Friday, January 9, 2009

Arriving at Basel, Switzerland

English first / 日本語は英語の後

I declare to resume my blog upon moving my sabbatical research base from Japan to Switzerland.

At 1pm on January 5th, I left Japan for London with BA008. When the aircraft made a final approach to the airport after its 12-hour flight, it still had to make an additional 30-minute circular flight so as to wait for ice/snow to be removed from the runway. The flight from London to Basel was one hour delayed, too for removing ice from its wings. My arrival at Basel was 10:20pm, 17 hours after my departure from Japan. I had four meals in the flights. Surprisingly, Basel has passengers pick up their baggages before going through the immigration. I now got anxious about what an immigration officer would say to me as seeing me carrying two large/heavy suitcases. He certainly didn't think that I was a tourist, began to open each page of my passport, and finally asked me, "for business?" I replied "YES", which for some reason prompted him to stamp my passport. While it took more time than the passport control at Lisbon, it was actually simple.

When exiting from the terminal building, I saw snow falling heavily. No bus services at all. Even if they had been available, I couldn't have got on a bus with these heavy suitcases, and thus walked straight to a taxi stop. No passengers waiting. The meter started with 7SFR, (i.e., $7.00), which seemed like an appropriate initial fare as compared to the taxi service near by Keio University, Japan. However, the meter raised the fare really quickly as if it malfunctioned! The fare went up to 7.20SFR within 20 meters or 66 feet, further up through 7.40 to 7.60 while the taxi was still driving on the rotary. It already went up beyond 10SFR (= $10) when leaving this small airport and reached 34SFR in several minutes to the hotel. Although I heard that swiss taxis are the most expensive over the world, this fare was just more than my estimation.

The hotel was a 4-star hotel and cost 130SFR/night for a single. This is what a staff of the university guest house recommended. Although it was very clean, I just felt "that's it??" A tiny room. Furthermore, there was an ash tray on the table. Probably the hotel staff guessed that all Japanese like to smoke. The bath room prepared only all-in-one liquid of shampoo + shower gel. I was too tired and sleepy to go back to and give my complaint to the reception. Free breakfast was included, eggs were cooked upon each guest's request, and many choices of food were served, all of which I thought were a matter of course with 130SFR.

Now, it was time to move in the university guest house. I already got sick of such an expensive taxi. I walked, and even went up and down on stairways with these two heavy suitcases in the city for 10 minutes under the snowy weather. Of course, all pedestrians curiously looked at me. If I did the same thing in US, there might be someone who could ask me "do you need a help?". But it seems like Swiss are as unfriendly to strangers as Japanese are. As I arrived at the guest house at the appointment time, a staff was standing at the entrance and immediately guided me to my room. Probably Japan could give the same level of smooth services as Switzerland does, but this wouldn't happen in Portugal where a bunch of problems happen: the staff wouldn't show up as scheduled, the room wouldn't be ready yet, etc.. I giggled in my mind as guessing these troubles. The guest house room was spacier than expected, including a king bed, an immediate Internet connection, a cable TV, a phone, and a periodic room clean-up with linen replacement, all of which cost just 910SFR/month. What a big difference from the last night's 130SFR for the hotel room!



到着口を出ると、雪が津々とふっています。さすがに連絡バスなど見当たらないし、あっても、この重たいスーツケースを持ってバスに乗る事もできません。それで、タクシー乗り場に直行。客など誰もいません。料金は7フラン(700円程度)から始まりました。湘南台のタクシーと比べて妥当な相場と思いきや、20メートルも進まないうちに、カチと言って7.20になり、ロータリーを廻っているときも、7.40, 7.60と異常な速さでメータが上がって行きます。空港を出るときには、既に10フランは軽く超え、7, 8分しか乗っていないのに、ホテルまで34フランでした。スイスのタクシーは、世界一高いとは聞いていましたが、これ程だとは思っていませんでした。

ホテルは、大学のゲストハウスのおばさんが進めてくれたところで、4つ星で、一泊130フラン。部屋は清潔感はあるものの、130フランでこれだけ? おまけに日本人はタバコ吸うだろうと思ったらしく、灰皿までテーブルに置いてあって、バスルームにはシャンプ+シャワージェル兼用の液体があるだけ。思わず、引き返して文句言おうと思いましたが、既に夜11時過ぎ、疲れて寝ました。翌日の朝食は、卵をその場で調理してくれたり、種類も豊富でしたが、130フラン払ってるんだからね、当然かな。