Switzerland is a country of outstanding natural beauty. That much is agreed on by pretty much everyone who has ever been (t)here. Holiday brochures, picture postcards, tourist websites are drowned in swathes of fantastically-fairy-tale castles and cute little villages against a backdrop of semi-surreal snow-capped mountains. And it’s not airbrushing. It really does look like that. It’s very clean, very maintained, very
I have countless pictures sitting in my hard drive of amazingly ornate buildings, quaint windows and beautifully painted eaves. They all merge into one after a while.
So my aim, from now on, is to find the unseen parts of towns and cities, the rough-around-the-edges places that haven’t been searched out and fumigated by the long arm of the public sanitisation department of the Swiss government (I might just be exaggerating for effect at this stage…)
I’m a practised city crawler. Left on my own in a city, I shy away from the big tourist spots and look for the back streets and alleys and little nooks, where there are odd juxtapositions of old and new, scoured and graffitied, kempt and unkempt (if unkempt is a word, kempt must be too!) You don’t usually have to go too far from the main streets either, just go down that (diagon)alley that everyone else, with their minds set on the coffeeshop or the office, walks past without seeing. There you will find the places where the stifling perfection ends, the smell of weed cuts astringently across the clean air; and wild, beautiful, unrestrained life, (human and other,) seeps through the cracks that the authorities can’t be bothered to mend.
Another tip (that my mother gave me) is to look up. Some of the most interesting architecture to be found in cities is well above our eye-level. Having worked in a shop on the first floor of a building overlooking the main street of a town centre for a number of years, I’ve become more aware of the largely unseen overbelly (underbelly, overbelly) of urban life.
Anyway, enough of the prattle. More of the pictures.
We went the back way into Aarau recently. It’s a little town, rather pretty, very much like any other town in Switzerland. The back way is far more interesting. Here they are in album form, which will be updated with other cities and towns, as time goes by.
A complex of old halls which are used by people from all sorts of backgrounds for all sorts of things. They are to be knocked down for a new football stadium soon.
I love the skyline of a city from someone’s imagination, seen over a skip.
Industrial age, railway architecture attracts me, oddly.
Brand new shiny Audis, as viewed through a rusted gate.
Well where else would you put a scrapped smart car?
Someone has reclaimed part of this dumping site for a herb garden. The plastic on the right is the wall of an improvised greenhouse. Unfortunately it looks as though it hasn’t been touched for a long time.