Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our arrival

Through the cramped-screaming baby-tummy turning-turbulence filled flight, meditation was my friend. Each time the plane bounced or lurched as I tried to shovel down the mediocre airplane food in order to procure some sustenance during our eleven hour flight, I repeated the mantra,”You are safe, just breathe.” During the hours that the cabin was dimmed for “sleeping”, I moved my body thoughtfully to ward off feelings of discomfort.  Learning how slow I could roll my ankles or point and flex my toes, helped to stave off feeling claustrophobic. During the moments where it seemed like we had been in the belly of the beast for an eternity, I reminded myself that the present is fleeting and this trip that I've been anticipating for months will be over before I know it, so not to wish one moment of it away.  And of course, eventually we landed in Switzerland.

As soon as we touched down in Zurich, I felt a physical and metaphorical sigh of relief come over me.  As we disembarked, this sense of wellness followed me into the airport, which seemed so quiet, pristine, and calm.  After a brief wait in the passport line, we exited the airport, and within seconds, I spotted the shuttle to our hotel. Before we knew it, we were in Kloten, checked into a simple but impeccably clean room, where we were able to freshen up and deposit our bags.

Though we should have been exhausted, we were eager to get some real food and explore the town a bit.  We had flown out of Zurich five years ago but our experience was limited to the train station, a rushed bus driver, and a hotel near the airport. We hadn’t seen the city at all last time.  So despite a light rain, we grabbed our wind breakers and an umbrella and headed out to discover Zurich. With the assistance of the helpful young ladies working reception, we found the Kloten train station just a block or so from the hotel.  After struggling to decipher the choices for tickets on the machine, we opted for a 24 hour transportation pass. The only other option was for 1 hour, and we knew we needed more time to venture forth, 15 minutes later we were at Zurich’s central station.  We followed the phone's GPS to a wine bar I had found online and enjoyed a sip to celebrate the start of our trip. After a while we realized the wine bar was a charming tiny place full of creative art but was not currently serving food.  Not wanting to go forth blindly with hungry stomachs into the big city, Greg asked the friendly owner for some advice.  She discussed with him in German different options in the area. I was only picking up scraps of their conversation and she explained that her English was just “meh,” so she invited a well known patron who spoke English well to chime in.  Claudio was Swiss born but currently lives Ireland. With his help we got the low down on some affordable and traditional fare but we also had a nice chat about our jobs and American politics. (The upcoming election is what all Swiss folks have wanted to discuss with us, they find it very dramatic and interesting!) We hopped the city bus to the old town, charming cobblestones, bridges and spires, were fun to see even in the rain storm.  Our waiter was kurt but our dinner companion at the shared table turned out to be a talkative businessman from Columbus, Ohio.  We had found a friend to share stories with over our Rosti and Raclette. It was late as we headed back to the hotel on the S7. I remember nodding off several times, waking up as the brakes screeched at each stop as Greg counted down for me, “ ...three more to go.”  Wrapped in our snow white duvets, we fell asleep almost instantly to the sound of falling rain.

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