Switzerland: Start of the Grand Train Tour

I was watching another compelling episode of Louisa & Rosanna one fine morning when two realllyyyy loud blasts shook the building. At first I was like, “Mommmm, will you please stop farting already!”

After awhile, it occurred to me that maybe the sound indicated something way more sinister, like bombs set off by ISIS. Le hubby was on his way to work, but what good would the sole breadwinner be if he’s missing limbs?!

Even more scary is the prospect of having to end my career as a professional bummer prematurely. Seriously though, I was really afraid for his safety and ours.

I texted him to ask if he was okay and he immediately replied with a news piece. About how there was a bomb threat onboard an Israeli plane that was flying in Swiss airspace, and how two fighter jets were sent to intercept it. That sound I heard? The sonic boom from the two planes.

And no, they didn’t find any bombs onboard.

What they found though was the immensely deep pool of paranoia and insecurities I — and EVERYONE living in Europe in these troubled times — were wallowing in. Or so I thought.

A few days later, Bastille Day happened.

Another bloody Arab had to express his love for God in Nice, ploughing his truck into several vacationing families.

Still loving Arabic food though.

By this time, we were on the verge of escaping to the South of France for 3 weeks, but it soon became obvious that any fantasies I had of lounging in my chartered yacht a la Paris Hilton and show off my fabulous new baby-less tummy had to remain that — a fantasy.

Reminiscing over my Paris Hilton days at the Isle of Capri.

After a flurry of panic calls and swift cancellations, le hubby and I had to take a deep breath and get over the shock of what has happened. It could’ve been us.

We also decided that okay, Switzerland is more than just sterile, overpriced Zurich, it has yodeling mountain men and cheerful Swiss cows and the world’s stinkiest cheeses — surely the pinnacle of all travel experiences.

So we went to the Zurich Hauptbahnhof to buy ourselves a Swiss pass.

Not the best picture of the train station but you get the idea.

One of the busiest train stations in THE WORLD, the Zurich hauptbahnhof is a lifeline connecting Zurich to other more interesting parts of Europe. Want to go to Salzburg? You need five hours. Paris? Four hours and you’re there. It is the beating, stinking, smoky heart of the city.

And every Wednesday, it is also the site of a very uncharacteristically Swiss food market, so you can get your Chilean and Tibetan food fix and feel like the ultimate hipster for doing so. You can even do it the Swiss way and have a cigarette in your hand while eating. But be sure not to occupy the tables if you’re not having sausages because this is when a big, stern sausage stand lady who owns these tables and looks like she could be called Greta will shoo you away like you were a dirty hippie.

Greta’s too busy for a picture, unfortunately.

Apart from some Chilean empanadas and German sausages (because standing while eating with two babies in tow isn’t too conducive), we bought a flexi Swiss pass (CHF484 per person) that allowed us to travel anywhere for 15 non-consecutive days for a month.

The most expensive souvenir. Ever.

Although I couldn’t help but balk at the price at first, I came to realize that this is the best damn CHF484 I’ve managed to milk from le hubby’s progressively shrinking wallet. The pass allows me not just unlimited travel, but also free museum visits and discounted rides on other transport, therefore saving me from a lifetime of public disgrace and humiliation that would occur if I got caught sneaking in.

Jail time isn’t so bad in comparison.

My only regret is not splurging for a first class ticket because the second class carriage was packed like sardine can in summer. On certain popular routes, seats can be hard to come by and you might be forced to the staircase, where you can squat like a hobo and dwell on the sorry state your life has become.

Or squeezed up against the windows like this.

The trains themselves were great. Clean, frequent, prompt, a carriage with a small play area for children to let off steam (this is also the carriage to avoid if you’re single and love dogs more than screaming, whining kids) and oh…did I mention prompt? Air-conditioning is turned a little high for summer but that’s easily solved by removing your clothes and parading in your bra (they don’t mind, trust me).

There were two very obvious shortcomings however. The first was the food, which was sold in the restaurant carriage and absolutely vile. You were better off gnawing on a piece of cardboard than the restaurant’s bread — it is tastier and higher in nutritional value.

And the second? If you had a problem with tardiness like we did or aren’t an Olympic sprinter like me, you might wanna consider putting your house on sale to rent a car. Because these guys are waiting for no one, not even The Queen (that’s me).

“The best way to experience Switzerland…just not with five suitcases and a stroller.”

There was one instance where I was friggin’ stranded on the platform because I was running down the escalator in five-inch heels AND a stroller while the fam was walking ahead of me. Le hubby managed to catch the train but the automatic doors closed on my face as if it were saying, “NO! Too ugly to be let in!”

I cried like it was Armageddon because my babies were in the carriage and the little one was still on the boobie. We managed to meet halfway but that’s how cold and callous Swiss efficiency can be.

But yeah, that’s how our great train journey began. With a bang.

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