Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Welcome to Zürich

The journey was over but the transition was just beginning. CF's challenge was to keep me awake until at least 9pm. So after the shower and snack it was time to head out and get some errands done. It was a gorgeous, sunny day... something I saw very little of in the week we were here last year.

We walked down the hill to a transit ticket booth, and right away I purchased an annual Zone 10 transit pass, and a half-fare card to discount other travel within Switzerland. Months earlier when I was renewing my passport I had gone to get new pictures taken at The Picture People, a kids' portrait shop at the mall. My old passport still had my maiden name (with an official ammendment in the back that I was tired of having to tell people to turn to) and my photo wasn't even flattering at the time (and weight) it was taken. LN, who I worked with at the store, had used to work for them and she had talked about having to take passport photos and all the rules surrounding them. I figured I stood a better chance of taking a good photo if I went somewhere with proper lighting and camera lenses. It didn't cost too much but the smallest set they sold was 4 photos. I was annoyed to have to buy twice as many as I needed but went with it anyway. The result is now that I have a passport with a photo that gets compliments, I used a third photo to apply for my visa, and upon arriving in Zürich I found a need for the final photo, I turned it in for my tram pass. Nice!

Then we hopped on a tram and rode back up our hill and went to the immigration office to get me registered. I couldn't help but giggle a little bit when they confirmed my "family name." They know how to pronounce it here! That's not even my name anymore but somehow this made me feel like a little bit more of an insider. We even made it over to the bank before they closed. CF had opened a bank account and we wanted to add my name to it. This went a bit lost in translation and we filled out all new paperwork before we all realized that the banker hadn't understood that he wanted to add me to the account he already had. Hopefully we got this straightened out, I'm currently waiting for my cards.

With all of our errands done before 6pm we decided to catch a tram down to the river and walk down to the lake. When we got off the tram I felt the sun beating down on my mostly bare shoulders and scolded myself a bit for not putting on my sunscreen. But in the time that it took to walk to the lake the weather had already started to turn. My arms went cold as the breeze picked up but it also started to feel a bit muggy. I tried to shake it off (as our travel saying goes, but then, I'm not really traveling) and agreed to sit down to some dinner at a fun looking place near the water that CF had been to in July.

Suddenly the clouds all rushed forward, the water went immediately choppy, and the umbrella shielding the man at the restaurant's outdoor grill from falling leaves toppled over onto a customer! This California girl's eye went wide, I have never seen such an extreme change in the weather. We scrambled with our fellow diners into the restaurant. Where no one had been selecting to sit just a minute earlier, all the tables were now full. It worked out quite nicely though, one table for two for us, one long row of tables for the large group, and several four-tops for the families. Everyone went about their business while the staff collected anything from the outside tables that could blow away (which appeared to be everything).

I recalled the moment back at the apartment when I was deciding what to carry with me and CF had said I wouldn't need my umbrella but had then remarked, "Of course, now that I've said that you will." And I had pretended that he hadn't said any of it, a sleepy moment of bad decision making. We enjoyed a salad and pizza while the rain started to come down all around the tiny restaurant. We ordered another round of drinks, hoping to give the rain some time to come up with a break. We took what we could get and scurried off in a drizzle. We caught one tram to Bellevue, the hub of trams that we stayed near last year. The next tram we'd take would basically get us home. So we thought it wouldn't hurt to run into Coop for a little dessert. Just before we entered the store the rain picked back up, drat. Inside we picked out a Lindt chocolate bar filled with caramel and fig (are they selling this in the States?) and I decided to pick out a decent looking bottle of port (I was itching to try some more). We also got some of the official garbage bags that you have to use to put out your trash, CF had bought the wrong ones on his first try. We ran back out to the tram stop and luckily didn't have to wait too long for our ride.

It wouldn't be long before I'd be soaking in a hot bath with the lavendar salts I'd picked up after reading Holly's travel tips on Haus Maus followed by curling up on the huge Italian black leather sofa listening to moody Cat Power music, sipping port and nibbling on cheese, fruit and chocolate. Basically from the moment I found out we'd be coming here, this is what I had been picturing. The only thing standing between me and that perfect scenario was the short distance from the tram stop to our apartment. Months of preparation along with hours of airplane travel and sleep deprevation came down to this. The pouring rain soaked through my sandals, capris and sleeveless top as I ran and a little voice inside my head said: "Welcome to Zürich, always carry an umbrella, dumbass."

No comments: