24 Hours in Europe

Everyone has their own COVID-19 stories, and here is mine: 24 hours in Europe.

This whole adventure started with my parents informing my brother Carson and I that over spring break we were going to travel around Europe with one stop in Chambery, France to visit our sister, Avery. Avery was studying abroad in France for a semester.

 We were shocked by this news of our trip because it was very spontaneous, and that is not usually how my family rolls. We packed our bags and drove to Denver. At this point we were very excited to get out of Grand Junction and go see Avery. 

On March 10, we flew from Denver to Newark, New Jersey. There, we had a long layover, making it feel like we were in the airport for days. Around five p.m., we boarded our plane to Zurich, Switzerland and settled in for the next nine hours on the plane. We were served airplane food for dinner and breakfast, and it wasn’t the best. 

As we were landing in Switzerland around 7:00 a.m.March 11, we took in the views of green grass and different building structures. Walking out of the airport we noticed one, how clean the airport was and two, Swiss people talking in German and French. 

We stored our bags at the train station lockers and embarked on our adventure for the day. Nothing opened until 10 a.m., so we spent a few hours walking up and down the narrow streets on hills observing the day to day life of the Swiss experience. 

We walked around all day looking at little shops and exploring castles and people watching. We went to a pier and looked out over Lake Zurich. It was a gray, overcast day but we still were able to capture the beautiful architecture of the churches and buildings such as the Grossmünster church. However, I found it very funny that in a courtyard with cute local shops, there was a Claire’s! A bright flashy American store!

For lunch, we went to a place called Crazy Burrito and got a yummy burrito. At this point we were hungry and exhausted. It was our goal to stay awake as long as we could so we could better adjust to the time change. 

During our walk to our AirBnb, we saw how the Swiss are crazy drivers. They drive very fast and don’t care what might happen. They also have super nice and expensive cars. I thought it was funny how one guy was trying to parallel park and he backed into a parked car and moved the other car about three feet and didn’t even care. My family was shocked but decided it was best for us to keep walking. 

We got into our AirBnb around 2:30 p.m. after having a difficult time getting the key, and no one around us spoke English. Good thing my mom and dad’s basic knowledge of German helped us talk to a guy who owned a pub next to our AirBnb, and he let us use his wifi and phone to contact the people in order to get our key. 

As soon as we walked in the door of the AirBnb, we crashed hard. I have never slept that hard in my life. Carson and I slept until dinner arrived. For dinner, my mom and dad went to a small grocery store and got some cheese and pasta and a salad. We ate up and headed off to bed again.

 Around 2:30 a.m. Carson woke up to drink some water and checked his phone. He had tons of texts from “everyone and their mom” telling us to get out of Europe now! Confused, he woke up our parents, and we turned on the news. Trump was issuing a travel ban from Europe to the United States due to the Coronavirus. So, if we didn’t leave Switzerland as soon as possible, we would have been stuck here for a month or more. 

My family did not want to take that risk so with the help from my aunt who was in the United States, we tried to find a flight back. At this point we didn’t care where in the United States we just needed to get out of Europe.

My family was devastated because we didn’t even get to see my sister, the main reason we were traveling. At this point we thought she would be fine because she had a Student Visa to be in France and her university was still up and running.

We packed our bags and walked back to the train station around 4:00 a.m. to head to the airport. During that walk we got some last photos of our 24 hour trip to remember what happened. 

We bought a croissant so we could at least have one even though we weren’t in France. At the airport we had a very hard time changing our plane tickets to go home. There were a lot of Americans standing in line just trying to get home before the travel ban took place. 

All the other Americans, however, had been in Europe for at least a week before having to go home. After a couple hours, we finally got our tickets changed to go home that day. I took a picture with the Alps that we saw from the airport window, and it was sad how that was the closest I got to them.

We boarded our plane to Dulles, Washington and learned that the gentleman sitting next us arrived in Switzerland that morning around 7:00 a.m. and then boarded a flight back to the US at 10:00 a.m.. Also, a girl got asked to prom on the flight via the pilot, who used the intercom to make an announcement. But now thinking about it, their prom probably won’t even happen.

My sister soon after got sent home from France as well, ruining her semester abroad, but at least we are all together and healthy. This was my family’s crazy story about our 24 hours in Switzerland. My family is planning on going back to Europe in the future, but for now we can say “Hey, remember that (one) day in Europe?”