Full disclosure: I have to actively suppress my instinct to be impulsive.
Tyler has extended an immense amount of patience and grace over the years. I could not have been more thankful for all the “practice” he's had when my methodical, calculated, but sleep deprived, hunger & heat induced, bubble burst in Prague. I panicked! I reserved an overnight train ticked for us…to Switzerland.
A little back story…
In 2005, I went here:
Gimmelwald, Switzerland. It was the most incredible place I had ever been. The kind of place that makes your heart want to burst from the amount of beauty that surrounds you.
This was the view from our hostel room window:
In 2009, Tyler & I travelled to Europe together (his first time). I could not wait for him to see all the historic sites and cities. Rome, the Vatican, the Colosseum, Florence, Venice…
But even more than that, I could not wait to introduce him to my beloved Swiss Alps. Unfortunately, we only made it as far as Zurich on that trip. It was mid-May, and there was still several feet of snow in the smaller towns I wanted to visit. We really didn't have the time or the gear, so I abandoned my hopes of taking him to the Alps.
Don't get me wrong, Zurich is not just the best place to buy a $30 fast food burger…it's a beautiful city, and Tyler was enthralled with several of the historic elements in Zurich.
But I felt we were missing out on the “real” Switzerland. I quickly got over it. I knew that it wasn't the best time of year for us to visit the “real” Switzerland anyway.
Fast forward to 2013:
We were in Vienna, relaxing on a hill in a beautiful park. A perfect summer afternoon. It's summer, it was hot. Not a single place was air conditioned. That's fine, that's Europe. I'm always cold anyway, so I didn't mind the heat too much.
“Where to next?”, we asked ourselves. “Prague!” It's north of here. It will be less hot. It's a city with an incredibly rich history, breathtaking architecture, and a unique culture.
My excitement quickly waned during a 4+ hour train ride when the air conditioning broke, I realized our windows were unable to be opened, and I suddenly became overwhelmed. I felt trapped, like I was suffocating. I wanted cool air and wide open spaces. I panicked when I realized we would be spending our entire trip in noisy, congested, concrete infested, cities. I felt as though I would melt into my seat.
Then I remembered Switzerland…
We weren't really that far away, but we had not planned to go that far west. We were supposed to go to Croatia, but Croatia is hot too, and Tyler dislikes beaches.
“When we arrive in Prague, let me just ask what the train reservation to Switzerland will cost”, I said. We already had our Eurail pass, so it was just a matter if reserving an overnight train. Before the attendant at the rail office could utter the price, I said…”I'll take it!”, and forked over my debit card.
It was probably the rush of adrenaline. There was no stopping me. I knew I had done the right thing. Now it was set in stone. Tyler would see the beauty of the Swiss Alps.
…Wait…had I done the right thing??
Apparently you can't “last minute” it in small Swiss towns. The place I wanted to stay was already booked. My back-up was booked. We were going to relive our infamous “almost, but not quite there” trip to Zurich and eat $30 fast food burgers. My heart sank.
We spent an amazing evening touring Prague. Tyler loved the city, just like I knew he would. But we couldn't book another night. We had a train to catch, but no where to stay when we arrived. I spent a sleepless night agonizing over what I had done. Should we forfeit the train, eat the cost, stay in Prague, go to Croatia?
We made the train. Decided to go. Tyler has a gift of finding great hotels when we travel. I relinquished this task to him. I apologized for what I had done, and asked that we just not end up in Switzerland homeless. I gave him the name of…not the place I wanted to stay…not the backup place…but the backup town. If we couldn't stay in Gimmelwald, we would try for the bigger resort town in the next valley: Grindelwald.
…to say that I found reparations for my transgressions would be a gross understatement.
We loved Grindelwald more than I could have ever imagined.
Moral of this story? Take a chance. Live a little. Explore the unknown with people you love. Don't feel guilty for doing something exciting, even if you're unsure of the outcome. We're conditioned to question our instinct and go against our gut feeling. The only thing I would have done differently was to delay our trip to Switzerland by one day, to have more time to tour Prague. Our safety was never in danger, what's the worst that could happen? We end up in Switzerland at an overpriced hotel while we contemplate our next move?
But that's not what happened at all, we ended up in our “real” Switzerland. We booked 2 nights in a room with a breathtaking view of the most famous mountains in Europe.
When we arrived, I made one more impulsive move. I reserved an extra night.