Avoiding Stupidity Top Tip #2: Don’t leave the terminal where all the lounges are…

This isn’t just about Zurich, it’s also about stupid Paris train stations but Paris train stations don’t generally get hype like the Zurich Airport. The Paris return trip will be a separate post. Here’s the thing, I’ve stayed 12 hours in the Incheon airport in South Korea, consistently ranked in the top 10, generally the top 3. That was actually a delightful experience because the airport is huge and features a Korean spa. I’ve already gone on at length over my obsession with Korean Spas. Zurich generally is towards the bottom of the top ten. Lord knows why.

In the beginning…

I booked a flight on Swiss Air with an 8 hour layover overnight in Zurich, Switzerland, on my way to Rome. My three days in Rome were delightful. Swiss Air was actually delightful – the food is actually delicious. It might be the only saving grace Switzerland has for me now. It’s been a year and I’ve only just begun to rehabilitate Switzerland’s reputation in my mind. I also learned to never, ever, do long layovers again.

I had done some research and thought that, although we were stopping at night (thank god, I’d gone with another person), it might be worth it to go in and see the city. For some reason I thought public transport was still working. Haha, it’s Europe, nothing exists after 10PM. This is a lesson I would learn very well on this trip…Well, we arrived. We were a tad late and within the next hour we stupidly left the terminal to at least walk outside, find out about 40euro 8-minute trips to the city, decided that was ridiculous and went back inside. We looked at public transport and realized while we could still grab the last metro to the city we wouldn’t be able to get back in the morning. Oops.

More Oops

The food was ridiculously priced and I decided I would abstain. Later I would realize all but one vending machine only took exact change or contactless credit cards. No swipe, no chip, no bills. Oops again. It was then we realized we couldn’t get back into the terminal, the place with the lounges. They literally lock you out after a certain hour. I now know that many airports in Europe feature times at night when they’re “down” so that planes aren’t flying over houses at night making noise. Kinda nice but also super annoying at that point in time. Super oops. We would be spending the next 8 hours in the Zurich airport outside the terminal.

By the time we decided we were short out of luck everyone else there had figured out that they were screwed. All flat padded surfaces were claimed but luckily we were the first to start on the seats. I instantly grabbed four and felt no shame shoving them together, laying out my traveling scarves as blankets. Even so, sleeping was a difficult process.

I become slightly less sane

There’s nothing quite like padding through an absolutely deserted airport mall with the best-of-the-early-2000s hits blaring over the speakers as you make the epic journey towards the only vending machine that will take your card. If someone ever needs a setting for a horror movie, this is truly ideal. Returning to the impromptu sleeping area only added to the thought as you entered the area where people were completely passed out like the dead, unmoving. Britney Spears’ Toxic rang through the scene. An insomniac at the best of times I must have wandered those halls for hours, staring through closed grocery store windows as I munched upon my nameless vending machine snack. God I hated Zurich.

The morning was no better. I awoke to gorgeous mountain views that might as well have been 9 million miles away. My night time experience had drained any pending desire I might have had to visit those mountains. A small chicken drum stick was available at the bargain price of 17 euros. We opted to share a slice of French toast and a pretzel which turned out to be a slice of bread with cinnamon sugar, all for a reasonable 15 euros. The highlight was the waiter who seemed incredibly aware of my less than charitable opinions that had recently developed about his country, “Ah, the banks control us all,” he said as he took my credit card. We spent our breakfast reading forum posts about how much people hated it in Switzerland.

The End

When we finally boarded the plane to Rome I was too tired to notice whether the flight attendants were cute, as I had so innocently done on my way to the Zurich airport, blissfully unaware. We invested in beer and attempted to gain an hour of sleep. At least Rome was worth it.

Originally I intended to put the trip back to Paris in this post as well but apparently I got too poetic about this all and it’s gone on too long. Check out part two, Midnight in Paris: 8 Hours of Misery on the Seine.

Final Thoughts

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that Switzerland has redeeming qualities, although I’m sure the Zurich airport doesn’t have any…A year later I now find in myself some desire to visit and see the cities by day and hike some of the lovely mountains I saw through my glass window prison. The Zurich airport still doesn’t belong on the top 10. Honestly, even in daylight it’s overpriced and highly boring. There’s literally nothing to do but shop in fancy, boring stores.

  • Wifi passes only last about a half hour
  • I repeat, there are no real places to sleep outside of the terminal
  • I repeat, everything is super expensive. Even the vending machines averaged 2 euros for anything
  • Reasonable temperature, I guess

Zurich Airport Doesn't Belong in the World's Top 10
I may have hit that tumbleweed on the road but it didn't slow us down. Besides. Madrid was way worse.
I Hit a Tumbleweed on the Road90%
I've Done Worse50%
The Good
  • Not as bad as Madrid
  • I saw Switzerland. Sorta.
  • Future horror novel potential
The Bad
  • I didn't really see Switzerland
  • Lots of lost sleep
  • Longlasting hatred of the Zurich airport
58%How Bad Was This?
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