Saturday, September 27, 2008

Down on the Farm

Readers, you wouldn't believe where I am right now even if you were here drinking a beer with me. Which I wish you were, since I'm doing that alone at the moment.

I'm currently sitting about 15 feet from a bunch of muching cows, with the scent of hay hanging sweetly in the cold autumn air. I'm about a 5 minutes drive from Hemishofen, Switzerland. And I'm spending the night on an organic farm - the Bolderhof farm.

How I got here...we'll have to go backwards to get there. Basically - because I was bored.

All of my friends (five) are out of town this weekend, and they were also out of town last weekend. I can only watch so much TV at home - plus up until this week, RB was rusted solid to his post (more on how that happened later). It has been unseasonably cold and crappy so wakeboarding, etc is out of the question. My eye is still not healed so a lot of other activities are out. And since I have officially (as of today) 79 days left in Switzerland, I kind of decided this weekend I needed to get off my ass and go explore my country.

But where? I've been to most of the hot spots - Lausanne, Basel, Zurich, Lugano. Pretty much to a lot of random towns in west Switzerland - Montreux, Chateau D'Oex, Gruyeres, Leysin, Neuchatel, Yverdon Les Bains. Zermatt and Lucerne twice. Interlaken region 5 times. I'm hoping to go to Liechstenstein for a work trip (because then it would be free). So I pulled out my lonely planet and rick steves to see where was left to go.

I decided at least for this weekend on the northern area of eastern Switzerland, which includes Appenzell - a town with a very tasty cheese. Also I figured I could check out the Rhine Falls - Europe's biggest waterfall - on my way back to Geneva. So this morning I got on a train at 1045 heading to Appenzell, which gave me almost 5 hours to look at the Swiss countryside and figure out what to do next.

I really had no clue about lodging, until I saw this advice in one of my books that during the summer and early fall, many Swiss farmers rent out the straw area, which is normally for the cows, to tourists. The cost is about the same as a shared bedroom in a hostel. That sounded fun to me. I started looking for one that was kind of between Appenzell and Schaffhausen (town close to the falls) and that spoke english. What amazed me was that there was about 200 farms all over Switzerland that participated in this thing, and that a lot of the farms had their own fax machines and websites!!

I called one and spoke to a nice man named Heinz, who apologized for his screaming kids. He gave me directions (take the bus to the only stop in the village, turn left at the woodcutting shop, 1km later you will find the seriously, that's what they were) and told me to come any time.

With that settled, I checked about 50 different combinations of train timetables (as some of you know, I am slightly obsessed with these things) until I arrived in Appenzell. I was a bit disappointed, which maybe is my own fault because I only stayed there for 30 minutes. But as far as I could tell, it was just one huge smelly souvenir shop (smelly like the cheese, so in a good way). I decided pretty much immediately to blow that popsicle stand and head to Ebenalp.

Switzerland has, in addition to a bad ass public transport system, about 100 million cable cars. Anywhere there's a mountain, there's a cable car. This middle of nowhere place was no exception. I took another short train ride to Wassueren (I'll check that spelling later) and then a cable car up to the top of Ebenalp. There were tons of people going paragliding off the side of the mountain, which was pretty crazy to watch. I don't really get why they wear helmets. If something bad happens, I don't think a helmet is going to really save you if you are like 5000 feet in the air. Anyway, I decided that I couldn't stay long if I was heading to the farm, because I didn't want to have to find my way in the dark. I did a short hike down into these cool caves, snapped some photos, then hiked back up which was DIFFICULT...I almost passed out. Then cable car down again.

THEN I got on the train again, after about a 10 minute confusing discussion with the man in the ticket office. He spoke only German, which I don't speak at all, and someone was even helping me translate, but he could not for the life of him figure out why or how I was going to get to Stein am Rheim. I made the train with about 10 seconds to spare. I took this to Gossau, to Winterthur, to Stein am Rheim. Overall I spent probably close to 7 hours on trains today. I LOVE the Swiss train system though. It's amazingly quiet, always on time, normally not super crowded and normally quiet (unless you are coming down from the Jungfraujoch with every tourist in the world). And the view is incredible - picturesque houses, rolling hills and mountains, azure alpine lakes and cows cows cows sheep goats chickens and more cows!!

By now it was about 745p and it was dark. I suddenly freaked out realizing I would definitely not be able to find my way to the farm. I was pretty much resigned to staying in a boring hotel in town after convincing myself that even though I had an ipod AND a cell phone, that would not be enough light to help me find my way to a random ass farm on a pitch black night.

But as fate would have it, I called back to the farm to ask how dark it would be and Heinz offered to pick me up at the bus stop. Which, incidentally, when the bus left me there, I was shocked at how in the middle of nowhere I was. Really, I could be completely screwed if he didn't get me. But thirty seconds later a minivan pulled up and it was him.

So we arrived at the farm, where I was immediately greeted by Funny the dog, and Heinz explained I would either be sleeping by myself in the straw or I could have a room in the small dorm. The straw part was a big loft above where all the cows were eating which to my complete surprise, had a shower, sink and flush toilet (for the people, not the cows). Just across the way was the dorm which looked brand new, with 4 cozy rooms, a kitchen and bathroom.

Now I kind of had my heart set on the straw. But I had lent Bhav my sleeping bag for the weekend, and so it would be me, alone, in a dark dark barn, in a rented cotton sleeping bag. Deciding I had been brave enough for the day, I opted for the dorm which Heinz agreed was the better choice.

I came down to the big kitchen with my laptop, feeling inspired to blog to you readers, after I heard they had free internet. I opened a bio beer (surprisingly good) and had just sat down when Heinz came back to check on me and spent some time telling me about his family (wife and 4 kids all under the age of 8 - yikes) and what they do on the farm. It has been an organic farm since 1996. Switzerland is pretty huge on organic products - they have a bio option for almost everything and it's normally not too much more, so I try to buy this when I can. However he explained that supermarkets are starting to push them out because it is more expensive for them to buy the organic Swiss products than things from Germany, Poland, etc. So now in addition to working with grocery stores, they have an online delivery store and they also promote tourism by bringing groups here, tourists or schools, to learn about life on the farm for a week or a few days.

Anyway readers, its 940 and time for me to go meet my random roommates. I think they only speak German so it should be pretty easy to ignore them. Tomorrow morning I am going to try to wake up early and spy on the cows who are just below and opposite my bedroom - they will be getting milked at 7am, then around 830 we have breakfast, and then after that, my random weekend continues.

I will post pictures and definitely, a link so you can see Heinz and Doris!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It just keeps turning up

You may or may not know that I have a strong distaste for: the penny.

Especially now, living in Switzerland where the smallest coin is a 5 cent piece (and you rarely get them), I hate the penny more than ever. When I go back to the U.S., I make it my goal to not come back here with any pennies, even if that means dropping them in the street or throwing them in the garbage. Yes that's right.

So I was shocked to read today that we are giving ol Abe a new look starting next year. What?!Please. I am going to make a plea for 1 and 2 dollar coins and the metric system, but I know those will both fail miserably. But can we please, PLEASE at some point (read: NOW) get rid of the stupid penny!!

I know there is a very good charity or maybe more than one that collects pennies. I have a feeling that most people don't have too strong of feelings towards the nickel either. Can't you start taking those?

Someone at the Tribune agrees with me, and someone running for President also agrees with me.

Who else agrees with me??

If you disagree with me, I ask...will you please take my pennies?!

I'm Movin' Out

As you already know readers, I live in an odd country. I am starting to learn just how bizarre with only a few months to go. Lucky me!

I write to you while I am on my 3rd day on a new job - real estate agent. But I haven't quit my day job. No, this is something additional I get to do. Allow me to explain.

The housing market in Switzerland, especially in Geneva, is VERY full. I read estimates of about 80-85% of the population are renters of property - because in order to purchase property in Switzerland which is very VERY expensive (remember - a large Dominoes pizza is CHF 45), you need to put down a 20% cash down payment. No funny mortgages over here. Anyway, in addition, apparently 99% of the available apartments to rent are already full. This is because a lot of the properties are old and the area is pretty built up - there is not much space to put in a new apartment building without knocking down something else. So it's a bit of a problem. Oh and we don't have big ugly high rises but charming, 6 story buildings as you can imagine. Most people spend months looking for an apartment. Once you find one, you have to apply, and just because you are a suitable tenant - meaning you can pay the rent and the deposit (which is a hefty sum of 3 months rent) does not mean you are necessarily the person they choose. Nor does being the first person help. It's completely at random, and while I have heard that couples have better chances at getting bigger apartments than single people, I obviously got my apartment as a single person. Although the regie (explained below) must find a minimum of five suitable tenants before making a decision, you can be competing against as many as 80 other potential applicants for an apartment.

What does this mean for me? Well, I had to give notice to my landlord - or they guy who runs the thing for my landlord, so the property manager or whatever, it's called a regie here (probably because they lead a regime and totally control the entire housing market) 3 months notice prior to my departure. Then I had a "pre inspection" where someone from the regie came to look at my apartment and make sure that nothing is broken. And then, they must have given out flyers with my personal information because I started getting 5-6 calls a day asking to come see my apartment.

First I swore to myself that I was only going to do it in English, because I was getting so irritated about the numerous calls. Then I found myself switching to French and being my typical nice, accomodating self (damn you conscience!!). I set a time for Tuesday (tonight) at 7 for people to drop by. "Can't you do it earlier/later/another day? Like in the middle of the day? Or at 5pm? Or on a Saturday night?" NO!!! I don't understand where this people get the idea that I should inconvience myself to help them to see this apartment. If you really want it that bad, you can wait for an hour after you get home from your job and come over! I made an exception for 1 person who wants to come tomorrow morning because he broke his arm and needs to go to the hospital tonight (I am going to look for evidence in the morning).

One of my friends came on Thursday which wasn't bad. Another nice woman came Saturday morning (although I made the mistake of offering her a tea, and she stayed for an hour). I feel kind of bad for these people as the situation really sucks. But it's nevertheless annoying.

So since 6:20pm, when I was literally walking up the step to my apartment, someone has been with me. Two people came, then a slew of about 8 who complained I had given ALL of them the wrong door code - which is no doubt because my pronunciation was slightly slightly off on saying "one, three, five, A" in French and I don't feel bad about it. There's a keypad with 9 numbers and 2 letters. Pay attention! Then two more came and since then, it has been quiet.

Someone else was supposed to come at 7:30, but I have lost track of how many people were actually coming, and don't know if it is safe to relax and make my dinner or not. I think I will wait a little bit more. I don't know how it became my job to show a property which I am renting to the next potential tenant. I just hope that they find their "suitable person" so my phone stops ringing every five minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Don't you think?

Right now I'm having some breakfast and reading about the Cubs winning the NL Central for the second year on a row.

And apparently the last time they did that was 1908. Which for anyone who doesn't know, is the last year the Cubs won the world series. A HUNDRED FREAKIN YEARS AGO.

And about how they have the best team in the National League (I have to agree) and that they have a different ballclub this year, and I think they do. I follow the Cubs every day, and while there were some tough losses, I didn't hear much about the losing, or some freak injuries, or anything else that resembles a curse. I just read about a good baseball team, playing well and most of all, just going out there and winning.

So let me get this straight...

I lived across the street from Wrigley field (my dream) for one summer. The Cubs lose 96 games. I went to games for like 5 bucks, they were so bad that year.

Following that summer, I move to Switzerland only for 2 years, where the Cubs proceed to win not ONE but TWO division titles, which they haven't done for 100 years. People are partying on the street in front of my old building. If they make the NLCS or WS, Good Morning america is going to BROADCAST FROM MY BUILDING!!

And in 2 months, when the stands are empty, the ivy is dead and the fans are long gone, I'll be home for good.

Is God trying to tell me I should be a Sox fan (although they might make the playoffs too)? Or a yankee fan, because they have really sucked the past 2 years I've been gone?

I've cleared my schedule for Oct 24 and 25. The weekend that the NL team will be hosting games 3 and 4 of the world series. I'm just saying. I don't care what it costs. I will not let irony screw me this time.

Oh and next years World Series? Those same games happen to fall on the weekend I'm getting married. In which case, I would obviously just have the rehearsal dinner on a Cubs rooftop and the reception in the parking lot of my old apartment (it's next to a Taco Bell - I figure we give all the guests $5 and let them go crazy).

So of course I'm bitter and jealous and unhappy that I'm missing it all but anyway...GO CUBS.

Friday, September 19, 2008

101...and Boney M

Hello! Post 101. Guess that means I am a real blogger. I have a lot to talk about as I am starting to think about moving home and all that and of course, like anything administrative in this country, it is 10 times more complicated and annoying. But more on that later.

First, I need to conduct some research.

I saw Mamma Mia! last night at the cinema and it was fantastic. I loved Meryl Streep and the girl who I will refer to as Karen from Mean Girls. She was fantastic!! are still soooooo dreamy, especially in your boater shoes and crisp summer dress shirts, but his singing was a bit off the mark. Anyway, I came into work today with an ipod fully loaded with ABBA in order to share some of my new songs with my office mates.

I was recently promoted to manager and share an office with two younger staff. I'm not sure if I'm the best example. I trash talk HR or anyone else that gives me a hard time, offer my philosopy on how things should be working, curse at my computer when it malfunctions and I occassionally show up in very wrinkled/non matching outfits. Oh and I often blast music and sing while I do my work. Anyway, they seem to respect me and ask me lots of questions, so I guess I am somewhat helpful. I love listening to music when I work and so do Angelina and Abrie. So today we did basically what was akin to a "dance off" and each of us kept finding songs on the internet to see if we could find ones we all liked or maybe to introduce someone to a new song.

Now I'm from across the pond, Abrie is from south africa and Angelina is from russia. Three continents is fairly vast. But we found a lot in common. For example, we all liked hotel california. And we all love ABBA. But then, Angelina suggested this band I have never heard of.

"It's called Boney M." she said.

"Bone what???" I replied. She instructed me how to spell it and I looked up the song on youtube. When I pressed play, I heard some song that I have never heard in my life.

They were both completly shocked. I continued my research later in the day and asked my colleague Theresa if she knew this band. "You're kidding. Not knowing them is like not knowing Michael Jackson." And my colleague Barbara said the same thing. "Course I know them, everyone does. You must be kidding. That's like saying you don't know the YMCA. Or any normal famous group." But every Yank that I asked said they had never heard of them.

So I did a little more research on my beloved Wiki (and I have donated, I love it so much) and apparently Boney M is like another ABBA type band, popular around the same time and coming out of Germany. The music is actually really good. I mean, if you like fun cheesy pop, which I do. But apparently the albums were only released in the U.S. for the first time last year. And they are def not in the itunes store. I just checked.

So can you please go on youtube and look up this band and leave a comment if you have ever heard this song in your life? It will help with my multi cultural research. You can look up Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin and Sunny which are the ones we listened to today.

Other things we had in common (just a few):

Angie and Abrie - Dr Alban (he wrote scatman)
Me and Abrie - How Bizarre and that stupid ass song about girls that wear A and know the one??? how does crap like that make its way over here but we don't get bands like boney M which have global appeal?
all of us - Fascination (by Alphabeat...also only over in Europe for the moment I think...but I love it)
Me and Angie - Debbie Gibson (except she liked some new song and I played "out of the blue", and neither of us had ever heard the other one).

Fun right??


It's my 100th post!! Well I don't want to ruin it, so I will go ahead and move on to post 101. However I have included my most Swiss photograph ever as a celebratory image here on post 100. Merci to all my readers for sticking with me!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I can't resist...

For my concerned readers out there, you ARRRRRRRE (in a pirate voice) going to be happy to know that my eye is healing well according to the Swiss doctor. I have to go back next week just to be sure. And don't worry, I can work on my computer ALL DAY and there is no need for me to take any sick leave. I can continue to review with one eye just fine. Hooray!

Next topic - I found this gem today and I could not resist posting it on my blog. I am probably going to lose a lot of respect from my random fans, co workers, all of my friends and definitely my fiance and my future new family. But I can't help it. This video is from my childhood, and my sister Aimee and I must have watched it at least 100 times (NOT in the past 18 years or so though until today. ok maybe 15).

My entire office had a really crap day today, and I'm going to do my part by singing this to all those surly Swissies first thing tomorrow morning.

There must be one of my readers out there who also knows all the words to this song?? (besides Aimee and I'm sure my brother, who was force fed girly culture and cartoons from a very young age and still turned out to be a super cool dude).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Madrid y mi ojo en fuego

Hola readers! I have just returned from quite a weeend in Madrid. Before I get to that though, let me preface this entry with a little story from my past, which some of you may already know.

It was about this time 2 years ago that Justin and I flew to Switzerland for my look see trip. The day that I left, a Thursday, I woke up with a bad sore throat and what I thought was the beginning of strep. I explained to my doctor that I was going out of the country for a week and got some antibiotics. Nine hours later, across the Atlantic I was not feeling too hot. I woke up the next day feeling worse and Justin got me french fries and an orange Gatorade. I had a fever and a bad sore throat and figured the antibiotics just needed some time to work. Saturday I mustered up the strength to go out for the day and felt a bit better, but Sunday morning again I felt really sick. At night, I couldn't sleep and neither could my jet lagged Justin; we would end up watching the Swiss Animal Planet channel for hours before drifing off. More daytime sleeping (which Justin was happy to join me in doing) and we called a doctor to come to the hotel, who gave me more antibiotics. That night, we went out for pizza which seemed fine. Then I woke up in the middle of the night and threw up, crying because it hurt my throat so bad. On Monday morning, we called the doctor again who declared I had an abcess behind my tonsils (which were grape sized and white) and I needed to go to the hospital and couldn't eat because I would probably need surgery. So we went to the hospital and fumbled through in English, and would eventually wait for over three hours to see a doctor (during which I was passing out from hunger and lack of sleep). The doctor said that he didn't really want to operate and did not think it was an abcess. Also strangely, I tested negative for strep. He gave me more antibiotics and set up an appointment for the next day. By some miracle of medicine, my fever finally broke in the night and my tonsils began to heal. Needless to say, it was the sickest I have ever been in my entire life. I rarely even get colds. But somehow I end up in the emergency room in a foreign country.

Needless to say, when I boarded my plane to Madrid on Friday evening and my right eye felt a bit scratchy, I figured my contacts were just dried out and my eyes were tired. It looked slightly bloodshot but nothing serious. I slept a bit on the plane, thinking that closing my eyes would help the situation. But when I woke up, my eye hurt more than before. By the time we landed, my right eye was pretty squinty and painful. Everything seemed to bother it, especially light. I high tailed off the plane and wandered through what has to be the biggest airport I have been in in all of Europe to get to the baggage claim area. I made a mad dash for the bathroom and looked at my eye. I could have drawn the ire of a bull, it was so red. I immediately took out my contact and left one in my left eye, not knowing if I had any spares. When my luggage came, I ripped out the eye drops and begain dousing my eye with it. This did not seem to help. Again the bright lights of the terminal were really bothering me, and I had both of my eyes barely half open. The entire terminal must have thought I was high. Ignoring the weird looks I saw out of my half raised lids, I made it to the taxi stand. No way could I take the metro when I could barely see where I was going.

I sat with my head in my hands and eyes closed in the back of the cab. I knew this was probably really really dangeous, but I couldn't help it - my eye was killing me. We arrived at the hotel and I stumbled up to the 3rd floor, where I was meeting my friends. My friend Robyn opened the door and I exclaimed, "Hi, I have a problem, I think I'm going blind." Immediately I took out my other contact lens and put on my sunglasses, laying down on the bed and explaining to her this strange turn of events in the past 2 hours. My friend Aya then appeared with some contact solution, which I used to try and rinse out my eye. Hoping it was an allergy (I get bad hayfever in Switzerand and France that I never had in the US), I popped a claritin and continued to rinse. After about 45 minutes I had not improved, so my friends left to go to dinner.

Not knowing what to do at this point and starting to feel desperate, I immediately turned out all the lights. Then I started hysterically crying, thinking that at least the tears might help. But they didn't. I filled up the sink withh water and dunked my head in, opening my eyes underwater and looking around in an attempt to get out whatever it was in there that was hurting. This soothed the pain for maybe 10 seconds. Then nothing. Back to crying. I started totally panicking and thinking what would happen if I did go blind. I would have to quit my job. I would never see the Cubs win a world series. I would never get to see Justin's cute scruffy face again. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I picked up my phone and called my parents.

My mom and dad suggested I go to the doctor and tried to calm me down. I felt bad but sent a text message to Aya, and told her I needed to go to the hospital. At this point it was around 1130 and the pain was absolutely excrutiating. It felt like someone was pouring acid into my eyeball. Just a constant burning feeling, with occassional bouts of searing pain. About 30 minutes later, Aya came to my rescue and we went to the hospital princessa. At least it sounded nice.

When we got there, I explained to the receptionist that I had a problema con mi ojo and then proceeded to respond to her, stupidly, in French (I now automatically respond in French, even though I understand Spanish very well). I was taken back to a small room where two nurses came in to look at me. They leaned over and cocked their heads to get a look at me, and both of them winced. "That obvious huh? That's not a good sign" I said to Aya. They asked me, "Itchy?" And I replied, "No itchy, burning, en fuego." They sent us back to the waiting room at that point.

I then sat with my sunglasses on, squeezing my eyes periodically because they pain was really out of control. I kept my eyes closed and chatted with Aya. I felt like Ray Charles and an old grandma wrapped up into one. After about an hour, Aya went to go chase down my paperwork, which had been lost and hence the delay. Good thing because about 5 minutes later, the doctor called us in.

Although I was half blind, I could tell my doctor was a cute girl who looked friendly and about my age. The opthamologist squeezed a tiny drop into my eye and I felt instant relief. "Anesthetic," she explained. She looked at my eye, up and down, etc, and then pulled back to explain. "You have...on your eye...como se dice...when you fall, on the ground, and you get this thing on your knee, what is it called?"

"A scratch?" I offered.

"Jes, a scratch, jou have a big scratch on your cornea. This here is your eye," she said, as she proceeded to draw a picture, "and here, dis is the scratch," and drew my iris, then a giant blob which covered 2/3 of my iris. No wonder it hurt so bad!

"Jes it is a very bad one and you need to be careful contact lens for 2 weeks and you need to go to the doctor when you get back to Ginebra." Then she gave me 3 different eye drops and an ointment, warning that one would sting and that the ointment would make my vision very blurry. "But, jou have to do it," she said firmly.

We walked out to check out and to my surprise, I was not charged for the visit or the medicine. I was told later that when the problem is simple, they normally just fix it for no charge. Of course, I was also told that Spain's doctors were not that good which was why the treatment was free. I hoped that the former one was the real answer.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 230 in the morning and I did my drops regimen and ointment, then crawled into bed, exhausted from the night's ordeal. When I woke up on Sautday, the pain had slightly subsided but was still pretty strong. I put in more drops and took a shower, feeling generally crappy. We were going to watch a soccer match played by some of Robyn's friends. On the way, I got a really good ice cream (Banana Split) and a box of eye patches. We were REALLY hoping for the black piratey ones, but instead there was only the band aid like boring ones. I was worried about dust blowing into my eye at the field, so I slapped on a patch there.

Literally, I was a sight for sore eyes. Of course I couldn't see any of the game, what with my one squinty eye open and my other eye sealed under a patch. It was incredibly bright, and while my friends continued to talk about the hot Spanish men running around on the field, I was quickly bored. I found a shady tree and took a siesta during the second half. Later we had some beers and cold tapas, by which point the swelling had gone down. After a second siesta later that night, the pain had mostly subsided and it was just dealing with the blurry vision.

The rest of the trip was short but much better. We had a delicious nighttime meal of tapas and vino tinto. Saturday happened to be "La Noche en Blanco" or the white night, which had tons of perfomers and street acts plus cool exhibitions all around the city, open until 7am. We tried to go to the Reina Sofia Museum which was unfortunately closed.

Today the 4 other girls left around 10, so me and my one good eye were on our own. I ate a delicious Napolitana (it's the best chocolate croissant I've ever had...and I have had them from France) and then went to the Reina Sofia museum and quite enjoyed it, although I had to stand SUPER CLOSE to the paintings to see them. I really love Picasso and some of his contemporaries like Braque and Dali, and this museum had a whole floor of it. I even got an audio guide. After a bit of shopping it was off to the aeropuerto.

So all in all, I got to really see Madrid for less than 24 hours. The first 20 or so I was half blind so I don't count them. It was a super friendly (although some girl did get robbed on the metro, right next to us apparently), very modern but also very old and beautiful city and I definitely want to go back.

I have written this entry with basically one eye, so I apologize for any spelling errors. I have to now go on another fun adventure, which is finding a Swiss eye doctor. Tres bien!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beeg Bong, part deux

I forgot that you probably were thinking I was smashed to smithereens yesterday.

Remember when I went to CERN? Well they finally turned on the LHC which was pretty exciting for all those cute little geeks. I was on the plane at the time. Anyway, guess it worked and I'm still here. So it's all good!

My Day Off

Hey there upper East Siders...

Just kidding, this has not turned into a blog about rich high school yuppies, but I am really into Gossip Girl now (sad, I know). I was in the U.S. for 2 weeks playing with some old friends, making business deals and of course hanging out with my awesome fiance. I flew back on Tuesday afternoon and arrived Wednesday morning, worked the entire day and went to bed at 9pm. Fortunately, today is "Geneva day" or something, I think it is a cantonal religious holiday but the google translation I got was not great. Anyway, it gave me an excuse to sleep a lot, make kraft macaroni and cheese, and totally binge on season 2 of "Heroes."

So now I am going to unpack and repack, because tomorrow I am headed to Madrid to meet up with some friends. A quick recap about what I missed about the U.S. (besides the obvious old friends and awesome fiance):

-cheap beer
-really cheap taxicabs
-american football
-TV that I don't have to download

Things that were really lacking:
-public was ok, just really slow and fairly inconvenient
-bizarre weather trends (ok, this is just Chicago, but still)
-croissants...they were awful
-a mountain or two

Finally, two other small things to share with you all. First is that I have about 10 weeks left here. Well I am likely returning in December for 2 weeks, but going home for 2 weeks in November, so overall, it would be a wash, and 10 weeks total. Which is crazy. Second, my palate is all messed up. They don't have spicy food in Switzerland as you might have surmised...considering their national dishes are comprised of cheese and bread or cheese and potatoes or chocolate. I LOVE spicy food, but I am way out of training and could not eat anything when I was home! Even delicious chipotle set my mouth a blaze (it was only the medium salsa!!). Fortunately, my dairy and alcohol tolerance has risen waaaaaaay up...

Hopefully I can train my tastebuds a bit in Madrid. Until then, hasta luego readers!