Arrival

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"Arrival" is the name of the first episode of The Prisoner, where a grumpy Patrick McGoohan (who remains grumpy throughout pretty much the entire series) finds himself transplanted from the UK to a suspiciously clean, efficiently-run place. Being British, he clearly finds this highly bewildering. Having moved to Switzerland yesterday, I know how he feels.

An amazing thing happened at Heathrow. My flight was absolutely rammed full, but everyone showed up and was on board by quarter of an hour before the scheduled arrival time, the doors were closed and after a few minutes of waiting as we were so far ahead of our slot we pushed back 5 minutes early. Clearly Swiss people do not get distracted by shopping in the airport and fail to show up for their flights on time. Then, to make things worse, the flight landed and was on stand 20 minutes early. And this was only BA, not Swiss. The only bad part of the flight was a woman in the row behind me inexplicably taking such offence at being asked fairly reasonably to put her bag under the seat in front for takeoff that later in the flight that later in the flight she flagged down the stewardess concerned and Took Her Name in order to Make A Complaint. The stewardess did not seem to be quaking with fear at the prospect of being reported to management for doing her job properly, not only happily giving her full name but helping the complainant make sure she had the spelling right.

Anyone who's flown through it in the last couple of years will know that Zürich airport is a pleasure. Even as one of the last off the plane and with the wait for the transitty thing to the main terminal (although you get a smooch from an animated Heidi as a reward for waiting) I was in the baggage hall within 15 minutes. More impressively, so were my bags. Down to the railway station, bought a ticket, and was on the train to Zürich Hauptbahnhof barely half an hour after landing. Unheard of!

This is where things get a little interesting, or at least where I could have planned better. I figured that bringing my bike (well, one of my bikes) with me would give me a way to explore a little, so as well as 25kg of wheely duffel bag I also had a bike in a huge, unwieldy bike bag to wrestle. The bag has wheels, but they're small wheels on a big bag, and the bag itself isn't rigid. The wheels are also only at one end, and the other end has to be lifted up a long way for them to work properly. Add the carry-on backpack I was also wearing and you'll probably get an idea of the fun I'd let myself in for.

I successfully wrestled the dread combo o'bags through the Hauptbahnhof, overtaking a gaggle of soldiers returning for weekend leave and being grateful that they didn't remark on my astonishing abilty to schlep heavy loads and conscript me on the spot, and onto the train to the nearest station to the security office where I needed to collect the keys.

Okay, I won't describe my every move. Let's say, though, that I finally arrived at the apartment building after schlepping this dread combo (alternately wheeling the bike bag and carrying it over my shoulder) across an airport, a train, the undercroft of Zürich HB, another train, a not insubstantial walk to the security office, down to the nearest tram stop, onto a tram, off the tram again, and finally a short walk to the apartment block. I then discovered that my apartment is on the third floor and there's no lift. You can probably imagine the joy of lugging that lot up three floors sometime after 11pm on a Sunday when everyone is supposed to be asleep and if you make too much noise one of the neighbours will suddenly call the police.

I finally got in, located the most important bits in the apartment (DSL modem, place to plug in Airport Express, toilet - more or less in that order) and studied the sign in the bathroom ordering me to air the apartment regularly (ideally three times a day). Clearly Switzerland takes the menace of mildew seriously.

This morning, the workout the bike gave me last night (more comprehensive and varied than I'd have got for riding it for an hour) means I have bruising and red patches across both shoulders and the sort of aches and pains normally associated with, if not a day of wrestling, at least a hard day of DIY. I guess I need to practice my bike-schlepping harder in order to get into shape.

Anyway, here it is. I guess I'm now resident in Switzerland. Scary, huh?

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1 Comment

I relate very well to the picture of climbing 3 floors with luggage, I dealt with 5 bags and 6 floors this summer with similar results.

I wish the Swiss would invest in elevators. Even my not at all high end apartment in India has one. The Swiss are dangerously and threateningly healthy. I think that's how the Swiss single out the foreigners - the ones who are puffing and panting and painfully out of breath.

-Cheeni

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