Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Arrived in Switzerland - 9 November 2011

The Grand Rapids Press published a nice article about me on Sunday.  Somebody tear out a copy and save it for me, will you?  :-)

Monday was goofing off around J'burg on the way to the airport.  I got to the airport quite early, but at least then I didn't have to be concerned about getting there on time.

On the overnight flight to Zurich I didn't sleep much, but managed a bit of a nap at the airport and then on the short flight to Lugano.  Lugano is in the Ticino region of Switzerland, very close to Italy.  It's a very small airport, in fact, it was the first time I've been on a prop plane in quite a while.  I walked out of the terminal following a sign that said "to Trains" and found the shuttle.  Good thing I didn't try and walk to the train--it was about a 10 minute ride.  

Sometimes when I'm feeling a little unsure of things, I think of when Paul, Brent, and I landed in South Korea in 2007.  Paul said, "I say we just throw ourselves into the public transportation system and see what happens."  So, here I was, in a country where I don't speak the language, "throwing myself" into the public transportation system.  Actually, it went pretty well.

All the signs are in  Italian here, so I finally gave up and walked inside to buy a train ticket to Locarno, where I'm staying.  After only one change of trains, I arrived.  

It was a typical fall day, overcast and rainy, so I pulled out my rain jacket and set out to find some tourist info and some food.  The tourist info was at the casino, about 400 meters from the bus station, so now I'm armed with a local map.  I also found a hotel with piatto del giorno (plate of the day) that looked pretty good, and stopped in for a lunch and a beer.  Roast beef, carrots, and polenta.  OK, two beers.

Locarno is located on Lago Magiore, just a short distance from the Italian border.  The main shopping district is along the lakeshore, and fairly flat.  The Hotel Dellavalle Brione, where I'm staying, is WAY up the hill.  I took a taxi up here and checked in.  Found out there's actually a bus that runs every half-hour, so I'll use the cheaper option from now on.  

I spent the rest of the day pretty much resting and reading, and catching up on a little of the sleep-deprived flight experience.  Heading down for breakfast at 8:00.

A couple items:  The Swiss Franc is worth about $1.12.  Stuff is EXPENSIVE here.  
The bus service is Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi, which is referred to as Fart.  Apparently they didn't consult any English speaking people before coming up with that.

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