#johnandjefftakeoneurope | act ii
Act II: Geneva and the Tribulations
7:00am. 4 hours after our night with Nico. Also known as Hangover Central. Pbo and I wake up, disoriented and exhausted, fumbling around to get ready before our 8:30am train in order to get back to Barcelona just in time for our 12:30pm flight to Geneva. At about 8:00am we’re ready to leave, but are unable to find any taxi nearby. Luckily, Nico gives us a phone number to call. I’m in a quiet panic because it takes roughly 20min to get to the train station from Nico’s house, and no cab has arrived and it’s already past 8:10a. Finally our taxi arrives at 8:15a and I, calmly as possible, ask him “puedes llevarnos a la estación antes de 8:30?” He stares at me with this grin that says he’s been waiting for this challenge for a long, long time. He very nonchalantly replies, “Claro.” Before you know it, my man is flying through the city, cutting cars off, switching gears, disregarding traffic laws; making Dom Toretti look like a scrub.
He gets us to the station at 8:29a, and me and Pbo are sprinting to get through the station security to make the train. In classic foreign tourist fashion, we were the last ones on the train making a scene. Luckily we did, otherwise we would have missed our flight. This is panic #1.
Panic #2 — we get to the Barca train station on time. Cool. The problem is: we have roughly an hour to get to the airport/get through security, however, all of the taxis at the station were on break for some reason. So, we take the Metro to the airport, leaving us about 15 minutes to get to our gate. In classic ‘Of course this shit would happen’ fashion, our gate is in the furthest terminal from the train station, which leaves us with no other option than to run. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when your diet has consisted solely of beer and greasy food, this task becomes a tad bit more difficult. By the time we reach our gate, the line is halfway boarded and we’re dripping sweat. We made it. Two close calls. We’re testing our luck but things seem to be leaning in our favor. We take a moment to finally relax on the plane as there is no other mode of transportation between us and Geneva.
Panic #3- we finally arrive at our hostel in the afternoon. One would think things would go smoothly after the luck we’ve had this morning. WRONG. I accidentally messed up our reservation by only requesting one bed, and of course the hostel was booked; leaving one of us without a place to stay. Luckily, we were able to find another hostel at a similar price with two beds. At this point we’re over with logistics, so we decide to do what we do best: eat and drink.
This night in Geneva may have been one of the more memorable nights for a couple reasons: 1) being that panic #4 inevitably happens, however, 2) highlights a more positive note and commences a recurring theme that will happen to us over the course of our adventures: being mistaken for professional athletes.
We walked into an old pub, named Lord Jim’s Pub and were welcomed by two Swiss men: Roman, the bartender and former Billiard champion of some faction and super athlete in a number of other sports (he was very convincing), and John-Phillipe, clearly a pub local and Anthony Hopkins Doppleganger. Additionally, John-Phillippe’s name would be continued to be used by us to describe the highest level of drunkenness one could achieve, for obvious reasons that I don’t need to state. Apparently since we were tall an American they thought we were D-1 Basketball players for UofM (not as flattering as what would happen later in our trip). Due to their love for sports, they bought us a beer and continued to talk with us. We spent the next few hours trying to decipher their combination of French and broken English. It was a fantastic time.
After deciding to not get on John Phillippe’s level, we headed back to our hostel to what will be panic #4. When getting ready to go to bed (at 1:00am mind you), Pbo realized that there was someone sleeping in his bed, unaccounted for. This is pretty in line with how the day had been going so far. So, he had to go down to the receptionist to sort things out. The following events included a loud argument purely in French and consisting of ‘the police’ and the remainder I assumed to be curse words, a half eaten burrito in Pbo’s bed, and less than 2 hours of sleep.
This was by and far the most challenging day we’d have on the trip. We kept our cool though as something like this would be expected. Plus, we’re not going to let one mishap shape the outcome of the vacation. At sunrise, our luck would turn up, leading to Day 4.
Day 5— Interlaken.
Our sleep deprived selves had to get up at around 5:00am to catch our train to the other side of Switzerland: Interlaken. We were particularly excited about this trip as we’d be taking what is called the Golden Pass: the scenic train route through the Alps in a train that is primarily windows, so you can get a nice view. It added a few hours to our travel time, but was definitely worth it. All of our hopes of sleep were shattered once we witnessed the greatness around us. Massive Lake Geneva, with intimidating mountains in the background; and was we curved through little villages with impeccable wood work and red roofed houses, we could see where the snow stopped falling, seemingly separating the mountains into two. I went full on tourist photographer with this one.
Once we arrived in Interlaken, the sleep started to kick in. P-bo almost beat my ass because I was half asleep in the hostel lobby while we figured out what to do next. Interlaken is a very interesting city/village in that it’s between two lakes and surrounded by large mountains. It seems like one of those towns that most people simply pass through, but it’s very beautiful. It also seemed like REI heaven. Like, if REI were a city, this would be it. One of the main attractions is the view from the mountain, however, it was snowing when we arrived and the view would have been horrible.
Since we weren’t going up the mountain (nor do I believe I had the energy to), we decided to grab food at a dive bar/restaurant and chill. Pbo said he had the best burger he’s eaten in a while there. I did notice that the people on this side of Switzerland tended to be nicer to us than in Geneva. I also noticed the language changed from French to German as we left Geneva and got closer to Switzerland. Not saying there’s a correlation there, but it’s just an observation :D
After grub, we ventured to the Beatus Caves and the popular Solbads (Salt Baths), where you can swim in an outside warm salt water pool in the middle of the snowy weather. I’ll just say this- I could definitely get used to that type of bath.
After the Solbads. Pbo and I decided to grab dinner at another bar (surprise, surprise) and then call it a night, since we had a behemoth 8 hour ride ahead of us the next day. I’d say these past two days were probably the most taxing in terms of travel time, but we didn’t mind as everything was new to us. Luckily, this time there were no hostel shenanigans, and I think it was the first time we got an adequate amount of sleep.
I’ll say this about Switzerland: 1) it’s expensive as all hell. I did not like this at all. And this is coming from someone who pays Bay Area prices for everything… 2) our perception was a little skewed due to the weather and the situation that happened in Geneva. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful country and I’d love to visit again in better weather.
This concludes Act II: Geneva and the Tribulations. Like I had alluded to a number of times, this was probably the hardest part of our trip due to a few obstacles and fatigue, but in the grand scheme of things everything was all good, and I couldn’t have felt more blessed than to be on this adventure with one of my best homies. The next act, Act III: Out of the Rubble and Into the Sunshine, is where things start to get really good. Stay tuned.