SLEEPING ROUGH ON THE STREETS OF ZÜRICH: the crazy night that happened

I recently visited Münich, Germany. I was in Scotland before then. I was in Italy afterwards.

Sounds like a great trip, you’ll be naïvely thinking in your head.

My story, though, lies in the middle.

Blurry Switzerland

It’s Monday. I am in Münich. I have just spent a couple of days visiting friends and attending a BOMB concert by Bukahara (check them out), happily nearing the end of my first stay in the Bavarian city. After popping by Scotland for a few days, I have decided to fly out the island with an extra suitcase that I had left to friends when I left back in July, in order to finally take it back to Italy. Because of this, I figure out that the best means of travel from Münich onwards would be by bus, as that would avoid the hassle of carrying luggage around and, although long, would ultimately be a more comfortable and easier way to make it home.

Being a hardcore Flixbus fan and a general bus lover (here my reason why), I quickly decide to use the international carrier to complete my journey. After scrolling through the options, I eventually find a beautiful ride with a 2 hour stop in Zürich, just enough to have dinner at Hiltl (my favourite veggie restaurant ever) and have a rest before setting off the second leg of the journey. Perfect plan, right?

Except – of course – the plan does not, in fact, work out as planned. And it all starts from the very beginning – when I miss my first bus from Münich. Isn’t it funny how the train always gets there immediately when you’re not in a rush, yet takes 15 minutes to get to your station when you are? Ha ha. So funny. So fast forward about half an hour into my run for the bus, I realise I will surely miss it and manage to cancel the booking just 15 minutes before departure, which is the latest you can do that according to Flixbus regulation. Hurray for me.

Rail tracks view while waiting for the next bus

After initial despair, I scan through the other available options and realise that, actually, another bus leaving an hour later would still get me to Zürich before the second bus departed, so everything could still work out smoothly. Having learnt from mistakes though, I decide to wait until booking the second one just in case, and get on the first bus on my way to the Swiss metropolis. Trip working out smoothly, I get in touch with a friend living in the area, hoping we could perhaps hang out a bit before I have to leave Switzerland again (as most people know it isn’t my favourite place to be). This is when everything starts to go downhill, as I get to Zürich and intelligently decide to miss my connecting bus thinking I could easily catch another one through the night. Waiting for a reply for my friend, I understandably start getting quite cold in the Swiss temperatures and, when no answer comes, I eventually decide to book the bus departing at midnight from the central bus station, getting me home an hour later than planned.

Except it doesn’t. As I quickly get to the bus station after quickly booking the bus ten minutes before departure time, I realise that.. No one is there. No bus drivers, no active buses, barely any people waiting and just street workers cleaning up the Saturday night mess. Still confident in my Flixbus, I check the app’s updates on the journey and reassure myself when no delay is advertised. However, minutes quickly turn into half an hour and, with just a pair of thin socks on and no sign of Flixbus staff, I decide to phone them up and see what’s going on. After 5 minutes on the waiting line, I finally get connected to an operator, whom – bless her soul – has no clue what’s happening and tells me she will email me once her manager gets back to her about it.

Yeah sure. Bump your clock down to 1:30am, I am still waiting and my body temperature has dropped significantly. Desperate and with no credit left to make calls, I send a message to my family who manages to get on the line with another operator after ten minutes of wait. This is when we find out that the bus has, in fact, been cancelled.

And no one thought of telling me. 

Happy times when my only problem was longingly looking at the rail tracks in Münich

In Italian, we have a saying which goes, ‘oltre al danno la beffa’. Conceptually, it means that aside from causing damage, you also get laughed at. This saying is particularly fitting when not only do I get informed that the next available bus is at 3:40am, but I am also told that such bus is already fully booked and I will have to take the next available one. At 6:effing:30 in the morning.

The news is followed by a rollercoaster of a night which sees me basically sleeping on the streets of Zürich in a desperate wait for my bus, finding shelter by the entrance of a  Starbucks while I try to keep myself warm with everything I’ve got. Things get even funnier when a police car stops by, inquiring what I am doing and, once informed I am waiting for the damn bus and literally freezing myself off, simply sighing at the thought and wishing me good luck. ‘It’s very cold right?’, says the police offer. It is indeed miss – thanks for stating the obvious.

After that, I somehow manage to stay alive until the next morning, drifting off to sleep a couple of times and frantically waking up to check if I’ve lost a limb to the cold or if I’m still intact. Once morning comes, luck is for once on my side and I make friends with a nice Italian gentleman living in Switzerland who decides to offer me a coffee before departing on our long-coveted journey. We then end up spending the rest of the trip chatting about life and experiences, and becoming short-term friends for that little while. Kinda makes the whole ordeal worth it, doesn’t it?

sunset flixbus.jpg
Sunset views on the way to Zürich

BIG DISCLAIMER: This blog post is definitely not against Flixbus – I have travelled with them countless times and never had an issue! This misunderstanding was a bit frustrating but hey ho, nobody’s perfect. Mind you, I actually had so much fun throughout this whole adventure. Although not always the best, I totally live for travel (mis)adventures and find them to make any trip just that much better and more fun to remember. And, they do always work out well to entertain my friends, when they constantly ask for the juicy bits of a trip I’ve just been to, so it all works towards a good cause… right?

And you? Have you had any similar experiences while travelling, or total fails that kinda make you smile when you think back to them? Make sure to let me know in the comments below!

As always, I hope you’re having a lovely day and I will see you at the next blog post!



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