Just reporting from the airport on my way to Croatia after a CRAZY 6 day adventure in Zurich, Switzerland. Friday I departed Paris and my travelling companion Elly to begin my month long stint of pure solo travelling. This would really be the ultimate test of my travelling skills and ability to make friends with random people haha
The flight to Zurich went off without a hitch and I confidently navigated my way through airport check-in, security, boarding, passport control, baggage pick-up and all the rest that seams to have become my norm these days. I always feel such a rush when I am independently making my way around and only having to worry about myself! The best :)
So I caught the train to the central railway station in Zurich and walked the short distance to my hostel. I reached the door down the side of the Spaghetti Factory and entered. Only to be directed up a flight of stairs. No worries- I have been determined to just deal with stairs head on to justify bringing a split-roller and not a backpack. The only disadvantage the occasional stairs. After the first flight I am directed again upwards two flights of stairs to a landing and down the hall and then AGAIN upwards- Will this EVER end?! One more flight of steep winding stairs and I made it into the tiny cramped reception where about ten men looked up at me as a struggled on the final stair to haul my luggage into the room. At this point I was SURE I had made the worst mistake of booking into a dodgy hostel with a BILLION stairs and weird men!! Where were the women? Where would I sleep? For a second I convinced that I'd booked into a gay hostel- if those even existed!
I went up to the desk and was handed a form to fill in before going to my room. I sat across from this strange OLD man wearing a pink tie-die shirt with long grey hair wearing a bandana- OH my. I was starting to doubt my decision to come here all alone! What was I THINKING?! I sat waiting for the man to return to check in and was greeted by a Spanish man asking where I was from and how long I was here for and then explained that they were going for a swim and asked if I wanted to go along! How could I pass up this chance to get an in with some new friends?? But I STILL hadn't checked in properly so they said they'd wait while I dashed upstairs and tried not to take the typically female length of time to get ready while still hoping I looked reasonable enough to come off as normal.
Luckily I made the decision to go along in the first 2 minutes of arriving because I made some awesome friends! Alberto was from Spain and was easily the most friendly person ever! He could talk for hours about anything and to ANYONE. He said that he sat at a café and met a stranger and they spoke for two hours!!! And that was pretty much how this went as well! Along with Alberto there was Gil from New York who had a strange non-American accent from his childhood in Israel. He was so interesting and had the BEST sense of humour and judge of character, always assured to hate the same strangers in our hostel as I did. And lastly our crew comprised on another Australian from Victoria that sported typical dreadlocks, wife-beater and thongs. I felt right at home.
The 4 of us spent the afternoon in a prime spot by the lake on Albertos handy blanket talking about all sorts and explaining the rules of Aussie Football. After Alberto gave his email to a girl he just met swimming (of course) we decided to head back and go to the shops to get some things for dinner. Luckily we were all in the same cheap backpacker mode and could not afford the 11.80 BURGER from Maccas or 12 Frank Margarita Pizza- actually RIDICULOUS. So we slaved away that night cooking a chicken with sundried tomato pasta. Luckily our hostel had a kitchen on every floor with great facilities to make a feast- winner
We had a few drinks and headed out that night with a couple of others from the hostel to an Irish pub! We met a couple of Americans, one from Kentucky that me and Gil HATED and our judgements proved right after some dodgy behaviour from that night. Nevertheless I had an awesome night with some new friends, dancing to perfectly tacky music and meeting new people from all over the world. I could not believe my luck, especially after my initial PANIC response.
Next day was the Zurich Street Parade- the reason I had included Switzerland in my travels on the advice of my Italian cousins who were meeting me there. They drove up the night before and said to meet at 11.30- bit early but after investing in a Swiss sim to avoid getting lost at a festival by myself I made my way there to meet them by 12.30. I met all of Luca and Stefano's friends from Italy who were all super friendly! They actually reminded me a lot of my mates at home so that helped a lot. They proceeded to hand me a white painting suit like the ones you would get from Bunning's. Part of the street parade involves dressing up in matching outfits as crazy as you can! Then out came the tins of paint that they pored all over each other! I was super hesitant at first, not factoring in my clothes getting ruined in my wardrobe decision. Luckily I had worn nothing special and in the end I gave in and decided I just shouldn't care and got paint all over my suit and through to my clothes and entire body.
We had our costumes, sunscreen and DRINKS and headed off to the start of the parade. It was AMAZING!!! I have never been to something like that before as it would be impossible to pull of in Australia. For starters there is NO street drinking law in Switzerland so everyone was drinking whatever they like- which was the only financially viable thing to do with the drinks (and everything else for that matter) being insanely expensive in Switzerland! There were trucks with floats on them with tonnes of people dancing to crazy techno music and women dressed in slutty nurses outfits (that was the most tame of them) while guys were just as bad. Everyone I met from the parade was SUPER friendly and just having an awesome time! Understandably.
After rocking out with Luca, Stefano and his friends who all made a great effort to speak English with me- some better than others- I took a strategic mid parade nap at my hostel and then feasted on pasta before heading out again with my hostel buddies to meet up with my cousins. Needless to say half of us got split up and lost each other in the 950000 solid crowd! There were so many people and SO much rubbish everywhere! All through the street, piled in the gutters and layering the floor. It was crazy to see and we all wondered how it would look the next day. I was SURE that the road would be closed off for at least a day to get it all packed up and resembling the amazingly beautiful and clean city we had seen the day before.
When I woke the next day I went out to unlock my sim because I had forgotten the code and you would not have suspected a THING!!! All the debris was gone like magic. Like Swiss fairies had come and waved their wands. How was it possible?! Everything was functioning as normal while I was nursing a nice thumping headache. Soooooo worth it.
That day I unfortunately had to leave my new home for a different hostel due to unavailability when I booked! I was not happy about it as I had really made myself at home and was not looking forward to packing up and tackling the 50 million stairs. Luckily Toby offered to help me make my way there, which I'm sure he regretted. We looked on the map and decided to avoid the hefty costs of public transport and just walk the long way to the other side of the lake! I was really glad to have the company and we talked about all kinds of things. After only getting lost once, having to walk up a giant hill with bulk stairs (while Toby carried my luggage up) we found my hostel! And then walked all the way back to have dinner with everyone else haha
We spent the next couple of days in our little crew hanging out and trying to really experience Zurich life without the Zurich costs, walking through the streets, visiting the Uni and making frequent trips to the lake for amazingly refreshing swims :) Our last night we went to tracked down this Rimini bar that by day in a men's bath and by night is transformed to a market slash bar. Really cool place to see! Also interesting seeing some jewellery clearly from Morocco being sold at extreme Switzerland prices. Not gonna happen. We would then say our goodbyes as we parted ways hopefully running into each other again in our travels!
I had cut my stay at my new hostel short after finding out it was an extra 6 frank a night just because I wasn't a member and also being offered a place to stay at my friend Tim's house. I had met Tim and Tessa in Barcelona at the Paella Cooking Experience and had told them I would let them know when I was in Zurich! So after a failed attempt to catch up at the street festival Tessa and I went to the river with gorgeous waterfalls to bathe and work on our tans on Monday. I was SO lucky to have met Tessa and Tim in Barcelona and have the chance to stay in Winterthur, a small town just out of Zurich.
Tuesday night I made my way there to Tim's house for dinner with Tessa and Tim followed by an extreme game of Jenga- Super intense. That night was the first night I had a room to myself in WEEKS!!! Something I hadn't even thought about until the next morning when I woke at 10.30 super refreshed with a smile on my face. I was so used to being woken by people in the hostel, or having to make it in time for the free breakfast or even just getting up to fit in everything we wanted to do! But that day I slept in, stayed in bed, ate what I liked and went online- my favourite kind of days and definitely one I wanted to savour while I could!
Wednesday night we had a barbeque with typical sausages from Switzerland and salad and then headed in to the Winterthur Musikfest to have a beer and listen to the bands playing. It was no street parade but still a great event to be a part of :) It was a great way to end my time in Switzerland, which has been AMAZING. I met some gorgeous people who were great friends by the end and had a blast in my first stop of my solo trip. To my incredible Swiss friends Tessa and Tim I am SO grateful to have met them and super thankful that they took me in for two nights! They are such a gorgeous couple and SUPER attractive!!! It's crazy being around them when they are SO good looking haha But aside from that they are lovely people that I am lucky to have met and been able to hang with.
Next stop: CROATIA! In preparation for my two week Eastern European TOUR!!! Very excited and I'm sure there will be LOTS more to report on. Until then- Ciao!