Dan and I made our way through the Vienna drizzle to our 6am cab. We were tired and I was working on a potential case of the blues. The cab was a nice, slate colored BMW driven by a sturdy looking man in aviators and a grey flat top. I got in the front. Dan got in the back. We started to drive as the driver turned the radio on and then subsequently turned up the light electronic dance music that issued forth from the speakers. This made me unbelievably happy because for all the dumb stereotypes associating Austrians with dance music, I really didn’t think it was so pervasive that even the burly cabdrivers wake up with a little sparkly keyboard laden UNCE UNCE UNCE in the mornings. Good times. The announcers all had that super gay sounding Schwarzeneggarian preen to their German and generally, try as I might, I couldn’t maintain my grip on the blues.
In the Vienna station….you know what? I don’t remember the Vienna station at all. I even texted Dan and he doesn’t remember it either. I suppose it makes sense because this was one of the uniquely earliest mornings and we were both beyond exhausted, but still…odd. I’m really stretching here, but I have nothing at all. Whatever, I’m sure it was light dance music, large breasted women with platinum flattops and lots of whimsically industrial chrome design. We also probably ate at McDonalds.
The train to Switzerland was outrageously nice. We made straight for the bar car, as we were trying out our new philosophy, which was “fuck this ‘keeping it together’ stuff.” We’d arrived at this motto at some point on the suicide train while going over all our various misadventures: Missing trains, trains missing us, stressing out, being bummed, this all happened while we were sober as a pair of virgin judges. Once we said ‘fuck it’ on the suicide train and just started pounding beers, our problems vanished. We made the show, the show was great, and here we were on a new train going through the picturesque Austrian and Swiss Alps, definitely the nicest scenery of our whole trip, some of the nicest scenery the world at large has to offer. Keeping it together hadn’t done shit for us, so fuck 945am. Lets go to that bar car and get a couple of beers.
The bar car was run by a portly little Indian family and the kid was a roly poly little man who was about the funniest person we decided that we’d ever seen. He clearly did the trip from Vienna to Zurich on the bar car about 3 times a day all summer long and any whimsy that could be said to be built into life on the rails was quickly evaporating for him. His PS3 even seemed to be losing its luster. The beers were expensive and so was the food. Welcome to Switzerland, where it’s a good thing you make 30 grand a day, Mitt Romney, because that’s how much it costs to take yourself to Burger King a couple of times.
SO, we sat there, enjoying our new attitude, and absolutely loving the scenery. The train didn’t have any train jumpers whatsoever, which we chalked up to the notion that no one who was fortunate enough to live out here would EVER entertain any thoughts of suicide. Certainly our new attitude was starting to pay off.
We walked out of the Zurich train station and decided we needed to find a place to eat and have another beer. We looped around behind the station, past an underground Burger King and down a beautiful avenue to a place where a lot of really well dressed, fashionable gentlemen were lounging on a patio scattered with easy chairs and couches, smoking and drinking martinis. We posted up immediately. The place seemed to be a nightclub, lounge, bar and hotel. We briefly considered staying there, as the club we were playing at was right across the street, but quickly decided that it was almost certainly about ten thousand dollars a night.
Our waiter was a catty little bitch of a man with a big, roman nose and a lavender fauxhawk. He weighed, maximum, 100 lbs. After he took our drink orders and told us that we couldn’t order food because the kitchen was closed or something, we realized that we were sitting in an extremely gay bar. Now, that’s fine. I will hang out at a gay bar all goddamned day. The part of this that’s so funny is that man…Europe will really scramble your gaydar. Here, I thought this group of (suddenly very obviously) gay guys were just typical Euros. The ONLY thing that clued us in was a little bit of lap sitting. Anyway, hardeharhar.
We had 2 more beers then went across the street to the club where a super nice dude (with a crazily hilarious accent) named Chris was setting up. We dropped off our guitars and decided to cruise around a bit, get some food etc. before soundcheck.
We navigated the ins and outs of Zurich, and tried to figure out exactly what to do, since we didn’t have Swiss francs and we weren’t really gonna need to have them after today anyway. We did that thing where we were both super indecisive, so we went into one restaurant, looked around, winged, went to another, looked around, winged and then, after doing this a bunch of times, settled on someplace that was shittier than all the places we’d looked at.
Dan and I both had sandwiches. They were acceptable. We also both had beers, which were great. The tab was something in the neighborhood of fifty American dollars for two beers and two sandwiches. I decided to get it as a show of my magnanimity. My card, however, was declined – I hadn’t used it in 2 weeks and suddenly it was being used in Switzerland turned out to be the reason – but the guy was telling us that it was because fifty bucks was such a tiny amount for a credit card transaction. What do they, wipe their asses with gold leaf in Zurich? Because if so, sign me up.
Anyway, Dan grabbed the meal like a gentleman and we headed back, soundchecked and then walked to our hotel through the gorgeous Zurich sunset, down tree lined streets full of people drinking wine in outdoor cafes and groups of children riding bikes and scooters and playing ball unsupervised. It was EXTREMELY hard to not be jealous of the opulent, relaxed society that we were invading like the farts-packed-into slacks that we were. It’s amazing. People in America (not just dumb hicks either) will sit around and swear up and down that we live in the best country in the world, despite the fact that, at the VERY least, there are other places that are as nice and liveable as even the nicest places in the States. But people refuse to accept that for some reason, as though acknowledging the greatness of other countries would somehow be some sort of admission of defeat. Even faced with bucolic bliss like that neighborhood in Switzerland, they’ll counter with something like “but can you get a decent burrito?” To that, I say “you know where you can get a great burrito? Tijuana. If that’s your meterstick for society, you’re stoked, because you can live there for pretty cheap. And there’s unsupervised kids playing in the streets there too, so hey! Maybe you’re onto something.”
The point is, this scene we walked through was as close to domestic paradise as I’ve ever seen on this planet and I was sad for my children that they wouldn’t be able to grow up there, in that neighborhood in Zurich, simply because I’d selfishly lived my life in such a way that I couldn’t afford to shell out a hundred bucks every time that they needed a chocolate milk.
At the hotel, the clerk had a gimpy left side. His ear, eye and hand were all crazy. He was really nice and insisted (!) that Dan keep his pen after Dan commented on how nice it was. We dropped off our bags and took the tram back to the club. Kids had showed up and Chris was behind the bar pouring whiskey. I had a few whiskeys and took the stage feeling loose. The show was great. I had a couple of whiskeys while Dan played. Once the show ended, we hung out for a minute and then took a cab back to the hotel. I think we may have stopped briefly at the hotel bar, but I’m really not sure. That night, we slept the dreamless sleep of the damned. I’m sure I’m leaving shit out of this recollection, but man…I was exhausted. Gimme a break.