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The Leaving Journal

Luzern, Switzerland

SWITZERLAND | Tuesday, 24 November 2015 | Views [666]

Well, the inevitable has happened. I've lost my passport.

I am one of those people who constantly loses things. Important things like keys, wallets, and IDs (just ask my brother and sister-in-law, whose house keys, car keys, and credit cards I lost 4+ times). But, across a lot of different countries and a long span of travel time, I've never lost my passport. An under-aged girl once stole it out of my jacket in Boulder, Colo., then tried to use it to get into a bar, but I've never lost it.

Until now. I tore apart my meager belongings and turned Sarina and Craig's house upside down on Friday afternoon, two hours before the departure of my flight to Nice, France, where I was scheduled to meet Chris and his family. Had this happened two weeks ago, I would have hopped on a train to Nice for the weekend and worried about the passport when I returned. But, alas, the borders of France are on lock-down with good reason and I certainly wasn't going to try my luck.

So, oh well, right? Just stay home. A nice, quiet weekend at the homestead, self-pitying and crying into a glass of wine.

Not so. The family I live with had flown out a Spanish girl for a working interview this weekend, anticipating my trip to Nice. So, "my home" (these terms take on a complicated meaning when you live where you work) offered no refuge.

Really, I was very ready to get out of Rolle for the weekend, even if I couldn't cross any borders. A quiet weekend at the homestead was exactly what I didn't want. The struggle is that the stereotype is accurate: Switzerland is incredibly, rudely, stupidly expensive. 

But, at some point in all travel (that point being now in this particular trip) money takes on a very arbitrary feeling. The variable currencies, all colorful and decorated with portraits of unrecognizable old people, start to feel like play money. Not to mention the power of the credit card, where it seems like you just walked away with a train ticket, or hostel bed, or nice meal, for free.

Furthermore, money loses a lot of its value to me when equated with experiences, comfort and joy. I felt lonely, disappointed and dejected in the Geneva train station at 6pm. Money made me feel comfortable, safe and productive in a Luzern cafe by 10pm.

I chose Luzern not because of its proximity to Geneva but because of its distance. About halfway into the train journey, umlauts and eszetts appeared on the road signs and the conductor's announcements changed from melodic, casual French to harsh, bossy German. I noticed many people on the train were speaking English with heavy accents and realized it was perhaps their only shared language. We had crossed over into the German region of Switzerland.

Luzern is a graceful medley of old and new: church spires mark the skyline. Rustic, wooden bridges stripe the river.The buildings seem to rise straight up out of the water, their faces decorated with plaster designs, paintings and colored glass windows. To compound this charm, the Christmas spirit is already rearing its head in mid-November. The streets buzz with Saturday markets, little huts sell gingerbread and roasted chestnuts on every corner. Branches of freshly cut evergreen are bent into wreaths, filling the air with the spicy scent of pine. Department store window displays are a flurry of silver bells and glitter and ribbon and sparkling, fake snow, which was joined by real snow on Saturday afternoon - the first of the season.

I met some wonderful people at Backpackers Lucerne and spent most of the weekend reading, writing, talking and strolling the city. Highlights for me included the beautiful Crying Lion monument, commemorating Swiss soldiers who lost their lives defending the French royal family during the French Revolution, and the Blend Teehaus, a cozy spot with Moroccan pillows and lanterns, a Japanese tea selection and American folk music humming low on the speakers (though be warned, the prices are very... Swiss).


The Needle Dam


The Water Tower


Kappelbrücke: Chapel Bridge

The Lion Monument


Tags: german switzerland, lucerne, rivers, switzerland



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