Orchestra Flash Mob

Today we attended our first ever Flash Mob.  It was a blast!

Above is a photo of the Zurich main train station, the Hauptbahnof.  Normally, a pretty bustling place, but today the energy turned frenetic when out of nowhere musicians from the Tonhalle Orchestra and dancers from Zurich Tanzt / Ballet joined forces to give 5:00pm commuters a treat.

Today kicked off a festival to celebrate the ‘culture and create City of Zurich’. I’m sure I lost something in the German-English translation, but nonetheless, the cultural intervention was fantastic!

Follow this link to YouTube to see the Tonhalle Orchestra Flash Mob in action: http://youtu.be/sfLjfAkhSdQ

Travel by Boat

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Without a doubt, my new favorite way to travel by public transit in Zurich is the ZVV Schiff.  The Zurich public transportation system includes all the usual suspects:  trains, buses, trams / streetcars.  Then, one day someone mentioned traveling by boat.  And it turned out that we have an easy port right in our village!  So easy!

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We don’t have a car here, and don’t plan to get one.  There have been only a few times that using a car would have been a convenience, but so far the public transportation system has been excellent.  And the boat system is a huge perk!   

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The kids love it!   There’s a restaurant on the lowest level, restrooms, a bar, and several sun decks.  Check out the inside:

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If he wants to, Peter can pick up the boat from home and arrive at the Tonhalle about 20 minutes later.  Anyone who comes to visit us will definitely have to take a boat ride …  it’s just a requirement!

Anyone know of other cities with this kind of public transit?  

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May 1st is Swiss Labour Day / International Worker’s Day

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Happy May Day!  Here in Switzerland this means that all the shops, except for Starbucks, are closed for the day to honor Swiss Labour Day.  

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Switzerland has a smaller number of worker’s belonging to trade unions (about 25%) than it’s European counterparts.  In Finland, a whopping 70% of workers belong to a union!  

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We are spending the day in a manner fitting the US Labor Day:  Kicking back with a glass of wine (for me) and beer (for Peter).  The kids are drinking Apfelshorle and running around the playground like animals.  

Thinking of all of those today, and those before us, that have helped to eradicate poor working conditions and instituted child labor laws.  Raising my glass to those who fight for fair pay and job security.  Cheers! 

 

 

Well-Kept Travel Secret?

ImageAirstream Trailer – Wimberley, Texas

How would you like to stay in a castle in Galway, Ireland for the night?  How about a treehouse in Thailand?  A vintage beer barrel in Turkey?  These are some of the more extreme and unique examples of what is available on AirBnB.com.

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We have used AirBnB a few times and have been very happy with each place.  The first time was a houseboat on a canal in Amsterdam, then a two-bedroom flat in the center of London, and a week-long stay in a 3 bedroom apartment in Paris near the Louvre.  Most recently we used them for our interim housing when we first arrived in Zurich.  Each time, the location has been great and we’ve had use of a full, working kitchen for the same price as a standard hotel.  And for a large family like ours, this resource has been a godsend.

 

 

Have you used AirBnb?  Would you ever try any of the more exotic offerings?  🙂  We are getting our summer travel plans in order right now — Milan?  Paris?  Barcelona?  The world is a big and wonderful place, isn’t it?

Swiss Post :: For the Most Discerning Customers in the World

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Swiss Post, for the Most Discerning Customers in the World.  Maybe that’s true, or maybe not.  But, there’s no doubt they do things a little differently than in the US.

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Until I had to send a signed contract to SwissCom, our internet provider, I hadn’t mailed a single item in Switzerland.    We had read that basic bills can be paid at the post office and the idea of trying to figure out how to ask and what forms to bring has kept me from making my first trip.  My sweet next-door-neighbor Astrid gave me the low-down on how to mail a letter after watching me stare in puzzlement at our mailboxes for a good five minutes.  There is no little flag or clothespin to attach a letter.  No drop box in sight.  The closest mailing station like the one above is down the block.  

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And with Swiss efficiency here is how the mail arrives at our door Monday – Saturday.  A sweet little motorcycle with a cart attached to the back!  I suspect that up in the mountains they use a different vehicle, but each day it brings a smile to our faces to hear the bike approaching.

Love, and National Poetry Month

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I misspoke when I wrote previously that the Tonhalle Orchestra is the reason that we are living in Switzerland.   The real reason we are here is because of this man.  

Please note:  This man is entirely modest, and despite the necessity of being the center of attention while performing, might not enjoy the spotlight with regard to what I’m about to write/say.  If this post disappears within a few hours, you’ll know why.  But write on, I will….

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We were young and probably not a little bit foolish, but determined and blissfully in love.  As I recall, Peter’s mode of transportation in the day was a bicycle.  I think he had a Driver’s License, but it didn’t matter.  He worked at a movie theater at the time and always smelled like butter.  Who doesn’t love butter?

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He invited me to watch him perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with his high school orchestra and took me to lunch afterward.  That was it.  I was head-over-heels for the guy.  He makes me laugh — like, deep belly laughs and smiles until my cheeks hurt, and he surprises me with flowers and love poems and ice cream.  He is an amazing, sensitive, and generous-with-hugs father to our four kids.  

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He is the one that has made this life that we share possible.  He does it with grace and integrity and perseverance, a good (and often wicked) sense of humour, and love.

And because the world needs more love, and it’s National Poetry Month, here is something lovely that was tucked into my laptop case this morning.  It is beautiful and should be shared.

 

Since We Loved

 

Since we loved, – (the earth that shook

As we kissed, fresh beauty took) –

Love hath been as poets paint, 

Life as heaven is to a saint;

All my joys my hope excel, 

All my work hath prospered well, 

All my songs have happy been, 

O my love, my life, my queen.

 

Robert Bridges

1844-1930

 

Swiss Chocolate

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When I hear the word ‘Swiss’, a few things come to mind:  Banking, all things dairy/cows pasturing, and chocolate.  

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Why bother with false modesty — the Swiss are the best chocolatiers in the world.  It’s just a fact.  🙂  And the Swiss are quite serious about it.  You can take a chocolate train to a Swiss dairy and castle, visit any town or city in Switzerland to visit a unique chocolate artisan, and even bathe in it.  (Which actually sounds pretty awesome.)

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Peter played an Easter gig in a neighboring village and as a gift they gave him a small satchel of their specialty chocolate pictured above.  Outside the service was a huge round table literally stacked with thousands of dollars worth of Lindt chocolate to celebrate the end of Lent.  He was able to restrain himself, but there were a few university students that definitely pocketed some chocolate.

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“Nine out of ten people like chocolate.  The tenth is lying.”  (Graffiti scrawled on a wall)Image

We have been having a great time eating our way through the chocolate aisle at the grocery store.  It’s become one of those staple items along with bread, milk, and eggs.  And while some things are definitely more expensive than in Minnesota, others, like chocolate and wine, are less costly.  And soooooo good.

 

 

 

 

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Behind our home is a walking path that leads to the village-next-door:  Oberreiden. 

Last week, while the weather was kind, Peter and I took the littlest ones for a walk to visit the sheep and chickens who live in this charming little pasture.  

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Sebastian and Angelique rent this little farm from a retired ‘Bio’ farmer who owns the entire 100 or so acres.  Sebastian has a 50-year rental agreement (from what I could understand) and uses the land to raise a little bit of this and that.  Next week brings a dozen more baby chicks.  

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I love how open green areas are incorporated near to the villages.  From almost wherever you are, there is a park or pasture nearby.

We are really loving having this space just minutes away — a heartwarming slice of home.  

And Ellen, as she does in so many ways, forges her own path.

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Check out the broom selection.  I love it, but how useful is the old-school broom?

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This broom may, or may not, sweep up Cheerios underfoot.  

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Axes and mauls

The store is pretty typical if you are used to shopping at a Lowe’s or Home Depot.  If you are used to shopping at Menards, this is not the place for you.  Here, at Coop Bau + Hobby, everything is laid out in a precise and orderly Swiss fashion — and you can’t find an aisle filled with old candy and beef jerky.

But you will find:

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A nice selection of bicycles (anywhere from $200 to only $7,000!)

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A pretty decent liquor and wine selection with INDIAN TONIC WATER!  🙂

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And, in the garden center, you will find everything you need to grow your own lemon tree or olive grove!