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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, October 29, 2009

I Bet These Three Things Didn't Happen To You Today

I am putting off Deutsch lernen so I can share with you three things that happened to me today. I can't say today has been my favorite day in der Schweiz.  It was rather challenging as I had to deal with these things while suffering through a dry cold.  Oh, what is a dry cold?  The kind that gives you a raging sore throat, no energy and a sexy voice.

So without further a-doo, here they are in no particular order:

1. I bet you didn't scare two children this morning and make them run, but I did.  I want to say it was my ferocious Boston Terrors they were running from but it could have been my morning outfit.  I go out every morning in pajama pants, an oversized sweatshirt I stole from my brother and last night's make up.    While scaring two small children and making them run is at first humorous, you can't help but feel really odd about it after the initial humor wears off.  I also have to wonder what this odd fear of dogs Swiss children have.  This isn't the first time I have witnessed this.  More on this later.

2. I bet you weren't yelled at by a naked woman today, but I was.  I am talking butt ass naked...which doesn't make the experience any more fulfilling gentlemen, in fact I would say I found it more humiliating.  So apparently I was using the sauna or whatever incorrectly so she told me what I was doing wrong in German.  I asked her to spreche some English, so she proceeded to explain kindly enough.  I then got up to leave and shower but apparently I didn't close the door properly.  She yelled at me with such venom that I literally had tears well up in my eyes.  Then while I was in the shower, I thought of all the things I wish I could have said  back to her like "nice rack, not" OR "good thing you go to a gym, because you're fat",  but alas I held back.

3. I bet your blind dog wasn't attacked, but mine was.  I just returned from Pedro and Dooley's favorite toilet, a park just down the street on the lake.  Two dogs that looked like mops proceeded to come up to us off leash and I knew that meant trouble.  They immediately attacked Pedro because they sensed his weakness and tried to capitalize.  Hey mop dogs, I get it that you're angry because you're ugly...I mean you aren't even cute ugly, you are just plain ugly dogs. You look in mirrors and they crack.  You make babies cry.  You make old women want to push people in Basel.  Mop dogs, I swear the next time you attack my blind dog, I will kick you and then I will kick your stupid, unapologetic owner in the shins.

So that brings me the Swiss kids and their seemingly odd fear of dogs.  Could it be there are mop dogs hiding out in bushes randomly attacking kids?  Could it be these kids weren't really afraid and just practicing their drama skills for their upcoming Christmas Pageant?  Could it be they were just yelled at by a naked woman and I reminded them of her?  I guess it doesn't really matter, but oh what a challenging and odd day it was.
Monday, October 26, 2009

This Is How We Tyrol

When I met the Boy 10 years ago, I learned  immediately that he had a thirst for travel and a need to see the world.  This was a learned behavior.  I know...I have a Psychology degree from Plattsburgh State University.  He learned this behavior when he spent a Summer in Innsbruck Austria through University of Georgia's Study Abroad Program and has claimed ever since that it changed his life.

With all this "it changed my life" jibber jabber, I had to see it first hand.  It was to be our first weekend trip outside of Switzerland.  Innsbruck is the capital city of the Tyrol region of Austria.  This is a valley region surrounded by the Alps and is all sorts of pretty.

So, I guess if this was the view from my dorm window I would be changed somehow too. Can you imagine doing a keg stand only to see the Alps afterwards?  Innsbruck is literally surrounded by mountains which makes looking out a window a special treat.  It is a very popular tourist destination due to its proximity to winter sports venues, Olympic Games history and historic Old Town district.

We did all the touristy things that Innsbruck had to offer.  We took the Nordpark cable railway which takes you 2256m above sea level for some spectacular views:


  Mmm, beer while staring at the Alps.

We also went to the Bergiselschanze, the ski jumping hill used in the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games.


I double dog dared the Boy to jump:

He quickly decided against it after noticing the cemetery located just below the landing area.  Ahhh, ski jump architect humor at its best:

We did lots of strolling through Old Town and along the Sill River.  The color of this river is just haunting, a blue I haven't seen before:

We ended our trip with Museum Night Art Walk where a variety of art galleries and museums were open until 1:00 am throughout Austria.  We were so inspired by this art walk that we created some of our own:

We decided to call this "Dog Contemplating Life".

Innsbruck was charming and I recommend a day trip here if you are in the Tyrol region.  All the sights we took in could be done in a day so a full weekend is unnecessary.  I realized shortly after leaving Innsbruck that I also owe it some appreciation because had it not been for the Boy's summer there in the late 1990s, I would not be where I am today.  For that reason alone, Innsbruck will always have a special place in my heart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Terrors

It was a cold and foggy October morning.  Pedro and Dooley von Remick begrudgingly put on their new capes.

Dooley von Remick was especially upset about his new cape.  He knew the "von" in his new name was contingent upon wearing the cape, but still...he would rather roll in a strange dog's poo.  Yeah, I said it, he likes other dog's poo.

They were given a mission.  The mission was to find a rubber chicken recently accused of being way too expensive at the local pet shop.  $8 chf for a rubber chicken is considered grand larceny.  Dooley and Pedro von Remick wouldn't take the mission without a bribe however.  This is where the Hawaiin Duck came in.

This duck had powers over the Terrors.  It had to be its haunting quack.  Haunting because the noise gives me nightmares.  It is freaking annoying.

After some good chomp action on the duck, Dooley von Remick was ready to find the expensive as hell chicken.  Pedro was too busy canoodling with the Hawaiin Duck to take the mission seriously.  Dooley was on his own but sniffed him out.

It was a good thing too because upon closer examination, the chicken was about to flee the country.

We interviewed Pedro and Dooley von Remick after the successful capture and of course they were modest saying "It was all in a day's woof".
Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Basel?

My good friend Sus at one time graciously potted herbs for me and basil was the star, it is my fave herb you see. She did this knowing full well I would eventually be responsible for its untimely and gruesome death.  I have a black thumb and I kill green things.  I also eat them, so death to basil!

Anywho, she gave me a basil tutorial and taught me that it turns bitter when it flowers.  This is counter intuitive because flowers are pretty but she assured me to cut my basil before the plant grows too tall and flowers.

During our hellish move, we decided to take a break and check out the city of Basel Switzerland.  It is an hour from Zurich by train and is known for its art, theatre and architecture scene.  It has been labeled the "European Capital of Culture" so we figured the Remicks are the "Couple of Culture", so why not check it out? The day we checked out Basel, it must have been flowering.  Three things really left a bitter taste in my mouth and distorted my initial impression:

1. Being tackled by a 90 year old hag:  Someone pissed in this woman's Muesli...apparently I was walking wrong or walking too slow, but I was literally shoved to the right about a foot by this woman while she muttered something evil. Since then I have had a sore pinky toe, coincidence?  I THINK NOT! (holding right index finger up) This experience reminded me of Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.  If you do not know who Terry Tate is, please do yourself a favor and visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzToNo7A-94   

2. Holy crap this city smokes them some cigarettes: So it is true that the Swiss strangely love their outdoor activities and their cancer sticks.  Zurich hasn't smoked me out any more than say London or Paris.  Europeans just haven't gotten the memo yet or they don't care about death, one or the other.  Basel my friends was different.  Everyone seemed to smoke...I bet the old hag who pushed me had one hanging out of her mouth.  It was disgusting.

3. The weather blew.  This isn't Basel's fault, but it did unfortunately color our perception of our surroundings.

With all of that being said, we still managed a great time.  We visited the main sites including the Munster which is a historic government building in the center of town:

In front of the Munster was this great open air market.  Open air markets are so European and so awesome:

So I bought a jar of fresh honey all the while ignoring he was also selling the teddy bear honey, hoping it was a generic bottle any honey distributor can buy.

We visited the historic church "Basel Munster".  Do they have to call everything "Munster" here?  By far the most memorable part of this church were the iron renderings of death and harvest:

We also meandered around and stumbled across what many do not know.  Serena Williams blood line actually begins in Basel.  You can thank me now for this rarely heard or seen piece of info:

If you aren't buying what I am selling, here is a close up:

We  visited the Kuntsmuseum and took in a great temporary Van Gogh exhibition.  We ended with a lazy lunch which is what you are supposed to do on vacation however it is not always by choice you see...the service here forces you to be lazy.  Maybe that is a good thing though.

Would I return?  Only if there was a specific event that I wanted to attend.  There are so many other great places to see but I am glad we checked it off the list.  Here are some more photos from the day:

They do have good taste in doggy sculpture.

So this person is either A. Legally blind and can't find their parking spot B. Secretly admires Gumby but didn't want to risk copyright infringement by hiring someone to do an exact likeness or C. Has a 4 year old that is difficult to impress so they pull out all the stops.

Maybe this is why the Swiss smoke, he makes it look so cool.

So check out Basel but do it on a sunny day, in a smoke proof bubble, and when you know all the hags are at linebacker camp.
Monday, October 12, 2009

Is Moving Like Childbirth?

Does the new place make you forget the pain?  When you hear it laugh for the first time, does your heart swell?  Is your love for it unconditional?


I will never forget the pain of moving, my flat doesn't laugh and if it made me angry, there is a good chance I would't forgive it...I may even kick it.  So while moving is not like giving birth to a child, the end result still rocks.

When we were dreaming of what our flat would be, we thought it would be in an old building, in the middle of the city, near tragically hip coffee shops where people muse about life and and thank God for Barack Obama...all of the rumors about finding a flat in Zurich city centre being impossible didn't scare us.  We are the Remicks, who wouldn't give us an awesome flat on a chocolate platter (I use chocolate instead of silver or gold now, just an FYI).

The day we arrived we were sat down by our relocation agent who gave us a dose of reality.  Two dogs meant no flat in Zurich city centre.  Not to get all dramatic, but the news crushed my soul.  I didn't want to move to the burbs, burbs meant failure, burbs meant boring, burbs meant saying burbs which is a really annoying word...

The following day we visited 3 flats, the first in a town called Kilchberg.  Kilchberg is the first town south of Zurich city centre on the west side of the lake. The flat itself was open, airy, bright, huge by European standards and very clean.  It also had a spacious balcony with an incredible view of the lake, washer/dryer (which is like discovering an underground river of chocolate) and a wood burning stove that you can actually cook with.  We loved it...BUT, it wasn't Zurich city centre.

The other two flats were in Zurich but both had long lists of negatives like being located over a bar and one washer/dryer for 10 units to share.  When we asked the tenant if the bar was noisy he said all English style "yeah it can get noisy but when it does, I just go there and have a drink mate"...uhhh, you go with your bad self.

We saw a couple more flats in the city, which keep in mind were the only ones that would entertain more than two dogs,  but none of them could compare to the flat  in Kilchberg.  We applied for it and got it.  Here are some pics of the new pad:

Yes, that is a flat screen TV you see.  If you know the Remicks, you know they would rather get hand me down tube TV's from friends and family so they could afford their annual trips.  I admit, the new fancy TV doesn't suck.

This is the view we see from our living room window.  Even on a cloudy day it is beautiful.

Another view of the family room.  Everything you see here, except for the mutts, is from IKEA...I mean everything.  Does anyone else think the couch looks strangely tiny in this picture?

Dining room with wood burning stove...how fracking cool is that?

The very grey kitchen.  This was probably the room that gave me the most heart palpitations.  I like grey as an accent, but not as the main color.  It is slowly growing on me...like a fog in a Stephen King novel.

Master bedroom complete with one eyed Teddy Bear accent.

The very 1970's style European master bathroom...

And finally, the reason why we fell in love.  This pic was snapped during dusk and it just never gets old.  It has been a dream of mine to live on a lake and it all happened because of our two dogs.  What at first seemed  like a bone crushing defeat now seems like a gift...wrapped in cheese, on a big chocolate platter.
Thursday, October 8, 2009

Various Literary Takes on Moving

Ok, so maybe I was a bit hard on the temporary apartment.  This move, like all moves, sucked the life out of me.  Moving is physically, emotionally and some other "ally" thing I can't think of right now, draining.  In order to demonstrate how this move went, I thought it would be fun to describe it in various literary formats.  (remember post one, I am not a writer so this is not your golden opportunity to correct any grammar or formatting errors, k?)


Moving sucks large balls
Really big elephant balls
Elephants are cool

Child's Perspective:

Moving, see my thumb?  Gee your dumb.


Screw it, I don't have time to write 3 stanzas consisting of 11 lines each.


September 16th, a lovely Autumn day
We left our temp apartment where we could no longer stay

We lugged bags and suitcases and dogs, one by one
They each weighed 500 pounds, how could that NOT be fun

We had no bed, no couch, no lights, no tables, no chairs
To IKEA we went, the amount of furniture we purchased was met with stares

The boy slowly put together each piece by hand
This was more than Saint Mother Theresa could stand

Four trips to IKEA later via train, bus, taxi and car
We furnished our flat and then headed to the nearest bar

Three weeks have come and gone, no internet, no cable
This could make Barack Obama angry and unstable

Last night we finally got our modem and cable box from Cablecom
I felt like a school girl at her 1992 Senior Prom

There are still things to do, like paint walls and fix lights
But I'd rather have the Pope read my last rights