Getting to Germany from Switzerland can be an easy thing if one is travelling between major cities, but a slight jostling off the beaten path changes everything. We had two choices on our trip to Leipzig from Biel.
Choice 1: Take the seven-hour train ride.
- A.Take a 90-minute train ride to Zürich airport
- Find unhelpful airport attendant who looks like she speaks fluent English, but turns out to only know how to direct people to one of two lines, which would have been fine except that neither of those two lines would have brought us closer to our gate
- Storm airport in semi-frantic manner while trying to not look like terrorists with time bomb until appropriate gate is located. This is harder than it sounds.
- Get through security where they ask Dave if he has any liquids in his carry-on luggage to which he says no, because he doesn’t know I stashed a bunch of liquids in there just before leaving for the train (see #2.1 above). This creates consternation on part of security staff until Dave rolls his eyes and blames his wife. “I’m not taking the fall for you,” he says.
- Security staff chuckle and wave us through. I am a middle-aged potentially menopausal woman and they are not about to risk messing with me.
- Wait in terminal where only food kiosk charges 4.90 Swiss Francs for a banana and an unprintable amount for a cup of coffee.
- Line up with 200 eager Swiss/German travellers all of whom jump up when the gate staff announce they are boarding Rows 23 through 28. In Switzerland, this means nothing. It’s a race to see which passenger can travel most efficiently by boarding the plane earliest so he can arrive at Berlin at the same time as the rest of the passengers.
- Crowbar our way into compactly arranged SwissAir flight where even I at only five-feet in height have to crunch my knees up against the seat in front of me.
- One hour later, arrive in Berlin where we join in passengers enthusiastically elbowing their way off plane so as to be first to step into Berlin.
- Wander airport in daze trying to find rental car agency, which is indicated only by small sign with a picture of a car key and car on it. It could mean “this way to parking lot,” or “car rental desks.” We don’t care. Either way, we’re leaving with a car.
- Drive through crazed Berlin roadways, then German highways to Leipzig, risking life and limb as German motorists zoom past us at speeds of 160 km/h and higher.
- Arrive in dark town, convinced we are about to get mugged. I remind Dave to try to not look so Jewish, and “Remember, don’t mention the war!”
- The entire span of this “quick” flight to Germany is seven hours (see Choice #1 above).