Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Swiss Holiday!

Spring is great in Switzerland.  You get the long Easter weekend and then 3 holidays in May!  Sadly, today is my last holiday until August 1 and then Christmas.  It's gonna be a looooong fall.

At the last minute, Andre and I decided to head to Lugano for a short trip.  Lugano is in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland.  It was like traveling to another country but not!  The language was different (that's getting old....) but all the other stuff was the same - signs, plugs, etc.  It's surprisingly comforting just to be able to plug in your appliances like normal.  

Anyway, prior to our trip, we spent Saturday running errands, including picking up the beer we brewed a couple of months back.  Hooray!

First stop!

The view from our balcony at dusk:

and at night:

Andre made me hike yesterday.....
where we started (912m):

and where we ended:

I almost died.

Sophie on the other hand, LOVED IT

She ran practically the whole way.
This is what she looks like tonight:

Two thumbs up for Lugano.  I recommend it as a 2 day side trip for all those coming to visit us.  :)  Speaking of which, who is coming to visit us?!?!?

More Pics:

Randomness + More Pics!


#1.  Friday I received an email inviting me to a cultural training to help with my integration here in Switzerland.  Sounds informative and helpful.  The training takes place in September, 9 months after I started working and living here......

#2.  So I can't tell - Cult and Churches - 
Translation Error or Really Bizarre Tourist Opportunity?

More Pics!

A few more pictures (with actual people) from Megan & Ellen's visit earlier this month:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

awww man!

So Thursday was a holiday here in die Schweiz.  Of course, I took Friday off as well because who wants to go work on a Friday after having Thursday off?  On my wild day off, I went to the grocery twice (yes, twice - not having a car and having to carry groceries limits my purchasing abilities), did tons of laundry and made dinner.  It's a wild and crazy life over here!

For those who aren't aware, when it comes to snacks, I prefer the salty type.  After 4 months of snacking on paprika potato chips (the only flavor available), I was gifted with a glorious bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos (thanks Megan & Ellen!) which I slowly devoured over a few day period.  Once those ran out, I returned to the paprika chips with much less enthusiasm.  During one of my grocery adventures yesterday, I passed by the microwave popcorn aisle (or rather, tiny 1/4 shelf area) and thought, ooooo, popcorn would be an excellent alternative to chips.  So I bought this:

Tonight, after a long day of saving money in Konstanz, Germany, (*see below) I thought some popcorn would be a delicious accompaniment to my beer.  I pulled out the popcorn and only then did I realize:  we don't have a microwave

Seriously, sometimes I think it's a wonder I'm able to dress myself in the mornings.

At any rate, thanks to Google & Yahoo Answers, I was able to recreate the mircowave effect (aka: heat the popcorn) over the stove and this was the result:

Woo hoo!  And to be totally honest, I think it was better this way.  Score one for "old fashioned style".

*Konstanz is a German town just over the Swiss border.
To summarize:
Zurich = World's Most Expensive City
Konstanz = 1.5 hour train ride from Zurich & not on the list  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hooray for Visitors!

Our first visitors finally arrived this past Friday.  Our friends from Charlotte, Megan and Ellen, arrived at the airport on Friday morning around 9:15am.  They were about 45 minutes late.  Normally this wouldn't bother me but since I live my life without common sense, I didn't think to check the flight before leaving my apartment and therefore spent my extra 45 minutes hanging out at the airport instead of doing some last minute cleaning or whatnot around the house.  Sigh.

Anyway, I can't even tell you how glad I was to see them.  I've had a few bouts of homesickness recently and so it was fantastic timing for their arrival!

I took them home and let them shower and then we headed to Zurich to meet up with Russ, another American friend visiting Zurich.  We spent the day exploring the city.  Lucky for the visitors, our friend April is a much better tour guide than myself.  I took notes though so I can look knowledgeable for future visitors.  :)

Group Shot!

On Saturday, I got up and participated in the SOLA with my work group.  The SOLA is a relay race throughout Zurich and surrounding areas.  It covers 117km.  My portion was 5.9km.  It started out on a nice downhill slope and then about 4km in, it switched to uphill.  It also rained the entire time I ran.  I almost died.  Here's proof that I survived:

The worst part of the race was actually after I finished.  To get off the mountain where my portion ended, I had to ride down in an enclosed furnicular car crammed with sweaty smelly runners.  Ew.

Anyway, after all that, I showered, packed and we hit the road to Lucerne.  We found ourselves a map with a suggested walking tour and we hit the road. 

Chapel Bridge - Europe's oldest covered wooden bridge

The Dying Lion of Lucerne
It was carved out of natural rock in memory of the heroic deaths of the Swiss mercenaries at the Tuileries in 1792. Mark Twain described the Lion of Lucerne as the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.

Lucerne is gorgeous.  I highly recommend everyone visit.  Feel free to visit us too if you are in the area!  Other pictures:
Lucerne - May 2012

While at dinner in Lucerne, we realized that we wouldn't make it to our hotel until after 10pm so Ellen gave the hotel a call to let them know.  They said, no problem, we'll leave the door unlocked and the key to your room on the counter.  And that's exactly what they did.  Apparently, there is no reason to worry about crime in Lauterbrunnen.

On Sunday, we explored Lauterbrunnen, checked out the Trümmelbach Falls, the James Bond restaurant at Schilthorn, walked through Mürren, took the cable car back down to our hotel, saw a phenomenal rainbow and finally had dinner at Hotel Oberland with our own individual chocolate fondues for dessert!  Lauterbrunnen is a trough valley in the Alps with 72 waterfalls.  It's absolutely stunning.

Waterfall #1

Trümmelbach Falls - Glacier Water Falls inside Black Monk Mountain

A view of the valley

We did a LOT of walking on Sunday

At the top of Schilthorn
This pictures shows you our view along with what we were supposed to see....

Mother Nature was forgiven as we headed back down the mountain and got to see this:
Other Pictures:
Lauterbrunnen - May 2012

Monday, we got up and headed up to Jungfrau.  After the previous three days of walking (and running), I was personally quite glad to sit on the train for two hours as we made our way up the mountain.  This time, we went so high, we actually passed through the clouds covering Schilthorn and it was nice and clear when we arrived to Jungfraujoch.

Other Pictures:
Jungfrau - May 2012

Now it's time for everybody else to come visit!  Let us know when you are coming!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Totally Random Update

Happy May 1st to me!  I get the day off for Swiss Labor Day.  Andre on the other hand started his new job today!  Yay!  Yay!  Yay!

A few updates:

Random Update #1:
I took Sophie on a walk around the neighborhood today.  We saw cows, chickens, mountains, fields of yellow flowers - you know, a typical afternoon in Switzerland.  A few shots:

A few escapee chickens:

Random Update #2:
Last weekend, we went to our first movie here.  They have intermission!  And it's EXACTLY in the middle of the movie.  Doesn't matter at all what's going on...  It was very strange but awesome.  During intermission, one can utilize the restroom facilities, one can refill on popcorn and if one wanted, one could refill on adult beverages.  :)  Here's a picture of the Swiss megaplex:

We're in the next to last row.  To be fair, this building was probably built 8 bajillion years ago.

Random Update #3:
Swiss advertising is awesome.

Anyone else suddenly feel like going to work out?

Random Update #4:
We had a street fair outside of our house last weekend.  During the hail storm, Andre and I sat inside our nice warm house and took pictures.  :)

We had lunch at the street fair.

And finally:
Look who made it to Switzerland!

And yes, our pictures are still on the floor.  And probably will be for two years.  Deal with it.