Wednesday, 5 July 2017

More Questions

After our walk on the Rheingasse, I had more questions.

Why are there carvings of salmon on buildings?

So far as I could tell, this was someone's house...
with a salmon over the front door. I saw another in a
different part of town.

Salmon were once so plentiful in the Rhine that they were a symbol of the city. Sadly, as in many other places, including our own River Tyne, salmon disappeared because of industrial pollution. This fish had not been seen in the Rhine since 1958 and were absent for 50 years. Fortunately efforts at improving the water quality were successful and the first salmon was seen again in 2008. This is very similar to the story of the Tyne, once the best salmon fishing in England (so much so that some silly Georgian gentlemen duelled over riparian rights). They are definitely back after a lot of work on the part of the Environment Agency; I've seen them jumping myself!

Why is Swiss money abbreviated as CHF and their internet URLs end in CH, when "Switzerland" doesn't have any of these letters?

The F is for Francs and the CH is for Confoederatio Helvetica, or Helvetic Confederation, basically the Latin name for Switzerland (sort of like Hibernia for Ireland and Caledonia for Scotland). This post is typed in the font called Helvetica, in honour of this discovery.

Why is Switzerland so expensive?

I accidentally found this very interesting blog post when searching for answers to other whys in this post. The author is an American living in Switzerland. She explains that salaries are high and taxes relatively low there, but they have no universal health care, as do surrounding EU countries, and the cost of living is high. Also, tourists are prepared to pay over the top and so it is "what the market will bear" which is what I'd assumed from the start. One thing she describes is that Switzerland is an 'island' surrounded by EU members and that many companies will not ship goods into Switzerland. Scary thought for another 'island' about to leave the EU, eh?

Are snails important in Basel? 

I thought this was just a house, but given they have a 
dancing couple by their front door, perhaps it is a dinner club...
that serves snails. I didn't think to look at their menu.

Loads of folks have snapped photos of this painting but, other than being an obvious tourist thing (attraction seems too important a label), I've no idea about what red snails mean to ?Baselians? They are however featured in an art exhibit, so there must be something about them...

Zum rothen Schneck: to the Red Snail

And finally,

Isn't 'fledermäuse' just the cutest name ever for a bat?

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