Get Lost!

Ditching the GPS

Last week, I accompanied my husband on his work trip to Switzerland. We visited castles, lakeside towns, museums and tons of great restaurants. I literally got lost in the country, which was on of the best parts of the trip and the subject of today’s post.

Prior to my trip, I read an article in the Washington Post about the negative effect our reliance on GPS has on our brains. Though this isn’t the first time I have read about this, it was fresh on my mind during my trip.

During our trip to Switzerland, we visited the tourist towns of Luzern, Lausanne, Nyon and Montreux. Our home base was Geneva. We kept our phones on Wifi to avoid international roaming charges. Luzern has a city wifi, but the other places didn’t, or if they did, we weren’t able to join it. That was fine, it forced us to use the city maps, and sometimes, just retrace our way or simply get lost or awhile.

luzern map
A map by the train station.

Getting lost was most fun in Luzern, which was everything I imagined a Swiss city to be, with cobblestone streets, alleyways that opened up to views of the Swiss Alps, and little cafes. We walked the streets void of large tourist buses and groups that plagued the main routes of the town.

luzern street
Swiss Alps peaking out from the end of the street.

On our way back from Mt. Pilatus, we followed the signs to the bus stop. That took some time, because we weren’t sure we were going the right way. Once we got to the bus stop, we were looking at a large bus schedule trying to figure out if we were going the right way. A man sitting on the bench popped up and ranger to help us. He was a local but had visited the United States for work before.

He happened to be going the same way we were and we chatted all the way back to the city center.

Another time, we were returning back to our hotel and as we walked through some back residential roads, we ended up stumbling upon a beautiful church as wedding guests lined up outside to congratulate a new bride and groom. It was something out of a storybook!

luzern wedding
Guests line up outside a church. As a tourist, I didn’t want to be intrusive, so I took a photo from afar.

Of course getting lost wasn’t always fun. I was alone on my way back from Montreux. After leaving the Geneva train station, I made my way back to the hotel, a 15 minute walk. Unlike previous days, where I took the exact same route, I came out of a different entrance from the train station. Still everything looked familiar.

I kept walking until I realized that everything looked familiar because we had explored the city a couple of days before, but it was not necessarily the way back to the hotel.

geneva street
A small side street in Geneva.

I had to pull the tourist map the hotel had given me and check it against the map at bus stops (the ones with a red dot to show where you currently were). Turns out, I wasn’t too far from my hotel, but the detour took me an hour.

At the time, I was tired from a long day of walking, and feeling frustrated. But later, I felt proud of myself. I had no phone, I didn’t speak the language well, and it was raining. But I figured out how to get to where I needed to go.

The experience reminded me of when I was a kid and went on family trips. We often got lost on these trips, but some of the best memories came from those experiences.

After I returned to my hotel, I treated myself to espresso and a chocolate croissant.

hotel room

 

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