(This is part one of my European Travel Review Series, “Duriba Encounters: European Gold” based in) Zurich, Switzerland (I don’t know how to put the two little dots above the u via keyboard so just imagine them. Little u smiley is watching you, friend).
We arrived in Europe without a clue of what we were to see. With sweaty palms, a leather carry on wheelie and my journal tucked safely in my purse, I stepped out of the USA for the first time in 7 years. The first thing I noticed about Switzerland was how clean it was. How picturesque, how very DDLJ and how proper it was. Reading signs at the airport was nearly impossible. Although my sister and I were very much so occupied with selfies, my mother with sleeping in public areas, and my Dad with navigating and scolding...we somehow landed across a Swiss man with long, Heath Ledger-ish curls, and a hefty frame. I was sure he could pick me up by the collar and squish me to death if he wanted to.
“English?” My father called out loudly, smiling like a cheery baby and raising his eyebrows. “Do you speak English?”
“Why, yes, sir.” he replied sweetly.
“Do you know where is Terminal 3?”
“I do not. Where do you need to go?”
“We’re looking for the shuttle to our hotel...” my Mother interrupted.
After about ten minutes in conversation with my father on directions, he heavily sighed and glanced at us...two overdressed teenagers, one balding “captain,” and a sleep baby with high heels. Finally, he spoke.
“How many of you are there?”
“Four” we all repled unanimously.
“I can take you.”
With that, we followed him into his 2003 Volvo, occasionally pinching one another’s palms. “What if he’s a serial killer?” my sister leaned in and whispered. My dad turned to give us “the look.” In five minutes or so, we were off. Gibberish played on the radio and he hummed along happily, tapping the steering wheel and smiling out the window.
The first thing I noticed was the smell of his car. It smelt heavily of cigarette smoke and protein bars. I figured it was the norm here and thought better than to pretend to cough the whole ride there. Through what seemed like natural small talk between my Father and him, we quickly learned that he worked to design airplanes, lived in the US for five years, and that his forty year old girlfriend had a baby, whose car seat occasionally banged against the trunk’s glass. He told stories about Switzerland and what was good to see, but five seconds of gazing out the window and snow caps had assured me that I had already found it.
His vehicle smoothly pulled into the hotel driveway, and he was kind enough to open the back door for me. “Thank you so much!” I chirped. I wanted to say more. The statements “YOU'RE THE NICEST GUY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! LIKE WHY WOULD YOU HELP A BUNCH OF BROWN TOURISTS WHO YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW?” were a part of it. Instead, I watched my father hug him, exchange contacts and salute. I walked to the entry with a puzzled smiled on my face. You do not seek angels, I decided. They come to you in forms of tall, burly guys wearing button ups and shaggy beards.