After such a long time waiting, I could hardly believe when the moment arrived.
My parents came to Switzerland!!
(haha, gotcha readers. don't worry, I'll soon provide the next post that some of you were expecting here instead!!)
A lot of you know that I have been waiting and waiting and WAITING for my parents to come visit me. My dad came to visit in January for a few days and we made a new friend in Zermatt:
But I really wanted them both to come and see my life and my home, and experience all the things I love about Switzerland. As you might imagine, my parents were not exactly thrilled when I told them about moving 5,000 miles away for two years. I get along very well with my parents (now that we are all adults) and disagreeing with them on something which was so important to me made the decision to move quite difficult. But in the end of course I am glad I came over and especially now, in year two, things are really good over here.
My parents arrived on May 1 which was fortunately a holiday here in Switzerland (Ascension Thursday). Unfortunately, as you well know by now, this meant that everything was closed. I picked up my parents at the airport along with beaucoup de baggage. The first thing we did was take Switzerland's excellent public transport towards my apartment. A little old lady came and sat next to me on the bus, speaking in French. Somehow she and everyone else must have known that these were my parents, because random people were speaking in me in French all week, allowing me to show off to my parents! Random people always talk to me - I must either look nice or like I know directions and timetables to all transport connections. However I used to freak out that someone would ask me a question in France and would always immediately answer "non."
Anyway, my dad tested the sleeping conditions in my apartment while I took mom to into town to check out the lake and window shop. After a nice lunch and a trip to a tea room, we headed back home to regroup and had a fairly lazy night, which extended into the next day. Around 1pm on Friday, I announced that jet lag was over and it was time to get up! Needless did we know the fun that lay in store for us that night...
As painful as this will be, I have to recount this story. A little context first: Before Rustbucket came into my life, I took the bus/tram roughly twice a day, every day. Having been here for 17 months at the time my parents arrived, and accounting for the time I spent outside of Switzerland when I didn't take the bus, that's roughly 950 or so times I have taken the bus. And my ticket has been checked 6 times. That's about 1/2 of 1% chance that you get your ticket checked. Now, where am I going with this?
Here's my adorable p's in Montreux. So unspecting of the impeding drama...
My parents and I went to Montreux on Friday night since it is pretty and has the Chateau de Chillon right on the lake. It was a beautiful night with the sun setting on the lake. We got to the bus stop and did not see a ticket box outside of the bus. However normally when this happens, there is a box on the bus where you need to buy the ticket. So we get on the bus and my parents obviously had no clue what to do so sat down. I was trying to figure out what zone we needed to go to and how much to pay on this weird machine, unsuccessfully, and freaking out that I probably didn't have enough money for us to get a return ticket. This took about 30 seconds and the bus stopped.
So gentle reader, a probability question: If your chance of getting checked is less than 1/2 of 1%, what are your chances of getting checked when you have 2 other people with you and none of you have bus tickets? You would probably say well, it might be slightly increased, to like 1.5%. WRONG.
The answer is, of course, 100%.
I figured I could just explain to one of the nice Swiss men that I was trying to buy a ticket but the machine I used ne marche pas and I was just about to go to the normal one. I did this in French. "Come with me," he said in English (never a good sign), and made me and my parents get off the bus and take our passports. We were then told that we were EACH fined 80 CHF for riding without a ticket and if we didn't pay at that moment, we would go to jail. Yes, jail. I confirmed later in one of my Swiss books that this really does happen.
Obviously things got ugly after that. Let me just say that Switzerland is not America. I love Switzerland, but if you think you can appeal to rulemakers with sweet talk, bribes, flirting, stripping, idle threats, real threats, or klondike bars, forget it. I tried explaining 100 times that I always carry a ticket and was just confused and my parents didn't know, etc. My dad used a bit stronger tone and the one guy started speaking very angrily and as fast as he possibly could in French to my dad specificially so he couldn't understand and to piss him off (sorry Dad, but actually I understood what he said and it was really funny that he did that). My dad wanted to test the threat that we would be arrested, but I refused and handed over 240 CHF. Then promptly made my parents take me to a nice dinner to pay me back. Needless to say, I think this is VERY bad for tourism in Montreux and left a terrible taste in my mouth. So BOO to you stupid city with your smoke on the water. I take Geneva (which gives free bus passes at the airport for tourists) any day of the semaine.
The rest of the trip, thankfully, was much more fun. On Saturday, we went wine tasting in Dardagny. My dad who denies he can speak French, had no problem obtaining numerous tastings of this delicious cabernet sauvignon which we later purchased. We went home and took a much needed nap and then had a fun night cooking in. My mom and I watched "Charlie Wilson's War" on my HUGE screen tv (read: 17in laptop) while my dad watched the Cubbies on MLBtv.
On Sunday we went to Interlaken! We checked into the Hotel Bellevue and got an awesome triple room (yes, all in one room, we love each other!!) with an adorable balcony and to die for view of the river and mountains. Nice photo below by Mom!We took a boat cruise on Lake Brienz (the cleanest lake in Switzerland in 2005 until flooding; still looked pretty clean to me) and then had a nice dinner in a square on a quiet side of town. We decided to take a walk after dinner and that's when I noticed...the bugs. The BIG SICKASS bugs. I put my sweatshirt hood up and my parents thought I was nuts. They looked like cicadas though and I HATE bugs. Snakes or rats, throw em at me. Just not a bug of any kind. So we got back to the hotel safely and decided to open the window slightly. I was a bit worried because the screen wasn't super substantial. But we were on the 3rd floor right?
I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and hear my mom yell AHHHH!!!!! IT'S IN THE ROOM!! Immediately I scream and lock the bathroom door. "Kill it Dad!!!" I yell from inside. "You're the one who likes the outdoor stuff! Carol, kill it!!!" He yells back. My mom yells a bit more but bravely somehow manages to get him outside. "Ok J, it's fine." I continue brushing my teeth. Warily. Very waaaar... "AAAAHHHH THERE'S ANOTHER ONE!!!" "AAAAHHH!!!" I yell again. "I'm not coming out of this bathroom until they are all gone, I'll sleep on the floor if I have to!" My brave, wonderful parents conspired a plan where they trapped the bug with a jar, then slid a piece of paper underneath, and then put the sucker outside on the patio. Such a good team!! Thanks for saving my life from the cicadas Mom and Dad.
On Monday, we went to the Top of Europe, which I went to with Justin in August. It was really cool to see it this time because there was a TON more snow. My parents loved it, and we had a lot of fun goofing around and taking pictures on the mountain. And we had an amazing lunch in this gorgeous resto on the side of the glacier. Nothing tastes better than Swiss french fries at 11,000 ft!
We were back in Geneva on Monday night and on Tuesday, I went into work to "regulate" while my parents stayed home - Dad to catch up on some work of his own, and Mom to take care of me by cleaning some things in my apartment (eg my oven, which you will recall was subject to a minor grease fire). That night we went to a traditional Swiss restaurant with my friend Ingvill which was really fun. We had fondue and filets de perche and Ingvill educated my parents about lots of Swiss food and customs. I know this too by now, but it's a little more credible coming from her since her husband is Swiss.
Sadly my dad had to leave on Weds and my mom and I went to Rome. It was the first time in probably a good 6 or 7 years I have been on a vacation with my parents and it was so much fun. They are both threatening to come back before they leave and I really hope they do!!
Here's some more pictures:
Family fun on the Jungfraujoch:
Mamoo and me
Finally Mom and Dad in the Ice Palace!
My family rocks.