When I visited Switzerland back in 2010, I only had the chance to visit Jungfraujoch and Grindelwald. After watching (and being obsessed) with Crash Landing on You (CLOY) in 2020, I had been hoping to revisit Switzerland to visit all the beautiful filming locations. In fact, I had already mapped out the routes and itinerary last year but we decided to put the trip on hold since there are other places we wanted to visit first.
However, when I was booking my return flight from Malaysia to the US, I found a route with a 5 hour transit in Zurich and figured it would be a good opportunity to do a quick tour of Zurich, especially since I haven't been to Zurich before. 5 hours wasn't a lot of time so I did my homework beforehand to make sure I had sufficient time to make it back to the airport to catch my flight. Hence, my tour was focused on CLOY's filming locations. Scroll on to find out how I completed my Zurich CLOY tour within 5 hours and $14. =)
May 14 (Sat): Zurich - Chicago - Huntsville
As a matter of fact, I seriously thought about foregoing my plan of going into the city center for sightseeing when I saw 'SSSS' on my Zurich to Chicago boarding pass. I've read about SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) before and generally that means it'd take longer for me to go through security as I'd have to go through secondary check. I did some research and it seemed like the security check would be in Zurich, so I figured it'd be safer to just stay in the airport and not risk going into the city and missing my flight.
For the entire journey from Bangkok to Zurich, I was still trying to decide whether to leave the airport for sightseeing. My decision was highly dependent on our arrival time, and how long it'd take for me to get through immigration. When I saw on the flight map that we'd be arriving on time (not early), I pretty much decided to just chill in the airport lounge and didn't bother freshening up or putting on my contact lens in the flight.
Our flight landed in Zurich at 7.55am (5 min behind schedule), I was off the plane at 8.04am, took the train to the immigration, got through immigration at 8.18am, and was out of the airport at 8.21am. P.S. I was planning to buy chocolates at the airport shopping area so I'd have to go through immigration regardless.
The immigration officer asked how long I was going to be in Switzerland, and looked surprised when I said 5 hours. I told him I was just going to get out of the airport to buy some chocolates and asked if he think I'd have enough time to go into the city to do some sightseeing. He looked at his watch and my departure time, and said I should have time since it's only a 10 minute train ride to the city. His answer made me rethink my decision.
When I got to the ticket machine at the airport train station around 8.24am, it was finally time to make a decision...to buy or not to buy the ticket to the city?? I was 15-20 minutes ahead of my original plan so I decided...let's do it!! I bought the 3-zone 24hr train ticket for CHF13.60 ($13.63) and quickly looked for the platform for the next train to Zurich HB. I bought the 24hr ticket because a one-way ticket cost CHF6.80 so a round-trip would cost about the same. Besides, I wouldn't need to waste time buying the return ticket later.
The trains run every 3-5 min, departs on time, and it was only a short 12-min ride from the airport to Zurich Bahnhofplatz (HB) station. The train had 2 levels and there were plenty of seats. Since it was a last minute decision (literally) to venture out to the city, I quickly 'freshened up' by putting on my contact lens, tied up my hair, and put on makeup in an attempt to look semi-decent for photos...all done within the 12 min train ride. =P
8.45am: Arrived Bahnhofplatz (main station) and exited the station at Bahnhofstrasse. Since the weather was nice and cool, I chose to walk along Bahnhofstrasse to the next sight. This is Zurich’s main downtown street and one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues. The first section of the Bahnhofstrasse is only accessible for trams and pedestrians. Pay attention and do not walk on or close to the tram lines or you'll be honked at...like me...lol!
One of CLOY's filming locations is Paradeplatz square, located along Bahnhofstrasse. This tram station appeared in Ep. 9 and 11, where Seo Dan got off the tram (with her large luggage) when she visited Switzerland to visit Captain Ri 7 years ago.
8.53am: After a quick 8 min walk along Bahnhofstrasse with few photo stops, I took a left turn into Augustinergasse, a pedestrian street located in Zurich's old town (Altstadt). This is a popular tourist attraction and is said to be one of the most beautiful, historical streets in Zurich. Glad that there weren't anyone around when I got there. =)
Augustinergasse appeared in a flashback in Ep. 16 of CLOY. Seo Dan and Captain Ri walked through this street when they were sightseeing in Zurich, and Captain Ri was busy taking photos as they walked by Meister store when Seo Dan suggested getting coffee.
9.00am: From Augustinergasse, I continued walking through the cobbled pedestrian streets and alleys such as Widdergasse and Rennweg, noticing many streets around old town decorated with Swiss flags. I certainly enjoyed having the empty streets to myself. =)
9.03am: Made it to Lindenhoff hill after a short 3 min walk. Lindenhof was once home to a roman castle but today provides an open green space to relax in with gorgeous views over the city - Limmat river, Old Town, Grossmünster Church and City Hall. There weren't many tourists yet so it was nice to be able to enjoy the view and take photos without people in the background. =P
This location appeared in the opening sequence of CLOY, where Se Ri and Captain Ri walked past each other with the two towers of Grossmünster Church and empty benches in the background. This location appeared again in Ep. 16 in the scene where Se Ri thought Captain Ri was the one playing piano by the Hedwig Fountain, and was disappointed to see that it wasn't him when she walked closer.
9.15am: St. Peters Church was a 4 min walk from Lindenhof. Cradled between the winding alleys, St Peter Church is the only baroque church in the whole of Zurich. This church flaunts the largest church clock in entire Europe.
It was easy to walk around this part of the city because all these narrow cobblestone streets / alleys are for pedestrians only. Usually I'd be a bit cautious walking along small alleys but surprisingly I didn't feel unsafe at all walking alone on these empty alleys.
9.18am: A short walk from St Peters Church was the Fraumünster Church. Located on the west bank of the Limmat, the Fraumünster Church is one of Zurich's most prominent landmarks. There was some event going on that morning as I saw many priest (I guess?) in black cassock standing in line next to the church. The church bell was also ringing for a good 5 minutes between 9.20am - 9.25am. There were some chairs in the square where people were just sitting around enjoying the morning and the beautiful buildings around.
9.22am: Right next to Fraumünster Church is Münsterbrücke bridge, a pedestrian and road bridge connecting the two churches, Fraumünster and Grossmünster.
Münsterbrücke bridge appeared several times in the teaser, Ep. 11, and 16. Se Ri was seen looking over this bridge 7 years ago in a flashback in Ep. 11. She revisited this bridge again several times in Ep. 16 in the hopes of meeting Captain Ri after he dropped her a message to meet in Switzerland.
9.30am: My original plan was to continue walking along the riverfront to Zurich Opera House. Even though I was 40 min ahead of my original plan, I wanted to try catch the S16 train at 9.41am back to the airport. Else, I'd have to wait 30 min for the next S16 direct train, or I'd have to switch trains to get back to the airport. I decided to take a look of Zurich Opera House (the white building from afar) and walk over to Stadelhofen station.
9.37am: Stadelhofen station was surprisingly easy to navigate as the platform was outdoor at ground level. There was also clear sign showing the timing for the next train. As expected, the train arrived right on time at 9.41am. The journey to Zurich Airport (Flughafen Zurich) took 18 min with 4 stops, and I made it back to the airport at 9.59am. Glad to report that I successfully completed my CLOY mission in Zurich within 1.5 hour. =)
10.04am: One last task before heading over to the terminal was to buy some Swiss chocolates for souvenirs. I've done my 'research' beforehand and knew that there was a Migros supermarket at the airport shopping area. P.S. Migros supermarket is one of the largest supermarket chain in Switzerland. I headed straight to the chocolate area and there were soooo many types of chocolates. I randomly picked 11 bars and used the self checkout kiosk to make the payment. Everything was super easy and quick.
10.25am: I already had my boarding pass and my bags were already checked all the way through so I went straight to the security screening. It took about 15 minutes for me to get through security and there was another line for passport control. I was glad I came back to the airport earlier.
11.00am: By the time I got through security and passport control, I had about an hour left before boarding time. I went to the Primeclass Lounge which was located by Gate E46 (the same one we visited during our transit to Copenhagen about 2 months ago) to have some food and rest some before the long flight. It was convenient that this lounge was along the way to my boarding gate.
Another main reason to come to the lounge was to take a good shower and freshen up before my 10-hour flight to the US. Towel was provided. The shower was occupied when I first arrived so I had to wait a bit for my turn.
12.05pm: Walked over to my boarding gate and there was another document check area set up before my boarding gate. The staff asked for my passport and green card, and put a stamp on my boarding pass to indicate that they had checked my documents. I came to find out later when I was trying to board at 12.49pm (flight was scheduled to depart at 1.05pm) that this was where they were supposed to perform the secondary security check (the SSSS on my boarding pass). Somehow the first staff missed it so I had to quickly run from the boarding gate back to the document check area for the secondary security check. I didn't know how long it would take so I asked the staff to make sure they won't close boarding before I return.
The staff at the document check looked through my documents again, and asked me to go over to a separate area that was blocked off with black screens. I was asked to take off my shoes, put all my bags on the desk, and took out my laptop. I was trying to be quick and the staff was nice to tell me not to rush coz my flight will wait for me...lol! The whole process took only about 5 minutes and I was indeed the last person to board at 12.57pm, 8 minutes before departure...lol!
I was actually surprised how empty the flight was since I was the last to board. My original seat was in the front part of economy, right behind business class and that section was very empty. I was glad to have a row of 2 to myself.
Goodbye Zurich!! Thank you for the beautiful weather and sceneries on my short visit!! Spotted an Edelweiss flight as we were pushing back. Thanks to CLOY, I learnt that Edelweiss symbolizes precious memories. =)
I moved over to the middle section after we reached cruising altitude and had a row of 4 to myself. Once again, I got my lay-flat economy seat. =) This was my first time on Swiss Airlines and I was impressed that everything onboard was 'Swiss', including the Quöllfrisch Hell beer and Swiss chocolate. =D I kept my mask on for the entire flight, but the crew for this flight weren't wearing masks already coz US dropped the mask mandate few days before.
3.21pm: I had a pretty good rest on the flight and our flight landed in Chicago about 35 min ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, our flight ended up waiting on the tarmac for an hour as our gate was occupied by another delayed flight. Welcome back to America. =.=
4.36pm: Finally got off our flight and I was starting to worry coz I still had to go through immigration and recheck my bags. My next flight was scheduled to depart at 5.58pm. Of course, everything that could go wrong went wrong for me during this transit in Chicago. I went to the Global Entry kiosk and it didn't print out my receipt. Fortunately the staff asked me to go to the crew lane so I didn't have to wait in the normal line.
4.43pm: Thanks to Global Entry, I got through immigration fairly quickly with no questions asked. Got to the baggage carousel and none of the bags from our flight was unloaded yet. 2 rounds of baggage were unloaded and still no sign of my bags. Came to find out later (from talking to other passengers who were also waiting) that all the bags with connecting flight were unloaded last...soooo stupid!!! That means, a bunch of people were going to miss their connecting flight.
5.25pm: Finally got my bags, went through customs, and went recheck my bags. The staff scanned my tags and told me that I had to go over to the counter to rebook my flight coz it was less than 30 min before my flight as I wouldn't make it in time for my flight. I knew there weren't anymore flights to Huntsville that day so I was determined to try make it for my flight. I went over to the counter, told the guy I don't mind if my bags arrive the next day, I just wanna get on that flight. Told him I had TSA pre-check and I will run. Thankfully, the staff agreed to tag my bags and allowed me to recheck my bags (probably because I was upgraded to 1st class for the Chicago to Huntsville flight).
5.30pm: I took the train to another terminal, and had to go through security again. I thought I went to the TSA Pre-check line, but apparently I ended up in the normal security line thanks to the crappy signage. I was so desperate that I just told everyone in line that I'm trying to rush for my flight and thank goodness everyone let me go upfront. That was when I found out that I was actually not in the Pre-Check line so I had to take off my shoes, take my laptop and liquids out of my bag....ughhh!! And of course, my bag was pulled for additional check....ughhhh!! The 11 bars of chocolates I bought from Switzerland were the culprit. I had to watch the TSA staff take her own sweet time to 'wipe' each bar of chocolate one-by-one...while I kept checking the time.
5.50pm: Finally got through security and I didn't even bother keeping all my things back into my bag. I started sprinting towards my gate and of course, my gate was the very last one. My legs almost went soft as I was running...lol! When I got to the gate, the staff probably recognized my Asian name and said he just dropped me from the flight, but thankfully, he said he'd add me back on the flight. He asked why I took so long coz he saw that my previous flight had arrived on time. Once again, I was the very last to board, 8 minutes before departure.
5.58pm: The flight departed on time, I was gasping for breathe and was very thirsty. When the cabin crew asked what I wanted to drink, I told her 2 cups of water and a Coke. I was expecting the normal plastic cups but coz I was 1st class, I got glasses instead. Definitely not glam at all with this 1st class coz I had to hold on to 3 glasses on the uneven tray to avoid spilling my drinks. =.= Anyway, I was surprised that the crew for this United flight still wore mask even though they weren't required anymore. Of course, I kept my double mask on the entire journey.
7.30pm: Our flight arrived 12 min ahead of schedule. I was the last to board, first to get off...haha! The airport was surprisingly empty. Before I got to the baggage claim area, I received a message that one of my bags did not make it on the flight and will be arriving on the next flight. I wasn't surprised that the bag didn't make it, but I was more surprised how one bag made it but the other one didn't.
I went to the United counter to figure out what I needed to do with my delayed and damaged baggage. I had to wait quite a while because that same staff was at the gate helping with our arriving flight and could only get back to the counter after she was done. I feel bad for the people who showed up to work and had to work more coz they were short-staffed. The staff helped me lodge 2 reports, one for the delayed bag and another one for the damaged bag. I requested for them to send the delayed bag to our house when it arrives. Indeed, they delivered the bags to our house at 9.45pm the next day and also issued a $100 travel certificate for the delay caused. I was impressed.
As for the damaged bag, I took photos of the damage and was asked to ship my bag for repair (they paid for shipping). They determined that my bag was beyond repair after receiving it and offered to send me a brand new one for free. Once again, good job United for handling both issues smoothly.
Despite all the drama with my transit in Chicago, I was so glad I made it home safely and on time, and was welcomed by this cute note from hubby. =D All my belongings, including my Malaysia stock pile also made it back in one piece.
That's a wrap for my 2-month trip through 10 countries, 18 flights, and 11 airlines. I'm thankful for the ability to travel, spend quality time, and make memories with our loved ones. Look forward to more travels as the world moves on from pandemic to endemic.