Monday, August 31, 2009

New must read blogs from Switzerland

Every now and again, I do a bit of a blogroll shout out and I figured it was high time to again spread some of the Swiss blog love around. Here are a few more blogs from expats living in Switzerland that I think you should be reading:

Settling in with the Swiss
Anneliese and André are getting around town and roomba-ing (is that a new word like googling) around... I love the variety of posts on this site, and they are adventureous and fun with their photos and activities - like Feuerbowles at the Zeughauskeller (favorite restaurant!) and how to rent lenses in Switzerland (great tip!).

From A to Z
Kristi and the boy moved from Atlanta to Zürich recently and as Kristi has been in touch with me for months prior to the move, I have been looking forward to her blog for many reasons - 1) her emails were always funny and entertaining and I looked forward to getting them - and the blog is no different 2) their adventures include two Boston Terriers tearing up the town with them (so cute!), and 3) after having met them both this last weekend, the desire for adventure is palpable and they will be traveling up a storm. I cannot wait to follow their adventures!

A Kiwi's perspective of the Swiss - get it - SwitZEALAND?! Ooh, that kills me that I just got that. Ok - this is like a 'Go to' list of where you should travel next in the area with great photos. These places are on my list now - and thanks to Jordan I have a good overview of what to see - Bern and Rheinfalls - OH - And I love this post about 'What is the world coming to'... hoot! And this one for the photos!

TwoFools in Zürich
I think the articles on this blog are spot on - case in point, Kathy tackled Health Care Reform last week and wrote up one of the best, most thorough reviews of the Swiss Health Care system I have read. If you want to understand the system and get motivated to revamp the US system read this post about How Health Care Works in Switzerland.

The Peterhals
Just met this couple over the weekend and I can feel a million adventures coming from them - perhaps even with their little pug, too! I love the name of the blog and the design - perhaps aided by a Google designer - hmmm? :) Deb wrote a great post about making friends in Switzerland and I think she is spot on - the expat network is definately the place to start, and I agree that how quickly you make friends will make or break your experience.

Check out my prior blog roll-calls:
Got a Swiss blog you want to see on my blogroll? Want your blog listed? Comment me!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

How I learned German... and continue to learn!

I loved all the positive feedback related to my love list posted on Wednesday. Thank you for spreading the Swiss love around. A lot of you questioned number one on my love list though about how I love speaking German. Well, I have a few things to share here that may shed some light on why it is easier for me to speak with the locals, but then again, I actually did put in a lot of hard work to learn German in the first place. So let's do it - Here is the story of how I learned German:

Way back in the fall of 1996, sitting in my high school home room class, I heard an announcement over the morning intercom about a study abroad program in Germany - a scholarship program for a 1 year exchange. Naturally, going to a school that had no German foreign language program, not many (meaning none) were interested, but after having just quit the basketball team - no small feat being one of the few über tall girls at school - and eager to see the world and get away, I decided to apply. Heck - you never know unless you try, right? So I threw my hat in the ring, and a few months later I was accepted into the 1997/1998 Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. (Sounds suspiciously like how we ended up in Switzerland... hmmm...) (Ps. this program is still running - so if you know a high school sophomore or junior that would like to spend a year abroad - what are you waiting for!)

Starting that Spring, I threw myself into preparing for my exchange - meaning, study hall each day and any free time I had consisted of me trying to learn German - on my own. That means for about 2 hours a day, I was writing out verb conjugations, listening to tapes, memorizing flash cards with vocbulary, and chatting online with teens in Germany (thank you AOL). By the time I actually arrived in Germany in August 1998, I tested in at an intermediate level. So you see - it took quite a bit of effort, but it paid off. I still have all those books and they sit, covered in dust, on Jace's bookshelf. :) So Tip 1) You have to invest time into learning the language.Doesn't matter how you learn - but it does take an investment of time and energy... so make time.

Picture of my exchange group in Washington DC, before taking off to Germany...
where's Jessica? Just looks for the big fro.

In Germany, all the exchange students had a month of language instruction in Adenau, Germany before being sent off to our families - this was great, although I think I was more interested in running around town with my new exchange mates and teasing all the cute Adenauer boys, oh and gelato... oh Straccietella from Adenau, I will never forget you. Fast forward, and the next 10 months were spent in my host family - I recall the first month or two being very hazy, little understanding, but lots of listening. I forced myself to listen. And eventually, words became very clear - I perhaps understood only 50% of the conversation but I got the jist.

So this is my Tip 2) Listening is key. Whether it be the TV or the office or the grocery store. DO NOT TUNE IT OUT. I know it sounds funny (especially in Swiss German) and may seem impossible, but the more you listen, the more you recognize and the more you learn. When we arrived here in Switzerland, after not having used my German for over 5 years, I was beyond rusty. But between interviewing and starting my job, I picked up a lot of words again - to the point in which the HR guy thought I was taking a course - NOPE! I was watching Criminal Intent and Friends in German every day and simply listening and recalling more words... so force yourself to watch an hour of German TV every night - and eventually, words will sink in here and there!

Me about half-way through my exchange, and half-way
through the chocolate section at Schlecker...
(someone please cut this girl's hair and tell her to lay off the Rittersport...

Finally, while in my host family and at school and even now, I insisted on speaking German... Ok, so I had a crutch, too, that being Yara, the one on the far right, another exchange student in my town from the program who I got to speak English with often... but in my host family, they were relentless. Although my host dad could speak English, we only spoke German at home.

It is the same here in Switzerland now - I admit it - when it comes to speaking English, I am a bit of a witch. Up until just a few weeks ago, regardless of what language the other person used , I answered in German. Regardless of the topic, I spoke in German. You insist on speaking English with me?! - Good for you, but I am speaking German. I don't care if the other person has to wait for me to find the words or if we have to go back and forth 4 times before you understand what I mean - I am here to speak German and that is what I am going to do. I am darn stubborn when it comes to German speaking actually, and you know what - it has paid off! I get mega-respect and compliments at my improvement. So tip 3) and the most important - be relentless and speak German as much as you can. Find a language exchange partner (you in German, he/she in English), speak only German at work, have a German hour at home with your partner. Whatever it is - DO IT - and stick to it. There is really no excuse here not to - German is all around. Get stuck into it.

How about classes? I have had a lot of instruction in my day, too. And I think it is important but not essential. I had lessons in Germany, I studied German in college, and I had instruction as part of my compensation package here in Switzerland. It has paid off in the grammar and self-esteem department. I am in favor. But if you cannot afford it - go and get Rosetta Stone. Both Jace and I have used this and we love it. It works for us. It is expensive, but then again, you get to keep it and it is no doubt less expensive than lessons in Switzerland. Regardless of lessons or software though - in my opinion, if you do not embrace my three tips above, you will just be wasting your money...

So - after all that - I love speaking German. I get compliments. I still make a heap of mistakes - but I am still learning. All this did not come easy. I tell everyone though that like me, if you put in the effort, you can learn the language quickly as you have one advantage that others learning language do not have - IMMERSION! Living in Switzerland or another country is the fastest way to fluency. So turn on that TV, go chat up a neighbor, ask questions at Migro for the hell of it, try reading a book or the free newspapers in German, and get out there and use the language... and perhaps you, too, will add number 1, the joy of speaking German, to your love list soon, too. :)

Enjoy your weekends, or should I say, schönes Wochenende wünsch ich euch! :)

Need more tips? Want a recommendation for a book or online resource? Leave me a comment!
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Swiss Love. Ten things I love about Switzerland

So I created this bit of art about a year ago with my (at the time) new pen tablet and just found it on my computer yesterday. Oh you like it, too? Well, I will sell you a copy of this Picasso if you want. Just leave a comment. :)

I really like it because I remember doing it in a hurry and just throwing it aside, but for some reason it caught my attention and spoke to me... it said - inspiration is everywhere - forster your creativity and release positivity and create a list of things you love about Switzerland. Go ahead. Do it.

So I did. My Swiss Love List:
  1. I love speaking German. It used to be a pain in the butt in the beginning. I struggled. I did not cry but I probably wanted to at times. It is hard when you struggle to be understood, knowing you could easily rattle it off in English and probably be understood, but you persist because you want to learn the language. And I did. And it has paid off. I am constantly amazed at how it just flows now. I have to stop myself from time to time to make sure that what I am saying makes sense - because to be so seemingly fluent is still so shocking to me. I went to the doctor's yesterday and even she, having seen me a few times now, said my German rocked and it really made my day. Ahh to be able to speak another language. It is a gift - as Jace says. And I am really glad I got the opportunity to hone the skill here in Switzerland. Swiss German, you ask? Just don't ask... this is a love list after all.

  2. I love organization. Ok - for those of you who know me - tidiness and organization are not the same, so no judging now. But I love the feeling of going to the Doctor and having the appointment always start on time. I love that the train drops me off just in time for the bus to pick me up. So make that organization and efficiency. I love them both equally.

  3. I love being in the center of Europe. Check out the category on travel to see how much I relish this feature. We get out. We see. We conquer. It is good. I have made approximately 7 Blurb adventure books now. I love travel.

  4. I love eating fresh produce grown locally - sometimes from my own garden! I won't bore you all with garden updates here... but can you say fresh cherry tomatoes and sweet corn. Oh yeah. But I actually appreciate now that produce that is not in season is not on sale. This is how it should be.

  5. I love mountains and hiking and Wanderwegs. We should get out and do it more often. If only I weren't so lazy...

  6. I love snow. Bring on winter I say. This sweaty weather is starting to tire me. Then again, anything that is not rain is lovely in Switzerland.

  7. I love blogging... and photography. Both of which I can do and enjoy here and meet new people. Thanks, guys. Sniff, sniff.

  8. I love chocolate. Have you tried the seasonal white blueberry (from Frey Lindt I think)? Oh my it is devine. (Note to self... buy more of this tonight!) And the Rittersports. My how I love you. I think I could have named at least 10 pounds after you when I lived in Germany during my exchange 10 years ago now... I have found the Rittersport dark chocolate and peppermint now and it tastes better than a york peppermint patty. YUM! I also tried the Sprungli Mint Chocolate Luxemburgli last week (I know that is not chocolate, but...) and it is also DIVINE! Thank you Switzerland for enabling me to gain a few extra pounds and then (hopefully) walk it off.

  9. I love markets. I wish they had them every day. If only I could wake up early enough on Thursday mornings to go to the one in Urdorf. Heck - tomorrow is better than never. I will do it!

  10. I love visitors. I never had so many visitors as I will/do have in Switzerland. There is a draw. Perhaps everyone else loves Switzerland, too!
Blogs can sometimes be such a negative sounding board for expats... but really... what do you love? There must be something, or else we would all go home. :)

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Monday, August 24, 2009

September Swiss Tour 2009 - Help!

So... we have a lot going on at the moment, visitors leaving (thanks for visiting Sarah! we enjoyed having you!), visitors coming in September, and I have to admit I am a bit behind on the planning. I am going to have to whip up the details of our September trip this week, and I was hoping you all might have some hot tips for me!

Here is the run down:

My mom, brother and aunt are coming in September for a week. They arrive on a Friday and I will be nice and allow them to rest it up and chill that Friday before I walk their butts off. I might let them see the garden - and maybe have some fresh corn and potatoes for dinner. We'll see. I don't want to be tooooo nice.

Then on Saturday it is off to Zermatt! We want to see the Matterhorn, eat some great Swiss food, and take lots of photos. I have a hotel booked, but if anyone has some tips here or a blog post I missed, please let me know! I would love to know where the best views are and what activities we should not miss during our afternoon in Zermatt.

On Sunday, we are going to do something I am super excited about and glad that the family was keen to come along - the Glacier Express! This train ride is World Heritage listed, the route goes from Zermatt to St. Moritz and is supposed to be phenomenal. As the website says, the 7.5 hour trip goes over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels and up to 2,033 meters at the highest pass! I have booked this, and as I have Swiss Passes for my family, all I had to do was reserve the seats and book lunch on the train and voila! Bring on the beauty and please be good weather!

On Sunday we will check out Zermatt and head back to Zürich on Monday, stopping with the train in Chur for lunch. I would love it is anyone had tips on where to eat or if there are other things to see in Chur. Anyone?!

Here is where the planning goes a bit fussy and I would love some advice. As we have the Swiss Passes, Switzerland is our oyster and I would like to take them on day trips around the area, with break days in Zürich. So Tuesday I might let them rest a bit, but I think we should head up to Uetliberg if the weather is nice or perhaps take the boat to Rapperswil for the day. Then Bern, Stein am Rhein/Schaffhausen, Lucerne and or Appenzell are on my list of possibilities.

What do you think? If I want to give them the Swiss Tour 2009 - do you think I have got the highlights covered, or is there anyother day trip opportunity that is not to be missed!? By the way, the family loves photography, so specifically picturesque locations that can be manouvered with a tripod would be ideal. :)

Thanks for the tips in advance!
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Friday, August 21, 2009

A Flight of Swiss Foods

Don't you love my play on words? A Flight of Foods... man, I am genius... I kill myself. Ok, sorry, matter at hand - I was a guest blogger on the cheapoair blog yesterday. I talked about one of my favorite recurring topics on Swisstory - Swiss food! There are a few photos that did not get published, but even so I think the top 10 Swiss foods featured are winners.

Let me know what you think and indeed check out cheapoair - they are not paying me to say that - I just want to as even before the guest post, I would have to say I have bought at least 4 international flights with them. They have very cheap airfare deals. Check them out!
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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Umbrellas, Parkas and Fishnets - Otherwise known as Street Parade 2009

Two weekends ago we partook in the annual techno fest in the streets of Zürich, otherwise known as the Streetparade 2009.

And let's face it - from that first shot above - you know it was a bit of a flop. Yes, it was still all about the music and the crazy costumes - but the rain really put a damper on the whole event and our spirits... and the crazies did not come out in the forces seen in 2008... pity.

Everyone got all dressed up though still - or at least enough to make it interesting. For me, this year that meant in addition to my once a year eye liner debut, I also donned a big poncho. I know. It's see-through... and SEXXXXXXXXY.

It was either that... or this below....

Perhaps next time. :) Jace's sister Sarah is/was in town and she enjoyed the event as well. I hope so at least as she planned her trip around the date. Stupid rain. But we partook in the festivities - beer, then hundreds of trips to the toilet stands where we paid 2 CHF to pee, then more beer, dancing, good food, me complaining that no one wears ear plugs and they are all going to be deaf when they are older, etc... it was a good day in the end...

These nurses actually came in handy, too, as I saw a few partiers being taken away by ambulance crews. The cold and 'activities' of the day just don't mix with rain. So for 2010 keep your fingers crossed for sunshine and you will have this to look forward to! Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marillenknödel - Sweet Balls of Goodness

Hello my lovely readers. I hope you excuse me for not posting yesterday. We went to PARIS (yeah!) for the weekend with Jace's sister and therefore I did not get much time to update posts on Sunday. You excuse me? It is ok? Oh thank you, you are so kind. I knew I liked you.

As a special treat for you being so wonderful, I have brought back something very interesting from Vienna from the Vienna Film Festival food fare... are you ready for it?!

Knödel you already probably know as one of those potato balls served beside your goulash or in your soup - but Marillenknödel are a special sweet form of Knödel - filled with chocolate or (usually apricot) jam, rolled in bread crumbs (in my case breadcrumbs and dried coconut) and sprinkled with powdered sugar! The dough in these sweet balls can be the potato dough or a quark (soft cheese) based dough.

Mine even had a bit of chocolate and strawberry sauce for dipping!

I have to admit - I would take a crepe or a bit of Kaiserschmarrn instead of these if I were given the option, and at the Rathaus Film Festival you definately do have the choice, but this was a great new Viennese specialty to try. Very chewy like a normal Knödel but soft and the warm filling was so gooey and unexpected. I had trouble finishing off the three balls - but I am sure you will find it easy if you take a light hand when it comes to the international food stalls and Bowles on offer... then again - good luck!
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Fräulein Gardener

"Oh Fräulein ..." Am I dreaming? Or did I hear something? I am definately the only one out at the garden at this time of night, I thought, as I snapped away with camera on my new fancy tripod, trying to capture my beauties in the last minutes of precious twilight.

"Fräulein ..." said this time a bit louder.

What is this? I asked, pulling the camera trigger and adjusting my eyes to look around. Am I suddenly in the Sound of Music and nobody told me? Who thinks they can call me 'Little woman?' I looked around, and that is when I saw the neighbor, a garden neighbor whom up until now had avoided me like the plague, and I was fine with that after my run in with creepy Italian. But this time he was the only one around, and he seemed to think he was calling my name.


I squinted across the tomatoes and what has quickly become a pumpkin patch now that the beans are all frozen and tucked away for another day and the onions are mostly pulled up. There, standing just on the other side of my personal yellow marigold boundary, was the neighbor, holding up a bag obviously swollen and heavy with something, nodding that I should come over and get it. Slowly, I walked over...

"Fräulein... would you like tomatoes? Me too many. Soon I need pull them all out. Two weeks all gone. You take."

This was harmless, I realized. And free bounty. He was my new best friend. I knew we would get along just fine. So I took the bag and asked about 100 times if he was sure, before I realized that if I kept asking I might just get a tour of his garden. Too late... he did have enough and I was happy not to refuse his bounty of perfect plum tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines. All things I did not grow. Coincidence? I think not. So I took the items and thanked him - then he asked what I was doing and I explained in slow German that I was photographing the plants. He was surprisingly unalarmed and showed me some beans he wanted me to take a photo of, and I promised I would. Then as I was getting my camera, he disappeared into the night - leaving me with my camera and at least 10 pounds of produce.

Just call me Fräulein Gardener. As long as you come with produce in hand, I don't mind one bit.

Messing around with the new tripod...

What's left in the garden?
  • Sweet corn - yum!
  • Chilis - two types
  • Lots of basil, parsley, dill and spring onions
  • A few more pickling onions and large yellow onions
  • A million marigolds, both the large ones and the small mixed variety
  • Pumpkins galore - orange ones, gourds, little baby ones... I am a sucker for the pumpkins and love finding the gourds hanging from the long ago blossoming sunflower stalks
  • Zucchini - but not for much longer
  • Salad - the late varieties are coming now along with the spinach and winter cabbages and Asian salad variety again
  • Tomatoes - although I got hit by the blight that everyone warned about, I have had a few handfuls of the cherry tomatoes and there are more to come, still hopeful
  • And a few more things that I cannot remember... but the dog days of summer are gone, replaced by mosquitoes and a very big compost pile... ;)
Not too shabby for planting it all from SEED! Is it?!!! ;) (Except for the potatoes and onions...)

Have a great weekend and enjoy the lovely weather!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bowle Fever

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the best activities to hit up in Vienna in the summer is the Vienna Film Festival. And while there, I realized something very important about the Viennese... they love their Bowle's!!! (or is it Bowles? or Bowlie-Bowls? :)

Everywhere you looked amongst the international food tents, your eyes happened upon another Bowle - Himbeerbowle, Erdebeerbowle, Pfirsch-Bowle, Kirschbowle, etc, etc. What exactly is a Bowle!? Well it is an alcoholic (sometimes non-alcoholic) punch with fruit in it and the Austrians appear to be CRAZY about them. Not only were a lot on sale, but a lot were being consumed as well - far more than beer! (Unfortunately, I did not try one - but I did try something really yummy, a dessert and not Apfelstrudel, that I will report on next week. Yum! )

Until then, if you too want to experience Bowle Fever there are hundreds of recipes out there on the www. Just do a quick search on Google for Bowle and you will see what I mean. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vienna Film Festival at the Rathaus until August 30th

If you are going to be in Vienna from the end of June to the end of August, you need to listen very carefully to the advice I am about to impart. These nuggets of wisdom are gold, I tell you. GOLD! Ok, are you ready? Repeat after me.

If I am in Vienna in the summer, I will visit the Vienna Film Festival at the Rathaus. I will come hungry. I will love it.

Now lather, rinse and repeat again.

From June 27th until August 30th this year in Vienna/Wien the Film Festival is on at the Rathaus (Google map). Every night from about 6 pm onwards the food stands along the Rathaus park open up, offering all kinds of delicious and exotic international food fare... we are talking Mexican, Chinese, Iranian (I had this, yum!), Thai, Austrian, and Czech foods to name a few - there was even an Australian booth! Thank goodness this is not in Zürich or else I would be atleast 10kg heavier.

Then after you fill your belly, wait with a cold Viennese beer in one of the seats set up near the Rathaus and await the show at 9pm (program here in German). The beautiful Rathaus building is an excellent backdrop for the film - and you might even treat yourself to a bit of Ben & Jerry's mid show. I did not make it to the film festival last year, but I am glad I went to check it out last week after work. It is really the place to be in Vienna in summer. I highly recommend it! Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Who wants to visit me in Switzerland for free?!

Yesterday, while checking the prices for the Swiss Pass for the hundredth time as my family is coming to visit in September (yeah!), I stumbled across this site sponsored by the Swiss Travel System (trains, buses, etc. system in Switzerland) in which they are giving away an 8-10 day trip to Switzerland in September for FREE so long as they can follow you around and video parts of your stay for promotional material. Heck - you can even bring your dog! I cannot apply - no Swiss residents are eligible - but YOU my fellow American or non-expat- yes YOU CAN!

Just register online then create a video saying that you want to come to visit me - er, I mean come to Switzerland, and post it according to the rules on YouTube. Then wait to see if you won! How fun! Full details of how to apply are online. Heck, I will even allow you to use pictures of me in your film and explain why you want to come to the great Swiss lands - well, besides the fact you want to see the natural beauty of the Alps, the wonderful cultural landmarks, and try a bit of Swiss cuisine - we all know you are really coming to see me! :)

By the way, if you have not heard about the Swiss Pass, allow me to tell you what a great bargain it is. I am getting one for each of my family members visiting as we are going all around Switzerland. Actually, better yet, quoted from the Swiss Travel site:

The Swiss Pass entitles you to unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network. The Swiss Pass is available for 4, 8, 15 or 22 days or one month. (Note Jessica: I am getting the 8 day consecutive pass for them! There is also a non-consecutive pass for a bit more and as they are traveling together there is a 15% reduction on top of the price...)

This pass also covers scenic routes and local trams and buses in 37 towns and cities and will offer 50% reduction all most mountain-top trains and cable cars. (Note Jessica: SCORE!!!) The Swiss Pass will also include the Swiss Museum Pass, allowing you free entrance to over 400 museums and exhibitions.

This pass is only available to non-residents of Switzerland or the Principality of Liechtenstein. No photograph is required: simply present your passport or identity card.

So if you have some visitors coming and you are going to travel predominately in Switzerland, you can save a bundle with this Swiss Pass. I fully recommend it for all foreign travelers that want to get around Switzerland quickly and cheaply!

But heck, go on and apply for the contest and you won't even need to buy a Swiss Pass... come on over already! :)
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Monday, August 10, 2009

In Ulm, um Ulm, und um Ulm Herum

Ulm Rathaus and Ulmer Münster

The title of this post is a well known tongue twister about Ulm, Germany, a very charming city in Baden-Württemberg that I had the pleasure of visiting two weekends ago (Streetparade write-up tomorrow!). Last year, around this time, Ingo - Jace's colleague - invited us to witness the Memmingen Fischertag, and this year we were invited back to visit his family and we were treated to a visit to the picturesque Ulm, about 30 minutes away from Memmingen by train.

Ulm Art Museum

The city was almost completely distroyed in the war, so it is now a mix of old and new, and a fine mix if I do say so myself. The modern and the old do not clash but rather somehow compliment themselves in this modernesque city. 

The highlight of the city is definately the Ulm Münster, and it is the tallest church in the world! The steeple is 161.53 meters (or 530 feet) high, and it is 768 steps to the top... I know this not only because I read the sign on the door (below), but because I also ran up to the top... ok, so I walked... ok, fine... fine... so I might have crawled, but I did it!

After climbing up all the spiraling steps, all 768 of them, you are rewarded with quite a view of Ulm, Neu Ulm and the surrounding area. (I cannot help myself when places are named 'New' something... I would have loved to have been at that city meeting...'Order, order... we need to name this new place... the one next to Ulm...' Small guy in the back says, 'How about 'New Ulm.'... all heads nod in agreement. 'Brilliant! That is the best name ever. Genius. Give him the keys to the city. Meeting adjourned.'

The Gothic cathedral/church is really quite amazing up close (check out those gargoyles!) and from afar. I recommend a visit even if you do not go up the spire... but if you do...

you are naturally rewarded with views like this:

Ulm from the Münster

... and views of the market below -great Saturday market!

After all that climbing, some of us were in serious need of a sausage... those that climbed that is (no names will be mentioned... ahem... ahem...)... the rest, well they had one too - cheaters. :) This was an excellent bratwurst - ask Jace if he agrees... Jace, good Bratwurst?

Oh he is too busy eating... Ingo, good bratwust?

Oh he is busy, too it seems... hmm.. moving on. :)

We then headed down to the Danube and walked along the city walls, taking in the view and the quaint houses along the river before making our way to the Fischerviertel, the fishermen's quarter.

The Fischerviertel is situated along the Blau River, and is so picturesque that it makes me well up inside.The area is full of cobblestone streets, foot bridges, wooden/timbered houses, and everything so wonderfully and stereotypically German.

Fischerviertal, Ulm

This below is the schiefes Haus or crooked house right on the Blau and it is really a wonder of architecture. You can see it above in the distance, how it jets out above the water!

Even if you don't have great friends that take you to awesome places in Bavaria and across the Danube into Ulm, I would highly recommend a visit. Ulm is great for a day trip - try the local beer, too, it is tasty, and perhaps then head on over to Münich afterwards - it would make for a lovely weekend.

By the way, the tongue twister title of this post means: In Ulm, around Ulm and about in Ulm :)
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Friday, August 7, 2009

My Orange Cinema Review

Last Sunday, I had the extreme pleasure of going to my first Orange Cinema movie showing. And it was great! Despite the rain all day, I checked my new best friend - the moving slide doppler radar tool for Switzerland - and he said it would be dry for the movie so we put on our waterproof suits and braved the elements to see the show - and you know what - it was dry the whole time! Thank you doppler! (Jace and I missed our first showing due to extraordinary squalls and storms... my oh my...)

The outdoor cinema is really great - super posh with bars and food and right on the See so you get a great view of the boats lit up and passing in the distance and the moon glowing overhead. When it is time for the show (we saw 'Up' - great new animated Pixar film, very cute!), the screen lifts up, like it is emerging from the water, although naturally it is not touching the water at all, and the lights go on and it is SHOW TIME. Very magical.

I went with my colleague, Michele. We both really enjoyed it. They really take care of you at the theatre, too - nice seats, free ice cream, red carpet entry, free rain ponchos (that say 'don't worry' on the back, and we've got you covered, hehe). Loved it.

There are a few more movies left in the season that you can see at the Orange Cinema and you can get tickets sometimes on the day from the ticket office on site. Tickets cost 20 CHF each and the cinema is located at the Zürihorn, just a 15 minute walk or so from Stadelhofen. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Street Parade on Saturday!

One of the craziest, best events of the year is happening this Saturday and I beg you to check it out - at least for the schock and awe value if nothing else. Hey, you might even find you like a bit of techno... or just techno pants. Whatever rocks your boat, check out the Street Parade 2009 this weekend. Perhaps we will bump into one another! :)

My Street Parade links:
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Just in time for Fondue Season - Pickled Onions

You know those essential little onions (auf Deutsch 'Perlzwiebeln' - pearl onions) that are served with the essential little gerkins alongside your fondue and racklette? Well, they are actually really super easy to make, and if you make some now and store them away, you will have them just in time for fondue season. SCORE!
I looked online for a simple recipe and there are plenty out there. Just search for 'pickled onions.' In the end, I used the one in my Fanny Farmer Cookbook. It goes something like this :

Pickled onions:
Put a pint or so of peeled, washed pickling onions in a bowl and cover with cold water and 1/4 cup of salt. Everything should be cold if you want crisp onions. Leave the onions to brine for at least 24 hours. Then when ready to pickle, wash the onions well under cool water and pat dry, then wash and sterilize your jars (important step). Place the pickles in your jars and cover the cold pickles with cold vinegar and pickling spices. I could not find pickling spices so I am just using a flavored peppercorn mix. We will see how this works... fill the jars with vinegar and a 1/2 teaspoon of spice each - in one of the jars I used red wine vinegar, the other two are normal white vinegar. I am leaving them in the fridge for about 2 weeks before Jace can have at them and I will report back on the flavor. So far, we had a peek and all is coming along nicely.

Good luck! Tomorrow - my Swiss cookbook recommendations!
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