Learning Lines

Investigating New Territory Through The World of Writing

18 Tons of Gerrardo

The dramamine was packed.  All I had to endure was a few plane trips, airport trams, and a huge tour bus for 10 days.

“Did you get the patch?”  one person asked before I left?  I didn’t know there was a patch.  Should I have the patch?

Most of the anxiety I had before traveling centered around the possibility I would be ill the whole time.  All this planning and money would be wasted.  My daughter would never forgive me for permanently ruining her life because I was going to throw up all over Europe.

But it didn’t happen that way.  Not at all.  If I had about a week to recover, I would get on the bus in a second.  Only if the driver . . . was Gerrardo.  Our Italian bus driver won my heart the first day.  If only I had recorded their voices.  Our tour guide and our bus driver made my trip to Europe like a dream.  The soundtrack to the movie that was my vacation came in the form of two Italian men bantering back and forth in Italian.

Right outside the airport we met the pink and purple monstrosity that would be our home for the next ten days.  There were some really high tech mirrors in the front.  It didn’t have the bus smell that makes me sick.  Maura and I found some seats up front two seats behind the genius who was Gerrardo.  Our first adventure would be the bustling and expensive city of Zurich.  We were to have a walking tour of about two hours and some free time.  My eyes weren’t really on the road at this point.  Surrounding me were stately buildings, clock towers and churches; tall with skinny alley ways in between. The gentle lurching of the bus through the streets wasn’t upsetting at all.  The majesty of the city distracted my stomach.

There were some smart cars I had seen in the states.  But, in Zurich they were everywhere I looked!  How could Gerrardo keep track of all of them?  Finally we pulled into a bus parking area and we filed out, ants with the other tourists joining the river of people.

After two hours of browsing through the city we mounted the bus to head for Hotel Tell (after the William Tell). This would be where we would stay for two nights.  It was a town located overlooking a lake in a valley of the Swiss Alps.  Now, wonder for a moment what it would be like to drive an 18 ton bus into the mountains.  Yep.  That’s where we went.  I figured exiting the highway was a sure sign we were close to our hotel.  Nope.  People had actually built streets winding up and up and up until your ears would pop.  Going around each bend, I could see the corner of the bus looming over the edge.  Gerrardo guided those 18 tons whining and hissing all the way up to our hotel.  At one part, there was a curious red light.  This is where Gerrardo stopped.  Many of us stood up from our seats to view out the enormous front window.  There was only half of a road.  Where was the other half?  What were we waiting for?  Then it all became clear.  Construction.  After several minutes of listening to the bell on the cow next to our bus, a little european car emerged from around a hair pin curve directly ahead.  The light changed to green after the car passed.  But now, I wasn’t so certain I wanted the bus to go.  That little european car looked like it just fit onto the thin pavement they called a road.  The few people still awake moaned as the bus slowly lurched forward.  Some people looked down out the side windows.  Gerrardo and Matteo spoke quickly in machine gun Italian as the 18 ton bus tip toed across a temporary one lane bridge.  I think all of us tried to hold our breath as if the quiet of not breathing would help Gerrardo concentrate.  As soon as we made it to the other side, we broke out into spontaneous applause thanking Gerrardo for sparing our lives.  I turned around to look behind the bus at the skinny black path we had just crossed praying desperately for an alternate route down the mountain.

Not much later the Hotel Tell came into view.  The backdrop of craggy peaks encircled with clouds created a phenomenal backdrop.  Thankfully we would have some respite from the big whale that was our bus.  All of us said “Gratzie, Gerrardo” for getting us safely to our first night’s sleep.

But the morning brought some challenges.  The bus could not get in gear on the steep mountain.  According to our guide “The autoboos was kaput”  So there we were, stranded in the mountians.  Matteo, our fearless guide rambled quickly in Italian into his cell phone.  He insisted there would be a bus to get us in an hour.  We were all so happy to just sit and drink our cappuccino.  None of us cared about being delayed.  Our view was a screen saver.

Then came Oswald, later to be referred to as “crazy Oswald”  Remember that bridge, the broken one under construction with only one way? Going down the hill with “crazy Oswald” almost made me lose my first cappuccino.



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This entry was posted on September 15, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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