• Image about Switzerland

“What you have to remember is that Switzerland is like a member of a family,” Nico says. “We are surrounded by France, Germany and Italy. Germany is the stern, dedicated eldest brother who works terribly hard and doesn’t have much time for foolishness. France is the sophisticated, upscale brother who loves fine things and is slightly decadent. Italy is the youngest brother, who takes life slowly and prefers playing to hard work. We in Switzerland are somewhere in the middle, so we have taken on different bits of our brothers’ personalities. And we also have learned to get along with each other.

“Zurich is a perfect example of all this. The heart of the city may beat because of the banking industry, but you don’t have to go far to have fun — but only after the work is all done. It’s the Zurich mentality.”

That tolerant, subdued attitude has its limits, a point driven home when we were cursed at in German by an angry University of Zurich student. We had dawdled too long before trying to enter one of Zurich’s supremely efficient and clean trams, watching in shock as its door snapped shut in our faces. The inconvenienced young woman had to wait another 15 minutes because of us, which was when we discovered that there’s no such thing as a language barrier when it comes to swearing — it’s the true universal dialect understood by all.

“Public transportation waits for no one in Zurich,” Nico says after I recount our encounter. “As for the girl … well, it’s a city with a lot of different kinds of people, you know? All types. But it is much more good than bad, right?”

We drink to that.