Sunday, July 26, 2009

My Most Public Display of Affection

(And no, you seven, it is not what you think)

Thursday, Anna, Anna's grandmother, Mark, Stephanie and I all drove the hour to Basel to go to the Vincent Van Gogh Exhibit there. Mark and I were walking around the exhibit together and he kept leaning up against me and putting my arms around his shoulders. I couldn't help but think of my aversion to public displays of affection, and how I thought this was okay because it was a child. Midway through the tour he looks up at me and says, "Jill, you're a really great au pair." It is nice to be reminded of that once and a while.

Saturday morning I went to get coffee (yes I've started drinking coffee, I think coffee is the only way I can justify drinking the 4.5% fat milk. And even worse the coffee is from Starbucks--don't tell D.B.) and as I was paying the man behind me in line said, "Are you from Minnesota?" He could clearly see my lisence and it turns out he is from Minnesota as well. So we sat outside and had our coffees together and talked about how we had both gotten to the same town in Zurich, definitely a good way to start the weekend. After that I got on a "fan bus" headed for Bern to watch my friend play in the Swiss Bowl (like the SuperBowl in Switzerland--but on a much smaller scale). His friends from home and parents were there as well as a few other fans so even though they lost the game we still had a great time!

Next week I'm headed back to Le Chaufaud without the parents but with 20 people that only speak French. I'm hoping for a drastic improvement in my French during that week--necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Afterthought

I also realized that I am now starting to imitate my mother. She calls our yellow labrador B.J. a "monkey doodle," or a "goodle doobie," which I now call the children. Mark really likes to be called Doobie now, but I haven't told them that's what my mom calls our dog!

Also don't think I've forgotten about my dad--one of Mark's best friends came over the other day and when I was talking to his mom I could detect a New Jersey accent. (My uncles are fluent in "New Jersey," and my dad is a great translator). I asked her where she was from, saying that my dad is from Pennsauken, she is from Morrisville which is two towns over. It seems the further away I go, the smaller the world becomes.

Like Mother Like Daughter

I think I knew it all along, but last summer is when it really hit me: my mother is infinitely cooler than me. Now for those of you that know my mother, and I'm pretty certain that everyone who reads this either is my mom or friends with my mother, would agree my mom is awesome. (Not to disrespect or disregard my dad--no one has worked harder to get what they want and deserve, and is still able to have some incredible and incredibly funny stories from it--but this is about a mother/daughter resemblance.) My mother has done a lot, managed to have two great kids (especially that youngest daughter), and is a great person--sometimes it's hard to see a family resemblance.

People would always look at my family pictures and remark how we look nothing alike but then this May at my college graduation party people began to see where we were similar: on the dance floor.
Please note the right foot placement--years of dance practice to perfect the "foot stomp"

The other day I had another mother/daughter experience. I was taking Stephanie, Mark and Mark's best friend Jason to go bowling, Will had typed the address into the GPS (which, by the way, I hate--except for the Garmin that got us from Columbus to Hilton Head) and I was following the directions--the GPS however, didn't realize that the entrance onto the freeway we needed was closed for repair, so it showed me another way to go. Stupidly following the GPS and the advice of two 8 year old boys I went up a one-way street. I was thinking, man this is weird this one-way is so narrow, and that it leads to the wrong way on the highway, when suddenly a car exited off the highway and started coming toward us. I was driving up the wrong way on a highway exit and had to reverse the whole way down--it definitely seems like something my mother would do. Just ask her why she knows what "strada chiuso" means.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sweet Baby James--I'm Saved!

My walk home at night from the train station (and usually the walk to it in the evening because I miss the last bus at 8:15) is the cause for a lot of my complaints. It's a mile, uphill, in the dark, alone--I have yet to make the walk without taking my shoes off (stupid Jack Rogers). Althought Switzerland is or has proven to be, pretty darn safe, I still loathe the walk. I shuddered to think of how I would manage the walk in the winter. Usually in my time uphill I think of the things that my friends would do in that situation: M.P. is so organized she would have used the iPhone to call a taxi to have picked her up at the station hours before she left, A.F. would have just stayed out all night partying, L.C.H. would have found a pizza delivery man to drive her home, L.H. would have called her parents--probably dad--to come pick her up from the train station, C.K. would have asked anyone getting into a car for a ride--no matter how sketchy they looked, and of course, M.B.P. & B.A. would have called me, no matter where I was or what time it was, to ask me how to get home.

But not anymore! When I was taking the kids to the zoo Monday I realized that there is a bus station a little further from (300 meters) from my regular one that goes directly to and from Zürich until later in the evening. So last night, instead of my bitter uphill walk I had a lovely stroll home and I even left the Jack Rogers on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I"ve Created a Monster

It only took me two weeks to make a huge mistake that might cost me this job. I have introduced the kids to High School Musical. We were driving home from miniature golf last week and I needed a change from the Michael Jackson and Queen that they were requesting and to put it lightly, it was a hit. Stephanie is currently, or should I say was, obsessed with the movie and sountrack Mama Mia! and wants/wanted to hear ABBA all the time, so I thought another musical might interest her. I should have remember however, that she is obsessed with the idea of teenagers and cannot wait to be a teenager, so teenagers that sing and dance are right up her ally! Anyway after listening to the songs, they then wanted to watch the movie, and then wanted to watch the second and learn all the songs from that, now they're dying to see the third--it's become a lot like "If you give a Mouse a Cookie..." Even Mark really likes it (because the boys play basketball) and both are constantly asking me questions about why each character did something. I have created a European High School Musical monster. Today we went to the zoo (they asked me to sing the soundtrack on the bus--I didn't think the Swiss riders would appreciate that) and tomorrow we're going Alpine sledding (I'll try not to skin my arms and legs, Jack! ) so I have a ride to and from the mountains that will be filled with High School Musical--I never thought I'd miss ABBA.

The end of last week was pretty busy. I began to, as my parents call it, "burn the candle at both ends," staying out too late with friends and working all the next day. But if college taught me anything it taught me how to stay up all night finishing a paper, stay up all day and be able to go out the next night! I went out Friday evening as well, forced myself out of bed bright and early (9 am) on Saturday and onto a train bound for Interlaken. I met my football playing friend and two of his friends from home who were visiting in what is supposed to be a beautiful town. Instead the Interlaken I arrived at was rainy, cloudy and pretty bleak. The boys had got a hotel room (something about all the hostels being booked, but I really think it was because they thought the concierge was pretty) so since it was pouring we had nothing better to do than start drinking. After a couple bottles of wine we ventured outside to another restaurant/bar to get a couple beers. The rain finally cleared up and we walked around a bit (with a beer, gotta love the lack of open container rules in Europe!) and saw what an incredibly beautiful town Interlaken really is. We went out to dinner at a very authentic Swiss restaurant and made a stop on the way home at a very in-authentic Best Western Bar (where we joined a conga line waving the Ameican flag...) We went out to a club (the concierge told them it was the best, so of course we had to go in case she might be there) and had a fun night. The next morning we got up and decided since we didn't do anything out of doors yesterday we had to make up for it (I wanted to go skydiving but it's a tad pricey) and zorbing (rolling down a hill in a giant plastic ball--seriously) was definitely not going to happen. We decided to take the train to the top of Jungfrau which is called "The Top of Europe." This mountain which is 3454 meters (going metric!) was incredible. It took us a while to get up there but it was well worth the wait (and price tag). I, of course, didn't bring my camera but the boys did so hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures from them soon. But here are a couple from the website http://www.panoramaphoto.ch/jungfrau/--I don't think any pictures could really do this place justice though. It was unreal. The top of the mountain stuck out above the clouds but on our descent the clouds enveloped the Alps again and it almost seemed like that Jungfrau didn't exist--it's hard to believe that a place so beautiful can exist.
On Our Way Up!
Not such a bad view from the top of Jungfrau
Sorry I don't know how to rotate pictures--but we're at the top

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God Bless the USA (I'm not even joking)

I'd just like to start out with this little visual. A month ago I was at the WBYC with N. (wishing you were there T!) at the pool looking out over a lake, yesterday I was at a pool (with children) looking out over a lake. And downtown Zürich. And the Alps. I couldn't help but laugh at how [some] things never change.

I actually used my American heritage to my benefit twice in the past week.

1). The great American pastime: Baseball. Since the discipline of young children is difficult (and more difficult when conversations with their parents go something like: "Mom, can I play my DS?" "No, you're listening to the story you wanted." "Moooooooom.... Ugh." "No you still cannot play." "Mom, please please please can I play it?" "No you may not." "Mooooom." "Fine, play." or "Stephanie, pick up your shoes." "You do it!"--when that happens to me I usually go "Say what?!"), I decided that something needed to be done. Here's where baseball comes in, say I have to ask them to do something three times, well that's a strike. Three strikes and you are in time-out (of a fun activity). You also get to first, second, third, or home for doing nice things, like sharing without being told to, helping your sibling or me, or asking the polite way before being told. It's actually helping. Thank you baseball!

2). Last week I was babystting and Stepahnie asked me to sing her a song at bedtime. She said her mom always sings her French lullabyes, and her dad even sings to her too. For the life of me I couldn't remember Twinkle Twinkle, or Rock-a-Bye-Baby--anything. I didn't know any lullabyes so I sang Stephanie the national anthem and "Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies"--she hasn't asked me to sing since!

Lastly, while we were at the pool yesterday Stephanie was chatting with one of her friends (they are 5) about marriage. She said, "When two girls get married they can have two babies, but when two boys get married they can have zero babies, but I think they can buy them."

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Je comprend plus que je parler."

Stephanie & I in playing in France

Back from the weekend in France! I was a little nervous to cross the border because I haven't received the card (like a little lisence) that says I'm allowed to live & work here for a year, my visa was only for a one-time entry (thankfully it wasn't stamped at the airport) and expires in three months, but we entered France through the woods, Anna made a joke about how sometimes the border patrol will run up to car on the backwoods road, but we arrived without interference. The house, in the town of L.C. right outside of the "larger" town of Le Morteau, was incredible. It's just what you would imagine a house (that was built in 1773 mind you) to be; dark, freezing, and full of rooms, closets, and lots of junk that I liked to look at. There were spiderwebs in every corner, dust on most things, and every movement resonated throughout the house--I can only imagine my friends from school there. They probably would have hated it (be serious M. you would have hated it... but at least they have electricity!) The house had a large kitchen, we sat 12 for dinner at the kitchen table, and a large dining room that seats 20--when Anna's family goes there they have 19 cousins that stay there! (I imagine in to be much like a "French Frat House"--not that Denison has frat houses...). Since the cousins have now married and procreated one aunt and one uncle bought houses close by so all the families could vacation there. (The houses are next door to one another and one is in France, the other in Switzerland). There were only two toilets and two sinks/showers that I could find, so when I go back the first week of August (with the kids only, and the rest of the French family) I don't think I'll be showering! Since there was no insulation and it was cold outside I was in a fleece, jeans, and wool socks (I am my mother's daughter) for the whole weekend!

The view from the porch

Will & Anna's friends who are French but live in Geneva came with their three children, all boys, Xavier, 9 (pronounced Sa-vee-aiy, sorry Jack not the way you'd say it but maybe you should marry a French woman so you can name your offspring that!), Justin, 7.5, and Raffael, 3. Raffael, being the smallest kid there often hung around me and since he didn't know English I got to practice my French (the three year old wasn't a harsh critic like the five year olds). He always wanted his picture taken and man did he love to pose!

Raffael--he was doing a "thug" impersonation

There were five children there, all who could fluently speak English and French, the parents who could all speak English and French (Will hadn't told me that he was essenitally fluent in French!), Mark & Stephanie's British grandmother, and then me. So I heard a lot of French, and understood a lot of conversations (mostly from the kid end of the table), but I didn't speak very often. The phrase, "Je comprene plus que je parler," (I understand more than I can speak) was said quite often.

Saturday I woke up, and since Anna told me that even though I am there I am not the au pair on the weeked (though I did babysit Saturday night) so I was free to do as I pleased, I went for a run. I decided to run through the woods and explore a little bit, a few minutes later I suddenly see two Swiss border partrolers running towards me. I thought quite a few explitives before I managed to say "I'm so sorry, I'm an au pair for a family and we are in Le Chauffaud," or at least that's what I thought I said. They nodded and smiled, so I nodded and smiled, and then one said, "American." Damn. I apologized again and ran back to France and decided to stay on the road from now on. I went through the tiny town and took in some incredible views of the French/Swiss countryside. Saturday afternoon we went into the town of Le Morteau and then went to do Achroplânge. Achroplânge is climbing and zip lining through the forest--it was very cool and I had some great views of the countryside again. The oldest boys, the two dads, and I went and Will & I decided to do the whole course--the boys were too small to complete it-- and one of the last things is the "Tarzan swing," you attach yourself (barely!) to a rope and then jump off, hold like hell onto the rope, and swing into a net, then you have to grab onto the net (which is a good 50 feet from the ground) and climb to the side. Will generously let me go first so he could film it, and I said, "Nothing like making a fool of yourself in front of your employer again & again!" That night I babysat and explored the house. And Sunday I ran through the countryside (away from the border) and enjoyed reading outside. I'm currently reading Eric Hansen's Stranger in the Forest (L.He.--he wrote Motoring with Mohammed that we read in Dr. Read's class) and it talks about his walking across the island of Borneo, so in comparisson to that, this country house was pretty state of the art.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Afterthought

And one more thing:

I was complaining on Tuesday to my mother & friends (thanks again for listening) about having to go away this weekend. People were inviting me to do things and I didn't want to miss out... I was complaining because this weekend we are heading to Anna's paternal grandmother's country house on the border of France and Switzerland. Oh and if that's not cool enough the house was occupied during World War II by Nazi soldiers because its 300 meters from the Swiss border and they wanted to spy.

I'm sorry what was I complaining about?

"She won't be able to understand you." "Why?" "Because your French is so bad."

(These words were said to me by Stephanie about her friend Zoey who was coming over for a play-date. Zoey only knows German & French [only haha] but Stephanie didn't think my French was on their level...)

Well Monday morning started my new work schedule, I got up, made snacks for the kids to take to camp helped get them dressed, fed, and out the door to camp. I made it there without hitting anyone--my 6th day in a row of staying alive while driving!--and dropped them off for their camps. I came home, organized, cleaned (I'm terrified to leave anything dirty--a fact that will surprise my parents and friends alike) and then helped make dinner and put them to bed. The same routine was on Tuesday but I went to register myself at the Geimindehaus (or something like that) which is every town in Switzerland's version of Big Brother. You register yourself, where you live, the names of your parents (thanks M&D) etc. Of course when I walked there it was raining and I was lost and I started to become irritated. I think picked up Stephanie from camp and we went swimming and then to her swim lesson, I came home and made dinner and the parents went out to dinner so I put them to bed. I hadn't really been out of the house for 2 days and all I seemed to be doing was working, or thinking that there was something I could/should be doing. I was lonely--seriously the only text messages I was getting were from the phone company saying that the time I accidentally dialed the number 7 it cost me .18 cents. It is hard to go from near constant communication (I'm sure those that know me know that I am never without my phone and I am constantly text messaging at least 3 different people simultaneously.) Thank goodness for Skype, GChat, and the willingness of my wonderful friends and wonderful mother to listen to my complaints. The next morning was supposed to be the English speaking au pair meeting but I wasn't going to be able to go because I had to wait for a bed to be delivered... I was definitely not happy.

Wednesday morning started with the sound of the doorbell--the bed was delivered BEFORE camp meaning that I could go to my meeting! The day started out a little better, the weather seemed to be on my side; it only started raining right when I got onto my train or bus. I made it to the meeting, I found a couple girls in the corner or this cafe and I knew it was the meeting. Not because they were speaking in English but because the were swearing in English. People who have or do work with children seem to adopt a foul mouth the instant the children are not in our precense. So more people came and everyone was so welcoming--perhaps they realized that we are all in the same boat! It was nice to be with people my own age again. And while I was waiting for my tram I realized I was across the street from the Longchamp store! What luck! Me, who cannot order a tea at a café managed to put 3 things on hold at Longchamp... (Some people have buyer's remorse, I have "I'm sad so I need to buy something.") Wednesday afternoon I picked up Stephanie and her friend Zoey (the one who couldn't understand me) came over, so I didn't have to entertain in the afternoon. I think Anna realized that I was feeling a bit suffocated because she told me that if I had any plans for the evening that I should go out. I didn't have any plans but I was definitely going out! I went to downtown Zürich and was looking for a place to get a drink when I realized this is Europe. I can walk down the street with a beer! So I explored the city with my large can of beer--I'm a classy American I know. I came home and decided to try and find a shorter route home--no luck. I ended up walking a half hour out of my way so I was a little peeved. When I got home Will had left me a note to come see him... I though SHIT! I'm in trouble already, but he just wanted to let me know that the son was in the ER (he had this crazy jelly fish sting from vacationing the week before--turns out it was a Portugese Man of War and it's pretty nasty) and would be home with me in the morning. It seemed my bad luck had returned...

Thursday was much better than I anticipated though. The boy wasn't so naughty as when his sister is around and their mom came home right after camp and said I had the afternoon to myself. I met a friend (for the first time) in Zürich and he showed me around, he's lived in Zürich for 6 months and has been playing American Football here--who knew there was a team?! We walked to the top of this church (which I swear was more than 150 steps--dad you would have been proud) and had some great views of the city. I came home after that and their grandmother had arrived (Will's mother, who lives in Canada but is British--can anyone keep this straight?) and so we had a lovely dinner (Rosé Veuve Cliquot! No more "Blush" Franzia for me). I got to go out again and I went out with my Minnesota friend and we met up with a few of the football players--definitely and interesting evening! (Allison--sorry didn't think of a clever name for you--I don't even know how to do all those stories justice! Don't worry mom it's nothing bad). We made it onto the last train home and I finally found the fastest (re: 35 minutes) and least creepy looking walk home. The best part of Thursday? I got like 10 text messages... I guess old habits die hard.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Greuzi!

Good: Children
I met the kids yesterday, they returned from vacationing with their grandmother for two weeks and they are as fun, adorable, and well behaved as everyone told me they would be. The boy, Mark is 8 years old and very interested, in sports, Legos, video games, he reminds me a lot of my brother! The girl, Stephanie, is 5 and adorable. She is so small, even for a five year old, and has blonde hair and big blue eyes--she tries to get away with everything and because she's so cute you almost want to let her. I've also never met a five year old who would prefer to eat vegetables to anything else, you literally have to say to her, "Stephanie you cannot have any more spinach until you finish your bread." (She also eats chives from the garden, so if you cannot find her, she's usually there eating). I played with them a bit yesterday just so they would get to know me, but the dad assured me that playing with them on weekends wasn't part of the job so I didn't have to (yes!) but it was fun to get to know them. Stephanie came into my room last night and was looking at my pictures (my room has a number of pictures from home & school) and asked, "Do you still have a mom or has she died yet?" I assured her that I still did have a mommy--though she hasn't been answering my calls! They speak French with their mother and I swear that having a kid bug their parents in a foreign language is much more tolerable than in English, at dinner Stephanie wanted her mother's attention and although all she said was, "Mom! Look!" it sounds much better as, "Regarde mama!" I took them to their camps this morning--a vast difference than the camp I had previously worked at--and then this afternoon they are with their mom so I had it free.

Better: Driving
I am still alive! It was a little touch and go there for a moment because I didn't know if I would die because I crashed or because I did not breathe for the half hour I was driving yesterday. Will wanted to show me the school where they were to have camp, and the swim lessons that I will take Stephanie to tomorrow, but he wanted me to drive it. The things about driving in Switzerland, especially in my town, are there are buses around every corner, there are a lot of corners, its all either uphill or downhill (thank goodness Will has an automatic) and driving on the sidewalk seems to be encouraged. The car I am driving is, however, a SUV which does not quite fit next to all the small Peugots and Audi's on the road.
I drove to the school first, made it there alive, without hitting anyone (or getting hit), hitting a cyclist, pedestrian, and/or tree. Had I been breathing I would have breathed a sigh of relief. We then drove to the swimming pool and Will asked me to do the impossible: parallel park. My stomach churned as I parallel parked into a spot big enough to fit an 18-wheeler (for anyone that has ever had the 'pleasure' of watching me attempt to park knows that I need a very large spot). I prayed that Will didn't notice the beads of sweat forming on my forehead! But I made it, even when we came back from the pool and a stupid BMW had parked thisclose to the bumper I 3-point turned and made it safely home.

Best: July 4th (Funny that an American holiday should be the best news of the weekend)
Since Will was picking up the kids in Italy and Anna was attending a music festival near Geneva (where Dave Matthews Band was playing that day--the irony) I had the day and night all to myself. But The American Club of Zürich has an annual 4th of July party and since I know no one I figured it couldn't hurt to attend. I was waiting at the bus stop when this girl looked at the information and said, "Shoot. Our bus is in 16 minutes." English! I noticed her pointing to the stop I was headed to so I asked if she and her boyfriend were going to the 4th of July party. They were and so we started talking, they asked me where I was from in the states and --no offense to Minnesotans-- I said, with my usual trepidation, that I was from Minnesota. They both started laughing, because apparently that's how a lot of Minnesotans say it, she should know, being as she was from there too. In fact, this girl is from the town next to me, and we figured out we have mutual acquaintances--I don't know if the world could get any smaller! (Her boyfriend, being from Galway had little to add to our discussions of Minnesota so I'm afraid he was left out quite a bit!) The party was all families so we didn't stay long, but they invited me to come along with them to this Latin festival 'Caliente!' in downtown Zürich and since I had nowhere to be I tagged along. We saw the Michael Jackson shrine--it's very unlike the Swiss to leave that much garbage on the ground for so long, but I guess "Jacko" has a special place in their heart.

The Michael Jackson shrine in Zürich

We then went to this festival and met other Americans! It was definitely nice not to feel out of place speaking English. Another great thing about this American/Irish couple is they live a few towns past mine on Lake Zürich so we all get to take the train home together! I got off at my stop and was looking for the Night Bus to take me back the mile to home when a Swiss guy told me there was no night bus that stops there. I'll spare you the expletives, but I walked the mile or so home was completely lost (not a good place to be when it's 3am and you're alone) when I found my street! So I made it home don't worry mom I'm fine, and had a great first Saturday night in Switzerland.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The French Lady Has White Bread!

My arrival in Switzerland, albeit nerve wracking, was not painful or tough. I guess I should give some background information on my employers. (No personal information dad don't worry). They have lived in Switzerland for 7 years now, the father is Canadian and speaks English and a little German & French, the mother is French and speaks French, English, and a little German (isn't it amazing that you can live in a part of the country where you don't know the language and still get by?) the children a boy who is 8 and a girl who is 5 go to an International School, and they speak French, German and English.

 I met Will, the father, (I'm using other names for the family members of my employers) at the airport who had flowers (check) and to
ld me that I didn't even have that much luggage (check plus!). We then drove to the house which is in a town right outside of Zürich. The house in pretty incredible, my room is in the basement (just where I like them!)  but it is definitely big enough and
 fits all my stuff, and is next to the laundry room so maybe now I'll do my laundry with more frequency! The next floor is the backyard, living and dining rooms, kitchen and a bathroom, along with a back porch. The next floor are the bedrooms of the parents and the children, along with two bathrooms, and the next floor is a bedroom/office area with a bathroom and a balcony where you can see Lake Zürich and, when its clear, the mountains. Not a bad living arrangement.

Since I arrived at 8 am I decided it would be best for me to stay up as long as I could in order to change my internal clock. Since Will had to go back to work, to which he said, "Since I'm late to the office, I'll be making up for it by leaving early!" The mother, Anne, and I had lunch and to my surprise she pulled out white bread! Granted th
ey do have two small children but I could hardly believe that Anne, a Frenchwoman, had white bread. We then ran some errands and afterwards I went for a run (or tried to run but my tiredness made it more of a walk) in the forest right by their house. Of course I took a wrong turn and ended up where else but the 3M Building. I guess there are some states you can't escape! Afterwards we went into the town where we live and she showed me around a bit. Came home, had dinner (Will asked me if I drank champagne and I was hesitant in my answer, and they said, "It's okay! We want you to!"--I think I'm going to like it here), I tried to unpack a bit and then finally went to bed around 11:30.

I woke up around 9:30 this morning--Anne was at work and Will was on his way to pick up the children who are vacationing with their grandmother right now--and headed down to my town. Got lost, went down a private road and then got scolded in German and then told where I could go in English, and eventually found my way to the train station. I hopped on a train to Zürich and what do I hear coming from the seats behind me? English. This mother was talking about clothes etc. when I overhear her say, "We just love living in Minnesota, it has such a great midwestern feel..." of course I can't help myself so I strike up a conversation. Turns out they are from the Twin Cities area and have been living here for a year so far. Truly Minnesotans are everywhere. Once off the train I promptly went the wrong way into Zürich--I'm starting to think that the "great sense of direction" I have must be purely luck--and wandered around for a while. I finally resolved to get onto a tram (I love public transportation) to help figure out where I was, when I finally figured out where I was and wanted to be it was no problem making my way, via tram of course, there. 

Where I wanted to be is Bahnhofstrasse, which apparently has the only ATM where the maximum withdraw is 5,000 Francs, but once you see the street I guess it makes sense. Between the churches (yes I did some "death marching," my family's term for unending tourist-y walks--coined by my brother on our first European vacation and probably said on every subsequent family vacation since) was Cartier, Longchamp, Hérmes, Ferragamo--really educational places to go into. At the end of the street was the train, tram and bus station but I decided to take the final form of public transit in Zürich--the boat. They have boats! For free! With great views of the mountains and city I didn't want to get off at my stop. Especially once at my stop it was all uphill back home. So instead I got lost in my town, finally catching a bus back to the house. 

There is a women's lacrosse team in Zürich and I asked if I could be a part of it, the coach told me to come on down to practices on Wednesdays and Fridays so this evening I attempted to go to one. I got the bus, train, tram to the stop and once off the tram it promptly started raining, thundering and lightening. I wanted to at least find the school where they practice so I continued on when it started pouring, I figured if I was already wet why not keep going? When I found the school a woman, who did not look like she "spreichen sie Englisch" (nor was I going to ask) kept telling me there was keine training (no practice) so I made my way back down in the rain, once at the tram stop again the sun came back out and the rain stopped (naturally). But at least I know where the practice is!

Well that's all for now--perhaps off to a 4th of July party tomorrow, but maybe this 4th of July is my Independence from America.

I Swear This Never Happens to Me...

So my travels to Zürich were a little rougher than anticipated all because of my stupid luggage.

So I get to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, check-in for my flights and then weigh my luggage... First suitcase 74 pounds, the second was 68. So I sat on the floor in front of the ticket counter ripping clothes, toiletries, and more clothes out of my suitcases to get them down to exactly 50 pounds. (Thank goodness for the Space Bags because I could just take out a 20 pound bag of shriveled clothes!)I'm convinced that the Delta scales are off though because I have never had such empty 50 pound bags. Once I had taken out things I really needed (like my nail polish remover--thanks dad) I started to say goodbye to my mom, dad, and cell phone service. I got really sad, and as my friend H. would say, "really drippy." But I made it onto my Atlanta-bound flight and this is when the real luggage trouble started. I was desperately trying to lift my carry-on (no not the Vera Bradley this time!) bag, when a nice girl from row 42 helped me lift it up and try to shove it into the overhead compartment, but it didn't fit. So then, at her suggestion, I decided to take stuff out of the front pockets to try and make it smaller, but that is where, in a night before "what if they lose my luggage panic," I stuffed all my underwear. So with my underwear sitting on my seat the girl and I attempted to shove my bag back up, it again did not work AND this time I broke off a piece of the wood on the overhead compartment--I could hear my dad saying "Griswald!" in my head. A flight attendant finally had to take it to a closet in the front (and no, she said I didn't need to put my underwear back in). 

On my next flight from Atlanta to Zürich, however, the bag fit overhead (with all my undergarments safely zipped inside).