I ﬁrst met Petrus in london in the Summer of 2009. It was actually warm, and easy to move around the streets of Central London, trying out the different bars.
It was late and this was to be my last bar before returning to my hotel. Petrus was there, and what started as a casual glance continued into a lengthy conversation; resulting in an exchange of e-mails.
I left Cardiff Airport at a ridiculously early time in order to arrive at Zurich Airport for Mid- Morning. Petrus had explained that he had to start work in the afternoon, and this would be the best opportunity to meet me and show me to the hotel and have a quick tour of the city.
Zurich Airport was quite impressive, and reminded me once again of why I’m constantly dismayed by British Airports ! The journey to the City was a comfortable one. But really I felt fortunate to have Petrus lead the way. It was so cold, and I did not want to hang about studying route maps. And by the time we got to the City snow ﬂurries were increasing.
Now, looking at my other journeys you will have noticed
that they are usually to hot destinations. This was my ﬁrst experience of a European (albeit Switzerland) City. And it was Winter, and everybody spoke German !!
Petrus went up in my estimation; not only able to speak English (Petrus is Indonesian), but also ﬂuent German. it seemed ironic when he told me that learning formal German was a slight disadvantage since most employers preferred ‘Swiss’ German.
Through the bitter cold we made our way through the ‘Old City’ to Hotel Adler. This was by way of the narrow side streets which I found extremely charming, with small boutique shops mingled with bars, and street ‘Christmas Market’ stalls.
The stalls ranging from local products to novelty gifts, and food and drink stalls. After
unloading our bags we were able to have a drink at one of the stalls. This was where I was to discover the joy of Gluhwein !!
Remember, I had little sleep the night before my very early departure. There was my journey, and now taking in the new environment. In the fascinating side street ﬁlled with numerous stalls I was really getting the Xmas spirit. In my hand a hot drink which reminded of blackcurrent cordial - but with quite a punch! Petrus had to leave me for work. Three Gluhweins’ later, and I felt ready to sleep even though it was only 4pm. Back to the hotel, a hot bath, and a lie down.
A couple of hours later, relaxing. Waiting for Petrus to ﬁnish work. The view outside the hotel window was so ‘magical’. The bright lights of the stalls, the sounds of people passing by, shoppers taking the time to
take a hot gluhwein to banish the cold - if only for a short while.
All such a sharp contrast to the small village I live in. It was welcome escape from the normal routine of my home. Somehow, here, the cold didn’t seem so daunting. Just a part of this necessary adventure in
my life. After the grey overcast start of the Zurich weather, everything seemed so much brighter.
Petrus arrived from work. Although tired, was keen to continue showing me around the ‘Old City’. The night life - that is, the bars..............
Walking through the late cold night air we went ﬁrst to ‘Dynasty’ bar. This consisted of two ﬂoors. Ground ﬂoor ‘Dynasty’ and on the second ﬂoor ‘G-Lounge’.
Dynasty was nice, but not ‘comfortable’, and as I was to discover the next night, very keen on ‘oompapa oompapa‘ repetitive German music. A joy to many - a chore to me. The upstairs bar ‘G-Lounge‘ had a very nice layout of furniture, with tranquil decor which appealed to me greatly; and the music more ‘European’. I liked it. The only problem for me, perhaps it’s a British ‘thing’ - I do like sitting by the bar, and seeing what’s going on. Here it seemed the norm to be seated, and served on.
Everywhere was quiet. I guess a mix of being quite late, and very cold outside, as we discovered as we moved on to our next destination - ‘Barfusser’. On street level, quite long, with an extremely chatty, likeable barman. Basic in decor, but pleasant.
Back out into the cold night and through narrow lanes to Club T&M.
A very popular night club, mixed ages and types. Nice layout, and plenty of life. The music seemed very 80’s ? After a while we went upstairs to Club AAAH. This seemed to have a
lot more character - excitement blended with seediness - it appealed to my senses. And the music more frenetic. How can I put it. This bar seemed more appropriate for single guys; or maybe guys who were in a very tolerant (or boring) relationship.
Of course it’s possible to just come here for fun and a drink/dance. I guess I’m showing my age. I soon longed for my bed. Was it a case of ‘been here, seen it, done it’ ?
Next morning we decided to go to Luzern, after visiting Petrus’s
apartment. Bitterly cold, and snowing heavy. It was so nice to have the comfort of a ‘double deck’ speed train from Zurich to Luzern.
At the main station was the extraordinarily beautiful crystal
Xmas tree which was to fascinate me throughout my stay. Arriving at Luzern to see the lake - Vierwaldstatersee - the architecture of Luzern was stunning. The steeped buildings all around, being gently caressed by the falling snow.
A ‘fairytale’ City, ideal for the approaching Xmas.
Petrus showed me the wooden Chapel Bridge.
The steeped buildings around the lake in Luzern.
Although enchanting, walking around Luzern, it was also bitterly cold - and becoming painfully so.
Petrus headed for his favourite place - ‘Heini’.
A large mug of hot chocolate, and cake. Especially chocolate cake for Petrus !!
Time for us to return to Zurich
After relaxing awhile at the hotel it was time for dinner. Petrus took me to a local restaurant, the well established ‘Restaurant Johanniter’
Here I really felt as if I was in Switzerland; the style of the restaurant, the decor. Lovely !! The staff were warm and friendly, I felt so relaxed after a very hectic day. A superb meal, nice wine............... The meal: Rindsﬁlet; Cordon-bleu; Apfelstrudel; Tiramisu and wine came to 101 Swiss
Francs. And worth it ! What I particularly liked was the way in which the potato was done - ‘rosti’.
I should also say, as Petrus remarked ‘Steve drank all the time Swiss beer, ‘Feldschloschen’.
After a very late night the previous night, and a great day discovering the delight of Luzern, it was a case of a few drinks around the bars. Then an early sleep.
My last day. Petrus had one ﬁnal treat in store. After we
had ﬁnished packing, we left our bags at reception. Down to the train station, and after a hot
drink we got the train to the ‘top of Zurich’,
passing through Uto Kulm. Driving up through the hills through the forest we were truly in a Winter Wonderland.
After the train came to a halt, it was a case of walking the rest of the way uphill on foot.
I think Petrus was getting a bit fed up of my constant use of the expression ‘this is so beautiful’ !!
Mindful of the advancing time it was a hasty return to the awaiting train. A quick walk around some gift shops, then to collect our bags.
Then one last treat at one of stalls outside the hotel - Gluhwein !!
Time for the airport. A last glance at the tree, and we were off.
A sad farewell to one of the nicest guys I’ve met. The plane. And home. With some wonderful memories.