I went to Zurich last week, to attend a concert of one of my (top three) favorite guitarists, Kaki King.
I had a friend book me a ticket months back, when I was back in Cairo, and I booked the bus tickets a month before the concert.
I had to take the bus to Freiburg, and from there to Zurich. Same way for the return.
It was the morning of the travel-day, November 21st, and I had packed some sandwiches, and headed off to the University to pick up the print of the concert ticket, courtesy of a friend, as I had forgotten to print it earlier.
It was a rainy day, showers actually, and I picked up the ticket, as scheduled, and was off to the bus station.
There I waited for the bus, which came on time, and we took off for Freiburg.
Along the way, the weather got better, as we moved across the German border then into France. We passed by the french city of Strasbourg. It was beautiful and cozy.
Due to the recent Paris attacks, we were stopped for a random check, but nobody got on board to check our papers, and we carried on, although we spent a long time in the traffic.
Finally we reached Freiburg. It was raining still, unlike what I imagined the sunniest city in Germany to be. We arrived a little late, so after expecting a two hour transit time, I had to wait probably an hour and a half.
I took the chance to walk around the city but just the closer areas, and despite the cold and rain.
The city seemed nice. I went into a market shop, mainly to get into someplace warm, and away from the rain, but then also to take a look around, and maybe buy something for my friend in Zurich.
The prices are the same as in Saarbrücken or maybe a little cheaper? Anyway, I bought some juice and chocolate, and went out again.
It was still raining; still very cold. But the bus was soon to arrive.
I walked back to the train station, and used the time left to eat a couple of sandwiches.
I had finished eating, and with freezing hands I packed my bag again, and waited for my ride.
Looking around I could see some of the people who were waiting for the same bus; two old persons in particular I remember.
I was at the right station, to my understanding, and a couple of guys were nearby.
“Zwei Stunden!” one of the guys said, in a surprised voice. “Zwei Stunden!” he repeated, a little angrily.
“Oh God no, please not my trip.” I prayed, as I’ve had a bad experience with bus delays previously, and just the day before I was talking about this bad luck I’ve had with these buses, and how if this happens in my return trip, which had only a 45 minute transit time, I might be screwed.
I checked my phone, and there it was: two messages from the bus company, mentioning the two hour-delay, and apologizing for the inconvenience. They also mentioned the possibility of a refund, or two free tickets as an apology if I chose to take the bus.
This two hour delay, if it will only really be two hours, wouldn’t be of harm to me, as the concert would start at 9pm, and with the two hour-delay, I would reach Zurich with just enough time to get to the concert place. Luckily the place was close to the bus station.
So I said ‘fine, let’s wait and see.’
I was wondering if the bus would arrive after two hours anyway, or could it come earlier and leave? I went with the first assumption, and got into the Bahnhof to pass time.
Around an hour and a quarter later, I get out to the bus station again. And I noticed the two old persons from before. I decide to stay close to them.
The two hours had passed, and still no sign of the bus, and no news. I began to get worried. A few minutes pass and the old persons decide to leave. I am not sure whether the bus came and left without me noticing, or if it was cancelled or something. All I knew is that I was now stuck here with a concert that I will probably miss.
I decide to call the bus company, and a man replied. After a few minutes with him on the phone, my credit ran out.
That’s when I lost my cool. The station was nearby, and I checked for trains. Nothing would get me on time, and much more expensive than the bus.
Still, I had Internet. So I sent a message to my friend, the same friend who had printed the ticket, and to whom I mentioned the bus delay stuff, asking him to call the company for information.
A few minutes later he replied that the bus came and left on time (which seems to be what the app shows, but not what was reality for me) and that there’s another bus to Zurich soon. It would take me there at about 9:25pm
“OK, let’s book that one.” And so my good friend did. Now I had a new ticket for a new bus, and there it was after about 15 minutes.
I hop on, and ask the driver if he knows anything about the bus I missed. He seemed to know nothing. Anyway, I sit down and charge my phone, and begin to calm down.
I only wished then to at least catch one song, so that all of this would not be in vain. And I started listening to music.
The driver was speedy. Two Hours and we were almost there. I send to my friend in Zurich to inform him of my arrival, and that I was running late, and needed to get to the concert as fast as Zurich-ly possible.
I got off, greeted him in a hug, and we took off in a hurry, to catch the tram. A couple of stops later we are off. Now, we run.
I run, he runs, we get there. I enter. There is a man on stage, I don’t know him. I present my ticket, and get a stamp on my hand. My friend goes back home, and I join in the crowd.
Two men are playing soft music. And I see there, Kaki’s white guitar on stage.
I did not know whether her set had ended, or this was just the opening act. It seemed more likely that it had not started, as it was merely 9:40pm.
A couple of songs later and the two guys leave. We cheer for them and I cheer, out of respect for their musicianship.
People are still waiting, no one left. This is probably it.
I get up in the second floor for a better look.
Minutes later and it began. I did not miss any of it. Only one thing was on my mind: “Thank God for opening acts!”
The shows ends, and I take a picture with Kaki and leave.
It had started to snow. The first snow day in Zurich this month, as my friend had told me.
He gave me instructions on how to reach his home, in the ETH dorms.
I get there and go up with him. We spend the night talking about life and stuff. And we sleep.
The next morning, I have a bus to catch again at 12pm. We have some time to walk around, get a feel of the city.
It was a quiet Sunday, and the weather was quite nice.
It reminded me a little of a scene in a movie.
We took off again to the bus station. I thanked my friend and hopped on the bus.
A couple of hours later, we reached Freiburg again, on time this time.
There were snow showers now. I went down the Bahnhof again.
About 25 minutes later I got out and the snow had stopped.
Luckily my bus was on time as well. I got on, and began my journey back home.
I contemplated about the whole trip: the weather, the cities, the delays.
I had also sent an email the day before to the bus company and got a reply that morning with the two free tickets, although I should have gotten a refund as well, but I had a good time and didn’t miss the thing I came for, so I was glad enough.
I finally reached Saarbrücken and it felt like home, although it’s not, and although I am slowly beginning to lose the concept of home, or rather starting to have a more superficial idea of it.
And I would like to take this chance to thank my three friends who helped me on this trip. Thank you.