I really had to pee by the time I got to Lucerne. On top of that frustration, as I wandered through the the Zurich train station before my departure I found a market had been set up in the large terminal. Full of fresh breads, cheeses, meats and produce, it brought tears to my eyes, and I emotionally berated myself for not having budgeted some time to pick up delicious goodies.
I arrived in Lucerne about as clueless as I’ve arrived in most of the cities I’ve visited so far. All I had to guide me was the 2-by-2 in. diagram on the back of the brochure for the hostel where I had reserved two nights. I only knew one thing: if I didn’t find a bathroom soon, I would be having a very unique Blogabout experience.
I followed the loose directions as best as I could, walking away from the train station, past shipping docks and industrial parks, past a fountain that had a single, fine stream of water shooting up in to the sky (aw come on!), and past a small park that bordered Lake Lucerne. Finally I found the hostel and ran inside. I quickly found the receptionist, but he was on the phone. I tried to get his attention just to ask where the bathroom was, but he waved me off with his hand and gave me the universal symbol of “just a minute”, which oddly enough is only one finger away from the universal symbol for “@#$& off!”.
I dropped my backpack and ran like a madman around the ground floor of the hostel, testing doors left and right for the one that hid the toilet. In my last gasp of desperation I ran down one of the dorm halls and found the shared bathroom. I think it was a women’s restroom, but at that point I was eyeing one of the potted plants in the lobby.
As I was checking in, the receptionist looked at my passport and smirked, “It is a good day for you, huh!” The night before I had met a real nice Aussie kid named Joel and we spent a while talking about the election and, the next morning, the results. I was all politic-ed out, so I gave the front desk guy the standard “yes, yes we’re all quite proud …” and moved on.
I moved my stuff into a small, but clean and tidy 4-share room. The large window, which occupied most of the back wall, overlooked the street in front of the hostel, and the park across the street. It reminded me of a college dorm, and in fact, the top 3 floors of the building were some kind of student housing. It was a strange setup, and even by the time I left I didn’t quite understand how it worked.
The whole reason I even came to Lucerne was to wait out the weather. Zurich wasn’t backpackingly-interesting enough to suffer through rain and fog, so I decided to position myself closer to the Swiss Alps for that day when the weather did clear up, which according to the local meteorologists, was gonna be that weekend. It actually wasn’t a bad day at all. A few clouds threatened from a distance, but it was pretty clear around town.
I walked through the park for a while until I passed the shipping docks. I watched a couple guys unload a cargo of gravel for a few minutes until they started staring at me more and more.
I walked into town and came across the Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrucke … with one of those dotted-u’s, one of the prides of the city. It was built in 1333, but much of hit had to be reconstructed after one thoughtful person burned it down in 1993 with a stray cigarette.
After some more strolling around town — back over the bridge and around the shopping district — I walked back to the hostel via the supermarket and ate dinner.
My dormmate happed to be a Kiwi named Martin. He was difficult to get information out of, but from what I could understand, he had been living and working in England as a treehugger (actually he didn’t so much hug trees, but calculate the best and most efficient ways of chopping them down for the logging industry), and was doing a quick trip of Europe before eventually heading home.