December 15 2016
I don’t recall a time in my life when I was quiet as cold as I happened to be while in Zürich, Switzerland. Toes frozen, fingers numb, and laughter bubbling from my lips as I jogged in place trying to stay warm. Twenty-three degrees or below most nights and only a few above that during the daylight hours. Which were short anyways when that far north. And while the temperatures were low, the prices of food and goods were not.
Oh, Zürich. Oh, Switzerland. I was both amazed and in awe of its beauty, crystal clear nights with the stars hanging low and bright. The festivity of the Christmas markets and the dazzle of the lights. The hot mulled wine sweet and bitter with spices, the babble of voices and crowds packed together for, I assume, warmth. There is something magical about Zürich that I can’t quiet put my finger on, but it was there. It glittered in the far-reaching waters of the lake, the Alps swathed in mist for most of the day.
Four short days, a disaster of sorts, and pictures that still don’t do it justice. Add to that the long list of interesting people I always am lucky enough to stumble into, and I would call the trip a success.
I met a woman from Utah on the plane. We talked. She was lovely. I met fellow Americans journeying from California that had been backpacking across Europe for almost three months. They were about ten days from the completion of their journey and excellent company over a beer in one of the oldest taverns in town. Also made the acquaintance of an Aussie with his home-base in London who traveled to a different country each weekend. I met a gentleman from Barcelona that worked for Hershey and a cruise line and had just returned from Singapore, showing me pictures of the gardens and sunset while our own sun rose out over the Alps, blistering hot orange and red. I was like a child, pouring over his photos and snapping a few hundred of my own of the view outside my window.
The Christmas markets were charming. The shopping around Zürich even better (achem, and horribly beyond my price-range.) The entire town is connected by buses, trams, and a train, making it easy to travel the large layers of the city. The lake is also transportable by boat, which comes and rotates around the lake and its many smaller cities on an hourly basis.
We took two days of soaking in the charms, a tour of the city, and meeting interesting folk. Saturday night we pulled an all-nighter in hopes of saving money on an AirBnB because we had such an early flight. And here we go with the disastrous part.
There is something about trains and I that just don’t get along. I’ve never had bad luck with buses or planes or cars or bikes, even my own two feet very rarely cause me issue. But put me in the path of a train and I’m toast. It was my own fault though. The sands of the Mediterranean and the warmth of 60 degrees lulled us into false security and we thought giving ourselves forty minutes to get to the train station would be enough. Worse yet, we missed it by a minute. Literally a minute. Bye-bye train bound for home and a relaxing, much needed nap.
All the other remaining trains were full, including any that would get us even close to our destination. Hello bus who never lets me down. We were able to book a bus home at 7:30 PM with arrival in Calahorra at 2 AM. Yep, not the same as a three-hour train ride, especially functioning on no sleep… but alas, we did make it home.
I should cease to be surprised when bad luck befalls me, but I am convinced trains and I are not a pair.