As some of you may recall, we wrote a post the other day about the Swiss and their obsession with being on time. Dave and I didn’t fare well with all those half minute increments and countdowns to when we had to meet up or catch our train, but we did manage to make it through most of our time in Switzerland unscathed.

Read more of our time story at Time Keeps on Ticking and We take a Licking

That is until we took the train from Lucerne to Zurich to pick up our car.

After our debacle of having our car rental cancelled due to showing up late for our pickup, we decided to rebook for the following day at 10:00 am. So we hopped on the 8:08 am train to the Zurich train station to give ourselves plenty of time. All went well. We used our Swiss Rail pass to relax in first class and enjoyed our personal mifi to catch up on work and attempt to answer our 100+ emails that had piled up over the past week.

travel blogging on swiss rail

Our train arrived in Zurich on time (of course) and we decided to let everyone out ahead of us because we had quite a bit of luggage. After attending four different conferences you pick up a lot of swag so we used one of the duffel bags that we received during the Adventure Travel World Summit to pack our excess gear in. Between that and our backpacks and carryon luggage, we were pretty bogged down.

Anyway, I grabbed my bags and heard Dave say something but I thought he was right behind me. As I stepped onto the platform and turned around, I saw the door close behind me. I tried to push the button to open it again for Dave but didn’t realize that as I was pushing it, the train was moving ever so slowly. I looked up and caught Dave’s face…Shock and Awe describe it best.

His eyes were wide and his mouth formed the words “what’s going on?” As he pulled away from the station, I mimed, “I’ll wait right here!”

The Dave and Deb Travel Story

travel couple dave and Deb

Dave and I always joke about how I carry everything when we travel. It’s a little ridiculous but Dave doesn’t carry a wallet. We have one iPhone between us which Sherry Ott (our Mongol Rally Teammate) can attest to – we always lose it. (note to self, we’re buying another one when we get home) I carry the passports and all our identification too. When we’re in transit, Dave has nothing to worry about but his camera gear and his computer.

I had no idea where that train was going. We thought the airport was the end of the line so for all I knew, he was being transported to the shipping yard.

As I stood on the platform waiting for Dave, I realized that there are about 10 different platforms that he could show up on so I had better go upstairs. As I took the escalator up, everything went through my mind. He didn’t have his Swiss Pass, so he was riding the train illegally. He didnt’ have his passport so he had no documentation to show anyone. He didn’t have a cell phone or even the mifi to send me an email. The only saving grace was earlier that morning while we waited on the train platform in Lucerne, he went to grab us some coffee, so I gave him his wallet like a good little boy.

For the first time in God knows how long, he had his wallet on him!

When I got to the top of the escalator, I saw the Swiss Rail centre and told them the situation. They told me that this train would be back at 9:44 so give Dave a call to tell him not to get off the train. When I told him he didn’t have a cell phone, they looked at me like I had two heads.

For some reason in all of this I was very calm. It was almost comical as I pictured Dave’s face plastered against the glass as the train pulled away. What else could I do but wait? Here I was standing at a busy train station hoping that Dave would show up in a half an hour. So I waited. I also sent him mental messages hoping that he would pick up on what I was thinking. “If you don’t show up by 10:00 am, I’ll go to the car rental company to get the car and wait for you there”

Swiss Rail Arrives on Time

swiss flag shines in sunset

When the train arrived, I was on the platform ready to greet his smiling face when he hopped off the train, but alas that didn’t happen. Hundreds of commuters exited the train but my Dave was no where to be found. Now I was starting to worry. What if the Swiss officials caught him and didn’t believe his story and now he was being carted off to Swiss Security Prison? What if another train wasn’t coming this way for hours? What would I do? How would I find him?

So, doing what any rational person would do, I sent out a tweet. “Lost Dave on Swiss Rail” For some reason that felt better, I wasn’t alone. Silly I know, but when Mallory on Travel tweeted back, that it’s a new Twitter game, “Find Dave of the Planetd” I was smiling again.

I went back up to Swiss Rail and asked them when the next trains were coming this way and in typical Swiss precision, they told me all the future arrivals to the second and their platform numbers.

I decided to wait at the top of the escalator…

Dave’s turn:

As we pulled up to the tracks, Deb decided to let everyone go ahead of us. She has this guilt thing about making people wait so we were stuck at the end of the line. She grabbed her bags, but as I grabbed mine, my tripod fell off. It took me a bit to get all the bags off and put my tripod back on and by the time I got to the door, it was closed. I couldn’t figure out why it was moving. I looked at Deb’s face and could see the panic written all over it as she mimed, “I’ll wait here!”

Those first few minutes were spent walking up and down the train to find someone. Surely I wasn’t on an umanned train bound for nowhere. Alas I could not find anyone so I just decided to wait until the next station. I was pretty calm about the whole situation. I would just get off and grab another train back to the airport. Luckily I had my wallet and I bought another ticket. I didn’t want to take the chance of being on Swiss Rail without a ticket. The Swiss are strict enough about being late, I’d hate to see what they did if you didn’t have a ticket.

All this time I was imagining how Deb would be reacting to all of this. Freaking out on the platform, running after the train, trying to flag someone down to stop the train. Surely one of those situations were happening.

Then the unimaginable happened.

As I looked up at the sign posting the train arrival time I noticed it said 9:45. I shifted my gaze to the Swiss clock to my left and it read 9:47. I litterally let out an audible gasp. Could it be true, was this happening, was a Swiss train actually late??
I looked around at my fellow passengers and coud hear their thoughts in my head.

  • “Will this be the day I get fired?”
  • “How will this impact the rest of the day?”
  • “Will I miss my connections?”

It was my first experience of the Swiss being off-time and to tell you the truth I had a little smile on my face.

I knew I would make it back, I knew I would find Deb and I knew I had witnessed something special…a late swiss train.

It took me about 45 minutes to get back to Deb and as I came up the escalator and saw her waiting, we both started laughing. “You should have seen the look on your face!”

Traveler in Switzerland

Dave's Back Safe and Sound

Back to the Car Rental

We had minutes to spare before the car rental company would cancel our reservation for a second time. When we gave her our name, she couldn’t find our reservation. Oh no, not again. We told her that it was booked through Expedia, maybe she’d find it in another folder. Sure enough she found us and said, Oh, this was booked for yesterday! We told her that we were informed that our rental was cancelled for being late. Yes, it was cancelled, but you could pick it up anytime no problem. They just cancelled the prepayment. They actually did us a favour. They cancel the pre-payment and you just have to pay once you pick up the car. If you never show up, you won’t be charged. (at least that’s the way we understood it)

So all that worry and frustration and we could have just gone to the rental company late the day before. But then again, we never would have had this story to tell.

We are in Switzerland covering the Adventure Travel World Summit for Expedia.com and booked our car hire through their website. You too can book car rentals and vacation packages to Switzerland. Stay tuned for more on Switzerland and summit through blog posts and videos in the coming days.

Make sure to follow along on our social media channels for regular updates. #ExpediaatATWSInstagramFacebook

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17 Comments

  1. Pingback: Have a More Exhilarating Trip with Adventure Travels | RV Parts and Accessories

  2. Ali

    Absolutely hilarious! Andy & I saw Deb tweeting about this when it happened & obviously knowing it would work out, we got a good laugh. Can’t imagine getting stuck on the train!

  3. Kieu

    Hahaha.. What an adventure. This is always my biggest fears when traveling as a couple. Particularly because Gerard doesn’t carry any of his documents with him and I tend to be the one with no wallet. Glad it all worked out and you get to witness the Swiss being late!

  4. Maddie

    Ha! You are exactly like my husband and I, this story is probably my worst fear when travelling. I’ll have to start making sure he has at least his wallet with him at all times! We joke about me losing him all the time but I’d have a huge panic if it actually happened. Hilarious story :-)

  5. James Frenkline

    When planning a trip overseas it is a popular choice to hire a car in the country you are travelling to, so that you have more freedom to explore. Hiring a car allows you to enjoy your vacation at your own pace. You can pick up the hired car at the airport when you land and drop it off again before you depart. This makes it a very convenient option.

  6. Cez (@CezKrol)

    Hey Dave and Deb.

    The best adventures come unplanned.

    Travelling with companion has that disadvantage that in many cases one person takes care of all documents. This is the case with me and Agness (who commented above). I carry everything.

    Also we have our procedure to follow in case we get lost. I remember when Agness left hostel in Saigon to do some shopping in the morning. 3 hours later I finally got the email (that’s what we have to do when lost) where she is. It was 50 meters from where we stayed :) She knew it’s not far but did not want to tell me she’s lost (until she had no choice).

    Safe travels,
    Cez

  7. Victoria

    Haha oh Dave and Deb this made me laugh!! i can just picture your faces :) makes you wonder what we all did before mobile phones- it’s an absolute nightmare when you realise one of you isn’t carrying one!

  8. Josie

    Crazy, funny story! You captured the Panic very well!
    Because of a similar — and equally nerve-wracking — situation Conrad and I had, we have The Rules now for “if this happens, then we do this.” And if possible, we both must have a cell phone.
    But all-in-all, it’s the unexpected things that make travel what it is. If too regulated, then it turns boring.
    I wish you happy and safe travels!
    ~Josie

  9. ciaraysabel @cosmicais

    Crazy and hilarious story! Really enjoyed reading this. The first photo’s what caught my attention at first.. the girl behind Dave’s posing for the camera. :D Or maybe she just looked like it..but still. Haha..

  10. Antoinette | love.antoinette

    Okay is it just me or was Dave more hung up on the fact that he indeed ended up in a “late” Swiss train. As the reader, I can almost picture that little smirk, eerrr, smile before reconnecting you guys were reconnected. As a NYC subway daily commuter, I do see that situation happening a lot; same as Deb, I can always make out the words being mouthed behind those closed train doors.

    1. debndave Post author

      Haha, Yes Antoinette Dave was more hung up on the late train than anything. I’m amazed he didn’t go to the office to tell them that he would have made it there sooner, but their train was late! It’s funny when situations like that happening. I can imagine a tourist getting stuck on the subway in New York, it would be stressful indeed if it were your first time there.

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