I didn’t have enough sleep the night before since I am too excited about the trip. It has been three years since I went on vacation, a real out-of-country vacation (remind me to write our Georgia trip 🙈).
One of the reasons I haven’t disclosed our plans is because our visa got released 3 days before the UAE holidays. We were worried if we’ll get the visa on time 😅
So why Switzerland? The home of Toblerone’s Matterhorn and Europe’s highest peak, Jungfrau. There is a deeper reason behind it where few people I have told about. But for now, Switzerland because I never liked the other neighbouring countries. It is difficult to multitask thinking of our stuff and a toddler who doesn’t want to be buckled at times. In short, I like safe countries. A blessing in disguise as it is the most strict and has a low COVID rate compared to the other EU countries.
Abu Dhabi Airport is 18km away from our house. Scheduled ahead a booking in Careem for 4AM pickup. We were early and our documents are complete and set. Though due to the pandemic, there is a possibility of updated requirements because of the Omicron variant.
The boarding was at the exact time and the plane was fully boarded within 15 minutes. Guests were encouraged to occupy three seats to sleep comfortably. It’s like paying for business class and feeling secure because there were fewer passengers.
During travel, my stress coping mechanism is to eat and sleep. Had two power naps during the seven-hour flight. There was only one meal served and one snack on the flight. Though one can ask for unlimited beverages (also alcohol) upon request. I guess the timeline was based on the destination’s local time.
Arriving in Geneva
Here’s a funny story: I bought boots and a coat from a thrift store, which caused me anxiety during the whole trip. I have always wondered why I always stepped on something at Abu Dhabi Airport. After a few walks in reaching the gate and going back to find breakfast, something’s bothering me again.
It is the most comfortable boots I had tried. But wasn’t expecting it would start to decompose in the most needed time. My extra snow boots were included in the check-in luggage. In every move I took in the plane, I left rubber parts of the boots 😭
All of the EY51 passengers were in a bus with a “safe” social distance. The outer soles of the boots were totally worn out. The cold winter breeze feels like putting your face in the freezer. Walking awkwardly and wanted to be on the last queue in the immigration line.
It took us almost 5 minutes to pass through immigration. Since I was already anxious with my boots, I gave the passport with boarding passes to the IO (and he’s upset already 😅).
I read from a blog that Sunrise is the best local sim for tourists. Unfortunately, Sunrise is only available in the city. I need to have internet access before reaching Zurich. Asked Lebara for a data-only option and gave us a price of 20 CHF for unlimited data in 10 days. The same budget we allotted for Sunrise.
Our tickets are prepurchased in SBB. Though it is a supersaver, the prices are cheaper if booked weeks ahead (and upon availability). We were able to finalize our itinerary two days before the flight.
The train tickets we booked is a three-hour layover to give ample time for Immigration queues and familiarizing the area. Only to end up less than 30 minutes in locating the right platform.
Bought our first lunch at Migros which is near the platform 3/4, with a total cost of 22 CHF.
Switzerland train system is similar to Japan yet much more complex (you’ll get used to it 😉). Every mode of transportation, car and tram share the same road. Highly advantage to purchase tickets and hop in if you’re feeling tired from all the walking. From Zurich HBB (Bahnhoquai HB) to Quallenstrasse costs 2.7 CHF per adult (one way) and reaches in about 5 minutes (5 stops). The hotel is a 90m walking distance from the Quallenstrasse line with an obvious orange sign on the Heinrichstrasse.
We booked at easyHotel Zürich Limmatplatz through Booking.com as it is cheaper than Airbnb. The check-in process is straightforward and sequential. In the booking reservation, it is estimated that we’ll pay a total 1974 AED (6 days). However, the actual payment with taxes included is 2045.13 AED 😑
It is direct, contactless and not subjective type of check-in process. Lockers and a convenience store are available (same building) with hot beverages for purchase.
In checking-out, just press the check-out at the monitor and drop the key cards. This kind of place is more safe and reliable to check in during these times of COVID.
For day six, we stayed at ibis budget Genève Aéroport. From the airport there is a bus 10 for 3 CHF per adult (one way) arrives on-site in 5 minutes (4 stops).
A complimentary Geneva Transport Card was given which is valid until our last day of stay. Greatly convenient because we went immediately to our PCR test in Meyrin after dropping our stuff. Optional buffet breakfast is available for 13 CHF.
In the coming next posts, I will share more of our experiences and mistakes we took for you to avoid in the future.
- If you wanted to explore Switzerland end to end, have a different airport entry and exit. Our decision was impulsive and we should’ve saved enough time and money.
- In applying for a visa, incase of the worst scenario, always book a dummy ticket through a travel agency.
- Have enough timeframe allowance incase the visa processing will be delayed.
- Always book SBB tickets ahead of time (but only do this if your visa is ready).
- The Swiss Pass, City Pass, Golden Pass — totally depends on your itinerary. Ours is more practical if we buy daily tickets (city exploration).
- I recommend to get a sim instead of a pocket wifi (unless you are in a group of 5). It is much cheaper and data is totally useful in navigating the country.
- Migros and COOP is a life-saver. The food is undeniably expensive, our one day’s budget meal is equivalent to one week’s grocery in UAE
- Bring a thermal tumbler to refill water through fountains. Plastic tumblers doesn’t last (trust me we throw two of our tumblers).
- Also include eco bags (totes) and reusable utensils. As every plastic or packaging (and utensil) is billed during checkout at grocery shops.