Cora M, my namesake friend of 31 years, phoned me early in June 2018, and said "Hi Cor, I am planning a short vacation with Michelle to Frankfurt, Switzerland, and Austria. Would you like to join us? Let us meet in Zurich and proceed from there."
I asked, "When and for how long?" and she promptly replied, "We have already booked return tickets to London arriving on 2 July but no other further plans. " I discussed the idea with my husband Florian who then reminded me of my left eye cataract surgery scheduled on 9 July. It was therefore possible for me to join Cora and Michelle on the trip only from July 2 to 7 as I needed to be back in the Netherlands at least a day before my surgery.
What a coincidence! I was looking for an opportunity to use my air miles. I had to use them before September 2018 or risked losing them. After a circuitous and complicated access to my air miles, I was able to successfully book a return ticket to Zurich from July 3 to 7 by using my air miles, additionally paying a third of the regular airfare to Zurich from Amsterdam. When I informed her, Cora was so happy that I already had a ticket. This prompted them to finally book their tickets to Zurich.
We started sharing notes on accommodations, excursions with travel agencies, possible places to visit on our own, sharing links found on the internet, reviews of hotels and other possible accommodations, and places to visit. There were so many possibilities in Switzerland – the city centers, the villages at the feet of the mountains, and the majestic Swiss Alps! There was one common denominator in all these searches – everything was expensive! At the end of our planning discussions, we decided to book the usual city center tours and plan further as soon as we got there armed with the thousands of possibilities accessed from the internet.
I was excited to return to Switzerland after having been there a long time ago for a conference in Geneva. At that time, I saw only the four corners of the hotel and conference venue and what little I could see in my vehicle to and from the venue and the airport. On 3 July, feeling excited with a boarding pass on my Android phone, a small shoulder bag and a carry-on, I was driven by Florian to the airport at 4:30 in the morning for my 7:05 KLM flight. This early arrival at the airport was to make sure that I didn't experience what happened to us on a recent holiday when we were still in the parking area an hour before our flight departure. We had to run to the pre-departure area and through all the gates until we finally reached our gate. We were the last to board the plane!
I proceeded to the departure lounge, ready to be called for boarding as soon as the gate was published on the airport screens for my flight. I looked at the time, 7:05, and the destination airport, Zurich, and proceeded to Gate 35. Little did I know that there was another flight to Zurich at the same time. While waiting at B 35, I saw SWS Zurich and 7:05 on the small screen at the gate. I joined the early queue to make sure that I had space for my carry-on. I scanned my digital boarding pass at the turnstile. But it did not work; the bar did not move!
I asked assistance from the ground staff who then said, "I am sorry, Ma'am. You are not on this flight; your flight is on KLM; this is Swiss Airlines. Your flight is now boarding at Gate C18." I could feel my blood pressure surging when I asked, "How far is C18 and could you please call Gate C18 to tell them that I am on my way?’’ The attendant informed me that C18 was about 10 to 15 minutes’ walk from there but, if I could run, I might be able to catch the flight. I started running! On my way I saw KLM attendants at one of the B gates and asked them to please call C18 and tell them that I was on my way. I was walking fast, while pulling my carry-on, worrying that my right eye might become bloodshot. My blood pressure soaring, I made it to the C18 boarding gate. I was asked, "Are you Mevrouw Dee?" After I confirmed my identity, I proceeded to board the plane and noticed that I was the last passenger as they closed the door of the plane after I boarded.
"Thank God, I made it", I said to myself while coughing. I could not understand why I was coughing for quite some time, prompting me to keep to myself for most of the one-and-a-half-hour flight to Zurich. It was only when the flight was starting to descend that I turned to my seatmate and engaged in a casual conversation with him. He suggested places of interest and the most beautiful of the mountains of the Swiss Alps and repeatedly said that everything in Switzerland was expensive! My dry coughing had finally stopped. I was at last relaxed and ready for the bonding adventure!
Have I fully understood the meaning of catching a flight? I hope so, until the next flight!
[Photo: From left to right: Michelle, Cora M., and Cora D. at the foreground of the Swiss Alps]