16 eerie pictures of Switzerland's secret bunkers
When it comes to describing the Swiss' determination to prepare for the worst case scenario, no idiom rings truer than: "In time of peace, prepare for war". Of course, Switzerland hasn't been engaged in a military conflict for over 150 years, but hidden beneath the country's surface is a vast network of military bunkers and fallout shelters that exist to protect the Swiss people from potential onset of war and nuclear devastation. Although the exact number of military bunkers is not known, a common estimate is that there are around 20,000 bunkers dotted around Switzerland to thwart any oncoming army. Add that to the near 310,000 private and public fallout shelters and you have a country that can potentially protect all of its 8 million citizens from nuclear war, making Switzerland the most prepared nation in world for this destructive scenario. A photographer calling himself Kecko has chronicled some of the most interesting bunkers and shelters in Switzerland, here's a few of our favourites:
Five facts about the Swiss art of yodeling
Yodele yodele hee hoo! For many people, a country's identity is often distinguished as much by its unique sounds as it is by its sights, and for Switzerland, one ancient method of singing has become a globally recognised form of the Alpine nation. We are, of course, talking about the timeless art of yodeling, which has kept itself relevant right up to the 21st century as local and national competitions are held throught modern Switzerland. So it seems, yodeling has never been so hip!
Ten facts about Switzerland’s foreign residents
If you’ve been living in Switzerland over the past year, your ears must have been plugged with melted Gruyère not to know that the issue of immigration has been hotter than a freshly fried rösti. With the Swiss narrowly voting in favour of the reintroduction of immigration quotas for EU citizens, and the subsequent frosty relations between Switzerland and Brussels, foreigners in the country have been left wondering what the future holds. With its camera-ready scenery, high quality of life, bumper salaries and instant access to chocolate, it’s no wonder so many foreigners want to live here – a huge 23.8 percent* of Switzerland’s eight million resident population is foreign-born. But, we wondered, where exactly are some of them from? 1. There are a whopping 298,875 Italians in Switzerland, the biggest foreign population in the country. That’s about the size of Venice, Italy’s 11th biggest city. 2. Switzerland is home to 292,291 Germans, on a par with the south-west German city of Mannheim, whose citizens certainly know how to get about – Karl Drais created the world’s first bicycle there in 1817, while some 50 years later Mannheim engineer Karl Benz invented the motorcar. 3. The 253,227 Portuguese who have made Switzerland home outnumber the population of Portugal’s second city Porto, meaning only the capital Lisbon houses more Portuguese than Switzerland. 4. The 110,103 French-born Swiss residents would fit into France's 32nd biggest city Rouen, where French heroine Joan
POV video shows how good the view is on this mountain toboggan ride
When it comes to high altitude amusements, Switzerland has you covered for some of the world's best rides. But it also comes down to the views on offer, this video of a thrilling toboggan run near Oeschinen Lake shows the stunning scenery Switzerland possess. The breath-taking footage was filmed by Brice Milleson in 2013 and shows how the ride swerves through the mountain with an incredible backdrop. The attraction is located next to Oeschinen station, an eight minute cable car ride from the village of Kandersteg.
Expats living in Switzerland have ‘worst social life'
A survey by banking giant HSBC claims that expats living in Switzerland have the worst social life out of the 39 global destinations for overseas workers. The survey assessed the lives of expats and categorised their experience into three sections: economics, experience and family. Despite Switzerland taking the top spot last year, the overall score for the Alpine Nation was number 10. One reason for the considerable drop in ranking has been put to the difficulties expat face integrating with locals and make friends, even though they enjoy high economic benefits and a safe environment to raise a family. “Over four in five (83 percent) expats in Switzerland believe their job security is better or just as good as in their home country and 77 percent are confident in the Swiss economy,” said the survey report. Nearly a third of expats in Switzerland (29 percent) earn over $200,000 a year, second only to expats in Hong Kong, added the report. However Switzerland fell down in the other two categories, ranking 26th for experience and 25th for family. Despite scoring highly in the criteria of quality of life, safety and health, the country fared badly when it came to making friends, scraping into 38th place, one from bottom. It also ranked poorly in integration (35th) and culture (34th). “Only 35 percent have found it easy to form friendships in the country and 43 percent have found it easy to integrate with the local people and culture (compared with 61 percent of expats
The world's longest train tunnel opens
Gotthard Base Tunnel, a mammoth railway system constructed through the Swiss Alps, is now open after 17 years in the making. It opened with a flamboyant opening ceremony, with dancers putting on a dramatic performance inside the tunnel entrance in Erstfeld. Measuring 57km in length, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest tunnel system in world, allowing trains to complete a journey from Zurich to Milan in two hours 50 minutes, 1 hour less than the current rail networks. 1,000 people have been selected for the maiden voyage of the tunnel , which has been financed entirely by the Swiss government at a cost of around CHF103 billion. Even though the tunnel is 8,0000 feet beneath the Alpine peaks in some parts, it has been designed so the tracks are almost completely flat throughout, allowing trains to travel at up to 150mph. The link will be essential for connecting the densely-populated communities of north west Europe with the south and east of the continent, allowing people and goods to be transported much faster. 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains are expected to pass through the tunnel when it officially opens for business in December. For those who simply can't wait til then, the clever clogs behind the construction of the tunnel have created a 360 virtual video tour to give you an idea project's huge scale. For more underground adventure, be sure to check out the Sonnenberg tunnel tours, where you can explore the world’s largest civilian fallou
The most expensive hotel room in the world is in Geneva
Twelve bedrooms with private marble bathrooms, a gym, a Jacuzzi and a lake view terrace: President Wilson Hotel’s Royal Penthouse Suite has it all. However, this comes as no surprise when the you check the price… A staggering 80,000 CHF for one night in this luxury paradise makes it the most expensive hotel room in the world. Amongst it's VIP visitors, celebrities like Rihanna, Richard Branson or Bill Gates have all been happy occupiers of the suite. This being said, the security team that manages the room is what really makes this place special. World leaders like Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev or Egypt's Hosni Mubarak have stayed in this space, surrounded by surveillance cameras and bulletproof glass. The ideal cosy hideaway, in the heart of the city.
Swiss restaurants declared the best in the world
It seems that when it comes to gourmet food, no one does it as well as Switzerland, according to a new French publication, La Liste (The List), which named Swiss restaurant Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, in Crissier near Lausanne, the best in the world. But that's not all, as the Schauenstein restaurant in the small town of Fürstenau, a village of around 300 people sitting at 650m in the mountains of Graubunden in Switzerland, came in at number five. The wins represent a huge accolade for Switzerland, as the two Swiss restaurants beat 250 international eateries to be ranked the world's top dining establishment. The exterior of Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville ©Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville The other three countries represented among the top five are the US, Japan and France. Serving classic French food, Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville, has a long reputation for world class dining after holding onto three Michelin stars since 1998. So it's no wonder why the cost of dining there ranges from CHF 172 to CHF 375. This scallop fried with ginger is a mouthwatering dish by Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville©Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville The head chef is Swiss-French Benoît Violier, who has been in charge since 2012 after working with former culinary stars Frédy Girardet and Philippe Rochat who both ran the restaurant. The Schauenstein restaurant also has three Michelin stars to go with its six guest rooms. This restaurant serves French cuisine at prices ranging from CHF
Ten quirky Swiss festivals
Whether it’s the coming of spring or the return of the cows from their summer holidays, Switzerland has found numerous excuses to burn a snowman, wrestle a herdsman or knock back some absinthe in the name of celebration. We explore ten of the country’s more unusual festivities.
Ten of the wackiest Swiss laws
We love Switzerland and its pristine nature. And there’s no doubt about it: the country wouldn’t be the same without its idiosyncratic rules. Some of them are sensible, some of them keep things running smoothly and others are just plain kooky. Here are ten of our favourites. 1. Every house must have a nuclear bunker or access to one. Well, you never know when disaster might strike. 2. Parents must not give their child a name that might damage the child’s interests, as Swiss musician Christine Lauterburg knows only too well. The authorities banned her from naming her daughter Lexicon. 3. ‘Social species’ such as guinea pigs, goldfish and budgerigars must be kept in pairs or have contact with others of their own kind. Switzerland’s advanced animal rights laws see isolation as abuse, and we think that deserves applause. 4. Some places are not so animal friendly, though. In 2011 officials in tiny village Reconvilier dredged up a bylaw from 1904 that would allow them to kill pet dogs if owners did not pay their dog tax. 5. Yes, you have to pay a tax on your dog. The annual fee is determined by the dog’s size and weight. 6. On Sundays you must not hang your washing out to dry … 7. … or mow your lawn … 8. … or recycle. Last year German native Judith Schulte got on the wrong side of Zurich’s authorities when she dared to drop off her recycling on the wrong day. She was offered the choice between a fine and two nights in jail. 9. In some cantons it is forbidden for men to hav
Bern's quirkiest fountains
Bern has more than 100 fountains. They were traditionally used as a public source of water, where housewives would gather to fill urns and wash clothes while having a gossip. Nowadays they are a good photo opportunity, with the 16th-century stone fountains in the old town boasting what could be the world’s most bizarre motifs. From a child-eating ogre to a jousting musketeer, here are our favourites: Ogre Fountain, Kornhausplatz: Who could top our list but the ‘Kindlifresser’? The child-eating ogre stands on his plinth busily gobbling babies, while tourists look on in bemusement and horror. Some say the ogre, which dates from 1700, represents the Greek God Cronus who ate all his children. Others think he stands for the vices and virtues of humanity. What is for sure is that of the medieval fountains in Bern’s old town, he is the most terrifying. The Bagpiper, Spitalgasse: First impressions reveal a joyful sight – a nonchalant musician leaning against a tree with a monkey perched above him. Meanwhile, exquisite Renaissance relief work represents people dancing to the piper’s tune. But look more closely and a darker scene emerges. The piper has holes in his shoes, possibly symbolising his exclusion from society. The Musketeer, Marktgasse: He cuts an impressive sight, this dignified figure bearing a banner and a long sword. Is he bound for war? His flat cap, which is set skew-whiff, would suggest not. Instead, he is probably preparing for a merr