Despite its xenophobic, anti-immigration campaign tactics, Switzerland's far-right Swiss People's Party, which took the largest share of votes four years ago in Swiss modern history, suffered losses in Sunday's parliamentary vote as voters chose more moderate parties over polarizing candidates.
It's been 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, and unification seems like old news. From a traveler's point of view, the business at hand seems to be to keep the economy going and visitors entertained. Things are changing in Switzerland as well. Germany's southern neighbor continues to impress me with the creative, constructive, and democratic ways it grapples with various challenges. Here are a few changes you'll encounter in both countries in 2010.
Swiss cities remind me of the kid at high school who's great at sports, has perfect hair, the best girlfriend, and the teachers all love him. He's just too perfect. Sometimes you just want to see him trip or get a pimple.
A far-right party recorded the biggest ever share of the vote for a political party in Switzerland's history on Monday, after a controversial campaign that blamed foreigners for much of the country's crime.
The sidewalk going up the Aare River is congested with wet and happy Swiss, hiking upstream in swimsuits just to float back into town. I join them -- marveling at how this exercise brings out the silly in a people who are generally the polar opposite of goofy.