For a start when you fly you are a long way from the ground. If you fall you are going to get seriously hurt. Then there is the uncomfortableness of being jammed between two seats, especially when the person in front puts their chair in the ‘sleep’ position. Now I know what a slice of ham feels like between two pieces of bread. Then there are the screaming babies who feel obliged to punctuate the night with their cries for attention. Even the complimentary headphones don’t block out the noise. I hate flying. It didn’t make it any better either when I went to board and they took me aside saying I was going to be moved to a different seat. 11G that I was booked on was an economy comfort seat. As someone had been prepared to pay extra for that seat, I was moved to 44D. It was only when I was walking past 11G with its extra leg room in the front of the plane to my seat at the very back of the plane that I realised what I had missed out on. I felt seriously aggrieved. So much so that I had to use all my strength to restrain myself from accidentally whacking the woman relaxing comfortably in 11G, with my laptop case. I think I might hate her, that unknown woman who stole my comfortable seat.
Zurich was nothing like I expected it to be. Granted I am probably on the outskirts staying in some industrial area, but it doesn’t feel like a city. Definitely not a major city. And I haven’t left this area yet, having slept for 3 hours after checking into the hotel, and only walking 10 minutes to a nearby fuel station to buy some toothpaste from the little shop attached to it. No complimentary toothpaste at the Novotel Airport Hotel. Shame on them. Probably serves me right for forgetting to pack some in. I stood in the fuel station shop for a while scanning the shelves and seeing everything expect toothpaste. Then the word peppermint caught my eye and I figured it must be toothpaste. I’d been looking for a familiar brand like Colgate. This brand was Candida and I guess that’s what threw me. I mean get real. What company calls a toothpaste, Candida? And then there was the sign on the road that said Aus Fahrt. I’m not sure what that means but it sounds like Arse Fart to me. Maybe tomorrow when I leave this area Zurich will be more like the city I imagined it to be. But you know how you have perceptions of a place before you get there? So far all mine have been busted.
Myth 1 – All men wear lederhosen. I have not seen any man wearing lederhosen. The closest has been men in cycling shorts. In fact, men dress here exactly how they do in summer in Cape Town.
Myth 2 – People yodel on the street corners. I have not heard any yodelling anywhere. The streets are quite deserted, but I did see a group of young Koreans talking Korean.
Myth 3 – The alps are covered in snow. I’m not sure if the mountains I see in the distance are the alps or not. But anyway, they are definitely only covered in thick green forests and there’s no snow anywhere.
Myth 4 – Switzerland is freezing because it is always covered in snow. It’s frikking hot. Short sleeves and shorts weather and people here even have suntans.
Myth 5 – International fugitives wander the streets looking for Swiss Banks to open up secret accounts in. I haven’t seen anybody remotely resembling a fugitive except maybe that group of Koreans. In fact, I haven’t even seen a Swiss bank. And no car chases, no CIA hunting down international spies and terrorists. Maybe I watch too many movies.
Myth 6 – Cute wooden chalets with peaked roofs and those special gutters on the roofs to catch the snow. Only accommodation around here seems to be 5 floor apartment blocks. Not a wooden chalet in sight.
Myth 7 – Everybody eats cheese fondue. I went to a restaurant tonight and had Zurich-style veal with rosti. Not a cheese fondue in sight.
Myth 8 – Everybody eats chocolate. I have not seen any fat Swiss. They seem into health. Maybe all their chocolate is exported.
I guess when I finally get to America all my perceptions will be busted as well. I might discover that not everybody has houses like the Kardashians and there is not a serial killer waiting to kill you in every city. America might prove to be just like Zurich Switzerland. Normal. Where people look like they do back home, dress like they do back home and drive the same kinds of cars. The only thing so far that seems to make Zurich different is the trains running down the middle of the road where the island would be. Whenever you cross a road you cross a train track as well. Maybe tomorrow I will see a man yodelling in his lederhosen while eating chocolate.