Making mistakes while traveling on a dime

A seedy neighborhood it is. Ladies of the night (and day) are  seen strolling in the neighborhood in their short shorts and high heeled boots. I feel sorry for the life they lead and wish I could do something to help them.

I reported in the last post, that I made my way to Zurich and found the hostel where I would be staying for three nights. The lovely receptionist, who holds dual citizenship from both Switzerland and Canada, informed me there would be a jam session in the lobby and of course I would be welcome. The lobby is right next to the street and the general public has access to the bar, whereas the guests have electronic keys which opens the door to the front, the room wing, and the bedroom door. Then there is a closet which we’re expected to use our own locks and keys.

The bedroom is small, but holds three bunk beds, and the room is stuffy, hot and steamy. Last night, while music was still wailing away, three of us in the steamy room went to bed, while one young lady sat on her suitcase, where she had been since 3 p.m., surfing the web until way after midnight.

This morning I woke up to see snow on cars and gently falling down on umbrellas, buildings and outdoor-restaurant chairs.

I don’t like to be negative, but since the original purpose of the blog was to show how to “travel on a dime” and also how a senior citizen could have a great time traveling, I need to be honest and report, not only what has been fun and rewarding, but also, any mistakes I have made.

Switzerland is a lovely country, and the beauty will stay with me in my good travel memories.

However, taking the side trip to Switzerland has been a financial mistake, and I attempted to make up for it by staying in the hostel and by watching how I spend money eating in restaurants.

Just to show you how expensive it is here, a cup of coffee will cost at least five dollars, sometimes more. You may be able to find it around four-fifty, if you’re lucky. Yesterday I paid twelve dollars for a falafel sandwich that I have never paid more than four dollars for in California.

A pair of boots and a coat are things I need to purchase to make it through the winter, and just for fun, I looked at prices and was blown away. “I will buy the same thing in Germany for half this much,” I told a salesclerk. She agreed. “A lot of people here go to Germany to shop.”

Okay, enough of that, you get the idea by now.

So back to the hostel in the seedy neighborhood, the music into the night and the steamy, stuffy room: I will cut my stay by one day. I made a reservation for a hotel near the airport, and will bite the bullet and get a taxi to take me there. I won’t even bother you with the amount of money that will cost.

But the next day I’ll be with Juliane and Lenny and Lenny’s parents in Frankfurt. I need to be at the airport by 5 a.m. and rested up in order to be alert when I get to Germany.

I made this decision as I walked back from train station today. I walked there just to get an idea what it would be like to take the train to the airport. The train information lady told me to ask at the tourist information bureau, so off I trundled down the street in the snow.

“That is way hell out of town,” the information man said when I gave him the address of the hotel.

“What? It’s near the airport, right?”

“Yes, it is, but the airport is far away.”

“Ok, I get it, so how would I get there by train?”

He gave me the news that, first of all, it would be a ten minute walk to the train station, then downstairs. He told me where to get off from the first train, get on a second train, and from there walk about twenty minutes to the hotel. (Dragging my luggage, I might add here).

“Or get a taxi from that stop.”

On my way back through the snow, I decided to cut my losses, and get a taxi tomorrow right from the hostel.

The hostel gave me fifty percent of my initial payment for one night, which I figured was fair enough.

The lesson learned here is to do the work before venturing off to a different destination. If I had realized how expensive it is in Switzerland, I would have made other plans. I did know that Italy is the same, and that’s the main reason that country is not on the list of places to see.

Sometimes trying to cut costs actually costs more in the long run, as I have learned in two days in a steamy hostel.

Enough of that. Now I want to share that I came upon the first Christmas market near the train station.

There was a mixture of smells to delight the senses: scented candles, incense, wooden items, and International food of many types. It was a pleasure to walk among the creativity that abounds in traditional Christmas markets. I will experience that soon when I meet my friend Marilyn McCord in Berlin on Dec. 12.





4 Responses to Making mistakes while traveling on a dime

  1. Laureen….oh how you will enjoy being in a home with folks you know and with normal sleeping arrangements !!!!!
    Keep well…..keep blogging…… start our day.
    Paula and Bud

    • Yes, Paula and Bud, I’ve reached a point in my travels that I need to sit back for awhile. I will be working on getting a visa so I can stay longer in Germany, so Lenny has agreed to help me get that. Other than that, I’ll just enjoy being with Juliane and Lenny and their new baby.

  2. Yes, I remember how expensive life was when I lived in Switzerland in 1987-88. A little pizza was $15!! But to balance things out, minimum wage was also $15… Luckily, I was a student with a work visa so I lived VERY cheaply and saved up lots of money. I hope you have many more pleasant experiences to make up for this one…

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