So, my blog post is all about the trip I took to Switzerland this past weekend! This was an especially interesting trip, because it was my first trip ever completely on my own, and my first time riding on an airplane alone! I would like to say now that I not only navigated two major international airports on my own, but I did so successfully and without much stress. First off, I would like to say that Switzerland may just be the most beautiful country on earth. I know, I know, it’s a bit premature for me to say that, considering I’ve only been to a half dozen countries. But there is just something about waking up and breathing that mountain air – the type of air that completely reenergizes you, gives you new life, and a seemingly new set of lungs. The entire town of Zurich and the smaller town, Winterthur, where I lodged, had an indescribable atmosphere of freshness and purity.
I will start at my arrival to the Zurich airport. I was not as scared as I thought I was going to be flying in a plane alone. I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep from the previous night that I promptly fell asleep within five minutes of sitting down and didn’t wake up until a flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and said I needed to turn off my iPod. Upon landing, I followed signs and navigated my way to the train station that was across the street from the airport and underground. On the way there, I met an older man from Croatia who also happened to be German (I swear, I met so many people on this trip who could call themselves the United Nations) and he helped me figure out what train ticket to purchase and how to get to Winterthur. We chatted for a bit and then I was on my way! I arrived in the town of Winterthur, which is about a 15 minute train ride from the heart of Zurich, at about 11 a.m. I had the directions for my hostel, but, me being me, I went the wrong way. I ended up exploring downtown Winterthur for about two hours before I actually found my way (correctly) to my hostel. It was during this time that I discovered the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to retail: Coop City. It’s closest counterpart is probably Target, so it’s French counterpart would be Monoprix. But Coop City is like Target on steroids. It was five floors of pure bliss. There was a huge grocery section, clothes, accessories, pharmacy, etc. And the scarves! This chain had the most beautiful scarves I have ever laid eyes on. And for me to say that, they must be some pretty nice scarves. And they were. Too bad everything in Switzerland is ridiculously expensive, except for gummy bears (which made a nice meal, might I add), so I wasn’t able to purchase any of the beautiful patterned scarves.
Once I deposited my luggage at the hostel and recharged with a mini power nap, I went back out and explored Winterthur for several more hours. I got some dinner, did some more window shopping, and just absorbed the culture around me. I ended up back in the train station of Winterthur during my exploration and ended up finding a man with a Shiba Inu…it was the most pleasant surprise, since my boyfriend (hi Casey) and I have a slight obsession with them and it was a nice reminder of home. I’m pretty sure the guy noticed me snapping pictures of his dog, but he didn’t say anything to me about it. Anways, many of the houses and businesses in Winterthur & Zurich resembled gingerbread houses, classically Swiss-esque in nature. Think Hansel & Gretel. I also found lots of colorful confetti on the ground and felt like I had missed something big, but I couldn’t find any information on what was going on. As it turned out, Carnavel was happening. In Coop, I had seen a big section with Halloween costumes. I thought that it was kind of strange that they had so many costumes out, considering it was March, but there are a lot of costume shops in Paris so I didn’t really read much into it. Later that night, I tried to find where all the festivities were happening, but I didn’t have any luck. I was so exhausted that I decided to try again tomorrow and ended up passing out at 8:30 p.m. from all the running around I had done that day.
The next morning, I decided that I wanted to climb a mountain. Okay, okay, so it wasn’t a HUGE mountain. It was a baby mountain, and I did a hiking trail along the side of it. I had been wishy-washy on if I wanted to do it, but I had decided that I came to Switzerland to have experiences, so I did it! And I am so happy that I did. It was considered a beginner’s hiking trail, but nothing about it felt “beginner.” I’m still feeling the burn from that hike. There were a couple times in the beginning where I had thought to myself, “I could turn back right now and go do something else, this is getting really difficult.” But then I got really mad at myself for thinking that. I had to prove to myself that I could do it, because I have had numerous people tell me I wasn’t capable or good enough to do something. I thought about those moments when I was hiking on this trail, and it gave me the motivation to keep going. It was nice to prove to myself that I could climb a mountain and reap a wonderful reward: the view. The entire time I was walking I was also imagining the view from the highest point I could go, and boy was it worth the burn in my thighs. The pictures below will give you a small taste of what I experienced. There were lots of people on this trail: families, couples, women with dogs. Everyone was enjoying themselves and the beautiful day we had been blessed with in Switzerland. I enjoyed a small picnic with a beautiful view of Zurich from the highest point I was able to climb before turning back around and making my way to downtown Zurich.
Zurich is an absolutely beautiful city. I had no idea they had any type of water there, so I was surprised to see so many boats along the river (I think it’s a river) running through the city. I had my first-ever entire bratwurst while walking along the river’s edge and found my way to the downtown shops. I walked around for a couple of hours, walked past a student protest, and eventually sat down on steps near the river to relax and soak up some sun and do some quality people watching. I took the train back to Winterthur and wandered around the square waiting for Carnaval to start. I started seeing more and more people in costume, all kinds of them! There were children, adult, even senior citizens wearing Halloween costumes with the most elaborate makeup I’ve ever seen. Clearly, this was a big event! I was excited to witness it. Everyone lined the street on the main drag as mini marching bands passed through playing songs. Each band had a different theme, some were animals, gnomes, the moon, etc. Each band had a conductor or ring leader who wore the most elaborate costume. It was so much fun! Everyone was throwing colorful confetti all around, and I was covered in it! Definitely an experience that I would love to have again – only next time, wearing my own crazy colorful costume.