First, brief introductions. We (myself, my sister, and my bro in law) are mid 40s (ok. I’m more late 40s) and this was our first trip to Europe and our first time travelling together. Besides a short trip to Arizona from Chicago, this was my first trip in 22 years and my first time outside of the US. About 5 years ago now, my sister and mom were both diagnosed with breast cancer 8 months apart. Both are fine and I mention it only because it’s an important part of the story. Those diagnoses really shifted my thinking from “oh, I’m fine staying home” to “I really want to get out there and see the world while I can.” So, off to Switzerland we went.
Second, I’ll try not to repeat what I have already reported while in Switzerland, which can be found here
Long story short, the trip was originally going to be a trip to Italy and then a trip to Italy and Switzerland in March/April 2020. Then it was cancelled and rescheduled and then off to Switzerland (with day trips to France and Germany) we went in Sept. of 2021.
Off to a rocky start in Zurich. We had a great flight from Chicago to Zurich. We were all so excited to finally be going on this trip. Things got a little rocky once we landed in Zurich though. After landing and getting our bags (yes, we checked bags 😊) we stopped at the grocery store in the airport and tried to use the self-checkout to pay for our sandwiches. We had to wait for someone to come help us because apparently my credit card requires a signature for purchases outside the US. Not a big deal, we were off to the ticket machines to buy our train tix to Basel. Note: We did purchase the Swiss Travel Pass but wouldn’t start using it until a few days later. And because I knew we would be using the Pass most of the trip, I didn’t research too much ahead of time how to buy tickets. Plus, everyone always says how easy it is. Well, it wasn’t easy for us. I’m not sure what the trouble was, but we couldn’t complete the purchase. A nice SBB employee came to the rescue. This would not be our last time relying on the kindness of strangers and certainly not the last of our troubles with ticket machines. More to come on this later.
So, off we go to catch the train. And there was an orange box like thing that I thought I was supposed to put the tickets in to validate. I couldn’t find a way to put the ticket in anywhere or to scan it. So, we gave up on that.
Once on the train, we were looking for the luggage racks, that I thought would be in maybe every other train car. They’re weren’t and we never saw any of the big luggage racks at the end of the cars in any of the trains we took. Ever!! And we were on a lot of trains. So, we were stuck with the overhead luggage bins for our 26 inch suitcases. (Yes, we learned our lesson and will try for smaller next time). Luckily, there was a nice muscle-man on the train who kindly helped my bro in law put the suitcases up. Luggage taken care of, we sat down to relax and charge our phones. Not so fast!!! The electrical adapters I bought ahead of time from the RS website did not work. The website said “They'll do the trick across the Continent— and even in Iceland.” I took this to mean they’ll work in Switzerland. They did not. I emailed RS when I got home and they responded almost immediately with an apology for the confusion and added an “except Switzerland” to the product description. Not to worry, a kind stranger on the train lent us his adapter to us and we later bought the correct ones. I am quickly learning how nice people are. One of the things that struck me most on this trip was the people and we had such great encounters with so many people.
More to come, as we haven’t really gotten started yet. . .