An Unexpected Day Trip

by Brooke Denby

A leap into the unknown Switzerland


We look at each other, the glass of wine shining through our eyes and a pulse of nerves thrumming up our skin. Were we really going to do this? Tucked into our Airbnb just outside of Geneva, our last hope for a day trip to Gruyere was a scruffy-haired Frenchman we had found on Tinder. I nod, and she presses send. The next morning we wait at Carrefour, our meeting point, under a listless grey sky. He arrives in his self-described "chocolate car" and I blink to mask my heartbeat. He introduces himself as Aurelien, and after we destroy his name in our flat American accents he tells us to call him Lion. Lion has seen the whole world in his 26 years, or so it seems- trips to Asia, couchsurfing Europe, backpacking South America, the list goes on. During our two hour journey he takes us to the Sahara Desert, brown sand knotting our hair, and then to a full moon party in Thailand, meshes of people all thumping to the same beat. When we get to Gruyere, we return to Switzerland, and I finally feel like I've arrived. Green pours down the mountainous countryside, rushing around dark green patches of trees, surrounding a fortress proudly standing strong, holding its place. Cows froth the grassy sea, a speckle here, a shot of foam there, and my eyes shoot up to the peaks, sometimes ending in brown rock mossed with white snow. The car falls silent, travel stories left behind for something more tangible right outside our windows. We park and climb up the hill, weak May sunshine tickling our skin with warmth. After a tour of the castle we walk through the town, brown thatch roofs capping squat cream boxes, and sit down for a fondue lunch. My friend and I decide on white wine, refreshingly crisp, but Lion stops us. "You can't order wine with fondue," he laughs. I look at him, nonplussed. "Water?" I ask, hesitating, and he shakes his head. "Beer," he replies. "The carbonation helps your stomach digest the cheese." We order and before long a delicate war begins, sticks spiked with bread swiping and dodging into the pot to swoop up globs of cheese and deliver it safely, with minimum droppage, to the owner's mouth. Once again our conversation dies out, although this time it is the food that leaves us in wonder. Later, Lion leaves us at home. We exchange hugs and promises of a meetup if he makes his way back to Madrid, our home city. My friend and I walk home, quiet but sated. Our eyes meet and speak for us: "What would have happened," we think, "if he had never swiped right?"