Switzerland simply takes my breath away. Every time I visit Switzerland, I must take a moment to first simply relish in its beauty as there is nothing like it, then there is always a moment when I must have that good cry. It’s one of those places that reminds you of how far you’ve come in your journey. I always tell people: you live many lives in one lifetime. And with Switzerland, you are reminded of those lives – the good and the not-so-good, in the most centering, humbling way.
When I fell in love…
The first time I visited Zurich back in 2012, I had no idea what I was going to get. At the time, I was going for one reason, and one reason only – Coldplay. I was back in Atlanta, a few months before leaving to study abroad in the Netherlands and a tour commercial for Coldplay came on sometime near midnight. First, I got all excited, and then I was swiftly disappointed because I realized I’d be abroad when they were going to be in Atlanta. I quickly had a EUREKA! moment (otherwise known as YOLO), went online to see their tour locations and decided to pick a place I knew nothing about. I bought the concert ticket, without a plan for accommodation or transportation. Again, YOLO.
A few months later, a trip to the embassy in Amsterdam to replace a stolen passport, tears, and a 17-hour bus ride – I arrived in Zurich, Switzerland. I knew immediately that my life had changed. That I would always come back to this place.
At the time, I was doing the CouchSurfing thing, where you literally hit someone up like “I’m going to be in your city, can I crash on your couch for free.” My host wasn’t going to be off work for several hours, so I was kinda stuck for a while with luggage and nothing to do. 2 things I should have noticed immediately: Switzerland is expensive ASF, and you can drink from the fountains in the streets (we will get back to that).
The people are nice (but maybe I was being hit on – lol)
I walk up to this bike rental booth, and I ask the guy if there’s anywhere I can store my luggage. He points me to the direction of the train station where there are luggage lockers. I must have looked really nice and really dumb, because he quickly surmised that he needed to lock up his bike hut and escort me to the train station. From there my first day in Switzerland would be AH-Mazing.
The bike rental was for the FREE! We all know that FREE is the best four-letter word in the English language. Basically, you pay 20 Francs as a deposit, and once you return the bike, you get those 20 Francs back. So I get my bike and take a tour of the town.
I farted in a busy university library…
I rode along the Limmat River, through the shopping areas, and along Lake Zurich. Finally, I circled back to the center where I had a glass of white wine and some pasta at The Spaghetti Factory (don’t judge 25 y/0 me). Still having a couple hours to kill, I ventured up the walkway to Zentralbibliothek Zürich. I found a comfy chair and dozed off to never never land. About an hour later, I farted and startled myself out of my slumber. No one batted an eye.
This was all my first day.
Switzerland is Expensive!
The next day I realized just how expensive Switzerland is, when I was rudely reminded that I was a student with no J-O-B. My plan all along was that I would eat at McDonalds the entire time. Well, no one tells you that a “value meal” is 17 Francs, which is 17-18 USD. To the grocery store my black behind went.
Throughout the remainder of my first time in Switzerland, I was met with so much love and hospitality. I learned you could drink from any fountain on the street as it’s all fresh water from the mountains. Getting lost while on my way to see Coldplay was one of the highlights. This sweet couple took me under their wing, fed me, and bought me beers. Though I don’t mess with beers like that, remember the best four-letter word in the world I mentioned before? The concert itself was almost spiritual. Even if you aren’t a Coldplay fan, trust me on this. There was so much love and light in that stadium.
Since 2012, I’ve seen Switzerland 3 more times. Probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re traveling all the way from the states, to repeat a place that many times, does kind of say a lot about how you feel about it. How do I feel?
Let’s just say, if someone offered me the right opportunity, I’d go right home and tell Mitch to pack this shit right on up.
Switzerland, you are one of the few loves of my life.