Just last night, we finalized the details of our trip to Chur. We set up our meeting point at the clock of the Zurich HB, as usual, at 11.00. I woke up at 10.00 o’clock. I left the apartment at 10.30 with my bicycle. The weather was nice, in contrast to the previous days.
At 11.00 we met each other and bought our tickets from the automatic machines. It is very convenient. The trip was very cheap since it costs around CHF 19.00 since we have a Halbtax and a Gleis 7 card. Cheaper than having a meal in a restaurant in Zurich (I like to think in terms of opportunity cost).
We took the train after a while. While we were on the train, we met a Swiss student who was very friendly and he gave us a few tips about what we could do at Chur (his hometown). Being more informed, at the train station at Chur, we got a map (you can get one for free in most train stations) and our journey began.
Before starting, we bought some sweeties because the small child in some of us is still alive and demanding then we designed our route towards the old city. Among other things that we saw, there was a shop where while I was casually reading the titles of the products because someone, I think, told me that this looks like a Greek product (or Greek letters), I was surprised to agree! Then, I noticed that the other products were also Greek. While the other guys took me a photo of showing the products, the owner of the store came out. He talked to us and in my amazement, after a while we were talking in Greek! It was very surprising! He was living there for 35 years. He also invited us next weekend to have some gyros! It is very nice to meet friendly guys and feel like you have something in common. Even the distance of our home cities is big (they are literally in the opposite ends of Greece Orestiada and Kalamata) seemed so small. Even more, that was one of the few times that I was the only Greek guy traveling in the company (we were 2 Chinese, 1 Portuguese, 1 Catalan, 1 Swedish and me) and I was not expecting to speak in Greek.
One of the highlights of the trip (almost literally) was the cable car. I think I can now understand better that altitude makes a difference in the weather. It was much more cold in the upper side of the mountain (almost 1 km higher). A physics guy said something like the temperature drops something like 1 degree per 100 meters of elevation.
The other impressive experience was seeing people doing real mountain bike there! They were taking their bikes, riding the cable car then going downhill. It was amazing just listening to the explanation of how their special bicycle work, their protective equipment and trying to infer the adrenaline rush that they feel while they go down.
Returning back to the city and having another small tour lead us to seek for a place where we could have lunch. We were lucky since a while ago we had found a big supermarket that was closing and had several things in half price and we also had some food from home (see toasts). We also tasted the local beer named Calanda.
Then, we spent some more time in Chur up to 7 o’clock (our lunch was belated) so we could return without any charge using our Gleis 7 card. We concluded a nice trip but having a few very interesting discussions. I felt happily surprised when I realized that at some point I was struggling to translate with my almost forgotten French a piece of an advertisement that we found in a magazine in the train to a Spanish and a Portuguese guy, while we were speaking in English in a German-speaking area!
Concluding, instead of summing up my experience and stating how happy I feel about this trip, I would like to break the usual rules of writing by adding something new. Last year, I was too focused on studying. I was trying to make it clear to myself whether I wanted to pursuit a PhD or not, or at least that’s what I used to say to myself. This year, I realized that devoting such a large amount of time in just one activity does not scale. So I decided to enjoy life a bit more. I still feel happy that tomorrow I will study for courses like Machine Learning or Information Retrieval and, actually to be honest, I am looking forward to it. Nevertheless, I feel that going to trips and in general, having fun adds another dimension to our thought that is hard to achieve it just by studying or reading literature.