Back when I was planning my trip, I realized that it was cheaper to fly in/out of Zurich than to fly in/out of Milan. The airfares were so high that I was trying to find a way to save a few dollars. Because I did not want to deal with the long train ride both ways, I decided to compromise and fly into Milan and out of Zurich. In 2003 I spent my last night in Zurich before flying home. I enjoyed my brief visit to Zurich and always wanted to return to get to know this lovely city a little better. I thought it would be fun to go back to Zurich for a few nights again.
I initially paid for my ticket, but then during that 24 hour time frame when I was able to cancel my ticket, I decided on using my miles instead to book my trip. I did not even think about any other options when canceling my paid trip and booking my trip with miles. That was pretty stupid of me. I could have even stopped in Boston on the way home for a few days to visit friends and family and possibly catch a game. This would not work now though as I am starting my trip later during my summer vacation and only have a few more days off when I return home before starting work again.
At the same time I booked my trip, I booked a room at Hotel Glockenhof in Zurich. It was a more expensive hotel, but I was able to get a good deal (200 Swiss Francs/133 Euros per night) compared to their regular prices. The following day the Euro hit a new high and since then the dollar has continued to fall.
During the past few weeks, I have continued to read up on Switzerland. At the same time, I started checking out the train tickets. I did look at the travel options before booking my trip but did not think to check on the prices. I was in shock when I saw that it would cost 133.90 Euros for first class/87.50 Euros for second class if I took the fastest train - Bologna to Zurich (a 5 hour 35 minute trip) and 121.90 Euros for first class/80.50 Euros for second class for the slower train - Bologna to Zurich (a 6 hour 35 minute trip).
At this point, I started checking out cheaper hotels to find a way to save a few dollars. I also started reading about recommended places to eat and realized that Switzerland does not have any no-smoking laws in place. I have taken for granted the new no-smoking laws in Italy and forgot that Switzerland has not also adopted the new policy. The long train trip was not sitting well with me. I hate being enclosed in any type of transportation vehicle, especially when the trip is long, and that includes planes, trains, and automobiles. I think that is why I love being on a boat.
I started to think about the hassle of being in smoking places, the cost of the train trip, and the falling dollar and started to wonder just why I was going to Zurich since it would be such a long trip to get there for only a few nights.
The other nagging problem with my itinerary was that I was not going to stay with my friends Katia and Guido on this trip. We have been emailing back and forth since I planned my trip for this summer trying to figure out how we could meet. I was trying to plan a trip with longer stays and fewer travel days and finding a weekend in Coccaglio was not working out. I was hoping that we could meet somewhere instead but that was not looking good and was not the same as staying for the weekend.
I first met Katia and Guido during my very first trip to Europe back in 1999. While waiting for a train to arrive in Vernazza, I sat next to this nice couple (Katia & Guido), on a cement bench (which I found out in 2006 is no longer there). Lucky for me, the train was running an hour late. During that time, we struck up a conversation, exchanged emails, and rode together to La Spezia where we were both making connections. We kept in touch through email and the following year, Katia met me in Verona and took me to her house in Coccaglio where I spent the night. Our friendship has grown over the years and each time I have returned to Italy (except my trip to Sicily), I have stayed with Katia at her family's house. A little over a year ago, Katia and Guido married. I was invited to their wedding but could not attend due to my work schedule. Katia and Guido came to Hawaii last summer for their belated honeymoon. We spent a wonderful week together renting a house up on the North Shore.
After writing my posts on Santa Margherita, Acqui Terme, and Bologna, I started writing my post on Zurich, but for some reason, I kept finding other things to write about and could not get my Zurich post finished. I still have it in draft form.
Sunday night, I had this brilliant idea. What if I spent my final weekend with Katia and Guido and flew out of Milan instead of traveling to Zurich. I remembered reading somewhere that I could change my airline ticket for $50.00. I checked the flights and there were still seats available with miles flying out of Milan. I sent an email to Katia with the idea. She was thrilled. Here is part of her email:
che bello!!! che bello!!! che bello!!!
wonderful!! wonderful!!! wonderful!!!!
My easter egg brought me a wondderful surprise!!! You are in the egg!!!!!
I'm so so so so so happy that we'll see you and we'll spend some days together!!! WOW!!!
I called the next day to make the change. The best part is that it will only cost $36.00 instead of $50.00 because I asked about the Switzerland Airport Passenger/Security Charge of $36.70. The person re-priced the ticket and I was refunded the difference.
Now my trip is perfect!