Swiss National Day 2009 is really what I consider the start of my Au Pair Adventure. Last year I arrived on a Thursday and SND was Saturday. It was first real taste of Switzerland and my first experience being surrounded by German.
It was a delicious and interesting day, but this year's holiday definitely topped last year's. By...um...A LOT
My original plans got scrapped just a couple days beforehand, but I was able to make some new plans with Malin, the Swedish au pair and we had a fantastic time. We took the train up to Stein am Rhein around dinnertime and sat in an outdoor cafe' eating salad with perch (me) and pasta with mushroom sauce (her). It was really really rediculously humid out so rather than wandering around town, we stopped and bought some beer and found a place to sit on the ledge surrounding the marina.
It was nice to and chat, watching the boats come in and people setting off their own fireworks, but a little after nine, the storm clouds rolled in and we got soaked. It poured and poured and we just sat there laughing about the whole thing. Malin didn't have an umbrella and I didn't have a coat. I'm sure people thought we were crazy as they went running by and we were sitting casually on the ledge laughing and trying to finish our beers before they got completely watered down.
We finally saw fireworks about 20 minutes after they were scheduled to start and they were INCREDIBLE. Though Swiss National Day is similar to America's Independence Day, these fireworks definitely were not. The show lasted nearly a half hour and I couldn't even begin to estimate how many fireworks they actually shot off. The only thing I could compare it to is the show at Disney's Magic Kingdom. They were THAT good.
We made it back to Schaffhausen around 11:30 and while that poor girl had to ride her bike home, I took the bus back to Stephanie's, where I was treated to plum cake and sangria until after three in the morning.
If you couldn't guess by the title, it has been raining here a lot this week. It's quite absurd really-how am I supposed to enjoy the rest of my time in Switzerland when it's always raining? *sigh* Wednesday afternoon was halfway decent-cloudy and cool, but no rain. Stephanie had had an allnight flight the night before, so I packed up the boys and we went to the Munot and stopped by a couple different playgrounds. Alessio said I made him walk too much that day. Poor kid is so lazy...and I might be partly responsible for that. Oops.
Anyway, it'll probably be a quiet weekend around these parts with Stephanie on a flight and the boys with their dad. I feel like I should start tying up ends here as I will be on my way back to the States in about three weeks, but some things are better left til tomorrow. (or, as Liano likes to say, "next week")
Friday, August 6, 2010
Swiss National Day 2009 is really what I consider the start of my Au Pair Adventure. Last year I arrived on a Thursday and SND was Saturday. It was first real taste of Switzerland and my first experience being surrounded by German.
Posted by *Alyssa* at 5:54 PM
Friday, July 30, 2010
The best part about writing a blog? I have a captive audience to share my opinions with. So before I update you on the past 2 weeks of life in Switzerland, let me start a discussion with you....
A friend of mine recently (like within the last half hour) made the following statement: "Why are people in Arizona fighting the immigration law.if it was middle eastern coming through the boarders no one would be protesting the law. We got to keep are country safe from all criminals" Now, disregarding the terrible grammer, this poses any interesting (and I believe false) statement. People are protesting the new policy in AZ because it could lead to racial profiling--that is to say, if you look Mexican, law enforcement can ask to see your "papers" during a routine traffic stop. And people are protesting this because it could lead to police pulling people over simply because they "look Mexican". Now, if the same law were enacted, but it targeted people of Middle Eastern descent, my friend here thinks there wouldn't be nearly as much debate and protest. I disagree--profiling is profiling and racism is racism, regardless of who is at the center of the issue. I do however, think that SOMETHING needs to be done about both the illegals that stream across the border everyday and the ones already living and working here in our country. Do I know what exactly should be done? No. Do I have the answers? No. But do I think that THIS is the right solution? No.
What's your opinion? I love a heated discussion, so drop me an email or send me a Facebook message....
Anyway, back to life in Switzerland...
After I recovered from that near-death incident, the rest of my vacation was pretty nice. I slept-A LOT, read Eat, Pray, Love (so boring-not worth all the hype) and spent a few days at the pool working on my tan. The highlight though, was definitely Italy with Andrew. The area where his family lives is gorgeous, the food was delicious and his family was super nice. Only a few of them spoke English, but with the help of translation, I was made to feel right at home. It was a beautiful, wonderful weekend and I loved every minute of it. The only downer was forgetting my camera battery on the charger at the house. Super sad day because I would've probably taken 235423453 pictures, but I'm over it now. I drank so much wine, the pictures would've been awful...and Andrew seems to think I'll be back sooner rather than later.
As for Andrew, I'm not really one for publicly discussing my business or gushing over my boyfriend in a manner that makes others nauseous, but I will say this.....I am happy. He makes me happy. Things are looking very promising and I am excited to see where this goes. *the end*
The boys, Stephanie and I celebrated our one year "Nannyversary" earlier this week. It's crazy to me that I've been here and entire year! Time has certainly flown by! This past year has really been like an extended vacation from reality and as much as I am looking foward to going home, I will be sad to leave. I have learned so much about myself over the past 12 months and the education of living abroad is more than I could've imagined. We celebrated on Tuesday night with Black Forest cake and some wine and will hopefully make a trip to a petting zoo next week.
The idea of moving home really isn't quite so terrible, now that I am starting to get everything sorted out. I'm registered for 10 credits at the college in town (it WAS 13, but I screwed over-that's another story entirely) and already have a job lined up. (Hope to secure a second with an interview when I get home) On top of that, I hope to find somewhere to volunteer (looking into Big Brothers/Big Sisters). If I can pack my schedule full, the next year will fly by and I'll be ready to move on. I have a love/hate relationship with Gaylord...it's best if I don't spend TOO much time living there.
Finally, in news of delicious excitement, Amanda and Hillary sent me a box from Mackinac Island! The little pink fudge box made me so anxious to get up to the Island and the chocolate peanut butter fudge inside is absolutely delicious. I put a piece in my mouth, closed my eyes and I swear, I thought I was back at the hotel. I could easily picture myself twirling around the lobby in my khaki skirt, handing out fudge samples and fake smiling like it was my job. (because, it was my job haha) I certainly would not want to go back to that time, but it was definitely fun!
This Sunday is Swiss National Day! Yay! And hopefully it won't be another 2 weeks before I update again.
Posted by *Alyssa* at 3:29 PM
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I just finished an email to an aunt back home and described my trip to France as a "bust". Well, that's putting it lightly. In all honesty, it was a f*cking disaster. It was the 7th circle of hell. It was a near death experience. And it was the most miserable 48 hours of my life.
I woke Sunday feeling a little funny--nothing serious and I chalked it up to nerves. Travelling alone is exciting and exhilarating, but it's also kind of daunting, especially going to a country where I don't speak the language. So I was a little nervous, a little tired, but VERY excited. I had a great schedule lined up and I was ready to explore.
Well I made it to my hotel in Paris (a closet sized room on the 4th floor with no AC and no cold running water--WTH) and decided to take a little nap. The World Cup final was that night, and I had every intention of partaking of the celebration. I may not speak French, but everyone understands the language of soccer. (Gross, I sound like an advertisement)
Anyway, I woke up a couple hours later super sweaty and incredibly nauseous. I started throwing up late afternoon and it went on and on through the night-through Monday and into Tuesday. I had a fever of 102 at one point and I was sweating buckets. No one in my hotel spoke English and it got to the point where I thought, "If I stay here, I'll die" I pulled myself togther enough to make it back out to the airport (sidenote: the Charles de Gaulle airport aka the Paris airport in really almost an hour from Paris-I paid nearly 50Euro [$75] to get there) I practically begged for them to find me a seat on any flight going back to Zurich and I was lucky to snag a seat on the last flight of the day. Andrew picked me up in Zurich and I finally made it to his couch around midnight. I still getting sick through Wednesday afternoon, but at least he had air conditioning and cold water. And, if my condition got much worse, there were plenty of English speakers around to help me.
The vomitting finally ended late Wednesday and my fever was gone Thursday afternoon when I woke up. I still kind of run down, but considering I threw up nearly every fiber of my being, that's to be expected.
Now that I am feeling better, I'm starting to get seriously pissed at myself. I was able to get my money back for the Thursday/Friday tours, as well as the last 2 nights of my hotel. But I had to buy a last minute plane ticket, which wasn't cheap. All told, I lost between $400-$500 on this fiasco. And that makes me even angrier then not being able to see the Eiffel Tower and Palace of Versailles. Rawr!
I still have a week left of vacation, so I'll probably spend a few days at the pool. It's still around 90 degrees everyday and I need to work on my tan. Andrew has a cousin getting christened next weekend, so we will head down to the Lake Como area for a few days for that. I'll be meeting a lot of his family, which takes "things" to a level of seriousness I don't think is a good idea given my upcoming return to the States. But, the offer of homemade Italian food was just too good to pass up. LoL
It's nearly 2PM here and I feel a nap coming on but I have more to say...probably tomorrow.
Posted by *Alyssa* at 1:42 PM
Friday, July 9, 2010
Okay, wow, I know I was supposed to fill everyone in on my festival-filled weekend, but I haven't really had time to sit down and type something out. Finally though, I have today off so I bring everyone up to speed before I jet off on vacation for a week.
ZurichFest was INSANE...it was almost 110° downtown and there were people everywhere. I would've died from the heat, except for my 2-liter pina colada. Instead I just got rediculously drunk while wandering through the 5+ blocks of festival. There were stages set up all over the place with bands or a DJ blasting all kinds of music. Like, literally, I heard everything from a children's choir singing in German to an Eagles cover band to a 10-piece polka band to a DJ blasting Drake's newest single. There were a bunch of food/drink stands set up as well as craft tents and a midway, complete with a ferris wheel and bumper cars. There was also a wake boarding competition on the lake, street performers and an air show a la the Blue Angels. Germany also played in the World Cup that day-and won-so that added to the festive atmosphere. And, the night ended with fireworks (both literally and figuratively) What a great way to celebrate America's Independence Day!
I didn't spend much time at JodlerFest in Schaffhausen on Sunday as it was another steamy day and I wasn't feeling very well. I did eat some roasted almonds though (the BEST part of Alpenfest in Gaylord) and saw lots of people in dirndls/lederhosen. I could've kicked myself for forgetting my camera.
So....vacation....Greece didn't end up working out. There were no more shares on the trip, and I didn't want to spend an additional 300 Euro for a single. I will go to France instead for about a week. I'm staying in Paris and am making day trips to Versailles, Normandy for a "beaches and battlefields" tour and I am going to the Chandon champagne cellars.
Anyway, I know there is like a bunch more stuff I need to tell you, but I seriously just don't have time right now. Stay out of trouble, kids and we'll catch up when I get back from France. Sorry this entry sucks!
Posted by *Alyssa* at 6:20 PM
Thursday, July 1, 2010
First of all, I basically love the word "epic" (I also love the word "basically" LOL). I could (and do) use it to describe almost everything in my life. Because anything worth doing is worth being done EPICALLY. Or some nonsense like that.
ANYWAY, here's some epic-ness I'd love to share with you....
First of all, my hair is FINALLY long enough to cover up the tat on my back! When I got it done back in '07 the asshat that did my ink gave my fairy "lady bits" when I specifically told him not to. Looking back, I probably could've sued him for piles of money and (and bunches of free tats) but whatevs. Instead, I have spent the past three years obsessively downing folic acid and biotin, trimming off split ends and only shampooing every third day in a desperate attempt to make my hair grow faster. And it has finally paid off!
Also epic is this song: Back It Up--Colette Carr The video is kind of frightening and might be too much for some of you, but I love love this song! Actually, almost all of Colette's songs are great!
Epically sad, Portugal is out of the World Cup. Andrew found me a Portugal t shirt and then they lost the very next game! (to Spain) So sad...no more Cristiano Ronaldo pure seks. (Unless I want to become a fan of Real Madrid, but soccer is booooooring.) So bummed though, I could sit in front of the TV and watch images like THIS flash across the screen ALLLL DAYY.
The weather around here has been rediculous. Today it was over 100 degrees and I thought I might have a heat stroke. I LOVE hot days, but that's just TOO hot. I have a 3 day weekend, so I will definitely head to the pool tomorrow. It shouldn't be too busy because school's summer vacation doesn't start until the end of next week and I will be able to lay out and soak up some sun in peace.
Then, this weekend should be fun. On Saturday I hope to go down to Zurich for the day for Zuri Fascht. This is some huge city party that takes place once every four summers, with free food and concerts, an art fair, plus a bunch of other "attractions" and Stephanie says it's something that CAN'T be missed.
This weekend is also Jodlerfest here in Schaffhausen and Nuehausen, so I hope to hit that up on Sunday. More free food, traditional music and dress (aka yodeling and dirndls) and another arts fair. And because I wouldn't be a red-blooded patriotic American if I overlooked Independance Day, I will be partaking of much beer consumption. (Not Bud Lite of 4th of Julys Past, sadly)
My nineteen day vacation starts next weekend, so I'll be off and running. (I hope) I finally decided on an 8 day trip through then Greek islands and need to call and make a reservation tomorrow. I'm so excited. I wanted to go on a tour similar to the one I took in Ireland and I was able to find one through a company that caters exclusively to 18-35s. I don't want to talk about the cost, because if my dad reads this he'd lose his marbles, but let me tell you I probably won't be able to eat the entire time I'm there (only kidding, a bunch of meals are included)
I didn't think I'd be able to go anywhere as my computer recently suffered a most greivious injury (the plastic cover over one of the hinges snapped off, exposing the wires that connect keyboard to screen and making the screen super wobbly) I didn't want to go anywhere because I didn't want to spend the money, just in case I have to buy a new laptop when I get back to the US. Then I decided to travel anyway, because who knows when I'll be back in Europe. If my laptop busts (and I am praying to every deity I can think of that it won't) I'll just have to use my desktop at my parents til I can buy a new one. (DONATIONS ACCEPTED)
I'm kind of bummed that the original plan of travelling France with Allison didn't pan out, but I think this will be super cool as well. And it was pointed out to me that it will be much easier to get to Paris from Michigan than to go to Greece. So, Greece now. Paris later.
Anyway, Happy Independence Weekend everyone! I'll fill ya'll in on my weekend (which should be EPIC) sometime next week! Cross your fingers that tour isn't full and pray to the god(s) of your choice that my sweet baby, Louis the Laptop doesn't die.
Posted by *Alyssa* at 11:20 PM
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Okay, I don't know how closely all of you are following World Cup but I'm trying not to like at all. This is becoming more and more difficult though as soccer (excuse me, football) is crazy popular over here and World Cup is a HUGE deal. It drives me crazy because everyone around me is freaking out, "football football FOOTBALL" and I get pumped for a super quick second, thinking they are talking about US football- touchdowns, field goals and the two point conversion...the crack you hear when pads smash. (What? I watched A LOT of high school football during my bonding time with Dave growing up) Then I realize these Europeans aren't talking TOUCHDOWWWWN at all.....more like GOOOOOOAAAALLL. So not the same thing and 100x less exciting. And yet I find myself being sucked in. =P
Yesterday America beat Algeria and secured a spot in the second round and in celebration, the American across the street brought me a beer. Now free beer is something I can get behind. So, YAY YAY USA....
My (pretty much only) friend here, Andrew, is OBSESSED with World Cup (like 99.9% of Europeans) and I haven't seen him in almost 2 weeks because of it, so Friday I have agreed to watch some "football" in order to spend some quality (drinking) time together. Brazil plays Portgal late Friday afternoon and we will bet all the drinks we can drink over the course of 90 minutes. He will side with Brazil, as they are his "favorite" team. And, of course, I'll take Portugal because they have Ronaldo. Sounds like a great deal to me (as long as Portugal wins--drinks here are pretty expensive) Though, even if I lose I still win because I get to watch Cristiano Ronaldo run around and be seksi for an hour and a half. LOL
Speaking of, I wasn't going to have a crazy rediculous school-girl crush on him, as he is a terrible person in real life (he deals in hookers and LOTS of them....and he once kicked in a fangirl's car window for taking his picture) But then I realized just how long it's been since I've had a crush on someone (even unrequited) so I figured, what the hell? So, until further notice, I have sold my soul over to this pretty boy from Portugal. (Just don't tell Andrew....he still thinks we might be dating)
Oh, and speaking of Portugal, Portugal, PORTUGAL.... here is the link to the pictures from our trip to Lisbon. I forgot to add it to yesterday's post: LISBON<3
Posted by *Alyssa* at 10:57 AM
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Allright, I'll do my best to describe Lisbon for all of you who will never have the opportunity (or the desire) to see this amazing little oasis along the River Tejo. To be honest though, my words will never do it justice and I encourage all of you to see Portugal sometime in your life.
We got up sooooo early on Saturday (okay, I got up 720) to make it to the airport in time for our flight. There was a little confusion about seating because we had standby tickets but in the end, Alessio and I sat together with Stephanie and Liano sitting a few rows ahead of us. I was surprised by how well the boys handled their first ever flight and Alessio and I spent most of the flight coloring in a book all about Swiss Air that came in a gift bag provided by the flight attendants.
Our flight lasted a little more than 2 hours and Monica was waiting at the airport when we landed in Lisbon. She took us directly to our hostel to get checked in and settled before we began our exploration of Lisbon. This was my first time ever staying is a hostel and I was impressed. It was small (only a half dozen rooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, living room and patio) but it was clean and cute. Our room was about the same size as my closet back home, with two sets of bunk beds and some lockers. It was better this way though, as opposed to a traditional hotel because we once we put the boys to bed, Stephanie and I were still able to stay up reading and working on the computer.
As soon as we had dropped the bags, we were off and running again. Our first stop was a subway station to pick up some 48 hour passes and then we were off to the center of Lisbon's old town. Lisbon is GORGEOUS. It was never on my list of places to see, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to go there. It was such a mix of old and new....it was romantic and charming and had the bustling activity of a big city, while still having a small town feel. In short, I immediately loved it and spent lots of time imagining myself living there, amongst the memorials and 30 story hotels and palm trees.
We took this crazy (scary) tram up the side of a hill and were greeted my an amazing view of Lisbon, with the River Tejo in the background. I can't even put into words how pretty it was up there...it was totally worth the unbelievable feeling that I was about to die as we rode the rickity, shaking tram back down that steep incline. HA. From there we went over to a castle that was open to the public. Unfortunately, I don't really remember much of the history behind it, so I can't really say too much about it. We climbed all over the castle walls; up much higher than I would've prefered, but the view was nice and the kids seemed to love it. When we left the castle, we took the boys for some ice cream and then Monica left us to go to work for the evening.
It was still fairly early, so we walked down an avenue filled with various street performers and spent some time along the river. We were in an area where we were unable to actually get in the river, or even reach down and feel the water, but it was nice to be by the water and soak up some evening sun. The boys were so enthralled by all the street performers that it probably took us 2 hours to make our way back up the street. We stopped to watch one of those human statues-you know, one of those guys painted all one color and they hold really still up on a pedestal so they look like art. Then suddenly-they move! This guys sucked; he changed positions too often and he would wink and smile at people as they passed by. Alessio and Liano loved it though. Then there was a man standing on the back of a wagon playing a guitar. He had with him a Momma dog and 2 pups and he encouraged the boys to pet the puppies. I thought this was a terrible idea, but I didn't say anything and my fears were quickly realized when the mother (just a small dog-maybe a pommerainian) lunged and snapped at Alessio. He didn't get bit, but it scared him and Liano into tears and poor Liano was so startled that he latched onto the leg of a nearby stranger. In the US, this would've been a lawsuit waiting to happen, but the man just patted Alessio's head, and allowed him to hold one of the pups so Stephanie could take his picture. Suddenly, all was fine again. There was also a man on a unicycle doing some juggling, but I grew up watching Tommy Tropic, so I wasn't all that impressed.
My favorite act was definitely a group of performers in town from somewhere in Asia. They demonstrated some of their crazy ninja skills to live music and then they had one of those giant Chinese dragons they performed with. It was SO cool. I could've watched them dancing with that dragon all night.
We got back to the hostel around 730PM Lisbon time (830 Swiss) and Stephanie imediately got the boys into bed while I went back out on my own in search of some dinner. There was a small diner up the street that sold me a ham and cheese sandwich and a Coke for 3 Euro and I settled into a park bench across from our hostel to enjoy some quiet time and my sandwich while I imagined what a move to Lisbon would be like. (Seriously, I liked it there THAT much) It was nice there, but some weirdo came by and tried to talk to me about World Cup (boooooooorrrrrriiinnnngggg) so I hightailed it back to our room, read a little and went to bed.
Sunday, ugh, I feel like we were up SO early. Really, we weren't up and moving until nearly 10AM Swiss time, but I barely slept the night before what with Alessio rolling around in the bunk above me all night and Liano slamming his head against the mattress for 20 minutes at a time. After breakfast provided by the hostel (toast with peach jelly or corn flakes, milk, coffee and/or tea) we headed off to the oceanairium with Monica in tow. I thought this was the world's largest oceanairium, but really it was the second largest...either way, it was HUGE. So many fish in every color and shape, plus an otter and-my favorite-PENGUINS!! It was really cool and incredibly interesting. I could've spent all day in there, reading the displays and studying the different animals, but the kids were not so interested, and we moved fairly quickly between displays.
The oceanairium was built in an area created especially created for the World's Expo back in 1998 and there was a bunch of really cool modern architecture to look at as we walked through the park. It was so nice, there was the river on one side and hotels, a shopping mall, etc on the other. We took a gondola ride high above the whole area to get a better view and Monica pointed out points of interest for us. (She was such a great city guide/hostess) We stopped inside the mall for some lunch (Pizza Hut--YAY!!) and then went back into town to board a city sight-seeing bus. It was pretty similar to the one I rode in Dublin (Hop On/ Hop Off...interesting facts and local information) The boys were happy to rest their tired feet and taking that bus was a great way to see lots of the city, all while sitting on our bums taking photos. My only complaint would be that the bus drove way too fast and it was difficult to take decent photos. Ahhh well. We stopped at Starbucks for some frappacino love and then took the boys over to a fountain to splash around and play while Stephanie and I people watched. There was a huge World Cup match that night between Brazil and the Ivory Coast and the Brazillians were out en masse. Crazy, loud and hilairious to watch (maybe drunk already?) I was having fun and feeding off their energy just watching them.
When we returned to the hostel, Stephanie left to find a grocery store and the boys and I sat with some other guests of the hostel as well as the hostel hostess and watched the soccer game. Boring! But the boys enjoyed it and it was cool to sit and talk with the hostess. She worked for a year in Michigan (down in Auburn Hills) and gave me a serious small world moment when she mentioned a visit to Boyne Mountain. She had never heard of Gaylord, but she knew all about Boyne, as well as Petoskey and Macinac Island. How crazy is that?!
I also found myself in a dispute with some Spanish girl because I was saying how much I adore Cristiano Ronaldo (well, past tense, more about that another day) and she told me that Americans are so lame.......we can't create anything cool on our own, so we have to steal people/things from other parts of the world. For example........MADONNA. I was like, "No, Madonna is definitely an American. She was raised in Michigan". This girl swore up and down that Madonna was British though so I decided not to argue with her. I know I'm right and someday she'll realize she was wrong and then she'll remember me and feel like an asshat. Bwahahaha....
Monday morning we stuck around the hostel, watching cartoons and packing everything up. Then we were back up in the air and back home in Schaffhausen by 530PM. It was a quick trip, and exhausting, but ever so incredible and I cannot wait to get back to Lisbon sometime down the road......
Posted by *Alyssa* at 6:16 PM