Zurich was one of the destinations squeezed into our itinerary because a friend insisted that the Swiss Alps were a “must-do” and it turned out to be a cool city and worthwhile experience but man oh man was it expensive! Yes it had great food (predominantly Italian) but for those prices it’d better be good. We tried to have a cheap meal once after getting back late from an all day excursion, and ducked into a no-frills noodle joint in the basement of the train station. We ordered two udon bowls and two miso soups, all served in cardboard takeout containers, and paid over $40USD for a meal worth not more than $10. But alas, you don’t go to Zurich for affordable meals, you go to see beautiful mountains. Which would have been a great idea if you didn’t already live in Colorado and see beautiful mountains every damn weekend. I was super excited to travel to Jungfraujoch, coined the “Top of Europe” because it was the highest railway station on the continent. This particular excursion complicated our packing strategy because we had to carry around winter gear during five weeks of summer just to be able to visit Jungfraujoch and the ice palace carved inside a glacier. I had no regrets, even when we finally reached the summit to peer out over the snowy mountain caps and Tom joked, “How is this different from Keystone?” The summit didn’t even reach 12,000 feet, and we had skied at higher elevations at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Copper. We were grateful to have witnessed the spectacular views of the Swiss Alps but were also grateful to live in a place that offered equally spectacular vistas.
The excursion that caused the most anxiety and ended up being the most awesome was our day trip to Mount Rigi and Lucerne. By this time in our travels we had already completed a bunch of excursions and were starting to feel the effects of daily nonstop activities. We were getting tired, and encountered some bad weather on our third day in Zurich. Walking in the chilly rain to embark on our last full day excursion in Switzerland, Tom started getting cold feet, literally and figuratively. He wanted to cancel and rest. Hesitant to torture my family by dragging them on a tour they weren’t enthused about, I asked the tour operator if we could possibly get a refund. Of course not. So we boarded our coach bus and crossed our fingers. The cable car ride up to Mount Rigi was enjoyable, but at the top icy rain and winds dashed all hopes of a scenic hike. I loved my kids so much because they were good sports and braved the stormy weather so I could snap some photos. Up to this point our excursions had largely been successes, and for the first time I felt like I had failed my family. Our fortunes reversed when we descended Mount Rigi and unexpectedly boarded a bomb-ass yacht. The tour description mentioned a boat ride to Lucerne but didn’t describe exactly what kind of boat ride; after our disastrous experience atop Mount Rigi, I prayed we wouldn’t be exposed to the elements on a turbulent boat. Not only was the boat adequately protected, it was a straight-up yacht. An AMAAAAAAAAZING yacht with a first class cabin that we snuck into to order cocktails. The day only got better after that. After reveling in the gorgeous scenery we arrived to Lucerne and were delighted to find yet another lovely European city. Lucerne’s most famous attraction is the oldest surviving truss bridge in the world, so of course we had to cross it. In a matter of days we had scaled Jungfraujoch to the Top of Europe and crossed Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge. After our tour, we dined on authentic Swiss-German cuisine at a popular beer hall in Zurich. It was a most satisfactory finish to a most satisfactory day and, despite an inauspicious start, it turned out to be one of the best excursions of the summer. Although Tom never did or would utter a word of reproach while we were sitting in a cafeteria on top of Mount Rigi to wait out the storm, the reproachful look on his face was soul-crushing. I felt like I hadn’t done enough to avert temporary discomfort. The fundamental objective of my life is procuring my family’s happiness, and their unhappiness is my misery. I chose this excursion and I forced my family to endure it. By the end of the day I grew only more confident and secure in the knowledge that, ultimately, I am always right.