Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vacation Policy

Everyone over here always seemed shocked to find out that when it comes to the amount of time off, the vacation policy here isn't really that much different from the US.

I've created a graphical representation (I've been spending a lot of time in PowerPoint and Excel here....)

Yesterday, I found out what the differences actually are (copied straight from the company policy):

1. To guarantee adequate recreation as well as meeting the legal requirement, at least two consecutive weeks must be taken per financial year.

2. Any carry-forward of unclaimed vacation entitlements is considered exceptional and limited to 15 days

Looks like I need to start planning a vacation so I can adequately recreate! Any suggestions???

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We found Swiss Rednecks!

So every day, I walk to the train station and I pass by some advertisements. I couldn't help but notice this particular advertisement:

Country Bar?! American Food!? Line Dancing Stage?! You better believe I was going. And it was everything I could have hoped for.

The festival was held in a giant barn. And it was completely packed!

Tuff Enuff - They were quite good. The guy in the middle appeared to be playing a pogo stick??

They can line dance in Switzerland! Who would've thunk it!?

So wrong.

What's a country bar without neon!?

It's like shopping at a truck stop!

Our Australian friend, Greg, checking out the merchandise

I wouldn't call the food American. But at least they had big beers!

In other news #1, we finally decided to try out the McDonalds last weekend. Two meals and 4 ketchup packets = 28 CHF. Holy crapola. We won't be doing that again. We can definitely find a better meal for that amount of money.

In other news #2, we booked a trip to Paris for Easter weekend! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time to Get Out the Iron!

Due to Andre's excellent connections in the states (his dad owns a Dry Cleaning business), we were able to dry clean our clothes frequently with minimal cost (i.e. none).

Not so much in Switzerland.

3 pairs of pants + 3 blouses + 1 sweater = 98 CHF


In the future, this is what it'll look like in our household:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beer! and Skiing! (mostly beer)

So I decided to be Swiss this week and take some vacation. Of course, I only took 1 day compared to the weeks that everyone around here takes at a time but I'm sure I'll work up to that.

So on my great big vacation day, Andre and I hit the slopes with Andy. We went back to Flumserberg. We were feeling more confident so we headed up the mountain to the intermediate slopes. We made it down once and decided to head down again and make a different turn at the end. Second time down, this was the result:

Judging by the length and shape of the bruise, I'm guessing I fell on my pole???

So after that, we decided the ski runs were overrated and it would be way more fun to be "off piste" and in the deep snow. It was harder to control my skis off piste but it was much softer when I fell. As you see by the snow in my hair and all over my jacket, I fell plenty. I had a blast though!

Andre off piste

Today, we headed to the Rappi Bier Factory and spent the whole day learning all about how to brew beer! The group was very interesting. Hosted by a Brew Master from New Zealand, the participants were from the good ol' US, Iceland, Wales, Spain, Panama and France. We started with coffee and snack, learned some about beer and then tried some beers. Somehow we fit lunch into our brewing and that's where the serious beer drinking began.

Best I can tell, you have about 8 main steps to brew beer.
1. Measure out the Malts (malt is a product created through drying of barley)
2. Run the malts through the miller machine thingy (we used a roller miller)
3. Create Mash (it involves a lot of stirring, reaching certain temperatures, waiting, stirring some more, reaching more temperatures, waiting some more)
4. Lautering (aka siphoning off the liquid from the super gross semi oatmeal texture stuff left - also involves some more hot water)
5. Boiling & Addition of Hops (self explanatory)
6. Whirlpool (spin the water round and round so that all the particles meet in the middle and settle at the bottom)
7. Cooling (involves a contraption that looks like someone hooked up a car radiator to a pressure washer)
8. Fermentation & Conditioning (this part takes forever - boo hiss)

After all that excitement, we should receive our very own beer from our brew in about six weeks!

For some reason, we took more pictures during our beer brewing experience than we have during the rest of our time here. Wonder what that says about us!?!?! :) Anyway, a link to the pictures are below with captions for your educational and entertainment purposes.
Beer Brewing Workshop!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Da' Hood

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here. Sunny and temperature in the mid 60s. Quite an improvement from the last four weeks of temperatures below freezing. Andre and I got our act together today, went to the bike shop, bought a pump and some pedals and got our bikes ready to roll. Roll....heh heh heh.....get it?? Maybe I've had too much wine tonight. :)

So anyway, this picture is taken from the window in our walk in closet. We live right below a castle and a church. The church has already invited us to services. They sent us a lovely pamphlet completely in German. Due to our inability to understand the services offered, we haven't yet made an appearance. :)

At any rate, today we biked over to the lake. I'd guess it took us ten minutes max to bike to the lake. Here's a picture of the view looking back toward town from the lake (with arrows to point to the castle & church). It's really great living next to the two tallest structures in the city. We can wander and wander, get ourselves totally lost, look around, find the castle and make our way back.

This is me next to the big sign that says "entering the ice is forbidden". I'm wearing my wonderfully appropriate for the weather bright pink wind/athletic jacket. Apparently it's illegal or frowned upon to wear color in Switzerland as I had people staring at me all day long. It was really quite ridiculous. Even Andre noticed it.

This is the Greifensee. Due to the absolutely ridiculous winter that Europe has been having, the Greifensee froze over. It's starting melting along the edges but the middle is still frozen. It's very pretty. The rest of the pictures are below.

Bonus! We got to see some cute bunnies on the ride back home.

In case any potential visitors were wondering about the proximity of local entertainment. This picture was taken from our front window. :)

Here are the rest of the pretty pictures:
Biking to the Greifensee - March 3