It was the summer of 2003 in Switzerland. We went to Ticino on a weekend trip.
We started early from Lugano and went to Val Piora to hike on the three mountain lake trail. From there we hurried for Bellinzona. At Bellinzona we went straight to the tourist office to book a hotel. The lady there booked a hotel and told us about a festival in the evening. I noticed the road side vendors selling roasted chicken and the smell made me really hungry. We have not had anything but snacks the whole day. We would check in the hotel, freshen up and go downtown, have a nice meal and enjoy the festival there.
Once out of the hotel we saw a bus. I suddenly asked the bus driver whether it went to Biasca valley about which I had read a lot. He nodded and said it took 30minutes to go there. So we thought we would have a ride through the beautiful valley and just come back in the same bus and then go downtown.
The summer sun made us forget that it was already 6: 30 pm. We sat in the bus enjoying the view until I discovered from a timetable that this was the last connection. The driver took us to the last stop and asked us to get down. We wanted to go back. But he said that the bus won’t return that day.
There we were, standing in Biasca or whatever it was with all our romanticism thrown on our face with a nice slap. It was almost in the midst of wilderness. There were a few houses at a distance. But most of the place was forests beside a highway. There was a direction mark showing Bellinzona was 23km from here but it pointed towards the hiking path through the forest.
We had no cellphone with us. We started walking on the bus route hoping to get a cab. We walked on what is the shoulder of the highway. On one side was the forest. Cars flew past us. The shoulder was actually so thin that two people can’t walk side by side. I was afraid that my shoulders went across the border while my steps were barely outside the line. Each time I heard the cars approaching I clenched my teeth. After a while the road was uphill and there was slope beside the road. I tried to imagine that we were in a circus.
We didn’t see any cab. We constantly tried to ask for a lift, but nobody trusted us enough to give us a lift. We were hoping to see a police car. But as luck would have it we never saw one.
It started to grow dark so much so that I couldn’t see my own hand until there were cars approaching with blinding headlights. It was natural that the drivers couldn’t see us either. I was trying to switch off my brain. But it was not to be. There were strange smells of animals coming from the forests. All types of fears crawled up my spine, which was gradually stiffening and my knees showed signs of rebellion.
We crossed miles after miles of road.Then we were approaching the city. The bus stops now had seats. But if we sat down we would lose the stubbornness that kept our feet moving. I was already limping. My left knee refused to fold. It started raining. Now I was leaning on him and he dragged me. Towards the end I was walking with my eyes closed.
At last we reached the hotel to find the front door closed and no one responded to the calling bells. Luckily with the help of another lady we finally entered the hotel.
I limped for two weeks after that.
Some other travel experiences by this author:
St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast
My First Visit to the Roman Coliseum