$60 to Iron My Shirt?

Coming from France into Switzerland, there’s a clear contrast. France has a rough patina. Switzerland has paved over its patina with success. I had to remark as we entered Lausanne, our first big Swiss city, “There’s just too much money here.”

While the French are discreet with sex, the Swiss are discreet with money. There are actually unmarked banks — perfect for unmarked deposits. (People come from around the globe to store their black money in Swiss banks…happy to earn negative interest. They actually pay Switzerland to keep it for them — anonymously and with no questions asked.)

The tourist board put us up in one of the finest hotels in the world — the Lausanne Palace and Spa Hotel. When I notice “thread count” under the sheets, you know it’s really top quality. (Ironically, the place is so nice it actually cuts into our productivity.) There’s even an unmarked bank in the hotel.

At breakfast, I was surrounded by people speaking Russian and Arabic. I sat between an old woman talking Russian on a cell phone and a guy in a bowtie who looked like Paul Wolfowitz with nothing to do. Tearing off a bit of my warm-out-of-the-oven mini-croissant, I wondered if it’s worse to blow obscene amounts of money if you are from a poor country or a rich one. (If I were paying for my room, it would run $350.) Where did these people get their money? Cynically, I thought, “They didn’t earn it.”

Starting a new TV episode, I needed to change wardrobe. (It was good to get that Burgundy shirt off my back after five days.) I called room service. Asked if I could get two shirts and a pair of pants ironed. They said sure. Something deep inside screamed, “Ask the price.” I did. They said, “74 Swiss Francs.” I thought, “At $60, I’ll body iron them.” I then did a little laundry in the sink. Rather than succumb to the temptation to hang it on my balcony — with a view of Lake Geneva — I put my heated towel rack to good use. It dried in a jiffy.


10 Replies to “$60 to Iron My Shirt?”

  1. At a market in Switzerland, we heard some noise and saw a tour leader angrily waving his colored umbrella, hollering, in English, for people to get in the tour bus, right now, or he would leave them where they are. When we asked what the problem was, he said never again would he lead a tour group from New York City. The bus was late leaving, and several people were loitering in the market place, rather than getting on the bus.

    A young lady at Swiss Air had just returned from a vacation in the US. She really loved it, said the people were friendly and polite, and said that American drivers, especially in Southern California, were an agreeable, pleasant improvement over drivers in Europe.

    We talked to people at a couple of banks in Switzerland, and asked why we should have a Swiss bank account. What it boils down to, but is not said straight out, “If there is money to hide, hide it in a Swiss Bank.” Don’t we wish. That includes us out.

  2. Peter, even if Rick might be able to afford to pay the prices for the room and ironing, it would be obscene to do it. However, I love Switzerland and Lausanne area . . . I wish we could have spent more time in the area. The boat trip across Lake Geneva from Vevey to Lausanne was wonderful. At those prices, I now understand why Rick’s tours do not spend more time there.

  3. Rick, My friend and I will be traveling Switzerland in September. I think my friend and I will be on the other side of the tracks when it comes to hotels. But will enjoy just being in Switzerland. Thanks for the laundry tip.

  4. Icannot immagine wanting to visit a country that would not be honest about its side during the war (II) supports drug use openly and helps criminals hide their money if you have to hide it it is unlawful it may be beautiful to the eye but -words ezcape me.

  5. Margaret, Every country has its problems. You wouldn’t visit Switzerland? In this case, you wouldn’t visit any country in the world! USA first: death penalty, pollution (think Kyoto protocol), war for petrol and money, war crimes, weapon industry lobby everywhere, torture in jails, farmers shooting at Mexicans at the border, blackmailing young foreign people: “if you go to war, you’ll get an US passport”… should I go on? There’s a list like that for every country in the world (dictatorships, opressed minorities, mafia, racism, torture…), but curiously, some people only focuse on Swiss banks and Jews. You know, Swiss banks don’t only hide money for tyrants, but manage the money of normal Swiss people (=not rich, not nazi, not jodlers, and so on). People should go to Switzerland and see that it’s not only Gimmelwald and Nazi, but that it’s a lot more complex, diverse and very far from some stereotypes!

  6. My family &I went to Venice and the restaurant were more like a sleazy used car lot.1st my wife asked for white wine they gave her a glass 18 Euros she asked for mushroom pasta 25 Euros all other pastas were 7 Euros . They seated us in patio 5 Euros with stale bread.The meals generally where hi cost low quality I rather have hi quality. What saved me in Venice was pizza and the restaurant in Santa Lucia train station. A book on Italy should have a section on avoiding $100 dinner which are low grade and with the tinniest portions. After the first two days in Venice we were more careful.

  7. Just to clarify about Swiss banking: the Swiss have made great strides in recent years in line with world banking protocols to protect against money laundering and supporting criminals. It’s call KYC – know your customer – you can’t just walk into a Swiss bank anonymously anymore and deposit loads of money. They may still protect the money they do accept, however they are becoming less and less a banking safe haven. Look to Luxembourgh or the Caymans for those types of practices now.

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