Growing up as a kid, the word “Switzerland” was usually used to signify any one or more of the following:

– banks (or, to be more specific, “secret” bank accounts) LOL;

– Alps (for lovers of skiing)

– Neutrality (“we see no evil…..hear no evil……and speak no evil (haha))

Thus, Switzerland was kindof an “enigma”; not really a mystery (info on the country itself was readily available to anyone who was interested in finding out about it). But, suffice to say that, I never really ached to go there.

“Boredom” kinda changed that for me in the summer of 2013. With 3 weeks of vacation-time, and no real concrete plans, I simply decided to check-out the Swiss. So, I upped and bought a one-way ticket to Zurich — (wasn’t sure exactly when I would be returning to Finland, as I was simply playing it by ear).

Zurich — just another Scandinavia ?

img_0176

From the moment I got off the plane, and exited the airport, I was struck by how similar the city was to………….well, average-Europe, I guess. In fact, I remember thinking: am I still in Helsinki?? Because that’s what it felt like (hehe). Same buildings, same streets, same shops, same hotels. And, there certainly wasn’t much in the way of “architecture”.

What stunned me most, however, was the people themselves. People are different everywhere; after traveling for so many years, I knew enough to not expect anything, and just appreciate different cultures, traditions, blah-blah-blah.

Nope, it wasn’t the “difference” that stunned me in Zurich. On the contrary, it was the “similarities” between the Swiss and the Finns. Having lived in Finland for a decade, I’d come to see the Finns as very unique in their ways — the most pronounced of which is their shyness, reservedness and absolute non-desire to interact or communicate in any way with strangers and/or outsiders. I’d never experienced this anywhere else………..until Zurich (LOL). It was truly amazing……….and rather amusing. I’d never pegged the Swiss for being the closest to the Finnish culture.

(Oh, well. It was Zurich, afterall. The city is widely regarded as the corporate capital of the country. As they say, if you want to see the real Switzerland, get out of the cities, and climb the mountains!)

The countryside

Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad. I was able to meet up with a couple of nice folks, who took me out on a trip to Zurich’s nicer spots, and out into the countryside.

img_0150img_0147img_0149 img_0151img_0162img_0163img_0164img_0165img_0167

 

Ahhhhhh………….how I love to be near the water………………..Or, even better, ON the water 🙂

img_0179 img_0180 img_0181 img_0184 img_0185 img_0186img_0188img_0189img_0192img_0183

I’d been to stables before. But, being an animal lover, I never passed up a chance to hang out and play with our four-legged relatives (hehe). I’ve never been this close to horses

img_0154 img_0156 img_0157 img_0158 img_0159img_0169 img_0161  img_0160

 

Time for some barbecue……………

img_0170 img_0172 img_0174 img_0175

 

The Street Parade

The Street Parade is the largest and most attended technoparade in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. It takes place yearly, in Zurich, on the second Saturday of August. Comparable to Berlin’s Love Parade, the Street Parade is the largest annual event in Zurich. Officially a demonstration for freedom, love and tolerance, attended by up to a one million people, it proceeds along the side of Lake Zurich.

Since 1996, the event is organized by the Verein Street Parade (Street Parade Association). Today, the Street Parade has all the character of a popular festival. However, legally, it is still a political demonstration. This frees the organisation of security costs, among all else that the city takes under its charge.

I’d never before heard of the Street Parade. It was pure chance that I chose early-August to visit Zurich. The new friends I made in Zurich were the ones who mentioned it to me. Actually, “mentioned” is a bit jumping the gun. I recall the conversation going something this:

“So, Steve, are you here for the Street Parade?”

“Huh? Street Parade?  What’s that?”

“You’ve never heard of the Street Parade??  It’s the biggest event of the year!”

“Really. And what kind of parade is it?”

“It’s a techno-parade. Lots of music, partying, and the like. It’s this Saturday!”

(Now, if you recall, I spoke earlier about my tastes in music, and how you would never catch me anywhere near anything remotely resembling “techno”. So, I was not too keen to visit this so-called Street Parade.

But, I wasn’t kidding myself either. Zurich was a VERY boring city. In fact, at that particular point, I’d already purchased a one-way ticket to Budapest, Hungary; and the flight was on the following Monday. So, seeing as I had nothing else to do, I figured that I might as well go to the parade, and pass the time.

At the parade

I’ll be honest: it wasn’t so bad (haha). I mean, I certainly did NOT like the music. And, all in all, the whole thing was too loud, too crowded for my liking. But, I’d come prepared: a bottle of vodka, and a can of orange juice — all of which I drank until there was nothing left. The result? I was too drunk to care :=))))))

img_0196 img_0197 img_0215img_0198 img_0199 img_0202 img_0204 img_0205img_0213img_0214img_0216img_0217img_0218img_0219img_0221img_0222img_0225img_0226

 

And, I just had to ask this guy here: where on earth did he get those vampire-eyes?  (hahaha)

img_0227

 

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure about posting these 3 photos (below). I mean, as I mentioned earlier, I’m writing these journals for my darling daughter, Keona…….for her to read some day, and share in my travels. And, I certainly don’t want her thinking that her old man is/was some pervy old fart (LOL)

img_0193img_0195 img_0230

 

Oh, and before I forget: THIS is what happens when you are drunk, and decide to go swimming in a lake, in the middle of the city………….

 

And, of course, the inevitable end-result………………….

img_0211 img_0212

 

After the parade

Talk about a mess!  And, this happens every year.

These pics were taken the next morning (while I was nursing a major hangover)…….

img_0231 img_0232

But, in case you were wondering, all of this was gone by noon!!  Yep, quite impressive really. Apparently, the city of Zurich has years of experience in cleaning up after the parade.