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The Boy, 2 Muttleys and I have finally realized our dream of living 1 mile from the Lindt Chocolate Factory. Leaving Atlanta (the World of Coke) for Zurich (the World of Chocolate) hasn't come without challenges, incredible fun or giggles. Follow along as I chronicle our adventures as we acclimate to this new Swiss lifestyle.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Only Temporary

I will never forget our first day in Zurich.  The old architecture, the clean air, the beautiful lake...the front door of our temporary apartment:

I suppose it was a courtesy to let everyone in the building know we had two dogs.  I am sure the cleaning woman appreciated it although I can't say she appreciated what she had to clean.  So if you know the boy and I well, you know how anal retentive we are when it comes to organization and cleanliness.  Well, we apparently left that crazy habit in Atlanta:

Clean Schmean...clean is for losers.

Winners have not one, but two alarm clocks (clock that came with temp apartment was designed by the maker of Rubik's Cube and let's just say we couldn't solve it).

Winners also make mountains out of shoe mole hills.  Saucony kicked New Balance's ass getting to the top.

Winners have giant boxes of crap that they have no clue how to get to their new apartment aside from taking public transportation 10 times.

Winners have dogs that can't be bothered by pictures.

Winners also make modern art in their bathrooms.  I call this picture "Life and Death: the roll's perspective".

So, while you kept us warm and dry temp apartment, I can't say you will be missed.   You were sure to not be comfortable because then you risked a long term relationship.  So temp apartment, I will let the door hit me in the ass when I leave you...gladly.
Monday, September 14, 2009

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

All you see is black and red.  You would do anything, well just about anything for just a glimpse...

Doing anything consists of being incognito, while giggling of course.

After a couple beers you become more brazen, proud even.

But at the end of the day, you are still at Hooters in Zurich and you are ashamed.  Being an American who loves college football, you would do just about anything to watch it.  You even make a reservation to eat awful wings, breath in cigarette smoke and be waited on by girls in shiny tights and orange mini shorts.  All for football, all for black and red, all for the Georgia Bulldogs.

You would do it all over again though because it makes for a good story and great picture opportunities.  Some Grandmothers tell their Grandchildren how they lived through a war...I will tell mine how I went to Hooters in Zurich for football.  They will hug me with pride.
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Boy Wonder

You can literally see the boy transform from age 33 to age 34...HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Doggy Do's Part 1-A Guide to getting your Dog into Switzerland from the USA

So you are moving to Switzerland and you want to bring one of these things over:
Can't say I blame you, he is awful cute.  Making sure we did the right things to get our dogs into Switzerland topped the list of my major concerns.  There is plenty of information out there, mainly on line.  Not all Vet offices are created equal though so I wouldn't rely solely on them for your information. Fortunately we were blessed with a very knowledgeable staff at our Vet's office to fill in the blanks.  

This is an invaluable tool before starting the process: http://bvet.bytix.com/plus/dbr/default.aspx?lang=en
Simply fill in the blanks and you will get a list of requirements mandated by the Swiss government.

Please don't yawn, I know I am not showing you cool pictures with bees and stuff...but animals are important.

So I can only speak for importing a dog from the US to Switzerland and there are 11 very important steps.

Step 1: Check with your normal vet office and make sure your dog's rabies vaccination is current.  A valid rabies vaccination should have been administered no more that 364 days prior to your travel dates and no less than 21 days before.  If your dog requires a rabies vaccination, this will add a step (I will call it step 1.B) and remember to wait 21 days before going to Step 2.

Step 2: Once your dog has a valid rabies vaccination, your vet will fill out the L 358 Form. This three page form is also known as the Veterinary Certificate for domestic animals entering the European community.  While Switzerland isn't EU, they follow EU practices for importing domestic animals. Your vet will fill in owner, animal description, microchip number and rabies vaccination information.

Step 3: Make an appointment with your local USDA Veterinary office.  I use the term "local" loosely.  It can be a bit of a drive and they are busy, so make the appointment sooner than later.

Step 4: The USDA appointment is quite painless, you bring the paperwork your Vet filled out and then they sign and notarize it.  You do not have to bring your animals.

Step 5: Get your dog chipped with an EU compatible microchip.  US microchips will not work as the frequency they use to scan them is different.

Step 6: Bring your dog to a vet that has an EU scanner to verify the chip works.  Your regular vet will likely not have this scanner so be prepared to call around.  This step is not mandatory, but it alleviated a lot of my insane fears of the chip not working.

Step 7: Make an appointment to see your regular Vet within 10 days of your travel date.  At this appointment, your dog will be examined to make sure they are healthy enough to fly.  Your Vet will then fill in the mandatory International Certificate of Health which airlines require at time of check in.  You must do this within 10 days of travel.

Step 8: Ask your Vet for copies of all health records and stock up on flea and heartworm meds.  Everything here can cost double what you paid in the US.

Step 9: Keep all of your paperwork in one place and plan to pack it in your carry on luggage for easy access.

Step 10: Try to calm your "did I do everything right" anxiety with a drink.

Step 11: Call your airline to let them know you are bringing your pet.  Most airlines have a limit for cabin pet travel and you will want to reserve a spot for Spot.  Ha.

If you do all of these things, you shouldn't have a problem.  I do want to issue a disclaimer that I am not personally responsible for the successful or unsuccessful import of your pet.  It is up to you to verify you are taking all of the appropriate steps.  I did this by emailing the folks at www.bvet.ch.  This is the Swiss version of the USDA and they will tell you if you have everything in order.  I highly advise you print their email response out and have it with you should you have any problems.  If you do not hear back from them via email, CALL.

A couple things of note:

1. I eluded to this above, but if your pet is under a certain weight (weight requirements can vary from airline to airline), they can travel with you in the cabin.  Both of our dogs traveled with us and it was a relief knowing they weren't in the cargo portion of the plane.  As with anything there are fees...we paid our fee for bringing our dudes at check in.  Your airline can advise you how and when to pay this fee.

2. Should your pet be too large for the cabin, there are certain months they can't travel in the cargo section due to extreme temperatures.  We met an Expat couple who is still waiting the arrival of their pet because Delta didn't allow pets in cargo during the summer months in Atlanta. This means you may fly over before your pet which will inevitably add an extra wrinkle coordinating your paperwork and pet transfer.  You may want to consider using a professional pet import company if this situation applies to you.

3. Get an airline approved crate for both in cabin travel and cargo travel.  Crate requirements are typically located on the airline's website.  The same Expat couple who is waiting for their dog also had to get a special crate made...but they do own a small horse (Great Dane).

4. Do not drug your animal.  It can slow down their breathing and could potentially harm them while in the air.

5. When you exit the airport in Switzerland be aware that you must clear your animal/s.  The officers who checked our paperwork were in the "Items to Declare" area near the exit (mind you this is Zurich, could be different elsewhere).  They stamped our paperwork and collected $88 dollars for some reason...maybe to offset the cost of the ink used to stamp our paperwork, who knows.  I do not think they take credit card, so be sure to have cash just in case.
All the work was worth it and it really wasn't that bad.  Soon enough you will be in Switzerland, hanging out with something that looks like this:

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Day Before Real Life Began

No, this is not a Will Smith movie...rather the day before the boy had to begin work.  We almost forgot we were here to live, not be on permanent holiday.  Yeah, I am using "holiday" vs "vacation" now...whatchoo going to do about that?  I love my new Euro speak.  
So I asked the boy what he wanted to do the day before real life began, the day was all his.  He wanted to rent free bikes and explore parts of Zurich we had yet to see.  I know what you are thinking, how do you rent free bikes in Zurich?  Why, I will tell you...it is quite easy and a must do as a visitor or resident without a bike:

Step 1: Find one of the 6 locations in Zurich that rents bikes: http://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/content/aoz/de/index/shop/veloverleih/standorte.html

Step 2: Tell the attendant you want to rent a free bike

Step 3: Attendant will say "sure you can rent a free bike, gimmee 20 francs"

Step 4: Say "I thought they were free"

Step 5: Attendant will say "yeah, but this guarantees you bring the bike back"

Step 6: Nod head as it starts to make sense

Step 7: Ignore the diagram that shows what damaging your bike will cost you

Step 8: Present one photo ID per party (drivers license will do).  They just write down the number.

Step 9: Bike is then picked out for you, adjust the seat so it fits you.

Step 10: Observe which global corporation you will be pimping.  This is how the program remains free.  We pimped "The Body Shop" and were thankful we didn't get the "McDonalds" bikes.

Step 11: Go about your merry way, without a helmet, and pray you don't die

Step 12: Return your bike to any one of the 6 locations

Step 13: Once attendant makes sure you haven't ruined your bike, say "gimmee my money back see" all Chicago gangster style.

All kidding aside, this program rocks and is a great way to see the city while getting a work out.  We checked out the Limmat River from different vantage points:

We then explored the University area called "Kreis 6" for Kreis sakes:

Just down this hill was a cute bakery where we enjoyed some tasty vittles.  You will notice the picture with the open faced sandwich also has a bee hanging out to the bottom left.  There aren't bees in all of my photos because I am a master photographer, they are in all of my photos because they are EVERYWHERE.  Bring your epi pens when you come to visit folks:

After our tasty lunch we decided to bike to our new hood, Kilchberg.  We secured a flat just southwest of City Centre and it skirts the western side of the Zurichsee.  We changed into our bathing suits and admired our new front yard:

Zurich is very bike friendly and we really enjoyed taking in a beautiful day on two wheels.  Soon we will be getting our own bikes.  If you live in or around Zurich and are looking for a bike, there is a huge bike festival on September 26th.  Check it out!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rheinstones are a Girls Best Friend

Last Saturday the boy, 2 muttleys, our new friends Josh and Deb, their muttley Stella and I boarded a train from Zurich to the northern Swiss town of Schaffhausen.  Schaffhausen is of course all kinds of cute and Swiss and awesome.  Here are some pics of its cuteness:

Ok, water fountain guy is not that cute but he is pretty rad.

One of the many cute streets with cute people walking about.

What is cuter than a water fountain with a kid holding a balloon next to it?  Not much I'd say.

One of the many cute flower stands on one of the cute streets.

Cute spire

Cute dog action

More cute cobbly stoney streets.

Whoa Nelly!  Ok, so even the Original Swiss  F$@!* F$@!* Clock was cute...This clock was on display with some naked cute swiss guy chasing a naked cute swiss girl in circles.  How it told time, not sure.  I wonder what happens when this clock strikes 12 Midnight.

So the purpose of this trip was to take a leisurely stroll from the cute town of Schaffhausen along the Rhein River about an hour to the famous Rhein Falls.  The Rhein Falls are the largest plains falls in Europe which I assume means the widest and not tallest falls in Europe.  The weather was perfect, we were enveloped in cuteness and we were in the company of new, awesome friends.  Here are some pics from the day:

Say What???

Our temporary accommodations are located in Seefeld which is actually pronounced Say*Feld.  All the vowels here are much different than how us Americans pronounce them.  If I could only crawl into the mind of a Swiss German and hear what they think of our accents when trying to use their language.  I am sure it would be a hoot.  Oh, but if they could crawl into my mind they would hear a crap load of giggling at the words that end in "fahrt" or "gasse".  It is too much for this American girl sometimes.

Seefeld is "quite trendy" according to our relocation specialist and a very desirable place to live.  It is also out of this world expensive while at the same time near impossible to find an apartment here.  I believe you also have to be the same blood type as the land lord in case they need a blood transfusion.  Seefeld has been a great home base for us as we get to know this city.  It is very colorful, located on the east coast of the Zurichsee (lake, this is the last time I am telling you what "see" means) and right now, chock full of construction:

The construction is mainly on the main street of town however it is also located right next to our apartment.  No use in using an alarm clock as the drilling starts promptly at 7am.  The only time I can sleep later is if I had more than one cocktail the night before.

I will miss Seefeld when we move to our new apartment however it wouldn't have suited us long term.  The green space it does have also has droves of tourists and over time it would get tiring.  So without further adieu, here is Seefeld in pictures:

The flowers here are amazing and it would be silly but tempting to say they are the most colorful, beautiful flowers I have ever seen.  I think my state of mind is just more colorful and beautiful right now.

People have these sick balcony gardens that would put Martha Stewart to shame.  I bet this person didn't go to jail for insider trading.

They do recycling here like no country I have ever seen before.  Back in Atlanta we had bins and dumped cardboard, glass, aluminum, etc without having to separate.  I often wondered if it actually ever got separated but just trusted that it did.  Here you have to separate...on your own...which requires effort and a general lack of laziness.

The Swiss version of Kudzu.

They even have Obama on everyone's doorstep.  That is almost like everyone having an angel on their shoulder...

This thing is right next to the lake and moves and stuff...

Seefeld at dusk.  This Ferris Wheel is unfortunately temporary.

So what you say about Seefeld?