Wanders with Wit

Streaking in Switzerland

Becoming a legend in Lucerne
Green rolling mountains of Lucerne
Magic mountains

(Photo credit: Andrew H - Unsplash)

Twelve countries in 26 days. It wasn’t so much a holiday as a cultural endurance test.
After a jam-packed European bus tour that included excursions to just about every crusty old cathedral in existence that was also covered in scaffolding, even the apprentice pickpockets were a welcome diversion for my fellow tour passengers and me.
That was, until our coach cruised into the seductively swoon-worthy streets of Switzerland: a country so obsequiously breathtaking, it was almost illegal.
Mountain after snow-capped mountain caressed lake after pristine lake. The countryside was so captivating with fields of grass so vivaciously verdant, cows were having conniptions just thinking about the place.
“Welcome to Lucerne!” Rick, our British tour guide, announced as all 30 of us bounced off the bus, ready to mount Pilatus.
“Will we need jeans and jumpers up on the summit?” I asked.
“No, no, shorts and T-shirts will be just fine,” he assured me. It was spring after all.
A scenic, aerial gondola ride and cable car ride later, my teeth were chattering on the frosty peak that had a few more degrees knocked off it thanks to the wind chill factor. Luckily, the epic, sweeping, precipitous views from the summit were worth any temporary bouts of high-altitude hypothermia.
Mount Pilatus steep coghill railway near tunnel
Lake Lucerne with mountains in background
Gondolas getting amongst it & lovely Lake Lucerne

(Photo credits: Carol Jeng & Zach Gilseth - Unsplash)

The world’s steepest cogwheel railway transported my tour passengers and me back down the sheer slopes of Mount Pilatus, passing by or through plush forests, craggy cliffs and obligatory tunnels (Switzerland has 1,800 of them!), before depositing us Alpnachstad Station. From there, our thawed-out tour group was ferried across the luscious waters of Lake Lucerne as we enjoyed the not-so-native Swiss sounds of Fat Boy Slim.
“See you later tonight!” I farewelled my friend, who had decided not to join some of the rowdier tour passengers and me on a night out in Lucerne. Late evening soon turned into early the next morning and, not wanting to wake my slumbering travel companion, I laid my clothes out for the morning in the dark on my return. My resting roommate would be joining some of the tour group on a shopping trip first thing and had kindly offered to have both of our bags collected and stowed on the bus before I got up.
All I had to do upon waking much later was have a quick shower, get dressed and check out of the hotel. And I would have, if only I could have found my shorts. In the middle of the night, in my haste not to wake anyone, I had unpacked three T-shirts but no pants of any kind. No matter. All I had to do was ring Rick, the tour leader who was leading the shopping spree, ask him to send my roommate back to the hotel to collect my padlock key, go to the bus and unlock my bag on the bus and retrieve some shorts, before bringing them back to me at the hotel. Simple!
I rang Rick’s mobile phone. It was off. I continued ringing for the next hour. He never turned it on! Then I had a genius idea. The coach driver had a mobile phone, so I rang the London HQ for the tour company to get it but they didn’t have it. Panicking, I asked the staff if they could they try Rick’s mobile number for me, in case the hotel connection was dodgy. They did and the phone was still turned off. The entire office sure found the situation pretty amusing though.
With time a-ticking and a tour bus soon to depart, I had no choice but to wrap the biggest T-shirt around me like a nappy, with the neck part where my crotch was and even though my undies matched my fabulous new shorts, it still looked pretty offensive.
Then I had a brainwave. I raced down to the hotel front desk and explained my predicament, asking if I could borrow any of their staff uniforms or lost property clothes until I could somehow retrieve my shorts off the bus. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t in their hotel policy. Instead, I raced back up to the room, grabbed a small, thin white towel from the bathroom, wrapped it around my waist, paired it with a T-shirt and joggers and hit the road. I had no clue if my new getup was the talk of the town as I never looked a soul in the eye.


City of Lucerne with lake in foreground
A bridge over turquoise waters

(Photo credit: Tom Bradley - Unsplash)

I scanned the streets of Lucerne looking for fellow tour passengers. My some stroke of luck, I spotted some of the younger girls in a souvenir store. After chuckling at my predicament, they kindly lent me one of their jackets to tie around my waist over the towel, before escourting me to a cheap clothing store.
“Only you could pull off that look,” they affirmed.
“What look is that?” I asked. “Layered Weirdo?”
We soon found a suitable shop where I thanked the girls, returned their jacket and let them continue on their shopping spree. I quickly found a little black skirt that turned out to be even shorter than my towel and went to buy it until I realised I didn’t have enough cash on me; only a traveller’s cheque. By this stage, there was just 15 minutes before I had to be dressed, checked out of the hotel and back on the bus. I threw the skirt back on the hanger, power-walked through Lucerne until I found a bank, exchanged money, raced back to the store and bought the skirt in record time. The shop assistant gave me a bemused look when I asked if I could wear the skirt out of the store instead of the flimsy hotel towel.
As I hot-footed it back to the hotel to return the towel and room key, I discovered the skirt was one of those infuriating little numbers that ride up your legs when you walked. By the time I made it to the bus, the skirt ended up resembling a belt. Although I never lived the incident down, nor get to buy a watch or Swiss army knife, my couture belt and I were unanimously awarded “most fashionable” at the end of the tour - which was really my intention all along. ;)

White hotel towel on towel rack
Fluffy, yet fashion forward

(Photo credit: Lukas Schroeder - Unsplash)