Clock towers, Cute Boys, Kikinney, and Couchsurfing
Zurich Travel Blog› entry 26 of 98 › view all entries
This morning was an early start and another entirely nutritious breakfast of bread and Nutella. I've decided that if there's one habit I'm bringing back to the States in the Fall, it's eating this delicious chocolatey spread just about every day. Realizing that both of us are headed to Zurich, Stephen and I caught the train together. Over the past 2 days, I've found that I kind of dig this guy, but that after today, I'll never see him again. Just the way traveling goes though! He had a few hours before he had to catch his flight back to London, so we stored our luggage in the station and wandered around the city, up to the University then down to the lake, winding along the river and through little streets lined with churches.
I don't think I've ever seen so many clock towers before, but the more I walk around, the more I love this city. I'd been told that Zurich was maybe a half day excursion; the financial district with not much to do, but every turn I make I find myself in front of another church, sculpture, or museum. This place is absolutely gorgeous, and at this point I'm beginning to wish I had another day here.
After we headed back to the station so Stephen could catch his plane,wishing he could stay here another day, I got ahold of Cornel, who had sent me a very apologetic email the night before, that he hadn't been in town to host me on his couch when he said he would. No worries, it had all worked out well, but I was glad when I saw him walking towards me under the big clock near the trains.
At his house after attempting to get his bike back, he shows me his rather impressive postcard collection, and I promise to help him add to it. He's really had an interesting life, from working and learning the language in China, to working in the USA. Completely wiped out from my long night and train journey, I took a nice nap in the hammock in his living room (great idea that I may have to do at home), then made myself some curry noodles and headed down to the Starbucks across the river, where we'd decided to meet at 9:15.
He teaches me a lot about the whole Swiss way of life; how they're very proud of how unique they are, how many of them worry in general, especially about staying neutral, how they aren't tight on money, etc. The Swiss Franc is worth less than the US dollar, but this is really deceiving. The Swiss are paid much more than anywhere else in the world, and therefore their goods are more expensive. For example, a guy who stocks shelves in a grocery store here can be paid about 20 Francs per hour, which is more than twice what they'd be paid in the States, but a sandwich here can run you about 8 Francs, which seems rather pricey for someone not making money here.
He also points out that Switzerland has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, which strikes me as odd. 'There's really nothing wrong with this country, nothing much to fix,' he says. 'People have nothing to work towards and may find no purpose. On the other hand, all the unhappy people just kill themselves, so we're a pretty happy country.' Interesting way of looking at things. Language barriers divide the country here, so I learn. Most people here speak Swiss-German, Italian, or French, but there are so many dialects that sometimes it can be almost impossible to understand someone who lives just 20 km away from you. While we discuss how large and diverse the USA is, with so many different political ideas, he points out that one of our big uniting factors is that you can travel just about anywhere and communicate with anyone. I nod and am grateful for this, happy though that through this whole couchsurfing thing, I'm getting to know a culture better.
A glass of wine and more discussions later and it was time to crash. Long day tomorrow, but I'm really looking forward to Salzburg!