I’d rather be in Switzerland than be buying my first house.
If I curated a FAQ list of my life, a question that would permanently find itself in the top 3 would be “Where are you going next Josh?”
Over the last few months, I’ve replied to this question with the response, “I’m heading to Switzerland!” I’d like to say this has been welcomed with a wide range of replies, but it hasn’t. You would be part of an extreme minority if you replied with anything other than “Switzerland is so expensive!” I only wished people would tell me about the mountains, experiences they’d had or at least about the cheese and the chocolate.
I don’t really know why people continue to warn me about Switzerland’s high cost of living. Firstly, as soon as I land I’m going to find out. Secondly, people seem to be more concerned about how I choose to spend my money than I do. After spending so much time in South East Asia, a change was necessary. If this meant I had to spend more to go a hike, or to find a bed to sleep on at night – so be it. Booking a ticket to Italy and Switzerland came with trade-offs, ones that I was well aware of, and ones that I was well and truly excited for.
We made it to Switzerland.
Before even touching down in Switzerland, I was three Swiss chocolates deep. The lovely Swiss people next to me on the plane kindly donated me their chocolate and told me to keep the wrapper as a souvenir. I did just that. Jackson and I had made some friends off Instagram who were kind enough to pick us both up from the airport, at two separate occasions across the day. My legs were still sore from the marathon I ran the day before, but my spirits were high. I’d finally made it to a country I had been thinking about for the entirety of this year.
I want to hike. I want to hike a lot and do it in a place that is renowned for hiking. This was the primary reason for coming to Switzerland, for the adventures that await. Furthermore, it’s not a place I see many people my age going. Growing up, I only knew Switzerland for its star athlete Roger Federer. I only associated Switzerland with Roger Federer and as I began to travel, only then did I associate it with big mountains. Apart from that, I don’t know much about Switzerland, which is as great of a reason as any for me to come and dive in and see what it has to offer.
My First Week in Switzerland – Here’s what went on!
1. We hiked a lot.
With our friends coming from Australia and Sweden to visit Jackson and I, we attacked the trails of Switzerland hard. Each day our legs started sore and our joints stiff, but as we worked our way into the inclines, we found our way into hiking form.
2. We ate an extraordinary amount of cheese.
Swiss are known for their cheese and they love it! My second meal in Switzerland was ‘Raclette’. Our hosts bought around 4kg of cheese and an array of vegetables. Raclette is a meal where you melt the cheese above a burner and then scrape it onto the cooked vegetables that have been prepared. Jackson and I were in shock at the amount of cheese that has been consumed.
3. We were surprised by the heat of Switzerland.
Europe is in a heatwave, and so is Switzerland! I packed gloves and jackets for my time in Switzerland, but it has honestly felt like I was in Adelaide or Asia. It’s hot!
4. Learned that the train system is extremely costly.
This is where the Swiss really get you! On the first day, Jackson and I bought the ‘half-pass’. I paid 100CHF which meant for the rest of the year I received half-price train tickets. Even with 50% off, I have still been paying anywhere from 30-60CHF a day for train tickets. The boys who didn’t have the pass one day had to spend 110CHF on train tickets. This has been the biggest money burner.
5. Climbed more than 9000m in vertical gain.
I told you we were hiking a lot, and with hiking comes serious elevation! Our biggest day we did over forty thousand steps, with 2600m+ climbing elevation.
6. Stayed in airbnbs and friends houses.
Accommodation isn’t easy to come across here in Switzerland. We have stayed at friends houses, cheap hotels, Airbnb and now we are renting an apartment from my friend. The rent isn’t cheap but it still works out better for us. Plus, it’s nice to have access to a fridge and coffee machine.
7. Drank plenty of clean water from free-flowing fountains.
My friend told me about Switzerland’s water system before I left. He was one of the minorities that told me something other than Switzerland was expensive. Seriously, Switzerland has continuously flowing fountains all over the country for people to fill up their drink bottle. There is no need to buy plastic bottles! It’s amazing and it’s so clean.
8. Enjoyed the Swiss systems.
The Swiss think of everything. Switzerland seems to be the country that every other country tries to be. I guess it shows what happens when you don’t get involved in a war and you invest your money into bettering your country. Aside from the big things, it’s all the little inventions that the Swiss have in place that make everything so effective.
9. Two of our friends flew into hike with us.
Sam flew in from Australia and Jackson’s friend Bjorn flew in from Sweeden. We had a little quartet of fellas galavanting around Switzerland trails for a moment. It was fantastic, three of us were from Adelaide too! Makes the world feel small when you have your best mates from Adelaide by your side as you summit mountain tops.
10. I need to go easy on the cheese.
I think I’ve hit my quota. Time to dial it back. Someone give me some peanut butter.
11. I’d rather be in Switzerland than buy a house.
If you’ve made it this far and are still wondering why I made that statement. It’s because I’d rather explore and hike a place like Switzerland in my youth than buy a house, have a mortgage and then not explore Switzerland till 2050. That’s just me. It all comes back to what we prioritise and what we value when we look at the trade-offs.
The legs may need a little rest next week which will be timely as we move towards Fribourg.
My favourite photo of the week.