Swiss Watches & Swiss Accounts
Composed on Monday but unable to upload until Wed.
Evidently in Switzerland everything shuts down on Sunday. So finding something decent to eat was going to be a challenge. After walking for about 5 miles we found a McDonalds. Yuck. I don’t really like it in Denver, and I certainly didn’t think that I would like it any better on another continent. Right next door was some rendition of a Greek take away stand. Take away means that you don’t get served. Anyway, everything there looked gross and they threw a bunch of unknown foreign substances (literally) in there that I didn’t think I cared for. We settled on “Pizza Sam’s” which was supposed to be a Swiss version of what the good ole USA was like. Although, they didn’t speak any English, yet had all kinds of signs that represented America. Route 66, Coca Cola, stuff like that. It didn’t look “bad”, it just looked like something from the 60’s. A hamburger was 25 francs. And Coke is as expensive as a beer. And they don’t have ice. Forget getting any butter for your bread. A franc is like dollar. The Euro is like a 1.60. So take everything times 1.6 and that’s the USD cost. Speaking of costs, I was in a really fancy Swiss watch store. I uploaded a whole bunch of pictures on Picassa. I have to say I have never seen a Piaget, so I was kind of curious what they looked like (in person). Seeing a watch on the internet is not the same thing as in person. Kind of like, you can’t (shouldn’t) buy sunglasses or glasses on the Internet. You have to see what you look like wearing them. Well, you do if you want to look good. I swear there are people who don’t own mirrors. So the Swiss are known for their watches. But I have never seen a $110k watch in my life ever. It just blows my mind that a watch could cost that much. That is a small house for some people. It was beautiful, but I wouldn’t want something that expensive on my wrist. After about $2000 a watch is no longer just a time piece, it’s jewelry. Some of those watches had so many diamonds in it that it was one big diamond. I was guessing it was something that an Arab tycoon would give to a prince for a wedding gift. I would imagine you would have to be on really good terms with American Express to shop there. I seriously doubt that they have financing there. “Hi, I’d like to take out a 30 year loan on this watch please.” AMEX is the only card I know that has that high of a spending limit. Interestingly enough was the store was full mostly of Asians. And they all were trying on watches. The Rolex room was packed full of Asians. The store was 4 levels and it was all the most expensive watches in the world. It was kind of like going to a museum. And it was free. I also found out that the Swiss get paid a lot more here. Many people live in France and commute into Switzerland because it is so expensive to live there. Can you just imagine the ungodly amount of money that resides in Switzerland? Billions, maybe trillions are safely guarded in Swiss accounts. You never hear of people transferring millions to their Wells Fargo USA account. No, it’s always a Swiss account. I wonder who the Swiss are loaning their money to. Perhaps they are fueling some small countries. Like any other bank, they have to make money to stay in business. Maybe when the billionaire tycoons are in town to make a deposit/withdraw, they also stop by and pick up a few diamond watches? That’s a logical explanation why you can walk into a store that holds millions in inventory without going through a security checkpoint first. There wasn’t even a guard, at least not in sight.
German is the common language here. I wish I would have paid more attention when we lived in Kaiserslautern as a kid. Although, the little bit I did know came in handy. Danka is always good to use. Amazingly I can do pretty well reading. Many words have similar spellings. Or you could always just use your Scottish or British accent and no one will know you’re an American, unless they look at your shoes. Oh, and if they see you eating with a fork and a knife you’re a dead giveaway. They eat with the fork in the left hand all the time. They don‘t keep changing hands with their utensils. I am proud to be an American. I say it with pride. Believe it or not, but Americans are envied for our cheap food. Seriously. The cost of living is significantly higher because of food. A UK couple I met at dinner said that the Air Force families get their food flown into them fresh daily. DAILY! I smiled and thought, “Yes, there sure are flights daily from the US.” If they can fly luggage and packages and people in a day, why not fresh produce and beef? We are also envied for our petro. I will find out if they envy our cars or if they like having their European cars. You don’t see very many American cars here.
This afternoon I got checked into the river cruise ship. It is three levels, and has a sundeck. The staterooms are decorated with a Scandinavian influence, with expensive linens/duvets. It’s like staying in a really nice hotel with an awesome floor to ceiling window view of the Rhine river. There are also gourmet meals for every meal. For breakfast they have smoked salmon and herring on the buffet. They really know how to pamper you. And all the staff speaks English. The program director Rene, has rimless glasses that are shaped like fish. I will have to get a picture of those when I can. They are very unusual. The ship also has a full size four star restaurant and on the 3rd level there is a lounge that can accommodate almost 175 people. They have it set up in a few dozen cocktail tables with 6-8 comfy chairs around them. Most people were sitting around drinking and talking, some were playing cards. There is wireless internet, but it is very sketchy. Like right now as I compose this blog, I can’t get on the internet. I am connected to the ship’s wifi network, but there is no service in the area. My iPad hasn’t connected in a day. It does fine with wifi when it is available. Not too many towers cruising down a river through Switzerland. I didn’t have too high of expectations when traveling in another country like this. I am composing this in Microsoft Word and then when we get into a service area I can copy and paste into my blog.
Well that’s all for now. I have most of the pictures from today posted. Tomorrow should be a fun and exciting adventure. From what I gather we will be venturing into the Black Forest. I hope it will be a good picture day. The panoramic that I have been capturing are just stunning. I’m a photographer, not just some guy who pushes a button. Life through my spectacles makes life so much more interesting. I see things that the average person does not.