Monday, June 30, 2008

Lugano, Switzerland (Day 1)

Lugano, Switzerland / Paradise in der Schweiz - June 24th & 25th

The candy colored square in central Lugano

I'm back from last week's very lovely trip with my mother and brother to Lugano, Switzerland and Venice, Italy. They both arrived in Zurich last Sunday and Jace and I showed them around the big Z on Monday. The weather has finally cleared up and the city was lovely and empty-goodbye Euro 2008!

We left for Lugano on Tuesday morning via train. With the 1/2 price fare it cost me only 28 CHF via Zug, a bargain. And I have to admit, the view to Lugano was spectacular, especially past Zug, Arth Goldau, and all the way through to Bellizona. Just lovely. I recommend the train.

I'd been to Lugano once before, when I was 16! Yes, 10 years ago...God I feel so old... with my German host family and really enjoyed it, so it was a pleasure to be able to return with my family. I can't say I remember much other than the lake and all the fancy shopping though...

Fountain near Lugano Giardino port

When we arrived in Lugano we checked into our hotel, the Hotel Carlton Villa Moritz, which was just 10 minutes east of central Lugano via bus number 1. Although the reception staff didn't speak English, we did fine with German and everyone was very pleasant and helpful. For such a good rate, I'd recommend the place. They also have a delish set menu dinner. Can you say lasagna appetizer, cauliflower soup, pork cutlet and homemade tirimisu?! Oh yes, very nice.

We spent Tuesday sight-seeing around the old town, checking out the pastel pallet of buildings and the stunning mountains, reflecting on the blue mountain water. The weather was spendid, but very hot. Thankfully there was a nice breeze off the lake... and plenty of gelato!

This is the view from Lugano Centrale of Lago di Lugano, of course. It's heavenly.

Lugano wasn't nearly as full of tourists as I would have imagined, but those visiting seemed to be from Europe mostly. I think my family enjoyed Lugano's laid back approach after having visited more touristy locations - Krakow, Prague and Salzburg. Here are some paddle boats just waiting for your visit!

Chilling on a bench on Lake Lugano. Don't you love the hat? It helped to keep me nice and pasty.

Here's the money shot of Lugano. All day I kept talking about how we might run into George Clooney, but I found out on day 2 that he actually lives on Lago di Como, not Lago di Lugano. Bummer. Nevertheless, a beautiful spot.

St. Mary of the Angels Church (16th century) with the fresco of the Christ's Passion from Bernardino Luini

Another image from inside the church

A funny sign in Lugano. No wonder Switzerland is so clean! They think of everything!

Day 2 tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I got my first Postcrossing card!

I love mail. I love email, too, but nothing is better than real post. Dont' you agree?

For goodness sakes, I had lots of penpals growing up - that's how I even met Jace (that's a long story though...). But the art of writing and the penpal is slowly dying and I believe that's a shame.

That's why when I found out about Postcrossing via one of my favorite photography blogs, Photojojo, I signed up on the spot. Once you sign up, you can request the name and address of up to five random people at a time that would like to receive postcards from around the world. When you write your postcard, you can write anything you'd like - just don't forget to include the unique code for each recipient. This is how the system tracks your postcards - and once you've sent a card, you're up to receive one from another postcrosser. It's that easy.

And today, I got my first card from Nunna in Espoo, Finland - it's the second largest city in Finland, she says, and the city is celebrating is 550th Anniversary this year. I would never have known that if not for Postcrossing! Gotta run - I've got 5 more postcards to send...

P.S. I've started a small chain - I know three others that I have signed up so far - if you go for it, let me know via the comment. I'd love to see if you come up randomly on my postcrossing list!

P.P.S. I just received 2 more postcards - one from Estonia and one from Las Vegas. Yes!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Swiss storks bring more than babies...

Swiss storks bring more than babies here - they also bring birth announcement signs!

I have heard about this phenomenon and have seen enough signs now to know that it's a widespread deal. When children are born in Switzerland, the parents put a sign up outside their apartment or home or in the above case on the fire department, notifying the world when their little one was born and his or her name.

I wonder if this is a long, time honored tradition or something just recently invented to celebrate a child's birth. I also would like to know whose responsibility it is to buy the signs - er, I mean, that is if the stork doesn't bring it first... is it the parents, grandparents, friends of the family, or neighbors that manage this kind gesture or perhaps a combination? And how long do these signs stay up - I've seen some that have been on display for 6 months or more.

In the US, I've heard of people getting 'pink flamingo'd' for their child's birth or a birthday, but the birds are gone within a day. I think maybe some families put birth announcements in the paper or send a card notifying friends and family of the newborn's arrival, but this is the first case I've seen of a culture that uses such a public announcement. It seems contrary to the generally private Swiss nature.

So if you know any more - please share your experience with the Swiss Stork signs in the comments!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I like Zurich | Europe - Times Online

This is a great article about Zurich's summer highlights:

I like Zurich Europe - Times Online

Update: Week 13

Zoooom...Our time in Switzerland has really flown by...

Wowzers, we've been in Switzerland for three months already. The time has really flown by. I had to count up the days as I feel exactly like juanitatortilla (love that handle) in that this year, especially our time in Switzerland, has flown right by!

What have we been doing all this time? Well, let's see. We've made ourselves a little home in Urdorf and we really love it here. Jace comments all the time about how glad he is that we decided to live a bit outside of Zürich city instead of in the midst of all the action - especially considering the chaos of Euro 2008. We really love the open spaces, the strawberry fields, the 5 minute walk to the store (although not the Diet Coke schlepping... but my toned arms don't mind), and running amidst the green. Although we haven't been doing much running lately... bad. bad. bad.

Here's the excuse - Jace was pretty sick for the last week or so. He had a really weird temperature and flu like symptoms (night sweats and little appetite) a week ago Monday, and then felt fine on Tuesday so he went back to work. Thursday he went out and partied with some work mates and watched the Germany vs. Poland match, and let's just say that in proper Jace fashion he might have overdone it a bit. Actually, more than a bit. But he's doing better now and will be fine and fit for the weekend, I'm sure.

Three months in... where are we?
  • As many of my posts relay, Jace has learned how to fit in and party with the Swiss. He's really enjoyed the Euro 2008 and the Swiss beers!
  • Jace also is enjoying his work a lot - my favorite part being that he has access to a sweet work cafeteria and I enjoy finding out which Swiss specialties he's inhaled in his 30 minute lunch each day. (Today: chicken nuggest and chips... hmmm.. not so Swiss, oh well.)
  • I've done my best to be a good Hausfrau, getting us settled into our new apartment in Switzerland - which naturally includes a lot of IKEA. I am on a first named basis with the IKEA restaurant staff. They have my princess cake and free Ikea Family Membership coffee waiting for me after checkout.
  • The big news is... I might have a job. We're just waiting on the work permit now. I am afraid to say more than that in the event the Swiss government finds me 'unemployable' and denies the permit. So fingers crossed 'das es klappt.' If it all comes together, I hope to start working on July 1st.
  • Our German is improving all around. Just watching tv in German has improved my vocabulary leaps and bounds. Jace has lessons once a week and is really giving it his all by writing out the exercises and new vocab. Here's hoping we're all 100% fluent this time next year (my hope is to be 100% fluent without grammar mistakes!). The Rosetta Stone is getting its workout and I am trying to speak to Jace more frequently in German to help him improve. As for learning Swiss German, forget it. Thank goodness the Swiss are flexible and switch easily to Hochdeutsch. But hopefully we'll pick up some Swiss German in the coming months.
That's it - week 13. Boy how time flies. Week 9 was just yesterday. And Week 1 was so, so long ago. More than anything, we're glad we moved to Switzerland. Onto the next week of our Swisstory.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Biggest Pumpkin Championship in Zurich

Looks like there will be plenty of pumpkin pie come October. European Biggest Pumpkin Championship in Zurich

Please, please tell me this is true!!! Does anyone know when exactly this is?!

Actually, I just found the listing on What's On - and it seems like it's too early to tell.

Free Water, 30 CHF Reusable Souvenir Bottle!

Dive right in - free, tasty, clean water from a fountain near Jemoli in Zürich

You read it and hear it everywhere. Drink the water. And it's true -'That's good water.'

The Swiss take great pride in the fact that their water is 'naturally pure' and that you can drink from the fountains in and around
Zürich without concern. The Zürich See is also supposed to be a pleasure to swim in because of the water purity. All that snow run-off from the Alps is super tasty and free, but why would you want to just drink out of the fountain when you could buy a ZH20 reusable bottle for naturally pure Zürich water?!

Ad for the 'reusable bottle for naturally pure Zürich water'

I saw the signs for silver, uber designed water bottles and this display just after the water fountain. Sneaky marketing tactics... The girl at the stall selling the bottles didn't look all too busy... I can't understand why when they have such a hot marketing campaign. Their website states:
"In paradise milk and honey flows, in Zürich 1200 fountains flow with delicious drinking water. Therefore we introduce ZH20 - naturally pure."

That's right. Step right up. For 29.90 CHF get a reusable treasure to
remember your Zürich pure water experience.

Ok, so what if it's the 'official souvenir of Zürich' and that it's hygienic, easy to refill, the perfect size and shape for carrying, made of stainless steel with a great design, and socially aware (1 CHF of each purchase goes to safe water projects in Tanzania). I want to know - really, please - Would you buy this souvenir water bottle, or would you buy this snazzy, classic design below?

My Zürich reusable water experience, for the bargain price of 3 CHF.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

FreeCycle Zurich

Speaking of free biking/cycling and recycling - I also want to note that there is this great service called FreeCycle Zurich, which is a free yahoo group that allows you to post items that you want to give away for free. So it keeps these items from going into the landfill and allows others to take things they might need or use off your hands for free! I subscribe and get an email when there are things available - and everything is free! (Did I mention the stuff is free?! ;)

Subscribe today.

Free Bike Rental in Zurich

Yesterday I did some mega-shopping on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich. To my amazement, I found a lot of sales on at the moment - 50% off lots of things at H&M and there's 30-50% areas at other major stores. I really went out to hit up Zara and I got a few really nicely priced staples there.

While walking back to the Bahnhof, as I was passing Globus, I came across something that I previously deemed an urban legend - free bike rental in Zürich with Züri rollt! After reading the website it sounds all too easy. There are six areas in Zürich that you can rent out for free a bike, bike with child seat, trotti/scooter, skateboard or mountain bike from May to October, just go to:
  • Hauptbahnhof - Bikestation South (Sihlpost), daily from 08.00 - 21.30
  • Hauptbahnhof - Velogate (Landesmuseum), daily from 08:00 - 21:30
  • Globus City, daily from 10:00-21:30
  • Opernhaus, (May and June by Bürkliplatz), daily from 10:00-21:30
  • Oerlikon - Swissôtel , daily from 10:00-21:30 Uhr
  • Bahnhof Enge , daily from 10:00-21:30 - after 30. Juni
It's all completely free due to sponsorship - the major sponsor being McDonalds. Go figure - McDonald's wants to have this healthy, happy image now. What better way than to promote bike riding. (I mean, why get rid of burgers and 600 calorie salads when you get just sponsor some bikes, right?)

I appreciate that Zürich offers the free bikes instead of what some other major cities have done, in which I mean offering the sponsored/free rickshaw rides. I think that while the rickshaws are cute and a novelty, you don't get the exercise nor do you get to see as much of the city as you would on a bike. Then again, I couldn't see it being at all safe for the casual biker to bike around Boston or New York. The traffic would kill you in minutes... But other major, safer cities, perhaps Vancouver, yeah that would work, could do the free bike option. Then again, what do I know - perhaps they already do!

The only issue with the free bikes,and maybe it was just because the city was overtaken with Italians and French (2-0) for yesterday's Euro 08 match in Zürich, is that it looked like they were running low on bikes - so get in early to 'rent' your free bike!

The website also mentions that they auction off the bikes and scooters and what not at the end of each season - since they buy them new each year. Here are this year's details:

What: Züri rollt auctions from 11.00 am, Bikes und City-Fun-Tools.
(Previewing starts at 10.00 am)
Where: By Globus-City (on the Pestalozziwiese side)
When: On Saturday, September 27th, 2008 and Saturday, October 25th

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watch Movies on Zurichsee with OrangeCinema

Photo from

I have thought twice, make that at least thrice, about posting this as I know that getting tickets for this beauty is going to be tough enough as it is, but alas, I will follow Zurika's lead and share the wealth. For goodness sakes, who am I kidding, I found out about it from her in the first place! ;)

According to This non-American Life, for one month during the summer OrangeCinema puts on an open-air cinema on Zürich lake.

Since I have a very big soft spot in my heart for open-air cinemas (can you say Sunset Cinemas in Perth, renamed Moonlight Cinemas, where Jace put the moves on me for the first time... yeah, big soft spot), I am keen to be the first in line to get tickets when they come available because nothing is better than watching a movie out under the stars. Wait, yes there is - watching a movie out under the stars on the lake. Yes! SCORE!

And well, from the website it sounds like July 1st is the first sales day. The schedule isn't listed yet, but I am assuming that all the movies are in German without the usual English option with German subtitles. But perhaps I'll be surprised and find something in English that Jace will enjoy. (Note, in general, in Swiss movie schedules an 'E' by the movie means that the movie is in English with German and probably French or Italian subtitles. If no 'E', then no English. Go it?)

Either way, get in line on July 1st if you're interested - just let me get tickets first, ok? ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Next Week: Lugano & Venice

Just a small note: I'm off to Lugano and Venice next week with my mother and brother, both visiting me for the first time in Switzerland. This is also my mom's first trip to Europe!

If you have any great tips or recommendations on what to see or do in Lugano or Venice, please leave me a comment. I'd love to take them both somewhere off the beaten path - especially in Venice. But naturally, as we don't have much time, we'll do the markets and boat trip on the lake in Lugano and all the tourist traps in Venice. Can't wait!

Thanks in advance for your tips! ;)

I love Blurb.

I used to keep a diary. I used to write in it and document what I did and what I ate and which boys I liked... usually one hard crush in particular throughout high school. (You know who you are... we all know you wanted me, too. You can give it up now.)

Anyway, especially when I traveled I was a methodical journal writer and photographer, trying to make sure that the experience wasn't quickly forgotten. I wrote like clockwork, every night, and assembled some of the best albums you've ever seen. To this day, they're my prized possessions.

Fast forward to present day- you can forget catching me journal writing. I don't seem to have time for that anymore - it's the pen to paper that I, ashame-ably, can no longer handle. Why write when I can type 1000 x's faster? And have you seen my handwriting lately? I should have been a doctor, I swear.

I still love scrapbooking and album making , but that too in this technological day and age stretches my patience. It's the paper cutting and gluing that's just too much work. And it can get expensive fast with all the tools you need. That's why I love that I've found Blurb.

Blurb is like digital scrapbooking, but way more high tech and cool. Basically, it allows you to create your own book with their free software and order a real book that will be shipped to almost anywhere in the world within 7-10 days- and the best part, you can 'slurp' a blog into a book. So guess what?! This blog can now be an instant scrapbook. I love it.

I've seen other programs, like digital scrapbooking software and such, but Blurb is just way more versatile. You can upload any photos, text, and designs into a Blurb book and using their pre-existing template have a beautifully formatted book in a matter of hours.

I can't wait to make Swisstory into a book!!! Have a go today - I think you're going to love it, too. Let me know if you start a project and what it is - cookbook? photobook? journal? design book? The possibilities are endless...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Camilla Engman & Our Swiss Heater

I know it's still summer, so talk of Swiss heaters is CRAZY. But I wanted to show off my new Camilla Engman prints that I've hung behind our Swiss heater. Don't they look fab here?

I really love them as a set and I think they go great with our red couch. I hung them with 3M removable hanging tape that has one velcro side and one sticky side. It's pretty clever. My Mactac co-workers from my college internship in the pressure adhesives industry don't need to know I am using 3M now do they?!

The more we settle in here, and the more time I have to put together all our (my!) fabulous IKEA finds, I'll post more photos of our Swiss apartment. Wait, who am I kidding? I have plenty of time - just not for cleaning! Anyway, for now, all you get is this lovely 4 set of prints from Camilla and our little pot belly slove. Lovely.

P.s. If someone knows how to work this thing come winter, please post a comment. That way I have a few months to figure it out. Thank goodness this isn't our only source of heat!

Oh and the plant is from... you got it - IKEA. I love it. The leaves are little curls. The frames... IKEA!
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Swiss Favorite Pastime: Recycling

No this isn't a silo or a time capsule, this is a green glass recycling container. Oh my.

The Swiss take recycling to a whole new level, and I am still trying to figure out the ins and outs. For starts, they recycle EVERYTHING. I almost feel bad if I don't pick apart my yogurt containers and recycle the aluminum lids and plastic separately. I know, I need to do my part to 'go green' so I'm trying my best to learn where it all goes.

For the first time this week, I also noticed that there are community compost bins, where you can take your food waste to be composted for the good of the community. You remember that green goodness in the soil that I talked about, that makes such delicious strawberries - must be the community compost.

The city's list of recyclables is so long that it folds out into 16 pages. Ok, so maybe it's not that big, but when you have rules and drop-off locations and schedules for recycling the following, there's bound to be a lot of details.

The Swiss recycle (or have disposal instructions for) the following:
  • Paper and cardboard - paper gets bundled up monthly and collected, there are containers for cardboard, but for God's sake, people, please flatten your boxes.
  • Compost - this is genius - take your old banana peels and apple cores to the community compost -GENIUS! I wish I knew what they did with that stuff.
  • PET bottles - these go back to the store, look for the PET containers either outside or near the beverages.
  • Glass - there are containers for green, brown, and clear glass
  • Tins - usually containers for tin cans are next to the glass containers.
  • Regular household waste - goes in the 'saecke' that you buy from the supermarket or post office, some regions use stickers instead. They're so tiny - why, because you're supposed to recycle, silly, that's why!
  • Other - For the rest of it all, there are places to take your old oil, batteries, Styrofoam, electronics, poison (?), textiles, and even cadavers (oh my! - I think it's just animals though - like your pets... hummm....)
Now good luck finding where to recycle everything - again I found a recycling map on Google Maps which I posted about yesterday. This is really helpful for general, everyday recycling.

Here's what the containers look like in my neighborhood.

This left one says 'Please only city garbage bags' and the other is for compost.

'Please only compost'

Only cardboard - and for goodness sakes please flatten those boxes!

Glass (green, white and brown) and tin cans

Now if only Jace would drink less Diet Coke! All the back and forth to recycle those coke bottles is killing me.. Where's the Granny Trolly when you need it? Oh, here it is...
I age at least 40 years when I carry this around, but I don't really care. I need it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Zurich Recycling Map

View Larger Map

I thought about creating something similar to this for Expats to use since I had a really hard time figuring out where to do the recycling when we lived in Seefeld.

If you do live in the greater Zurich area, there is this Stadt Zurich recycling site that is organized by post code and it is quite helpful, but the best map is the one pictured above, done by Justyna on Google Maps. Although it doesn't include Urdorf, most of Zurich's recyling locations are noted, to the exact cross street, on this map. It's AWESOME!

Google Map of Recycling Location in Zurich

Friday, June 13, 2008

Electrocution or Electrician?

Photo taken by my Mom of the Tennessee State Prison Electrocution Room

I got a lot of feedback on my list, Top 10 things to do before moving into your apartment in Switzerland.

But the most common feedback I received was in regards to #7, saying that I shouldn't worry about hiring an electrician, and that I should just take care of those naked wires myself. Blue wire to blue, red to red. Easy right?
Our brand new (IKEA,what else!?) kitchen light.
I dare you to figure out how it's plugged in!

It's up to you in the end, but alas I would rather not die by electrocution so I went against the common opinion and called up Markus Leutenegger, an English-speaking electrician referred by our relocation agent. And I'm glad I did... although his services set me back a bit, he was very punctual, very polite, and he did a brilliant job. He's very detail-oriented, as you can see in how he hung the kitchen light - its cord is completely concealed and precisely measured (photo above). I dare you to find the cord. Yeah, that's right, he's that good. So it's obvious that I am very impressed. I also thought his rates in this price inflated country were fair - 85 CHF/hour.

As I feel that you shouldn't mess with the wires unless you know 110% what you're doing (you don't want any fires later or God knows what else can happen with electricity!), again, Markus was completely worth it. A pleasure.

(PS. His company also does household cleaning - so if I feel like I can't face the dust bunnies, I might just call him up for a clean. I think he said it would be about 40 CHF per hour for our 4.5 room apartment, but I will compare his rates to this service (only in German), too.)

This light was a real pain, being on the staircase, but not too tough for Markus!

One new entry way light - easy peasy this one and cheap!

Again... it's completely up to you! Electrocution or electrician....
(Remains of the electric chair from
the Tennessee State Prison Electrocution Room
- photo from my mom... nice work, Mom!)

Share your experiences with electricians in Zürich/Switzerland and those naked wires in the comments!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Singing in the Rain for Swiss

(Keystone, on

Switzerland's national team lost yesterday to Turkey (1-2)... the newspapers here are flooded with the bad news. But thankfully, the actual rain has stopped... what a memorable game, if for nothing other than the amazing downpour and the teams' strength to play on.

Jace and I watched the game at The Nelson, an English pub in our village (the odds right?), with a couple of his colleagues. At one point, a few Turkish fans were really making a scene over the second goal, and good ol' Robert form the Nelson had a word with them. Good thing too because by that point, only minutes from the end of the game, to say that tensions were high is an understatement.

Check out this photo from the game, and then click on the slide show below. Poor Switzerland. Boy did it rain down on them... (Enough silly rain analogies. I'm so sorry, I will stop!!)

(Photo from Keystone/Laurent Gillieron, on
Photo from The Big Picture - great blog with one big picture a day that tells a story.

Slide show and story seen on: Rain didn't stop play between Switzerland and Turkey in Euro 2008. - swissinfo

Zurich is #1 AGAIN

Zurich = #1 Quality of Living City! AGAIN! Boo yah.

So it's not just me that loves Zurich and thinks it's the bee knees. From the results of Mercer's Quality of Living Survey, it sounds like living in Switzerland is all it's cracked up to be.

For the SEVENTH time, Zürich has topped the survey, making it the best place to live (for expats)! Geneva and Vienna tied for second, and Bern came in 9th. Not too bad overall Switzerland, not too shabby at all.

Some things that I found interesting about the survey are:
  • The survey was skewed towards the expatriates' perspective, so the name of the survey should really be 'Best Quality of Living Standards - for Expatriates' -The results could be completely different if the questions were asked in regards to nationals. For one, perhaps the Swiss don't appreciate all the expats that surveys like this are bringing into Zürich - ever think about that?!

  • Perth is 21st on the list - nicely done Perth...

  • The top 5 in the Americas were ALL in Canada!!! (Boston was 36th... but still on the list, not too shabby. Houston was not! Wise move on our part...)

  • They make a big point of stating that this is a Quality of Living index, not a quality of life index, they say "What makes one person's quality of life better or worse cannot be quantified in an objective index. Therefore, Mercer's Quality of Living report reflects only the tangible aspects of living in a city on expatriate assignments, and leaves the question of the quality of one's life to those living it!" It's "based on several criteria used to judge whether an expatriate is entitled to a hardship allowance." Interesting... looks like expats in Zürich aren't getting a hardship allowance - but that's ok, I think most would rather forgo the allowance than work in Baghdad (see rankings below).
Here are the raw scores and highlights from the report:

Mercer Human Resource Consulting Worldwide Quality of Living survey 2007 (top 10 cities):

  • Zurich 108.1 (Oh yeah, I knew there was a reason we moved here!)
  • Geneva 108.0
  • Vancouver 107.7
  • Vienna 107.7
  • Auckland 107.3
  • Dusseldorf 107.3
  • Frankfurt 107.1
  • Munich 106.9
  • Bern 106.5
  • Sydney 106.5
  • Lowest ranked: Baghdad 14.5
As first read on: Zurich tops Mercer quality of living survey for seventh time. - swissinfo

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Would I Make a Good Blonde?

Check out all those hot blonds!

Ok - so perhaps this isn't Swiss related, but Heidi is/was blonde, right? Anyway, I need a change so I used this cool site, found through SEOmoz's Web 2.0 awards, called to try out some celebrity styles.

What do you think? Would I make a good blonde?!

(Ps. I think that using the celebrities bodies as well is WAY deceiving, but what can you do?! ;)

Vote in the comments about which one you like best! I have a favorite already. Extra points go out to those that can name which celebrities I've used (without checking on the site!).
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Sound of Switzerland - Urdorf's Cow Bells (VIDEO)

I had to do a video of these melodious bovines because I love them to bits. I run past them and always take off my headphones because their cow bells make such lovely music on their own.

Now, I have no idea why cows wear cow bells, but I have a few ideas:
  1. So that the farmer can find the cows in a blackout
  2. Because it makes them look so pretty
  3. The cows kept asking 'Does my neck look big in this?' a la 'I Feel Bad About My Neck' so they decided to make a super huge bell to disguise their wobbles... oh or perhaps because
  4. I heard that some Stateside cows watch HD TV - so that they're less jittery when it comes to random noises around the barnyard - so this is probably the Swiss equivalent.
It's definately all of the above.

But...since I know my guesses won't satiate my readers, and to set the record straight, I looked it up on wikipedia, and in the 14th and 15th century the cow bell was worn by the leader of the flock, in order to show the other cows the way, and in the 16th century it became cow bling, worn by the prize cow. Nice...

There's more, and you can find the full story here. I really like what they say about the Trychel, the Swiss German name for the bell, being a prized possession:
"Swiss folklore reflects a period when a great Trychel was a rare and much-coveted item. Thus, a legend of the Simmental tells how a young cowherd strays inside a mountain, and by a beautiful woman is offered the choice between a treasure of gold coins, a golden Trychel, and the fairy herself chooses the Trychel (Meinrad Lienert, Schweizer Sagen und Heldengeschichten, Stuttgart 1915." (Wikipedia)
But for God's sake, if you remember anything about this post, make sure you get the spelling right.
  • 'Cowbell,' one word, is the percussion instrument, whereas,
  • 'Cow bell' is the bovine accessory.
But you wouldn't get that wrong now would you? ;)

Enjoy the video! Let me know how you liked it and leave a comment!

PS. Thanks to Ms. Tina Roth Eisenberg for featuring this video on her fabulous blog, SwissMiss!

HOT NEWS: iPhone Coming to Switzerland on July 11th

(Coming just in time for someone's birthday... ;)

I spent an hour and a bit watching the WWDC 2008 Keynote Address in which Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, unveiled the new iPhone 3G and its upcoming availability in Switzerland (in German). You can register with Swisscom or Orange to get the iPhone when it comes out on July 11th, and I even signed up to be notified of special rates and release information (on both!).

This video from CNET, below, shows the highlights - but you can watch the entire 1.5 hours of the keynote if you're unemployed like me or if you want to see all the super cool applications they've got planned for the next release. I have to admit - it was really inspiring and awesome. Apple has it together.

Now, just to get a job and find the equivalent of $199... I figure I just have to cancel one IKEA trip... that might just be worth it. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kangaroo vs. Emu 2008

Sign at the Outback Lodge (Aussie bar) in Zürich

After the stroll through the Euro 2008 Fan area on Sunday, before this huge Swiss dinner we had, we stopped at the only (that I know of) Aussie bar in town, the Australian Bar and Food House or Outback Lodge (directions) at Stadelhofferstrasse 18, right next to Stadelhofen, imagine that.

This was our second visit since we've arrived (homesick much?), and I love to see Jace get all worked up when he orders his beer and gets transported back to the Mother Land. Unfortunately, for some reason the bar can't import Boags anymore - don't ask me why that's #1 on Jace's request list, and yes, I think he knows it is a Tassie beer - so we opted for Coopers instead. Nice beer. I can't say that the restaurant is especially Aussie, but they do throw the word kangaroo around here and there and channel a bit of the American Outback Restaurant experience - that is if you can call the Outback Restaurant 'Aussie'. So that makes it Aussie, right?! Regardless, they have Aussie beer, and that suits Jace just fine.

(Oh and the bartender was spot on and set us straight, although we weren't fooled - when we asked what Aussie beers they had he said, "Well, we've got X, Y, and Z, and Fosters - but that stuff is brewed in France, so yeah, whatever." Good ol' Fosters. You only seem to fool us Americans! Go figure.)

Jace with his Coopers sparkling ale.
Nice little patio they have, with a TV for the Euro 2008 ready to go.

"Are you worth it? Are you the gastronomic journey Down Under? You're just a beer... ", I ask.

"Um, excuse me" the beer says... "I'm an Aussie beer... Not that piss weak stuff you American's call beer, so shut up and drink me..."

This is really what makes it Aussie... right here.

We'll be back for you 'Kangaroo Wurst' - don't you worry your pretty little tail.

(OMG - I just realized the last one on the list is Emu Schnitzel....
Hummmmmmmmmmm... they don't have that at the US Outback now do they!?)

Ps. Speaking of Australian stuff in Switzerland, Jace wants to do a big order from the Aussie Shop here in Switzerland. Has anyone else ordered on there? Any feedback? They don't seem to have in stock all the yummies that he wants.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Zurich Euro 2008 - The Game is On!

We wanted to go into the Fan Zone in Zürich on Saturday to watch the Switzerland vs. Czech game (unfortunately the game ended 0 - 1), but we didn't know if the weather would cooperate or not. So instead, we watched the game from the event tent that was set up (right next to the Strawberry Man's place) in the middle of Urdorf. Geez, if everyone and their dog didn't show up to watch the game there. It was fun to be part of the community's celebration. We had a few beers and a bratwurst and then went home for the second half, considering that the big screen went down! (Yikes... no riots though!))

Sunday we went into the city to have a look around at the Euro 2008 festivities. The city was definitely buzzing and we went especially to have a look at this amazing Adidas sponsored statue exhibition in the Zürich Bahnhof.

Here is Jace and the sculpture. This doesn't begin to show how HUGE it is.
The sculpture, I mean - GEEZ get your minds out of the gutter.

Here's an angle that gives you some perspective. It's HUGE.

Here's an even better one. I mean, these bicyclists aren't bigger than the shoes!

Ooh, now whose mind is in the gutter? Naughty, naughty me. I must have slipped.
(No Adidas undies up there though. I'm disappointed. Just all legs.)

Jace is part of the huddle.

After walking through the Bahnhof, we walked through town. It was pretty slow on Sunday as no games were on in the afternoon. Most of the visitors were watching the end of the French Open on the big screen TVs around town... poor Federer. The city is really set up nicely for the Euro 2008 though - streets are closed down to allow for pedestrian only access, lots of vendors and bars are camped out on the streets, and there were several street concerts on. Pretty well organized, colorful... well done I'd say.

Here is Limmat-Quai decked out for Euro 2008. Go check it out if you haven't yet!

Lots and lots of cool vendors, but watch out! It's expensive... yes, I mean, more expensive than usual. Jace even had to forgo a coke because they are 5 CHF on the strip! YIKES!

The Quaibrucke/ bridge, in the distance, full of Euro 2008 visitors!
Jace poses for a photo. He's so cute.


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