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Switzerland & Austria:
Life and Culture

Cow Contests

Swiss Cow Fights
There's no Waltz of the Toreadors in Switzerland's Valais region, but bovine battles for the title of 'Queen cow' offer a bloodless, crowd-pleasing alternative to bullfights.

Languages

Allegra! (Introduction to Romansh)
Switzerland's fourth language, based on "the people's Latin," is spoken by only 48,000 people--but they live in some of the country's most famous resorts.

Schwyzertüütsch
Q: When a Swiss farmer shouts "Grüezi" or "Tschau Zäme" from his BMW, how should you respond? A: In dialect, if you've memorized our list of Swiss-German phrases.

Pimsleur Swiss German Language Course
Now there's an audiocassette Schwyzertüüsch course for travelers whose native language is English. (Article includes a link to a free sample lesson in RealAudio.)

Institutions

The Swiss Army
Switzerland hasn't been to war in 500 years, but its citizens aren't taking any chances.

Music

Alphorns
In Switzerland, it's okay to blow your own horn--provided it's 10 to 12 feet long and made of spruce with a hardwood mouthpiece.

Zürich's Street Parade
Since its modest beginnings in 1992, this annual summer event has grown into a parade with 30 music floats that entertain 400,000 to 500,000 house and techno music fans.

Yodeling
Yodeling is to Switzerland and Austria what the Beach Boys are to Southern California, or what hog calling is to the Ozarks. Listen to "the language of the mountains" (or even learn how to yodel) before you leave home.

"Best of the Web"
- Forbes and The Washington Post



Photo (c) iStockphoto.com/Robin Ahle

Need a car in Europe?
If you live outside the EU, a tax-free Renault or Peugeot tourist lease can be cheaper than renting. Minimum driver age is 18, there' s no upper age limit, and rates include insurance.

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Traveling by train?
Get free schedules, maps, and guides for 50+ European railroads. (Residents of North and Central America can buy tickets and rail passes online.)

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