I had two prospective Couchsurfing hosts in Zurich. One, named Tobias said that he liked rock climbing and invited me to his friend’s party so I decided to stay at his place. I arrived later than the party started. Tobias waited for me to leave his flat which was very considerate considering I never really confirmed staying over.
He asked me if I wanted to take the metro or walk to his friend’s apartment. I told him that I’d prefer to walk if that was ok with him. He said that he liked to walk. And that he liked that most couchsurfers enjoyed walking as well.
On the way to his friends, he told me that he was a consultant. But upon his promotion, he decided that he wanted to quit and travel. He’d spent the past three months abroad. As of 2 weeks ago, he was back at work but he was already considering quitting.
I asked him if he’d used couchsurfing to travel. He said that he thought that it was more difficult as a guy. He told me that he wasn’t able to find anyone to host him and his friend. But he’d just recently hosted a few people. One Australian girl invited him to go hiking for a while with her. At first, it had been really great. But after a while they began fighting because they were together so often. And she became critical of him. For example one night they couldn’t get into a club because she was wearing “thongs” and she blamed Tobias. He’d also hosted an Italian girl who he said was very chill.
Tobias pointed out the famous sights along the walk. It took us about an hour to walk to his friends. He’d gone to school with the girl who was hosting a housewarming party. Her and her boyfriend, who Tobias was also friends with, had just moved in together. Tobias told me that typically people in Zurich were known for being unfriendly. But the people at this party were from all over.
When I arrived, everyone was speaking English! This made me feel very comfortable. The party host was a friendly ginger from the Netherlands. He made me and Tobias each a drink.
Tobias and I asked the couple if they were going hiking tomorrow because he said that they often did and that maybe we could all go together. I’d told him on the walk that I’d love to go hiking! They’d gone that day so they weren’t going to go again. But after some discussion with them, everyone agreed that I’d like to see Lucerne. Then I went and talked to the girls because they were friendly and it seemed that all of the girls were inside and the guys were outside. Eventually things shuffled around and I ended up on the porch talking to Tobias. I didn’t want to cling to my host but he seemed to be the most interesting one at the party. Although his friends were very nice.
After, we went to a bar with dancing. I hate dancing and decided to take a walk. I got a beer along the way and went to a few bars. But I only drank the one beer and a few drinks at the party. Somehow I became ridiculously drunk. I returned back to the dancing bar clearly obliterated. I tried to show one of Tobias’s friends that I could walk in a straight line in order to prove my sobriety. The only thing that I proved is that I am excellent at walking straight while drunk.
On the walk home, I drunk babbled with Tobias about coding because he was a consultant in the tech department of UBS. I told him that I have a friend who is passionate about coding and she was telling me about the hipster coding language, Ruby. Tobias was impressed that I knew about this.
We were close to Tobias’s flat when he pointed out Tobias the river. He said that he loved his flat because it was right by the river which was clean and swimmable and that he liked to use it as a treadmill. “Let’s go right now,” I suggested. I went in and it was freezing. I couldn’t stop shivering. Then I decided to roll around in leaves- to um…. warm up? Really I have no idea.
I woke up the next morning wet and covered in leaves in Tobias’s bed. Tobias had slept on the couch that night. I can’t remember this but apparently that night I went into the shower, filled the tub, and flooded the bathroom with water. I couldn’t stop saying how cold I was and had been in the bathroom for about an hour and Tobias was nervous. Eventually I exited the bathroom naked and went to sleep in his bed.
“Oh my god. I am so so so sorry,” I responded. “I don’t know what to say. Can I help you clean the bathroom?” Tobias had already cleaned it. “Did I embarrass you in front of your friends?” Tobias said that it didn’t embarrass him and he found the whole thing exciting. He asked me how I was feeling today. I told him that I was good aside from how sorry I was. He asked me if I still wanted to go to Lucerne. He’d called ahead that morning and rented a car which would be $50 for each of us. That was less money than taking the train would cost, which was the original plan.
The hike at the mountain that we went to was pretty tough. Tobias told me that I was “pretty fit” but really I was very dizzy and just wanted to save face. I was impressed that he seemed to so easily climb. Luckily I had water which gives me a lot of energy.
We talked on the way up. Tobias recommended a book to me written about travel in a fantasy context. In one country for example, everyone was dwarves. The book came in a children’s format too. I wasn’t really a big reader but the book sounded good.
Tobias told me that his roommate had left for the weekend without telling him where he was going. His roommate was schizophrenic but was sane most of the time. Tobias liked to hang out with him, he just knew not to discuss certain things. Recently his roommate’s girlfriend had broken up with him and his job had become very overwhelming. He’d had a mental breakdown and had taken off. I thought it was very nice that Tobias was friends with this man but Tobias said that their relationship wasn’t like that. They were friends from childhood. They had grown up in Berne together.
Tobias told me that Berne was much more artsy than Zurich. He thought that I would like it there.
He also told me a lot about his ex. I don’t think that he meant to tell me so much but I kept asking. They had dated for about 10 years! They’d broken up about a year ago and he didn’t want another relationship any time soon. He loved being single. His girlfriend sounded pretty mean and critical. We both agreed that we didn’t want to get married anytime soon.
When we came close to the top of the mountain, Tobias asked if I was hungry. I was really hungry! He ordered us some sausages and apple cider. I don’t normally eat pork but I didn’t even ask if that’s what it was. I was so hungry and that was the only food that they sold. And I don’t normally drink apple cider but I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Tobias and I said on the mountain and ate. The wind forced my mouth into a smile. Switzerland seemed so much brighter than everywhere else I’d been to. You could even see the difference in the picture that I took. I was expecting it to be dark and cloudy like Copenhagen and Berlin but it was so sunny!
We walked back down the mountain. My legs were so jittery, I hoped that they didn’t collapse. We we got back to Tobias’s he asked if I wanted to swim in the river. I was excited. We got into the water. I told him how cool he was for doing things like this. He was 32 and still down to have fun. I felt like most people were boring adults by then but Tobias seemed like he was my age. He didn’t seem immature, just fun and relatable. And he wasn’t the least bit judgemental.
Tobias had told me that the water was clean enough to drink out of and I was very thirsty so I did. I swam and drank water and we floated down the river. It was sort of like a lazy river. You couldn’t help but move. Well unless you used it as a treadmill which I was testing out on and off.
I asked Tobias if people ever partied in the river. He said not so much in Zurich, but in Berne in the summertime people would get tubes and bring lots of beer and play music and float down the river.
We floated down until Tobias got cold and then we got out, laid in a sunny park until we dried off, and walked back to his place in our bathing suits. Part of the walk was through a park and the rest was along a road but it felt very safe.
We got back to his place and he offered me the first shower. I told him that I didn’t mind going second but he insisted. I got dressed in a skirt and small heels and Tobias told me that I looked nice and so he wanted to take me to a rooftop bar. It was about a twenty minute walk to get there. Somehow we had so much to talk about. We’d been talking all day but we still had so much to say to each other.
On the walk, Tobias’s girlfriend had messaged him begging to take her back. She’d broken up with him but she said that she realized that he was the greatest guy. I had to agree with her. He ignored the message.
I was underwhelmed by the rooftop bar. It was inside and fancy. Everything was shiny black. The walls were made of windows so that you could see the view which wasn’t much considering we were on the 11th floor or something.
Tobias told me that he was going to order an aperitif and asked if I wanted one. I agreed. There were two options. I asked for the less sweet one and Tobias had the same. There were nuts at the table and I had some. Tobias wasn’t eating any so I was sort of self conscious but I love nuts and free food. We split the bill and left. Tobias told me that he wanted to show me a Thai place that he liked. Hanging out with Tobias was proving to be much more expensive than the rest of my trip combined! I supposed that Tobias didn’t think too much about it as a consultant. Today we’d rented a car for $50 each, he’d paid for my ticket in Lucerne and then I’d paid for his lunch.
Tobias didn’t like the waiter at the Thai place. He thought that he was giving us a weird look. I wasn’t really sure but he wasn’t necessarily the best waiter that I’ve ever had. I ordered some fish which came with a cream sauce on half of it. I hate cream and normally won’t eat a dish with cream at all and will send it back but I tried to just pick around it. So I didn’t end up eating much.
Tobias paid for the meal which I was really thankful for. He said that he always wanted to pay for couchsurfers because he could afford to but he didn’t like when people took advantage or expected it.
I understood. I told him about how, when my parents were getting divorced, they had no idea what was going on financially. I had a credit card linked to their account and I always wanted to pay for my friends since I could afford to at the time. I did but my friends began to feel entitled which was frustrating.
My dad, who I call Bert, was coming to Zurich for a business meeting the next day, which was the reason that I was here in the first place. I would ask him to take Tobias out for drinks.
On the walk home, I brought up crazy Mac. Tobias seemed sort of upset by it. He asked me why I always talked about crazy Mac and if I missed him. I explained that I just never met anyone like Crazy Mac before and that I just found him fascinating.