So I am back penning down smaller travels from the year 2015, which were memorable and fun and it also helps me organise my photos, so I can share it with my experience. Although when I say organising photos, it basically means sifting through piles of pointless and space consuming files in my phone for those one or two pictures I did take when I was actually visiting the place.
On a background note, as much as I love travelling I hate taking pictures. I hate the idea of carrying something as heavy as a baby around your neck (DSLR), which not only slows down your pace but also increases stress levels of keeping that damn thing safe. It does probably cost a kidney. So I never carry a camera and use my phone wherever necessary, which basically means that I have the shittiest photograph collection of all my travels which I also end up losing in the tons of absolute crap in my phone.
Anyways so back to my story of ending up in Switzerland. So thanks to me being employed by a Swiss company, I was invited to Basel for a week long official trip. I reach a day earlier with the intention of catching up with a friend and chilling in Switzerland. Most people are in awe of my travel to Switzerland for work, calling me lucky. They don’t realise that the only thing “Swiss” I experienced during the work week was the 10 minute tram ride from my hotel to my office and back. Everything else happened inside the office or the hotel room. Because we were visiting, the office even organised a special lunch for us one of the days – Indian Lunch. I should have just asked my maid to pack me a dabba and should have it taken to Basel. That meal almost felt like I was in Mumbai with foreign delegates visiting us. So because I have had my excitement crushed in the past as well on such similar official travels, I decided to reach a couple of days earlier.
A good friend of mine had moved to Switzerland to study design in the city/town of Lugano. So we decided to meet early in the morning on a Sunday and chill the entire day somewhere halfway. The only recognisable town halfway was Lucerne and the journey was a short 2-3 hour ride.
As much as I think Switzerland is a beautiful country, I think Basel redefined the colour grey and it felt as if the entire city was on suicide watch because of the greyness all over. It could also be because I was there sometime in October. My colleagues assured me summers are much more joyful. It almost felt like grey was a creature stalking you no matter where you went and more so towards the end of the day. So I was more than glad to get out to a tourist area, which meant NO MORE GREY! My friend and I spoke and decided that we should meet right outside the Lucerne train station at about 10 in the morning.
The train ride was awesome, the best you can expect from Europe, better than our local airlines for sure and it was a great sight to get lost in thoughts. I did manage to reach Lucerne on time and walked out to meet my friend. The Lucerne marathon was on the same day and the marathon was already half way through, so the entire place was crowded and had “colourful” people all over the place. By now even the colour white seemed colourful to me. So I was glad and so was my friend because he was a seeing another town in Switzerland outside of Lugano.
After our initial excitement we realised we had not planned anything beyond meeting at 10AM. And since it was a Sunday, everything in the town was closed. Weirdly, all of goddamn Europe believes in closing their entire continent on the one day when people are not working and are free to do their own things. So we finally decided we should have a drink. Sunday did not help in finding a supermarket and after 30minutes of randomly wandering around Lucerne, we came across a small independent newspaper cum essential article store = fancy tapri. Now this guy obviously did not have alcohol that we asked for but he had beer. Apparently, beer is considered an essential item to be sold on a Sunday in Switzerland, but dog food isn’t 😀 . Poor dogs!!!
So anyways, we buy ourselves shitload of beer and decide see some touristy things in Lucerne. We started with the Lion Monument in Lucerne, but got immediately discouraged looking at one million Chinese and Indian tourists taking various yogic positioned selfies with that Lion stuck in the rock. Poor old guy. We decided to admire the nature and have a drink instead of do all the touristy things. So we walk down the lake and find a nice bench for the two of us and settle down there.
I had a surprise for my friend as he had been gone from India for about 6-8 months and his life before leaving for Switzerland was pretty much all us friends chilling with a quarter or two of Blue Riband Duet gin to end the day. So for old time’s sake, I carried with me two quarters of Blue Riband Duet. It is basically cheap Indian gin which gets you high as shit and as a lemony ting to it. My friend got super excited looking at the gin and we started guzzling down our beers as a pre-drinking session while all around us people were striving to get healthy by running a marathon. We also cheered for them while having our beer.
At about lunch time we decided to grab lunch with a couple of my friend’s classmates and had a hearty swiss meal. Then selfishly after waiting for his classmates to leave, we guzzled down the gin on the bench like two “sans papier”. Sans Papier literally means without documentation or visa. Most of the homeless immigrant looking people are sometimes locally referred to as “sans papier” in Francophone countries. We obviously painted the picture of sans papier because we were two brown guys sitting on bench overlooking the Lucerne lake with families and old people taking their afternoon/ evening walk, while we are greedily mixing quarters in soda bottles and drinking straight out of the bottle on the bench while speaking loudly. Quite unsophisticated I must say. We could notice the dirty stares from the older classier Swiss folks, but we were consumed by Blue Riband Duet and felt like we were back in Vashi (where I live in Navi Mumbai).
At some point while enjoying our drink we noticed this tall guy walking right in front of us with an entourage and the guy stood out even amongst the fitness conscious Swiss people. When the guy passed by us, we realised who we were staring at – Rafael fucking Nadal. I know at this point you are wondering the guys are drunk and probably imagined this shit. We thought the same till my friend followed him till the entrance of the hotel and double checked his face. Also the next day it came in the local news that Rafael Nadal was there for the Basel Open which was on at the moment. That was the highlight of the day.
Anyways we finally decided it was time for us to return to our respective destinations and I took the train back to Greyland a.k.a Basel.
The rest of the week was work related, so you can imagine what it must have been.