Switzerland enjoys a temperate Atlantic climate which whilst
generally mild and hospitable becomes increasingly colder the
higher the altitude. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly over the year
although from June to August thunderstorms may occur in
Switzerland's low-lying areas. The lowlands typically enjoy
warm-to-hot summers and almost Mediterranean conditions in the
southernmost regions of the country. In alpine valleys the snow
season lasts from November to May but at elevations greater than
2,500 feet snow cover is permanent.
Whilst Switzerland possesses an identifiable cuisine of its own
this has largely been influenced by the country's many neighbours.
Nevertheless, our guests are in for a gastronomic treat in
Switzerland where colder conditions favour heartier dishes. Some
must-try Swiss classics include fondue; Swiss cheese melted until
bubbling in a pot over a gas flame, and mixed with wine and garlic.
Bread is dipped into the fondue and eaten, rosti; a national dish
traditionally eaten at breakfast, rosti is grated potato shaped
into a shallow cake and deep-fried until the exterior is golden and
crunchy, bündnerfleisch; this is a beef sausage in which the meat
has been air-dried rather than cured. Freshwater Alpine fish such
as trout are considered a delicacy thanks to the purity of the
water in the lakes and rivers in which they are caught. Needless to
say, for any guest with a sweet tooth sampling Switzerland's
particularly fine chocolate is virtually obligatory.
Compared to some of their neighbours the Swiss are a formal
people. When you address a question to someone it is polite to
preface the question with "excuse me" or "good morning". Guests who
take the train to travel through Switzerland should not worry that
the Swiss are stuffy; once they have befriended you they are as
sociable as anyone.