En Guete, Guten Appetit, Bon Appétit, Buon Appetito

 

Setting foot on this old continent for the first time since seven years, I felt an odd mixture of familiarity and anticipation as I waited on the platform for the next train to Basel. Being here in the rather stuffy underground train terminal at the Zürich Airport, the en plein air sensation of Hawaii seemed like a figment of my imagination. I suppose traveling halfway around the world alters one’s perception of space and time, so do crossing several time zones and being generally deprived of sleep for the last 24 hours.

As I paced back and forth, scenes from Hungarian filmmaker Nimród Antal’s thriller Kontroll swarmed in my head. I pictured tired ticket inspectors playing cat and mouse with city dwellers looking for a free ride in the gritty netherworld of Budapest. I could almost feel the desperation of losing one’s aspirations amid the dark labyrinthine tracks that take one everywhere or round and round to nowhere at all. I sensed the hair on my neck as I recalled the scenes where a cloaked and faceless psychopath shoved his unsuspecting victims over the edge, just as the train blazed along the platform...

I let out a breath as I read the destination marked on the approaching train. Looking about me, I remembered with relief that this was Switzerland, where everything is meticulous, orderly and “swissly” efficient, according to my dated copy of Let’s Go guide to Europe.

I stepped onto the train rather clumsily, with a suitcase that became oversized immediately after I left the comfort of my home. Feeling rather fatigued and grumpy, my only comfort was knowing that in two more hours or so I would be able to shower and lie down in a bed.

The automated female voice on the train’s speaker system announced the destination in typical multi-lingual Swiss fashion—Basel, Bâle, Basilea...

Settling into my seat and stretching out my legs, I suddenly felt my stomach rumble. I closed my eyes and mentally went down the To-Eat list I had prepared for my trip: St. Galler Bratwurst, Chäs-Chüechli, Birchermüesli, fondue, raclette, Zürigschnätzlets, Rösti...and of course all the Schokolade, chocolat and cioccolato.

My lips slowly curled upward as a mounting sense of sweet anticipation welled up in me...