Switzerland. Swiss Army Knives. The Swiss Guard. Serious Military Defenses. Our Basement? Switzerland’s commitment to neutrality, their position between historic enemies of France and Germany, and the meticulous, rule oriented, precise Swiss nature mean that our basement is a bomb shelter.
All Swiss residential buildings have bomb shelters in underground. Until Swiss law changed at the end of 2012, all inhabitants were required to have access to shelter space. Given the Swiss focus on quality, these are serious, heavy-duty bunkers.
Our apartment is in a building that predates the mandatory bomb shelter law, so our basement’s shelter is on the rustic side. Newer buildings contain way more impressive looking shelters. Ours looks as though it is where the vampires from True Blood sleep during the day. The first time he went down there, he did it alone, at dusk, after a True Blood marathon.
You see heavy, vault-like doors on public parking structures. They serve as public shelters. The parking structures have thick concrete walls. In theory, the shelters have air filters inside to provide fresh air in case of nuclear, biological, or chemical attack. I am unsure if the age of our building exempts us, but there aren’t any signs of air filters in our building. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any supplies down there either.
To get into our “bomb shelter”, you enter through an old wood door. It doesn’t look as high-tech or safe as the door above, but hopefully we won’t have to put it to the test. You descend an old, windy staircase, past bricked over doors down into the basement.
You can’t exit through this door
It is so narrow and steep that the wall warns “stopping is prohibited, serious risk”.
The basement, ahem, sorry, the bomb shelter is partitioned into sections for each apartment using wood slats. Each partition is approximately the size of a twin bed (give or take a couple of inches).
Some people hide their belongings from view
In French, basement translates to “cave.” It feels a little funny to say I’m going to the cave. Who am I, Batman? While our cave is filled with extra suitcases, beat-up sports equipment and camping gear, many people here use theirs as a wine cellar. A German friend uses his to store cases of German beer.
Our key… I’m serious, this is it.