Zurich is one of the easiest cities to move around in – that is, until you have twins. Let me hasten to point out that the problem is not Zurich at all; it’s the twins. Moving around with twins you need lots of energy, strong muscles and plenty of space. Whether you decide to drive, take public transportation, or simply walk you will definitely need all three. Now if, God forbid, you decide to fly with your twins there’s so much more that you will need!
Travelling by car is quite convenient, but it’s still a lot of work. Getting both girls into their car seats, then getting them back out of the car seats and into the stroller, getting the stroller out of the car and putting it all together then taking it apart and putting it back in requires decent muscles. To fit both car seats and a double stroller you also need lots of space in the car. But it can be lots of fun when we start singing and laughing. Now that Giggles and Cuddles are walking, though, they just don’t want to stay in their car seats for long, so it takes a lot of energy to keep them entertained. When the screaming contest begins, it all just turns into a nightmare. I find myself turning the music really high for distraction, but I don’t think it works for any of us.
Public transportation in Zurich has always been my favourite means of getting around. Trains, trams and buses are clean and punctual, and the network is very good. Taking the train out of Zurich is also enjoyable with lovely scenery. When taking the train with Giggles and Cuddles, though, I don’t think I have ever made it to the train I intended to catch. I always have to wait for the next one. The other problem I have is that people here are generally very quiet, and I feel we’re always too loud. Boarding old trains is not always easy, as they have a few steps. Getting on to the old trams is practically impossible as they have a metal handle right in the middle of the steps for getting on and off the tram, so there’s no way a double stroller can go through.
So often I resort to walking, especially if the weather is good. If you have never walked around with a double stroller you won’t quite understand what I mean, but as a friend of mine once said after pushing my stroller for three minutes, “Oh my God! I never thought walking around with a double stroller would be so intimidating!” With a double stroller you really need space to move around; it’s not always easy to fit through doors and again, you do need some muscles to push, especially if you’ve been shopping and just bought 10 bottles of milk and you’re walking uphill.
Getting around Zurich is one thing, and getting out of Zurich on an airplane is a totally different story. As with trains – or going anywhere for that matter – we barely make it on time. With trains we can usually wait for the next one, but when it comes to flying we just have to run. Running through airports is usually no fun; now imagine running through a busy airport while pushing a double stroller. By the time we make it to the plane, we’re usually the last people to get there. Walking into a full plane, each one of us carrying a baby, we can’t miss the looks of horror on the faces of passengers, especially the ones that have an empty seat next to them. I can almost hear their prayers, “Please let it not be me.”
The first time we flew with Giggles and Cuddles was actually fine. They slept most of the way. When they were crawling it was a bit challenging, and now that they’re walking it’s really not easy. They refuse to remain seated and want to just jump over the seat to play with each other when we’re sitting in different rows. The seat is barely enough for an adult – now imagine an adult plus a restless toddler. And it’s not like we can take turns; each of us has a twin. Feeding them is a nightmare, having a meal ourselves is out of the question. The worst feeling is when it hits you that this annoying kid you used to hate on planes who kept playing with the tray, opening and closing the window shade and kicking your seat is now your own kid.
Whenever I go out without Giggles and Cuddles I feel so light. I can almost always make it to my destination on time, and I can listen to music or read a book in peace, which can be nice and relaxing for a while, but then I feel I’m missing something. I have to admit that although they drive me up the wall sometimes, those Giggles and Cuddles just make me fly high.
By Didi in Zurich
Didi is an Egyptian mother of twin girls living in Zurich. Before having the twins she worked in the field of Economic Development. She is currently a stay-at-home mom focused on the growth and development of her daughters.
Illustration by Lara Friedrich
Currently a senior at the Kantonsschule Ausserschwyz in Nuolen, Lara is a freelance illustrator for Mothering Matters Magazine and a demo singer for the songwriter Kate Northrop. She has also written an article for the newspaper Marchanzeiger and is bilingual in English and German with a Cambridge First Certificate in English.