August 7th, 2019. Finally! Today is the day we leave for Switzerland. I’m beyond excited. I’ve had my bags packed for a month at this point (I’m an early packer!). Last time I was in Switzerland was 10 years ago. I’m going to stuff my face with chocolate, cheese and wine! I’m going to marvel at the mountain views. I’m going to pet Alpine cows. I can’t wait to walk around Lucerne again! And this time, I’ll be seeing even more of this incredible country than I got to see last time. We’re even going to visit the places my ancestors emigrated from! Awesome! I’m sitting in Newark Airport going over our trip itinerary and pre-planning in my head all the amazing stuff we’re going to see and do! Life couldn’t get any more perfect right now! ‘til… BOOM!!! Thunder and lightning. O crap! We’re about to board our flight and a massive storm hits. O, please, Mother Nature, have this be over quick! Please! Obviously, our flight gets delayed. It continues to rain and to storm. We get delayed again… My family and I are drinking beer and wine, whatever we can get to ease our nerves. Please, have us be able to take off tonight. We gotta be in Zurich tomorrow! That’s when it happens… pretty much EVERY flight leaving Newark is CANCELLED. Yup, CANCELLED! You’ve gotta be joking right now!! You hear a huge exhalation of immense frustration from pretty much every traveler in the airport.
The line at Customer Service to rebook flights, I kid you not, was wrapped around the entire terminal. It was insane! I am not sure exactly how many flights were cancelled, but it was pretty much EVERYONE leaving Newark that evening. Awful! We heard stories from people around us that they couldn’t get rebooked until days later. I can’t even imagine the stress and anxiety that you’re stuck in Newark for days. Vacations cancelled, having to call your job that you’re going to need several days off because you’re stranded. Even the car rentals ran out as people swarmed them, there were no more cars anywhere! And hotels nearby were booking up so fast, people had to book further into NYC. It was crazy. Luckily, and extremely thankfully, we were able to rebook our flight for the next day out of JFK. There was space for us! Hallelujah doesn’t even begin to cut it. We would miss our first day exploring Zurich but I had toured Zurich before so that wasn’t a total loss. Zurich is more of your typical cosmopolitan city and isn’t the real gem of Switzerland, in my humble opinion. It has less of the quintessential Switzerland character and feels more like a NYC in some ways. But we gotta get our bags first before we can head home to get some rest!
We go down to baggage claim and, o my goodness, it is true pandemonium. I’ve never seen anything like it. The tension was palpable and intense. You have hundreds or people totally pissed off. Their trips have been screwed up and some can’t get back home. People who are stranded are stressed because they need to find a hotel and there’s no more rental cars so they’re on their phones calling anyone they can asking for help. It was anxiety on overload for everyone. So naturally, the energy was angry. We waited 3 ½ hours before we got up to the baggage claim counter, only to be told they were no longer giving people back their baggage and people had to return tomorrow morning to pick up their luggage. We waited hours for that good news, yup, tensions got worse after that as people were absolutely livid. LIVID! People stranded with nowhere to go didn’t even have their stuff to take back to the hotel. They were going to lay out everyone’s bags in the terminal and you have to get it tomorrow. So, we would have to return to Newark just to get our bags and then drive up to JFK for our flight. Sadly, people were not being very friendly to the poor agents working baggage claim. It isn’t their fault, but people were taking their frustrations out on them. Yelling and cursing at them, it isn’t cool, but I also understood fuses had been blown and patience was thin. I salute those workers for taking so much crap that day all because of weather cancelling flights. C’mon, y’all, these people aren’t responsible for the weather. The terminal was packed with irate people yelling and cursing. I can’t imagine how much the workers drank after that shift and they were calling backup in to support the influx of stranded travelers. At one point it got scary. People were climbing on top of the carousels in baggage claim and yelling. It was full on revolt. I was honestly scared about people coming to blows and a brawl breaking out, that’s how bad it was. People were getting angry at each other as some people were butting or just being rude. Some people, I’ll tell ya. We got out, had a driver service pick us up and bring us back home. It was 3AM at this point. We would’ve been in Switzerland by now.
The next day, we picked up our bags with total ease and got up to JFK. We flew out with zero issues. The only annoyance was my family got split up. My mom and I got the first flight and my Dad and sister’s flight took off only 2 hours after us. So, once we landed in Zurich (FINALLY!) we had to wait a while before they landed. We just hung out at the airport (Zurich airport is pretty small, actually). Eventually, we were all reunited. To catch up with our itinerary we had to be in St. Moritz, the Olympic village, by the evening for our reservation at Laudinella Hotel and for dinner. From the airport we went straight to the Zurich train station to catch an Alpine train to take us south to our destination. Zurich train station is beautiful. An architectural marvel, really. And hovering above all the hustle and bustle is Zurich’s own large and vividly colored Guardian Angel. I once again have to apologize for not having the pictures to show. I lost most of my photos from this visit to Zurich and St. Moritz when my phone decided to delete them, thankfully I stopped it before all my Swiss vacation pics were lost.
We board the train; the train ride was about an hour and a half I believe? At this point I was so beyond exhausted. I had barely slept in the last 36 hours between the late night at the airport and the lack of sleep on the plane (I always seem to end up next to loud people and in front of seat kickers on planes). But this Alpine train trip was EXQUISITE. As much as I wanted to sleep on the train, I wouldn’t dare shut my eyes for a second. A few times I dozed off until I had to violently shake myself awake. I couldn’t miss a moment of the bright aqua lakes, stunning mountains and adorable chalets. As I stated previously, it is pure, utopian beauty all throughout Switzerland. A charm that is unrivaled. Sorry, the rest of Europe, I love and admire you too, but Switzerland is the cutest and has the most natural beauty. It possesses a romance that can’t be beaten in those views and quaint fairytale villages nestled in the formidable Alps. It’s like every small village has their own bodyguard, their own mountain peak keeping them safe from the cruel, outside world. It prevents the personality and romance of Alpine villages from being tainted. Utopia needs to be protected from the modern world. I prefer the romantic, small towns such as these to the congested cities. Here the living is simple yet blissful and happy. People understand what really matters in places like this. They’re more in touch with truth and happiness. I so wish I still had these photos to share.
We stopped in several small towns in the Alps on our way to St. Moritz. Idyllic, perfect, romantic, delightful… all words to describe the towns we saw. And as for the natural beauty our eyes were fortunate enough to admire, I’ll go with marvelous, stunning, flawless, divine, vivid, vibrant and truly inspiring. The views made my heart sing, my soul come alive and my spirit rose, this is the right way to live- in harmony with nature. It reminded me that the true joys in life are the simple ones, like a simple farm tucked away in the Alps with pleasant people who appreciate the land they dwell on as well as their families and their neighbors. In towns like this, the town is a tight-knit community. They all look out for one another and work together, they help each other. The community is like a family, they have to be in order to thrive in the Alps. They love their community, they care for their neighbors, they appreciate their heritage. It’s inspiring how they live. It’s peaceful. They work hard and they enjoy the fruits of their labor, they appreciate what they have. It’s comparable to a happy commune with smiling people working together to live a simpler, happier way of life. They seemed a lot happier than us living in crowded cities and chasing material things, in all honesty.
Ok, time to snap out of my Alpine dream world. With visions and dreams of people dancing all together in the fields of flowers singing to the mountains with flower wreaths in their hair and yodeling to the neighboring village I finally awake in St. Moritz. St. Moritz has hosted two Winter Olympics. But there’s still plenty of summer time activities. Most people visit in winter for exceptional skiing and other winter sports. But in the summer, there’s great hiking and boating/sailing to be done. There are many fancy resorts as well. We make it just in time for dinner, on the dot. At this point, I really cannot wait to fall into bed. The wine I had with dinner was dribbling out on my mouth I was so tired. We are definitely going to bed early between the long, stressful travel, the time difference and lack of sleep. Before that, though, my dad and I decide to take a walk around the town. It was a bit overcast that day, but it was still beautiful. We’re here, that’s all that matters. We made it! We wander aimlessly through the winding (and quite steep) streets of the town. We took a long walk around the lake and just admired the general splendor around us. It was quiet, as I said winter is their busy season. It was relaxed. Also, since it was evening most shops were closed. The Swiss tend to keep to the traditional 9-5 business hours and Sundays off. They value family and personal time so you won’t see as many stores open late as you will in other parts of Europe or the U.S. Bars are open later of course, though. So, it felt like it was just my Dad and I, the town to ourselves. Locals were sitting outside on their decks or balconies sipping wine and beer and enjoying their prime mountain views. What a perfect life!
As it gets dark, we head back to the hotel. I don’t even recall changing my clothes or brushing my teeth. I just passed out on that bed. I think my shoes may have still been on. As soon as my head hit that pillow I was out. I got to say, that was one of the absolute best night sleeps I’ve ever had. I fell asleep with absolute satisfaction and joy… I’m finally back in Switzerland!