few things and walked to the train station. After 2 hours on the fast TGV train I had to get off and wait an hour an a half for a slow train that followed the same route. That took another 2 or so hours. Then I waited around for 2 more and then got a train to Geneva, Switzerland which took 3 hours. The train was as packed as the 99B line going to UBC which seemed odd. Then, a bunch of announcements occurred in French and some people looked angry and then left the train. I had no idea what was going on so I just stayed in my seat hoping that the train would eventually end up in Geneva. It did.
There I walked past the border guards. Most people cruised right by without stopping but a few people seemed to be getting their passports stamped. I tried to figure out whether I needed to talk to them but I kind of got pushed along. So I may be in Switzerland illegally. Oh well. They are probably part of the free movement pact of the EU but it’s weird then that they would have any border guards there at all.
The train ride to Bern was quite stunning. The train rolled over hills, across valleys and around lakes. There were grazing cows everywhere. So many cows. Also, I saw fenced in deer which is really odd. Bern itself was equally nice. Of all the cities I have been to so far it probably is the cleanest and best kept, but it does seem sort of like a big mall. I passed three H&M’s walking to my hostel. The hostel wasn’t even that far from the train station. Nice had two within a short distance from my hotel, and Barcelona had 3 within a few blocks of each other. Europe really seems to love H&M.
Switzerland is awfully expensive. It is a good thing that I will just be hiking here. I bought a kebab, as I do in pretty much every city, and it was easily double what it cost me in Barcelona (after converting for currency) and a decent chunk more than Nice which was in between. On the big mac index, the Swiss Franc is the most overvalued currency. It’s not Switzerland’s fault, and it is probably bad for the average Swiss person but it is the natural outcome of being the one solid trustworthy currency in Europe. The euro is really weak and almost no one trusts it. The pound is also relatively weak due to a less than stellar UK economy. Because of this, people buy Swiss Francs, driving up their value. Prices in the country are slow to adjust to the ever-increasing worth of the Franc so you are giving up more value to buy the same things.
Tomorrow I head to Lauterbrunnen for some hiking.