ZURICH -Swiss time wasted: A journey of irony and time

Celebrating Swiss patriotism
Celebrating Swiss patriotism

Writing about Zurich has been a weird struggle.
Anytime I try to write , I have flashbacks. Not very good ones.
I couldn’t do 2 of the interviews I was hoping to do in Zurich for my book and I felt like a failure.
Oh! and it doesn’t help that I have lost my draft for this post twice.
But I have made a commitment to keep you updated, so here is to another try. Cheers!

Zurich is beautiful and very , very expensive. If there is anything you can get for free ,is the many fountains dotted across town. It’s nice to drink from them and even nicer to watch other people do.Thought I should clear that up for anyone who is yet to visit.

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Now , until a few days ago I have always thought it was a waste of time going to Zurich.
A waste of MY time in a lot of ways especially as there were other cities on my bucketlist , that I didn’t get to see on this trip.
Note, I said MY TIME, not the legendary “Swiss time” so no Swiss should be offended. It had nothing to do with you and given the opportunity , I will love to see it again with other bits of Switzerland too. I was pretty impressed with how patriotic the Swiss are with all the Swiss flags at almost every turn.

It was one of those spur of the moment decisions I made when I was planning my trip back in Ghana. One minute it was on the list another minute it was out. In the end I sacrificed Austria , possibly Portugal and Barcelona for Switzerland.
I took up the offer to be a one-off photographer for a friend who was going to be in the city for a few days in exchange for her nice hotel bed to sleep in as well as discover the city together. The bed I got, the rest didn’t happen for a number of reasons.
I also had the chance to meet up with my other friend Samuel for the first time after talking online for nearly a year , if he was free to meet. He in the end become my photographer and tour guide . What an irony, considering there was very slim and almost no chance of us meeting.
Because of my missed train and bus connections to and from Antwerp(check previous blogpost) I could only stay for a day instead of three. This I was happy about actually.

I will agree with whoever said it’s not about the destination , but the journey. I found that to be true especially with my trip to and from Zurich.
On my way to Zurich from Antwerp , I sat next to an older woman who asked where I was from.I thought I was smart to guess hers and said Ethiopia. She wasn’t amused. She was Eritrean. 🙂 I now understood why she wasn’t seating next to her family , (4 of them on the bus) She just won’t stop talking. Even worse I didn’t understand anything she said.She will throw in one English word every now and again for effect. Luckily there was wifi on the bus and I had my iPad to read stuff on , but it was hard!

Our bus was stopped at the Swiss border. Passports were checked and for nearly 40minutes no one could get out to even go to the toilet as sniffer dogs were sniffing for what they sniff for. My bus was coming from Amsterdam, through Antwerp to Zurich. Any clues?
At last breakthrough! They found a suspect. A strange looking ,but unassuming young man in his mid 20’s dressed like a 60’s rockstar. He was asked to come along with the police and open up his guitar. After waiting for what seemed like forever, he was allowed to join the bus. Meanwhile , I spent my time people watching and trying to figure out how the police randomly stopped drivers and people for a routine check.

At my destination , I laughed so hard with Samuel who attempted to show me around particularly the Old town , and making up stories along the way or pointing to things in one word(for example, that’s a church,lake etc, very funny I know ).

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After the failed , but fun attempt of a tour in terms of history etc,(don’t blame him, he is a Brit who calls Ghana home, what do you expect ? 🙂 )we had lunch by the lake ,fed swans and ducks and watched as people took turns to conquer their fears with a cheering crowd looking on to jump into the lake from the highest height possible.

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Later , I discovered the most amazing dessert made with beer at a pub in the main Zurich HB. I have to recreate that dessert or go back again for it. It was that good we couldn’t stop talking about it.And I am not even a beer drinker.
Off next , was to find my other friend’s hotel.This was another micro journey in itself, we got on the right train from Zurich HB, but somehow me missed some stops. We got lost maybe twice, until we got lucky.I am grateful to Samuel for taking this micro journey with me. My confidence was low and I just wanted to get lost somewhere else. I followed my heart and bought a ticket to Berlin my next destination.

20hours in and I was out.My outward journey though was more relaxing. The drive through Switzerland and a ferry crossing on Lake Constance or Bodensee as the Germans call it was amazing. The scenery was epic.
For the first time, I noticed I had become the attraction too as I was the only black person on this journey until we got to Munich .I saw curious smiles and questions written on people’s faces , but no one was brave to ask me anything and that is okay. I tried to answer the curios smiles back with my own.
I thought of the Eritrean woman from the day before , as I was lucky to have a teenager who spoke English sit next to me. She actually gave me her phone to use to get in touch with my friends in Berlin.

Before this post ,Zurich was becoming a blur with the occasional bad memories ,feelings , questions and doubt , until Samuel mentioned my time there was one of the best times he had there since he relocated from England and he doesn’t remember laughing as much after I left. Well then, this make Zurich worth it ,I guess.

Lessons from Zurich
1. It’s good to put things in perspective.
2. If you don’t like what is on the menu, leave. No need to always experiment.
3. We miss conversations and a possible chance to connect because of a lack of language.
4. It is not always about me

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