Tonight I invited for dinner a couple I’ve known for a very long time, but who I lost touch with in the course of a pretty busy life shuttling between countries.
Interestingly, I met them by accident on the field at the Polo Club some months back, and this unexpected encounter brought back many nice memories.
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They live in Manila now, but there was a time they lived in a beautiful apartment in the best neighborhood in Zurich, and I’d gone to visit them.
A STORY FROM A LIFETIME AGO
This was probably over 20 years ago.
I’d gone to Paris with some friends for a holiday and something unfortunate had happened.
Feeling slightly out of sorts, I’d picked up the phone in my Paris hotel room and rang my friend up in Switzerland. This was way before the time of the Internet and mobile phones, so communication was via landlines and faxes.
When she’d heard my story, my friend in Zurich had said: “Why don’t you just leave Paris and come visit me in Zurich?“
A MOMENT OF INSPIRATION
What a nice idea that was.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a visa for Switzerland, and there was no such thing as a Schengen visa then. I got a visa for France and that was it.
Ordinarily, you’d never be able to get a visa for Switzerland from Paris, unless you were living in Paris or had some kind of special permission.
So I think I was just incredibly lucky that the Swiss Embassy consul in Paris at that time was nice, flexible and understanding.
PURE LUCK FOR THE VISA
I intend to ask my friend tonight how I actually got that visa on a whim in Paris, because it’s normally impossible to do so in this situation. But I seem to recall that she’d faxed some kind of guarantee letter to the Swiss Embassy in Paris and then I’d actually visited the embassy just to try my luck.
Well, I did get my Swiss visa; and as soon as I had it in hand, I flew off to Zurich.
A WONDERFUL TIME IN SWITZERLAND
What a wonderful time we’d had.
She’d driven to the airport to pick me up herself, and I’d stayed in her home. Then, over the course of a week or so, she and her dashing husband showed me the greatest hospitality.
She and I went sightseeing and shopping in the daytime, and at night they took me out to the best restaurants in Zurich and nearby Zug.
A LOVELY APARTMENT
She had a gorgeous place that was so nicely furnished.
Meanwhile, I remember that I was still in the process of furnishing my very first proper apartment in Tokyo then. I took a lot of design ideas from that trip, and even a couple of pottery pieces from an art gallery in Zurich that I still own to this day.
On one of my last nights, they even held a party for me, inviting all their friends. It gave me an inkling of how nice it must be to live in Switzerland.
It was also a very nice way to end another interesting and enjoyable journey in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.