Monday, November 17, 2008

Laundry, this is the Last Time

Readers, I have HAPPY NEWS!!

I just realized that tonight was very likely my LAST trip to the laundromat, ever!!!

I am going home on Saturday for a week, and then I return November 30. After that I am in Geneva for just 2 more weeks. And readers, let me tell you, I can make my laundry str-e-e-e-tch (it's all about the handwash). So it's not likely I will have to go again.

Oh laundro, I will not miss you. I will not miss the randoms that hang out there who come with 25 garbage bags full of clothes. I will not miss when I have to fight people for dryers. I will not miss men looking at my sexy underwear when I manage to drop JUST those on the floor on my way to the dryer. I will not miss lugging my clothes 5 blocks away and having you use up all my good coins and refusing to take my 10s and 20s. I will not miss that time you locked my clothes in the machine!!

After this, I will either be using:

a) Justin's new common washer and dryer in the basement of his building
Pro: It's in the basement
Con: The basement is scary and you have to go outside, requires quarters

b) Aimee's in-apartment washer and dryer
Pro: It's in a cute "laundry closet" and it's free
Con: Aimee will probably force me to "just throw in a few things with mine"

c) Mamoo's energy saving, super quiet, totally awesome washer and dryer in Naperville
Pro: Comes with Mamoo's free laundry expertise; if you are lucky it will be folded and packaged just like if you sent it out!
Con: Have to drive to Naperville to do it

To commemorate this happy occassion, I have written a small ode to the laundromat:

(to the tune of ABBA's "Dancing Queen," since I saw Mamma Mia! again)...

You can wash, you can drrrryyyyyy
having the time of your life
See that girl, wash those jeans,
She is the washing queen!

Monday night and the lights are lowwwwww
Lookin out for a place to gooooo
Where they got the right washers, getting in the swing, I've come to wash my things
Any washer could be my guyyyyy
Night is young and the setting's hiiiiiiiiiiigh
With a bit of detergent
Everything is fine
I'll soon have some clean pants
And when I get the chaaaaaance

I am the washing queen,
Young and sweet, gettin my clothes clean
Washing queen,
Get those coins from the change machine!
You can wash, you can dryyyyy
Having the time of your liiiiife
See that girl, wash those jeans
Diggin the washing queen!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is cool

I just woke up and saw these words on my internet homepage:

"Barack Obama est devenu le premier président noir de l'histoire des Etats-Unis. Après son écrasante victoire, il a déclaré que "le changement arrive en Amérique".

Which even if you don't understand French, you know.

It's been super cool to be over here for the election. People in Europe have been very interested in the race, curious about both candidates and how our voting process works, and hopeful that whoever was to win the election, this individual could help to repair America's relations abroad.

So now, on verra!! Time to head to work to spread the good word!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Down on the Farm Part II

Hi readers! You thought I forgot about this, didn't you? No, I've just been lazy. So let's back up, shall we?

When we last left our heroine, me, I had just tucked in for the night down on the farm near Stein am Rhein. So I slept in the dorm, not the straw, but it was still pretty darn cold - there was no heat in there. I slept in my long johns under an old Swiss military blanket and felt warm and snuggly...till I had to get out of bed the next morning!

I went down for breakfast and spoke for a few minutes with Doris, Heinz's wife. She was super nice and making us breakfast of fresh bread, cheese, meat, yogurt and fruit. The coffee was AWESOME (Doris did not make the coffee though - I think that was Nespresso). Being a farm, there were bugs buzzing around inside, which I was NOT a fan of. At one point, a bee buzzed over my head and landed on one of the ceiling beams. Doris reached up with a kleenex and smushed it. "Wow, you're brave!" I exclaimed. "Oh, that was a male one...they don't sting, and they are very stupid and slow," she explained. Naturally!!

As I sat down to eat, my bunkmates appeared. It was a middle aged German woman with short grey hair, and her daughter, who seemed about 14. I found out shortly that the woman, Dorothea, spoke english, so we were able to chat over breakfast. We talked a bit about how I got here, why was I traveling alone, etc. I was also curious to speak with her about German vs Swiss German. I didn't realize this at first here, but Swiss German (or Schwyzertuutsch, which sounds like "Schweizer Deutsch") is purely a spoken language and completely incomprehensible to "regular" Germans. Most newspapers etc are written in high German, which is the same, but when it comes to speaking, Swiss German is basically a totally different language which is not written down. I was always glad that I was in the French speaking part!

Anyway, as we finished up breakfast, Dorothea and Lea offered to drive me into town. This was HUGELY appreciated because otherwise I would have had to wait for the random bus by the woodcutter's house, which I'm pretty sure came only once per hour.

We packed up to go and I went in to say goodbye to Doris and Heinz. Inside, their 4 kids were running around - all little blond haired ones, 3 of them holding baby kittens and playing gently with them. It was really one of the sweetest scenes I have ever seen (try that 5 times fast). They were such a nice family. There is a link to their farm here which is in German, but you get the idea. And this page is the family one - so cute!

Stein am Rhein was just a short drive away. When we arrived there, I told Dorothea and Lea that I was going to walk through town...kind of giving them an "out" in case they wanted to ditch this random American. "mmhmm," Dorothea hummed, and discussed with her daughter in German for a moment. "We will walk with you, we have all afternoon and are not in a hurry," she announced. We wandered to the town square, and she pointed out many of the buildings and the history. "Oh there's a museum I want to show you!" So we walked through a small museum and again got a history lesson. "Oh this is a famous shop!" I walked around with them for about an hour or so, enjoying the cute little town, and then we parted ways with warm handshakes and a "Tchuss!"
This is a picture of the town square. I have seen things like this before, but only at like, Epcot. Switzerland continues to surprise me.

For me, it was back on the train, now to Schaffhausen to get to the Rhinefalls. The ride was not long, and I was soon walking down a hill towards the sound of rushing water. I won't discuss the falls too much because the pictures say it, but it was pretty impressive.

While my day started off cloudy, it cleared up quickly, so I spend a long time lingering by the falls and enjoying the beautiful colors and scenery. The Swiss being Swiss and clever like they are, had built a number of different viewing platforms in order for you to be able to experience the water from afar, below you, right next to you, etc. It was really cool.

The most amazing thing was there was a huge rock in the middle of the falls where a tiny viewing platform had been built. To get there, you had to take a small boat into the falls and hop out. Of course like any sucker, I paid the 6 CHF and got on the boat. It was well worth it. The view of the falls from on the water was gorgeous, and as we crossed the Rhine, the green water beneath the boat was bubbling excitedly, giving the impression that we were cruising through the inside of a san pellegrino bottle. From the top of the rock, the water crashed down on either side of you while you stood under a brave Swiss flag. Very cool!

After I had enough fun in the water, I stopped for a beer and to send a postcard to Justin, before heading to catch the train to Winterthur, Zurich, and eventually back to Geneva.

You can see more pictures by following this link.