10 Hours in Zürich

by Anjelica Jardiel

It was just a leisurely Tuesday in the most expensive city in the world: Zürich, Switzerland. I had a 10-hour layover en route to Athens from Newark, New Jersey, so I went to the lake.

A kid named Simon who was coming home from Costa Rica paid for a locker with 6 Swiss Francs for me to store my excess belongings, and took me to the correct trains to make sure I didn’t get lost. It was an easy, 12-minute journey on S16. The trains go straight to and from the bottom floor of the airport.

I got off at Stadelhofen station, and bought myself an $8 sorbet smoothie from Movenpick. It was a 12-ounce blend of passion fruit and mango sorbet and sparkling water. I followed some bubbles in the distance and planted myself next to the swans, ducks, and boats covered in seagull excrement.

I smelled like an airplane, sitting cross-legged along the water.  The sun was at its peak when I arrived. I was surrounded by houses on a hillside, bridges, clock towers, and trolleys. There were a good amount of people around, but not too many. It felt peaceful. The breeze blew through my braids.

I took a walk around the lake and happened upon a man playing his harp. His name was Hugo Del Rio. As I approached, I told him I didn’t have any money, and he said, “No me importa, dinero no es todo.”  (I don’t care, money isn’t everything.) He was from Argentina and plays guitar 5 hours a day.  Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, he comes to the lake to practice playing his harp. He doesn’t practice at home, because at the lake he can put out a hat and collect money.  

The wind grew stronger and hummed through his strings. Hugo said, “Un concierto natural.” With his blessing, I sat next to him for a long while.  Sometimes it’s hard to leave strangers I meet whilst traveling, for fear of never seeing them again. But as it goes, people exist in our lives for as long as they need to.

I watched people swim. I took a nap on the grass and woke up to a light drizzle of rain. I drank carrot apple juice and ate french fries and fried fish caught in the lake itself. I sat under a large umbrella at an outdoor lakeside restaurant called Kiosk. The table next to me discussed American politics with Swiss German accents. They loved Sanders and hated Trump. Even thousands of miles from home, the consensus was the same.  

I observed the international diversity of Zürich, and I smelled weed once. It didn’t feel too different from home.

I fell in love 3 times. First, with Simon’s kindness that inspired me to pay it forward and make sure to make someone else feel as welcome as he made me feel.  Second, with Hugo’s music.  Third, with the lake itself.  I fall in love as much as possible and was reminded that this is what I live for--to experience the world.