Two Rivers: La Loire and Rhein
Two of the blood veins of Europe, rivers La Loire in France and Rhein in Germany and Switzerland are like night and day. The French worship their rivers whereas the Germans and the Swiss harness them.
We spent a month in the valley of Loire and explored cities of Blois, Orléans and Tours. We met again great people who introduced us to the best of France. The areas were near Paris, just one or two hours away by fast TGV trains, but the mentality is completely different. People are not stressed and arrogant, fighting with each other in metro and traffic chaos like they sometimes appear to do in the busy and important capital.
The spring was on its way and the weather was from time to time quite chilly. It was also raining a lot, more than in any other country we have visited. This shouldn’t have been a surprise at all as France is, on a global scale, a Northern country excluding its Mediterranean provinces.
For us the main attraction were again the people, but also the food, namely the exquisite French cheeses. When visiting a French grocery giant in China and asking for cheese, we got some yoghurt instead. After two years in Asia without much dairy products we really enjoyed the selection of over three hundred flavours and brands of cheese that the country has to offer.
Cuckoo Clocks And Cowbells
From France we continued to Switzerland that we had earlier passed. It is peculiar how many myths there are about Switzerland which is, after all, located in the heart of Europe. It is supposed to be boringly conservative, picturesque, and dirt expensive without much other than the Alps to see.
We travelled to the German-speaking area which was very German indeed. People were not paying too much attention to external things like their looks. Basel was jammed with pharmaceutical factories and their huge chimneys, the river Rhein busy transporting goods and people dressed casually. Also the consummation of abusive substances is more like in Germany than in France.
If the churches of Switzerland were made of wood, they would all have been burned down long time ago, like many churches in Finland are. They have an irritating habit of reminding everyone about time by chiming the bells every fifteen minutes, and the number of hours every full hour. Fortunately the Rolexes do not do the same. Otherwise they would drive everyone crazy around the world.
We met again some great, very non-conservative people and had a chance to enjoy a couple of parties. The sun was shining, temperature was already more than twenty degrees Celsius and life seemed quite easy-going though busy as in Europe in general. We again remembered that time is money, or at least a noisy nuisance when talking about Switzerland.
Country: France, Country: Switzerland