From January 1st-2nd:
Wow, so I never knew that traveling could be such an experience. The only experience I had were quick flights to Florida, or flying back and forth to school in Nashville. I had never seen the blankets and pillows, full meals, and movie selection offered on my overnight flight. When I walked on the plane, the stewardess read my boarding pass to see where my seat was; the plane was so huge that she had to direct me to m seat, as if I was going to the theater to see a play or something. I had the prime territory of an aisle seat–24D– on the far left of the middle section. Two young girls were to my left, and a couple was on my right. I was scared that the girls wouldn’t stop talking during the flight–but they tried to sleep just as I did 🙂 After flipping through the numerous movie options, I decided to start “Juste le fin du monde,” a new French film by a director who we had discussed in French class. With quick dialogue and the only option being Portuguese subtitles, I probably only understood about 20%. However, it didn’t take long before I passed out. When I woke up we had a hot meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables in a tangy red sauce, and of course I ate the roll that came with it as well. Back to sleep. I couldn’t get in a comfortable position for awhile, but when I woke up again it looked like I had found one–on the older man’s shoulder next to me! 😮 Admittedly, I had done this once before on a domestic flight (where it was probably even weirder that I was sleeping for so long), but he did not seem as amused. I quickly apologized then didn’t make eye contact with him for the rest of the flight.
The most interesting thing I have noticed is how people of different nationalities communicate–obviously I did not assume or expect everyone to speak English, but it was funny to catch myself saying “bless you” after someone I was standing next to sneezed. I didn’t think it was a big deal until now!
When I was at the airport during my layover in Lisbon, Portugal, I was on line for the flight at the gate. They had switched our gate for Zurich multiple times, and although they had never formally delayed the flight it seemed to be later and later. As I was looking toward the desk, I saw a girl about my age waiting for the attendant. She flipped away her long blonde hair off her back, and low and behold I saw the Vanderbilt star with a V inside! I was so surprised–it was so random and affirming. I knew I would regret not saying something to her, so I got out of line to go ask if she went to Vanderbilt and what she was going in the Lisbon airport on a flight to Switzerland!! She did not seem to be as shocked or intrigued as I was, but was still very pleasant. She said her mom just moved to Switzerland and was going to visit her a for a few days before heading back to school. Dare I say it again–it’s a small world.
We took a 5 minute shuttle ride from the airport to the plane to board, which I had never done before. This gave me a decent opportunity to see some houses and cars in the area! As I boarded the plane, I saw a little boy throwing up inside a plastic bag as he was waiting for the bathroom. Wonderful. I got to my seat and started listening to music before takeoff.
Another thing I noticed was how beautiful and well-dressed the Portuguese flight attendants were. They were all in long, red petticoats with black stockings and pumps and all looked very put together. After traveling for about 8 hours at this point, I felt like an absolute mess.
The flight to Zurich was great, and once we landed I started talking to the couple next to me; they saw me staring over them and out the window at the huge mountains. I told them I had never been to Europe and was seeing them for the very first time. They had just vacationed for 12 days in Cape Verde, and were on their way home. They definitely seemed like an adventurous duo. As we were leaving the plane, the husband seemed to take me under his wing and led me to the baggage claim area while the wife strutted ahead. He was telling me about Switzerland. He joined his wife again at the baggage claim while I went to the other side. Once his bags arrived, he came over to me again and gave me two Lindt Lindor chocolate truffles and said, “Have a sweet time in Switzerland!” What a genuinely nice man. I did not feel hungry at the time after all the travel, but it was a really kind gesture.
I followed the signs for the train with all of my bags in tow and went to the Zurich HB Main Station before transferring onto a train to Bellinzona. While I was switching trains, one of the escalators wasn’t working, so I had to carry by 3 bags down the escalator. All I was thinking in my head was, “I am a strong, independent woman!” though I was felt drips of sweat down my back once I got off the last step. Phew. I followed the signs to track 11, where I saw an escalator that was stopped. “I am done,” I thought to myself, knowing I could probably not carry all my bags up these escalators if I couldn’t do it well on the way down…and just as I was thinking this, an attendant came and unlocked the escalator to set it in motion. It was definitely my lucky day.
I walked along the sidewalk to the train for Bellizona. I sat alone by a table and was ready to go! As the train passed through the mountains, I could not believe the sights I was seeing–they were huge. It was a magnificent ride, and when I arrived Lea found me on the tracks! Her and her mom, Cornelia, helped me get my stuff together and drive about 20 minutes into Locarno, a larger town with her smaller vacation village called Minusio on Lake Maggiore. I am ready for my adventures here!!