“Nothing ever goes as planned when traveling” was a wise word of advice from my dad before we split up in the Munich underground. He was not being pessimistic: he was telling me to expect things to go wrong and to be calm about it.
I tried my best to keep a cool head with this advice in mind. My travel plans had so many different variables, they were destined to be led astray. These are just a few setbacks that I experienced in the 12 hours I spent traveling from Germany to Switzerland:
→ Mixing up Hackerbrüke and Donnersbergerbrücke, thus getting off at the wrong subway station. Rushing back to the right place to board a bus from Munich to Zurich.
→ Miscommunicating the travel plans with Emily, who didn’t know to have a transfer from Zurich to Lucerne. Having to hustle at the train station to reserve a last-minute seat.
→ Booking our hotel room for the wrong date, which was absolutely nonrefundable.
If everything went as smoothly as planned, I wouldn’t have been so flustered when I was booking our room. I probably would not have messed up the date of our booking, and we wouldn’t have been forced to spend an extra day in Switzerland. The extra day ended up being a immensely rewarding experience. That’s the nature of traveling, you know. Nothing ever goes as planned. An unexpected change isn’t always an absolute disaster and can sometimes be an adventure, or at least a good story. I think that if I could give any traveller a single word of advice, it would be to take mishaps in stride.
Switzerland was unbelievably foggy. I remember staring out the window as the train cut through the heavy air, amazed at how little I could see. I arrived in Lucerne on Halloween, which was not being celebrated. I saw a few women in witch costumes here and there, but I didn’t see any of the candy and decorations that I was missing back in the United States. On the first night, I walked around the city by myself. I browsed a gift shop and bought a Swiss army knife (because of course).
The central attraction in Lucerne is the Lion Monument. It is a massive sculpture – about 20 feet tall – in honor of the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris, France.
It broke my heart.
Lions are usually depicted as strong and fierce. This lion, however, is completely vulnerable. He has an arrow straight through his chest. His face is twisted into an expression of mortal pain and sadness. A single tear rolls down his cheek.
When Mark Twain visited the monument, he described it as the most mournful and moving stone in the world. He wrote:
“Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.”