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My first day trip by myself, with zero Swiss-French or Swiss-German speaking skills (In retrospect, I should have learned to ask where the toilets are in both languages) and I’m going big. Based on discussions with Chris over the last day, my itinerary for my 4 day unlimited pass will be: Grindelwald, Lucern, Geneva, and Zurich.
There are many rules to observe in Switzerland. Rule #1: trains, busses, and practically everyone are always punctual. The only exception is the clock that every govt. agency sets their time to that was ironically 40 minutes late. No sooner than arriving in Bern and I miss my connecting train.
Upon arriving in Grindelwald, I noticed immediately how lost I was. Normally, I am a *good* navigator. But I relied too heavily on the sun to give me my east-west direction. Odds weren’t in my favor. There was no sun to give me some semblance of direction. And the city map was all the more confusing for their lack of the red dot that typically signifies “You Are Here”.
Maybe I should have thought this out more carefully. “Too late for that” I thought. Time for the trusty Lonely Planet guide. After 20 minutes of impromptu logistics, I’ve devised a plan that will allow me to see the entire town on top of a medium sized mountain and also get a nice view (if the clouds let up) of the three peaks. I start following the trail directions.
2 hours into the walk, I reach for the guidebook. “It says the walk should take 3 hours total time”. I misread something. “Oh, they meant 3 hours total time one way! %@#$!!!”. I can see the ski bunnies laughing at me at the corner of my eyes. I should have taken that bus down at the bottom. I give the walk another 15 minutes, and call it a wash, given the clouds haven’t let up and it was getting dark.
4 hours later, I’m back at the town square, somewhat dazed. I rummage through a postcard bin for some consolation of what would have been my very own shot of the entire valley from that mountain top.
It’s rush hour by the time I get to Bern for my connecting train. People are packed sardines on the platforms. I confidently line up in platform 12B . Once boarded, I’m exhausted that I drift off to sleep. Bad idea.
“Prochet Arret, Kerzers”. Neuchatel should be my next stop. I make a quick list of groceries to buy. I’m thinking of making something for the guys. The train lurches and suddenly I realize the train is going backwards. WTF!!! I look outside, and it’s pitch black, and any semblance of where north lies is completely lost from me. “This is not good”. I’m thinking the train is going back to Bern. I’ll just hop out and figure out why that was and see if I went on the wrong platform.
“Prochet Arret, Murten”. This is definitely not good, but I did not know this at that time. Gümmenen was the stop prior to Kerzers. Funny me though, instead of getting out to figure out fully what was going on, I decide to wait it out, because at this point,I didn’t know that I was definitely on the wrong train…
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