Welcome to Slide Night at Back in a Bit. Sit back, relax and get ready to travel far away from your desk and your sore computer eyes as we share our favourite travel snaps and the quirky stories behind them.

Today we have Crikey reader and Melbourne writer Tristan, to share a few of his recent travel adventures.

Grinderwald 122b
Switzerland (click for larger image)

Shot using: Sony Cybershot 7.2mp with a Carl Zeiss lens

Tristan writes: There are two girls in the Geneva supermarket. I’m at the checkout line. They are chatting loudly in line behind me. The one ready to pay holds a 500 Euro bank note. I couldn’t believe that such a heavy note existed and I exclaimed as much to her. She was really unfriendly. Lesson one:  The Swiss are fanatically private people, despite their nude hiking. When it comes to money, the Swiss keep their business to themselves.

Switzerland is neutral. So when I went hiking in the hills and mountains around Interlaken, I was not surprised to find the tell-tale signs and hallmarks of strategic defence built into the very mountains. Concrete objects jut out of the earth and the occasional air vent protrudes from a forest covered hillside. The Swiss have built massive bunkers into their terrain since, I think, the 1800’s.

I go on the train and I see Swiss teenagers dressed in military camo uniforms. But they’re sloppily turned out, even wearing an earring while in uniform, and get this, one carrying an assault rifle in his hand on the train. He sits down and listens to his ipod. Other Swiss teenagers get on the train, they are carrying machine guns too.

Geneva. Sunny, flowers in bloom, old altbau buildings four stories tall and narrow streets lined with compact cars. Grand lakeside hotels, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. It’s clean, it’s exclusive, yet here and there is a recurring theme: Tibetan flags draped out the windows of apartments. Clearly the Swiss have invited lots of Tibetans to settle in Switzerland.

One worker at my Interlaken hostel was a Tibetan. He drank beer and cussed about the Chinese. What did the guests make of this angry dwarf? I don’t know but he knew how to access the porn channel on the satellite TV. He’d sit in the common room feet up on the table fingering the remote and swilling back european beer. I’m envious of this guy. Sure he’d be on minimum wage, sure his whole family is missing, but he gets to live in Switzerland.

Have you got an amazing travel snap (jpeg format, s’il vous plait) and story you’d like to share on ‘Slide Night’? You don’t have to be a professional and it doesn’t have to be “exotic”. Just send it through to [email protected]

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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