Switzerland, Day One


I am in Switzerland.

What does that even mean?

After I landed at Cologne, my buddy met up with me, and we darted around the train station in an effort to eat, buy tickets, get money from an ATM, take pictures of a beautiful cathedral, and wonder if we should have made reservations on the train since no reservation could seriously mean no seats.  It was a seven-hour ride with two transfers down to where we were going in Switzerland.  That would prove a long time to stand.  But then again, I had just sat my way across the Atlantic to Munich and then up to Cologne.  Possibly standing down to Switzerland was a blessing in a strange disguise.

As it turned out, stand we did.  On a train that traveled a mere 300 kilometers per hour, we stood next to a door, and I wondered what I would do in a situation if the door opened accidentally while we traveled at that high speed.  Assuming, of course, that I do not fall out and land squarely on my head.  Or neck.  Or really just fall out to begin with.  This was the burgeoning survivalist in me speaking.  But I wanted to take a break from Matt Lawrence, the-everything-he-is-in-his-normal-life, and channel the magic of the Universe of this trip.

So I commanded myself to shut it.  It was surprisingly easy to do.  I remember a time when I would have immediately begun to think on things again, and then chided myself again about thinking on those things, and the cycle was always a vicious one until I exhausted myself or until someone happened by to distract me.  Mind you, by “distract,” I mean all the temporality of that word because it would never take too long to be right back at square one.  I hated that square.

But maybe with age, one learns how to get away from that square, or see it as a circle instead, or learn that the square is a strange little home that one can only not be at if one accepts one might be there indefinitely.  For sure that is one thing I have learned as I have aged (and so well!  Haha).  The more one embraces that which one loathes, the more one realizes one does not loathe that noun anymore.  Frankly, as someone always looking for the most efficient way through the growing pains, avoiding those nouns, in all the possible facets available, was never the route most efficient.  In the end, I learned that embracing those nouns made them vanish into a new light for me.  That revelation was quite . . . revelatory.  Haha  That’s not even a word.  Oh!  I just checked.  Pathetically I should have known the right word is revelational.  ANYHOW.

So I shut off my brainpan on the train ride down so that I could enjoy said train ride down, standing and all.  My buddy and I joked and laughed and remembered the craziness of the past, and before long we were on the second train, headed to Basel.  Smartly, one of the items we purchased at the Cologne train station was a bottle of champagne to celebrate.  We lucked out when a cabin of people left at the first stop on the train, and we got their seats.  So for the rest of the ride down to Basel, we continued with the laughter and the merriment and added the champagne, and it was a great leg of journey.

Mind you, I had been awake at that point for thirty-three hours, twenty-seven hours if you account for the six hours difference in time between NYC and Germany.  Either way, the third train was when I began to feel sleep crawl along my neck like a tarantula, all slow and hypnotic with a poke here and there.  While I tried to nod off, instead the lurch of the train always happened as said nodding was about to happen, and in the end, I spent half the train ride from Basel to Interlaken, not sleeping, but in that half-world where dreams are birthed and awareness of the world around one is still bright enough.  In other words, it was pointless, and I slept none of it.  Even with half a bottle of champagne coursing through my system.  Not that a half a bottle of anything does much to me, as my friends well know.

We pulled into Interlaken Ost around seven that night.  Since I had been on the airplane the night before, it felt like my first night in Interlaken was actually the night following the morning I woke and got on the trans-Atlantic flight.

As it was darker than the inside of a horse’s ass, I saw only those buildings near the train station in Interlaken Ost, and then en route to the cabin (called House Milan), only those lights in the twenty-some building towns that dotted Brienzersee’s shores.  For those who are not aware, Interlaken, as one might imagine, means something like “connected lakes.”  The town of Interlaken rests on an isthmus between two lakes (called in German, “see”).  Chugging into Interlaken we past the first lake: Thunarsee, or Thun Lake.  We were now passing small villages on Brienzersee, or Brienze Lake.  We aimed for Niederried, the second village out from Interlaken on the northern shore.  I considered what I went through transportationally in order to get here.  (and no, that’s not a real word either).

Route: NYC -> House Milan

Home -> subway to Jamaica Center, Queens -> AirTrain to JFK -> trans-Atlantic flight to Munich -> connecting flight to Cologne airport -> train to Cologne train station -> train to Frankfurt -> connecting train to Basel -> connecting train to Interlaken Ost -> commuter train to Niederried -> uphill hike to House Milan

THAT . . . is some craziness.  Can someone please invest teleportation?  Thank you.

But when we arrived, it was like visiting Heidi and her grandfather in the Alps.  House Milan had that cozy charm of old Switzerland, and lived-in and still well maintained home that had hosted countless adventurers throughout the decades that my buddy’s grandparents have owned the place.  The décor eased me out of my chill I had carried in: maple-stained walls, toast-colored carpet, a cushioned bench around the picnic-table-styled dining table, warm brown curtains, and a fully functioning restroom that would make any American proud.

We ended up hanging out and making some dinner and sinking down into the comforts of the Swiss Alps, and that is how I ended my first night.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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~ by Matt Lawrence on December 27, 2009.

2 Responses to “Switzerland, Day One”

  1. Nice post, can i have advertising link for a Education site on this keyword ” German Course Switzerland”. If yes , please email at ding095@gmail.com with your expected price for this link.

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  2. Cool … glad you were able to enjoy a respite from your usual thought process … cuz not everything is gonna turn out to be the worse case scenario!

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