Open-ended stories


The flag of Lusitania

Portuguese football fans at the Xamax Stadium in Neuchâtel

Xamax Stadium, Neuchâtel

immigrant |noun| a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence

Ms. Merriam-Webster looks like a hastily rolled sleeping bag – in paisley print. I suspect her dress may actually be made from a recycled sleeping bag on account of the crisp whooshing sounds it makes as it crosses the meeting room. Her tiny feet scuttling beneath it. As my trusty online dictionary (, Ms. Merriam-Webster has been the unofficial patron of this blog with all of its rediscovered definitions. Enormous round eye-glasses keep sliding down her nose as if ski season it were. An attached gold chain stands guard for their final plummet, which never quite happens. A stodgy finger pushes them back up their slope where they hover over her single-stitch eyes – too tiny to hold any palpable expression, although I’m fairly certain the wrinkles around them show the intent of a smile. The hyphenated name may have been the result of circumstance, but the yellowed ivory pipe (chipped though it is on the rim) is all pomp. It protrudes from her pursed lips like a fountain spout – lifting smoke instead of dropping water. The turning of a collapsible silver ashtray in her hands tells me the ritual is about to begin.

Who knew websites could pour themselves into bodies at whim like that? They need only be sick of their 2-dimensional existence. (Perhaps it’s the reverse process shown here: when I pour my 3-dimensional existence into the flat expanding blogosphere.) Some websites translate beautifully into a carnal form. (I hope this very blog will be one of them should it be bestowed the good fortune of publication.) For Ms. Merriam-Webster, the result is distractingly quirky. But should I proceed with caution? Perhaps this is a carefully tailored strategy to lure me from the seriousness of my pursuit. Abroad I have been many things: a diplomat’s daughter, a radio intern, a volunteer with an African-based project, an Erasmus student, an employee on a one-year stint, but now I am looking for a status beyond all that.

“You are looking for a word, are you?”
“Yes, Ms. Webster. I was thinking of the word ‘immigrant’.”
“Very well. That is a very important word. State your case.” Puff, puff, puff.
“As you know, I’m Portuguese.”
“A native or inhabitant of the Republic of Portugal.”
I wonder if she’s going to keep doing that: defining everything as I go.
“Yes. The country. It’s going through a period of economic turmoil just now. Bailout targets and what not. And I’m at a bit of a crossroads in my career.”
“Now, do you mean the place of intersection of two or more roads or a crucial point especially where a decision must be made?”
“The figurative sense.”
“I see – proceed.”
“Like my forefathers before me, I could do with more opportunity and immigration is on my mind.”
She lets out a chuckle and a cloud of smoke. “‘Forefathers’ – such a splendid word! Expressive and a delight to enunciate. Like a feather across the lips.”
I’m silent just long enough to wonder if she is listening to anything I say.
“As you know, the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s saw a wave of so-called less skilled immigration from the interior of Portugal to countries like France, the U.S., Canada and then Germany and Switzerland. Now, there’s a growing wave of qualified young urbanites to places like Brazil, Angola, Mozambique. I’ve been away from the motherland for 2 years already and I’d like official recognition, if that’s all right.” I very cautiously spell out, “But I need you to say the word.”
“The word?”
“Not so fast. ” She taps the contents of the spent pipe into the ashtray and begins re-stuffing it. “An immigrant is one who comes to a country to take-up permanent residence. It seems to me your previous two years lack the essential quality of permanence.”
Now I am the one puff, puff, puffing.
“London,” she says, “always had a finish line, as did Leicester, Milan and Neuchâtel. You were in fact not an immigrant in any of these places.”
“Than what have I been for the last two years? What am I now?”
Puff. “In limbo.” Puff, puff.

Historical portrait of immigration

A historical portrait of immigration

The modern face of Portuguese immigration - a protest in Lisbon.

The modern face of Portuguese immigration.

Roughly 3% of the general population and 12% of the foreign population in Switzerland is Portuguese, making it the third largest immigrant community in the country. But I don’t need the Swiss Federal Statistical Office to tell me that. A stroll around Neuchâtel suffices. My mother tongue, peppered with heavy regional accents, can be heard all over town. Actually, this blissful sound has met my ears on most of the Swiss excursions I’ve shared on this blog – from Geneva to Interlaken to Gruyères.

But being a Portuguese immigrant in this country is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Yes, supermarkets, cleaning companies and repair shops are full of my countrymen. But so are more qualified positions. My brother, for instance, is Portuguese by birth, Swiss banker by trade. The local coordinator of Luis’ FIFA Master is a smart dynamic young compatriot who has lived in Switzerland all his life. And Luis has not had much trouble meeting Portuguese immigrants behind desks at sports federations like FIFA, UEFA and the IOC.

My forays into Swissdom have been interspersed with all manner of Lusitanian symbols: a Sagres beer Mini Cooper on the highway, stacks of Sumol soda at the Coop supermarket, Portuguese flags paired with Benfica symbols like salt and pepper. Unfortunately, I was well aware even before arriving here that the local f-word tended to be ‘foreigner’, rather than the usual ‘forced unlawful carnal knowledge’. The latter expletive, however, would have been an uncouth but forgivable reaction to a 2012 interview with the coordinator of the Swiss Forum for the Study of Migration at Neuchâtel University (an Italian immigrant herself) when she said of the Portuguese community that “they are people who generally do not make many demands and who know their place.”(1). And what place is that, might I ask?

Thankfully and so far, my personal experience with the Swiss regarding my nationality has been far more pleasant. It’s online that I’ve found the doozies at the root of the country’s bad reputation (Helvetia Out of Order). So although it is obvious to most of us, the Swiss apparently need to be reminded that ‘immigrant’ is not a four-letter word.

The FIFA Masterees followed in the footsteps of previous editions by making the sports pub Café du Cerf their local watering hole (even though only a minority of the class ever learned to pronounce the name correctly). On a particularly busy night, there was a bit of tension with a neighboring table of university guys over an issue as trivial as chairs. One of them heard Luis’ holler to me in Portuguese from across the bar and said to his friend in very audible French “Did you hear? She’s Portuguese.” Had this guy seriously just slung a pejorative gibe at me? Despite my irritation, I just wanted to let it go. But days later the incident was still re-playing itself in my mind. Weeks later, Luis and I were back at Café du Cerf watching Benfica play Fenerbahçe in the Europa League semi-final. With Luis’ bright red Benfica jersey, there was no doubt who we were rooting for. And then the two boys from the chair incident came in. They eyed us and sat down at another table watching the game. Given the match and our geographic location, certain letters began to line-up in my head: m-e-a-c-u-l-p-a. These guys hadn’t been discriminating against the Portuguese. They were Portuguese. I’d inadvertently proven the maxim that prejudices are rarely one-sided. Although utterly useless in my hands, I’ve seen Benfica used umpty times as a conversation starter to great effect. Soon enough, there we were: the four of us around a table talking about how these guys had been born in Switzerland, had always lived here, but did not have citizenship. And yet how they felt out of place in Portugal where their thickly accented but grammatically correct Portuguese marked them instantly as immigrants. Ironically, they were in limbo – just like me.

Benfica 2013 pre-season. Friendly in Lausanne, Switzerland. (Love the walk-like-an-Egyptian style.)

Benfica 2013 pre-season: friendly in Lausanne, Switzerland. Walk-like-an-Egyptian style.

Benfica ended-up being the gateway to many of our interactions with the local Portuguese community. Ah, sport and its unifying abilities! It was because of the last match of the national championship (in which Benfica was a contender for the title) that we ended up having dinner at a Portuguese restaurant in Interlaken, during the hiking trip I wrote about a few months back (The Air Up There). It was definitely rowdier than I’m used to, but welcoming and heart-filling. During these last days in Neuchâtel, a Spanish FIFA Master alumni remembered Luis was a diehard fan and invited us to the Benfica-Bordeaux friendly in Nyon. My football attention span has always been short, but I was utterly hopeless that day. And who could blame me. The people-watching was prime: Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author meets the grassroots of football. The beer-bellied, raucous, occasionally toothless caricatures, decked from head to toe in Benfica paraphernalia, were just begging to be given a character to pour themselves into. Perhaps they’ll end-up peaking through the lines of a future story like a nosy neighbor peering from behind the blinds.


Luis receiving his diploma from Denis Oswald, Chairman of the FIFA Master

The graduating class of the 13th Edition of the FIFA Master at the Château of Neuchâtel

The graduating class of the 13th Edition of the FIFA Master at the Château of Neuchâtel

And then faster than anyone could have imagined, the FIFA Master graduation came round. And with it, the end of this year’s adventure. If for Luis it has been about the first steps in a new career, for me it has been about stories: writing them, reading them and listening to them. When you spend a large hunk of time with the same group of people, you sometimes get the privilege of hearing their stories. Nothing more personal can be given. And if you’re lucky, as time goes by, the stories are pulled out from deeper within their life. When an exchange like that takes place, a bridge is built that is not easily burned. It can be re-visited even further on and I hope to find these people there someday. As for me, some of my own stories have been shared here in this blog. If you have taken them in, we too have built a bridge that I hope you will revisit.

As for graduation celebrations, we ended-up by the lake watching the night fade into a new day. The last revelers said their goodbyes and were off for a few hours of sleep before catching planes, trains and automobiles. Alone with Luis (and Botox), we looked up to find an enormous red disc making its way up into the sky. I’d never seen a sunrise quite like it and felt comforted by the beauty of the world. It felt like a gift.

For a few days, we’ll road trip across Europe again. It’ll give us time to make the interior transition that comes with the physical one. As readers, we’ve all experienced the irritation of an open-ended story. Some consider it poor writing, but I hope I’ll be forgiven for it. Luis’ and my next port of call is still coming into focus, which means I cannot give you a clear ending to the story that began last September (My personal lexicon). We must be patient. It is an ending that will also be a birth of something new and the time for that birth has not come yet. It’s ironic that I basically have the same questions now as when I began this blog (is writing my vocation? where will this take me? can this be a passion and a career?). But there is no failure or frustration in that. The difference from the beginning to the end is the stories throughout. And, going back to Robert Frost from my first post back in September, that has made all the difference.




Time is of the essence

Given that I’m working on my first book, I went to La-Chaux-de-Fonds to visit Le Corbusier’s first commissioned project: La Maison Blanche. This small town lost in the Jura mountains is a Unesco World Heritage site and the belly button of the haute watchmaking industry. But don’t be deceived – it is one warty witch. As I tried to make sense of its grey monotonous streets, I happened to stumble upon the watch lover’s equivalent of Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house. The fact it is called the “International Clock-making Museum” was merely the witch’s ploy to lure me inside, as if a gumdrop it were. And like so many fairy tales, this blog post is going to get much worse, before it gets any better. (But don’t worry, there’s a prince and a steed – well, a dog – and all ends well.)

Entrance to the International Watchmaking Museum

Entrance to the International Watchmaking Museum

Inside the museum - tick, tick, tick

Inside the museum – tick, tick, tick

Ducking under the museum’s macabre concrete threshold (whose ominous feeling was only reinforced by the epithet “Man and Time” scrawled overhead), I came into a foreseeably uneventful space with row upon row of sleek spot lit display cases. But as I made my way deeper inside, my gut began to register the irregularity of hundreds – no, thousands – of measured beats hopelessly out of sync with each other. Jeweled clocks, mantel clocks, cuckoo clocks. Wrist watches, ring watches, pocket watches. Gold, wood, diamonds. Antique, vintage, technological advancements. Pendulums, batteries, celestial forces. The swelling cacophony became an army of Time’s mercenaries marching in my solitary, mortal direction. The witch cackled and only Edgar Allen Poe came to my aid – raving uselessly, as he tends to do, at the raven:

“There came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.” (The Tell-Tale Heart)

Edgar Allen Poe in a chipper mood.

Edgar Allen Poe in a chipper mood.

Thankfully, to our ears, people’s hearts still tick in the relative silence of their caged chests. If we heard their hearts beating as if hung around their necks, we might gain a nervous twitch or two ourselves. Our thoughts might more easily slip into disconcerting fears of the silence that would inevitably follow that tick, tick, ticking. Unfortunately for me, such thoughts were already upon me – gripping like altitude sickness. Here I was knee deep in unwelcome reflections about time’s unrelenting sweep over the days we call our lives, when C.S. Lewis popped out of a grandfather clock to say “the future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whomever he is.” So, really, this museum showcased nothing more than memento mori – reminders that, no matter how rich, how elaborate, how ingenious the tools of measurement, time expires for us all. Measurement controls nothing. And ironically enough, hadn’t most of these timepieces outlived their makers? Merry thoughts, indeed! At least Dr. Seuss was a little more playful about it: “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon.”

Pink Tufted Creature by Dr. Seuss

Pink Tufted Creature by Dr. Seuss

Back in pretty Neuchâtel, I began to make my way back up this spiral of God-less thinking, when my wedding anniversary came round. Isn’t an anniversary of any kind just another way of keeping time? And yet it filled me with happiness, not angst. The fundamental difference was that in this particular instrument of measurement I found a perhaps more obvious opportunity to reflect on what has been given and that, I’m glad to say, has been quite a lot.

Me and Luis on one of our many hikes.

Me and Luis on one of our many hikes.


I’ve gushed about Luis unabashedly throughout this blog. He’s a wonderful man and we’ve been married for 7 years. If there was a script to married life, we lost it early on and have been improvising ever since. But this has its advantages – nothing is done automatically and you’re more open to unexpected detours, that turn into new paths, that turn into new destinations. Our 7 year marriage certainly doesn’t look like most people’s 7 year marriage: we’ve moved house far too often, we both leapt away from promising careers to do something that felt truer to heart and our family is a strong but small number of two. (There is also, of course, our unwieldy pooch, cranky perhaps at having covered so many miles this year.)

We’ve had our fair share of hardships, let there be no doubt. But I thank God for those too. They’ve only served to make us go deeper into the reasons why we do things, the reasons we’re better together. That’s made our bond stronger. And – crazy or not – I can’t shake the feeling these trials are all just a reminder that we’re special. God for us did not want an ordinary life and adversity grows in the same soil as uniqueness. To that, Time is but a witness. There are things even it can’t dent.

Architecture Heals

heal |verb| become sound or healthy again

 If God made Eve from the rib of Adam, He made the Portuguese from the rib of the Atlantic. Our roaring ocean gives the coastline a dramatic beauty that has made us a country of adventurers, poets and Biblical fishers. But you must constantly reign in your love for all that aquatic splendor. As our poet Sophia de Mello Breyner once wrote “as beautiful as each thing is / it holds within a suspended monster” (“Ocean Floor”).

Guincho Beach near Lisbon, Portugal. (Guincho in Portuguese actually means screech.)

Guincho Beach near Lisbon, Portugal. (Guincho in Portuguese actually means screech.)

Through osmosis, we quickly learn the key to survival in agitated waters: deep fight. When a wave comes and is too much, resist the urge of flight. This will only result in the tough tumble of a wave breaking heavily on your back. You’ve got to face it. Go deep. Dive as low into it as you can. Stretched underwater, you’ll feel its shape roll over your body like a triangular wheel as it curls into itself. When you come up, it’ll be behind you. If another wave comes on its tail, dive again. A set of big waves is always followed by a set of small ones. When the small ones come, you can leave. Until then, dive, dive deep.

During my years of law school, there was a constant trickle of Italians coming to Lisbon for a year of architectural studies, something our country is renowned for. We may not have an economy able to buoy lots of major architectural projects (like Switzerland does), but out of the 36 Pritzker Prize winners (the Oscars of architecture), 2 are Portuguese: Alvaro Siza in 1992 and Eduardo Souto de Moura in 2011. On their tails is a whole generation of high-quality contemporary architects. Not bad for a tiny county of 10 million. Back in college, while I’d drag around my massive compendiums of laws, the Italians would slave over their glycerin soap maquettes. They were used to a tamer beast than the Atlantic, so we would teach them about waves. And with them, I learned to look at architecture for the first time. To look with eyes that see.

In 2003, I did my own year abroad in Milan. My father had just passed away and it felt like an unending sequence of massive waves – too close and too many. In the fight or flight dichotomy, diving deep was clearly the task at hand, but I needed a minute to catch my breath and no one seemed to know where the pause button was. Then some friends invited me on a road trip to the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, Switzerland. I discovered there that architecture can heal.

Renzo Piano's Beyeler Foundation near Basel.

Renzo Piano’s Beyeler Foundation near Basel.

The Beyeler Foundation is an art gallery designed by the blue-eyed Renzo Piano. A decade down the road, I have a mental snapshot of the red stone facade baking in the expanding light. A whimsical lime green basin at its feet, tapping on the window just beyond which hung Monet’s enormous Water-lily Pond. It was all so serene. My lungs were filled with air at last – the relief I had so desperately sought. I was back there recently, amidst this very happy phase in my life, and yet the effect was the same. The Beyeler’s beauty was not a fluke – it was objective.

Architecture is not just a backdrop to our buzzing bustle. It has the power to uplift or oppress the human heart fueling all that activity. Most of the time it falls somewhere in the middle in the large neutral demilitarized zone of routine. But occasionally it succeeds at addressing us at the level of our deepest desires – our thirst for beauty, love, belonging, justice. At those moments, that immovable building can move us, an amazing thing indeed.

Zentrum Paul Klee (Renzo Piano) on the outskirts of Bern.

Zentrum Paul Klee (Renzo Piano) on the outskirts of Bern.

A few weeks ago, I visited a very different Renzo Piano museum on the outskirts of Bern: the Zentrum Paul Klee, dedicated to the namesake Swiss artist. Fit into a curvy landscape is a playful squiggly iron facade. You can Google it all you want, but actually experiencing it will awaken even the most dormant of us. I’m no technical expert in architecture – just a sensitive inhabitant – and am always uncertain about a building until I’ve been inside. Under the curves of the ZPK, I felt just disoriented enough to go through the gallery spaces in subtle tension: uncertain of how the space was going to satisfy my needs as a museum-goer, but trusting it would. A sense of direction begins to form only when you let go of pre-conceived notions of how such a space should behave and let it speak to you in its own language. As you become open to its innovative dynamic, you slip into a fresh state of mind. Automatic reactions abandoned. What better state of mind to engage with Paul Klee’s artwork, no?

If – like the ZPK – some buildings are designed to place the inhabitant in a positive state for the activity to be undertaken there, others have the opposite effect. Some are so self-absorbed that anything else taking place in their vicinity feels like an afterthought. I call these diva building. Although I recognize their often innovative value, they wear me out if I have to deal with them for too long. I much prefer a more discreet approach. Luckily, the Vitra Campus provides a little of both and they compliment each other like salt and pepper.

Vitra is a Swiss design powerhouse owned by the Fehlbaum family. Known as the Vitra Campus, it’s factory/ warehouse/ design museum/ showroom in Weil am Rhein, Germany is an excellent example of how the Swiss not only have stellar architects, they also commission stellar architecture. This architectural fairground was born out of an unpredictable combination of circumstances: a fire, a visionary new Chairman and lots of financial clout. The original factory was razed by a fire in the early 80’s, with insurance coverage for halted production of only 6 months. Instead of a bland re-construction, Vitra’s Chairman Rolf Fehlbaum commissioned the well-known British architect Nicholas Grimshaw to build 2 new innovative factory buildings. The only hitch was that the factories had to be up and running when the coverage expired. Despite the impossible deadline, they pulled it off and, with it, the first starchitect buildings were in place at the Vitra Campus.

Frank Gehry's Vitra Design Museum on the left with his factory building on the right.

Frank Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum on the left with his factory building on the right.

For someone who is presently trying her hand at a new career, Fehlbaum’s story is pretty inspiring. He toyed with other professional paths and only really committed to the family company when he was 36. But his vision made up for lost time. Having built-up one of the most complete chair collections in the world (“had me at hello” anyone?), Fehlbaum wanted Frank Gehry to build him a new gallery for it. Since this was to be Gehry’s first European commission, he needed a bigger carrot, so Fehlbaum upped the ante with a new factory and entrance building to seal the deal. Fehlbaum has an eye for talent. It’s no coincidence he was a member of the Pritzker jury for 6 years and that 6 out of the 7 burgeoning architects he commissioned to build on the Vitra site later became award winners in their own right. Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum, as it is now called, is all white rowdy volumes – way too distracting for a museum, in my opinion. It juxtaposes quite sharply (pun intended) with its neighboring buildings, but that’s surely not a coincidence. Although each building on the campus is it’s own, it’s also inevitably a reaction to those that surrond it.

Tadao Ando's Conference Pavillion

Tadao Ando’s Conference Pavillion

SANAA's playful factory facade.

SANAA’s playful factory facade.

One such construction is the Japanese Tadao Ando’s concrete conference pavilion – also his first European commission. Fehlbaum had the initially reticent Ando flown in when the cherry blossoms existent on the site were in full bloom, knowing that these trees have a magnetic appeal in Japanese culture. Ando not only agreed to the project, he built a powerfully discreet conference center positioned so that no trees had to be cut down to accommodate it. Gehry, on the other hand, had all of the cherry trees in the vicinity of his museum cut down so they wouldn’t clutter its facade. He was also none too happy when Ando designed a long narrow pathway leading up to the conference center that ran across the length of Gehry’s building.  This pathway is narrow and oblique with a purpose – it is intended to prepare those heading to meetings by inviting reflection. I watched a passing group as they walked its length and, in effect, their conversations were broken-up. Of course, most of the people walking through here are probably German or Swiss. Us Southern Europeans would probably just walk all over the grass.  As for the other building of Japanese design, the newly opened SANAA factory is sleek and playful with its shiny white curtain-mimicking façade and oval shape. A pleasure to walk by.

The inside of Zaha Hadid's Fire Station (top floor).

The inside of Zaha Hadid’s Fire Station (top floor).

For all its shortcomings, Gehry’s gallery is certainly not more of a diva building than Zaha Hadid’s infamous fire station. I’d heard the stories of the firemen protesting about the open plan bathrooms and impossibly slanted walls, but only when I tried it out for size myself did I give them the credit they were due. I felt lastingly dizzy. Every wall is tilted in some odd direction. I wondered why the bathroom’s paper dispenser had caught my eye so. Then I realized that it was the only thing with right angles in the entire construction. Hadid deserves all of the recognition she has received. She is an incredible innovator and her designs are beautiful, but the Vitra Fire Station – her first commissioned work (despite all the recognition given to her designs) – is totally unfit for purpose. How can you fight fires when you feel sea-sick? Thank God it is no longer a functioning station. My guide at the campus confessed she’d once run into Zaha Hadid at an ArtBasel conference and asked her if she knew people got dizzy inside the building. Apparently, her response was a terse “they’ll get used to it”.

Alvaro Siza's red brick factory building to the right, with its white walkway revealing Hadid's fire station at the end of the road.

Alvaro Siza’s red brick factory building to the right, with its white walkway revealing Hadid’s fire station at the end of the road.

Before you get to Hadid’s building, you have to walk past my compatriot’s warehouse. Alvaro Siza’s construction with its red brick façade is incredibly understated. So much so that Siza has been accused by some of missing an opportunity to shine. Instead, the architect wanted to mark a discreet presence in an already visually noisy campus. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go inside, but you can see it’s very sophisticated in the details. It requires, however, an unrushed engagement to be fully appreciated – something like getting a conversation started with a wise, but grumpy old man. The only attention-calling element in Siza’s design is the white iron walkway that connects his building to Grimshaw’s aross the road. It’s oddly elevated and has a complex mechanism to bring it down on days of rain when it is actually needed. The reason for this becomes apparent only upon close inspection – if the Portuguese architect had put this walkway cover at a normal height, he would have totally blocked the view to Hadid’s Fire Station. A telling detail of an inconspicuous design.

Herzog & de Meuron's VitraHaus

Herzog & de Meuron’s VitraHaus

In between these larger constructions, you’ll also find tiny design delights such a Jean Prouvé’s gas station, Buckminster Fuller’s dome and Renzo Piano’s one man hut called Diogene. But the building that most takes my fancy is Herzog & de Meuron’s VitraHaus. It looks like an utterly confusing mound of sliced black houses and is thankfully set a bit further apart from the remaining buildings just so you can take it in. This showroom for Vitra’s products is clearly anything but quite, but unlike Gehry’s and Hadid’s constructions, its agitated playfulness is completely fitting to its purpose. The shapes and light frames found within set-off Vitra’s products in an intimate yet fanciful way. The slightly odd workings of the building within make you feel like you’re inside a treasure trove. Sounds good for business if you ask me.

But for all my architectural ranting and raving, nothing can substitute your own experience of walking in, over and around these buildings. And thank God for that. I wouldn’t want to detract from anyone else’s exchange with them. Perhaps one day you’ll need some uplifting and, if nothing else, I’ve given you somewhere to go in this corner of Switzerland. Looking up and around you can fill your lungs with air. And that can be life saving.

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