Friday, 15 July 2011

Observing Syphilis in Zurich

In Liechtenstein's pretend capital city, Vaduz, I thought I'd been robbed when I bought a kebab for eight Swiss francs. I hadn't realised I'd scored myself a bargain. In Zurich they cost up to four hundred thousand pounds. Normally, wherever you are in the world, the kebab house is a safe bet if you want a cheap meal and can't be arsed to cook. In Switzerland, if you want a cheap meal and can't be arsed to cook then you just have to pretend you've already eaten. Even the bins are padlocked to prevent you from helping yourself to someone's mouldy old leftovers.

And it's not just restaurants. Supermarkets are so dear they have to display their prices in exponential notation. An entry level, scrawny chicken starts at about eight quid. The sort that would cost you three quid at home is more like twelve here. I thought I'd found some fish that compared favourably to Spain until I realised that its price was for 100 g rather than a kilogram. Yikes!

In the Co-op near our apartment the trolleys had a strange additional feature - a magnifying glass on the side. The Lovely Nina hadn't really looked too closely and had taken it to be a side mirror to allow safer navigation around the supermarket aisles. It's not such a silly idea. You can imagine the Swiss doing that, indicating to go into the Cheese section and then pulling out slowly. So why the magnifying glass? I reckon it was so I could see the piece of meat I could actually afford to buy. Or perhaps you could manoeuvre the glass over the top of your trolley and thereby convince yourself that you weren't going to starve to death this week.

Zurich's an odd place. Perhaps we caught them on a bad day but everyone seemed to lumber around like zombies, with no expression except a slight scowl. Signs of life were difficult to detect. I've since discovered that Zurich is twinned with Stepford.

But it's a pretty enough city, nestled on the shore of Lake Zurich, and it's got some interesting attractions. Yesterday we visited the Kunsthaus. That's the art gallery by the way, and not the Swiss parliament as you might have guessed. We had a pleasant afternoon examining its Picassos, van Goghs and Rodins and getting told off by the staff for various misdemeanours. Nina was in a playful mood. I should have known that taking along those felt tips was a bad idea.

More unusual was the Moulagenmuseum. This contains hundreds of wax recreations of hideously disfiguring diseases and skin conditions. Although it would appeal to those fascinated by the macabre, it's in a room at the medical university and is a genuine educational tool. Speaking of tools, it was heavy on syphilitic genitalia, great swollen penises and a particularly unattractive, oozing vagina that seemed to be developing its own collection of elephantiasised raspberries. This was powerful anti-porn. I now know how to diagnose various sexually transmitted diseases. Well, it's something for the CV, isn't it? By the time we emerged from the horror show we both felt pretty queasy. We didn't mind in the slightest. Neither of us felt like eating. At least that solved the problem of the supermarket prices for a while.

1 comment:

  1. "Yesterday we visited the Kunsthaus. That's the art gallery by the way, and not the Swiss parliament as you might have guessed." Hahahahahah :)