Confessions from Switzerland

I’ve been so busy since I got back from Switzerland that I have not had a chance to blog about my trip. What a crime!

Three fun-filled days in Switzerland. Two trips from Zurich to Lugano, through unbelievably beautiful scenery! Driving alongside Lake Lucerne was a highlight.

I even saw the Matterhorn without knowing it until I came home and a friend pointed it out in my photographs. I really must do more research before next trip! A few meetings and even some time for a shopping trip through Zurich.

Reflecting on the trip:

(1) Overseas travel increases the chances of making a mistake.

(2) Overseas travel, to a country where they speak a different language to you, increases EXPONENTIALLY the chances of making a mistake.

(3) Overseas travel to a country where they speak a different language to you, and drive on the other side of the road, increases EXPONENTIALLY the chances of making a mistake, and the implications of making a mistake.

So I guess I am going to have to fess up to my mistake then… They say transparency is the new black. But THEY probably didn’t travel  about 14000kms only to get lost and miss an appointment.

Well, here’s how the story goes. I arrived in Zurich about 10pm Sunday night and got to my hotel no problems. The next morning I was up bright and early for my appointment in Baden. I was so diligent and organised that I arrived about an hour early, leaving time to wander around the town and take some photos.

After my appointment I had a 2.5 hour drive to Lugano, near Italy. I set off straight away with about 4 hours until the next appointment. Driving through the alps the scenery was incredible, and I did stop once to take some photos. Another stop for lunch and to use the toilets. (HINT #1: Always take a spare franc to pay for the use of the toilet, otherwise desperation kicks in when looking for an ATM!) By now I was starting to be aware of the time and began to focus solely on getting to Lugano. Things were going well and I arrived in the town by 2:30pm. The GPS got me to my destination by 2:45pm. A little close for comfort, but still respectable. The only trouble was, it wasn’t my destination! The GPS had played a trick on me and led me to the wrong place. I couldn’t access WiFi to email the person I was meeting. I tried the phone but the number I had wouldn’t connect. In desperation I began asking people for directions. I don’t speak Italian, and most people I approached didn’t speak English. I finally managed to get some directions out of a kind elderly gentleman, and set off with renewed hope. It was already after 3pm. I clung to the idea that if I eventually found the place I would have the opportunity to apologize profusely.

But it was not to be. 4pm came and I was still driving around the narrow, winding streets of Lugano. I had to accept defeat. I had missed my appointment! One that I had travelled 14000km to be at! I was struggling to believe I could have made such a stupid mistake. A long walk around Lake Lugano helped reality set in.

There was nothing else to do that day, so I turned around and went back to Zurich. On the way back I came up with an idea. Even with my limited time I could possibly squeeze in another trip to Lugano the next afternoon. Maybe I could reschedule (if they didn’t hate me by now!) Buoyed by this thought, I couldn’t help but enjoy the drive back.

At the hotel I received the dreaded email, “Where are you? I am waiting. I hope you arrive soon…” I answered very contritely, and went to bed hoping for another chance the next day. More appointments meant that I couldn’t sit around and wait to hear about the possibility of another meeting. I had to leave and hope it could happen. Again I struggled to find an internet connection. (HINT #2: Be better technologically prepared for travel.) But I did manage to find my destination – following instructions, not the GPS! I also managed to find a cafe with free WiFi. That allowed me to get the message that my appointment could not be rescheduled and I would have to wait until my next Switzerland trip to follow up.

It was a funny sensation; the absoluteness of defeat. It felt better the second day because I knew that I had thrown absolutely everything I could think of at the problem.  I was so tempted to drop my bundle and retreat into self pity and depression. I am pleased to say that I resisted the urge. The resultant confidence was palpable. I had failed and I had survived. My plans had not worked out the way I wanted, but even at the point of failure I could recognise the many positive results.

(1) I had furthered my relationship with the person I was trying to meet, and confirmed a future meeting.

(2) I had demonstrated my commitment to trying to make the appointment by coming back the following day.

(3) I got not 1, but 2 drives back and forth through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen.

(4) I developed my determination to persist even in the face of minor setbacks.

(5) I now have a very important reason to return to Switzerland!

So there you have it – my longest blog so far, about the longest trip to an appointment I didn’t make!

Anyone got another interesting story from an overseas trip to share?

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