Zip-Pity do-da (excuse the pun)

This week is a really fabulous week. Not only did it start off with a Canadienne Buffet, continue with a washer and dryer delivery, but now the icing on the cake….I have actually found out where exactly we live.

In Switzerland, the sections of towns are broken up into four digit zip codes. It has been quite a saga to find out which one we actually live in. This adventure started when we found out we got our apartment, at the end of March. And we have hopefully found the answer, only 14 weeks later. I’d like to share a chronological timeline of our experience with this:

March 2011: The agency calls to say “Congratulations! You got the apartment after 4 weeks of waiting on pins-and-needles! It’s official!”

March 2011: Lauren instantly takes address from house-hunting documents and enters them into to make wedding thank you cards. Hits Order. Second guesses realizes that she forgot to put an actual apartment # as it wasn’t listed on house hunting documents. Emails agency and asks whether she should stop the order to include the apartment #. Agency writes back that the address IS in fact correct, people don’t list their apartment #s. There are none – just your building number. Note: don’t apply for mailmen positions in Switzerland, this would be not fun to figure out for 16-20 apartments in every building.

April 2011: Beautiful Tiny Print thank you cards come

May 2011: Move to Switzerland. Carry one of the little thank you cards everywhere – to get TPG pass, to register for things, as it has the proper address and it is easier than butchering our address or spelling our names aloud in French. Note, registration people also appreciate such effort.

May 2001: While in temporary living, learn how to use TPG (public transportation of geneva) site to map out daily transportation. Curious to what buses come to new permanent apartment and try that. Realize that our Zip Code Original doesn’t work. It suggests our address, but with Zip Code 2…..hmm. Houston, we may have a problem.

May 2011: Email Agency. WTF? Agency advises to in fact, start using Zip Code 2 moving forward. Give out Zip code 2 when doing the rest of home-set-up. Figure that eventually people with Zip Code 1 will catch on. Realize that most people in the US won’t send us mail, so not a terribly big deal all our wedding thank you cards have the wrong address, right?

June 2011: Go on “familiarization” tour of neighborhood with agency.
When we get to the post office part, agency advises that they called prior to our day together, and actually Zip Code 1 is correct. Revert to using it. Yeah, all those Tiny Print thank you cards aren’t a waste after all!

June 2011: Go to women’s club luncheon. Have new member kit handed back to me as it was rejected when sending to Zip Code 1. Has a very clear note from La Post saying to start using Zip Code 2. Start using Zip code 2 again since they said so….

June 2011: Use Zip code 2 when ordering train tickets. Days later, train office writes me a personalized email (in English!!) saying my tickets were sent back to them. Advise them to use my husband’s name (I am not legally converted yet – story too long for this blog post) and re-send to Zip Code 1. Thank them profusely for their amazing customer service.

June 2011: A brilliant idea occurs to me. Our neighbors must know where we live and actually have the right address on their mail. Since the neighbors don’t speak English and we don’t want to confuse them hoping they’ll give us lenience on noise and all the other things we know we’ll do wrong, brainstorm an ingenious idea. [ The rest of this part has been omitted to protect author ] . Confirm neighbors have Zip Code 1.

June 2011: Train tickets successfully arrive to Zip Code 1. But, I have to walk four blocks to go get envelope with a retrieval ticket, as it was held at the post office. Even though it was an envelope that would have fit in the mailbox. Bizarre.

Conclude that sending mail to Zip 1 with husbands name is the best approach. Mission accomplished…zippity do da dandy.


Her maiden voyage

Today was a remarkable day in our Swiss journey.

We are not only proud new owners of a washer and dryer combo (which we have been for the last 2.5 weeks). We now have that said purchase actually in our house, installed, and properly working. She had her maiden voyage today. I have named her Zuri, of the French meaning “white and lovely”.

And here she is:

A splendid Canadienne Buffet

After a vicious weekend of assembling IKEA furniture and hanging pictures, we were very excited to have Sunday dinner plans at A & A’s place.

In my French lessons, my teacher (who doesn’t speak a word of English to me), has me talk about daily life in Geneva. I talk about the house, Gabe’s job, and things I do during the day.

Last week, I was attempting to tell her in French that “we met some nice people on the bus, and we went over to their house for potluck,” describing our delicious American BBQ at their place.

“Comment dites-vous ‘potluck’ en français?” I asked.

She replied, “ahhh….Canadienne buffet”.

Really? That’s awesome.

The funny part of a Canadienne buffet is taking your items on the public transit. Below, Gabe captured a shot of me toting the caprese salad while waiting for the bus. Apparently, it is not normal to carry a platter of food on the bus in Switzerland. Oh well, I am not a stranger to odd looks from the Swiss.

This Sunday, the theme was Mini Pizzas. A had whipped up an amazing selection of toppings. From everything to homemade sauce, to all the workings of a BBQ chicken pizza, it was incredible. Gabe and I think this is best pizza we have ever had!

In addition to the delicious Italian fare, it was just a very enjoyable evening spent with great people.

Gabe and I are excited that we are finally almost done settling so we can host next time at our new place. I am thinking ours will be a Mexican themed Canadienne Buffet….we’ll see…you’ll have to keep reading for all the updates! Also, share any of your best potluck ideas for us – we’d love to hear some suggestions!

Shopping in France

Last Sunday, we went to church in Ferney-Voltaire, just over the border in France. We arrived 15 minutes early so went to check out the Carrefour as it was open on Sunday!!

We had never seen digital price tags (above photo) like this. I supposed its so they can change prices (in Euros) quickly with these. I thought about the sustainability aspect, but I am not sure how they are powered.

Also, we saw this :

For those reading this blog regularly, you will laugh as just a week ago, I had a post about how I almost cried over toothpicks This is an entire end cap dedicated to toothpicks, in the mixer aisle.

Funny how life can give you everything you need, if you are just patient!

Gratitude Friday: Mon Mari

This Friday, I just wanted to dedicate my post on gratitude to mon mari (my husband).

Last night, I was just reflecting on how lucky we were to not be doing the long distance thing anymore. For two and a half years, both of us traveled back and forth from Charlotte and Atlanta. While we love to travel, four hours each way on I-85 is not an ideal experience to have most weekends. During that time, neither of us felt settled in our own cities or with any free time going back and forth.

I remember a dream of mine was just wanting to watch a rental movie with Gabe on a weeknight. It was never really possible on our short weekends as we usually had events or plans with friends.

Just 8 weeks ago, we were doing long distance. And now, I find myself married to my best friend.

And, last night, we watched a rented movie from iTunes, it hit me that all I ever wanted had come true…..getting to live in the same place as the one I love. Each night, I get so excited for him for him to walk through the door.

Beyond that, we get this great adventure as our honeymoon. While the move may have its ups-and-downs, it is an incredible thing to experience a new country together. We share all the tough points, as well as the awe of the fact that we live in this absolutely amazing place. And sometimes, usually as we cross the Mont Blanc bridge in our car, I have to pinch myself and say, “we really live here!” and then we both smile.

A selection of photos taken in a few week period – our wedding, a picnic and our first weekend in Geneva at Caves Ouverts.

So, this week, and every week, I am thankful for mon mari, and all he does to make me the happiest girl in the world.


Everyone will be excited to know that our washer and dryer is arriving on Monday (hopefully). I anticipate that laundry will be a bit more pleasant, now that I can control all the little dials, # of minutes, and I have access to my own bathroom (which is where it goes, basically almost in the shower) vs. it being in a scary dungeon that is sometimes locked and sometimes not.

And, the reason I say hopefully is that you can’t really count on anything here until it happens.

For instance, last week we had an appointment for an electrician to put all our light fixtures up in our apartment (in Switzerland, when you rent an apartment, there are just wires hanging from the ceiling – you have to purchase and install all your fixtures yourself). He came last Friday at 2pm, and after 2 hours, at 4pm, he told me in French that he had to leave. It was quitting time. He still had half of them to go. He is supposed to come back today, as if it wasn’t today, he was booked and had vacation, so who knows how long this would take.

I prefer email tremendously to the phone to communicate with people here. It is a bit anti-social, yes, but the benefit is having Google Translate. I just type what I want, pop it in Google Translate, and then copy/paste. Done! I do the same with communication back to me.

So, I requested this with the washer and dryer delivery, and here are the bits of communication that I have to determine if it is coming or not and when. Bless this guys heart for trying English. He knows a ton more than I do. Without Google Translate, I’d be lost!

When the washing machine comes, I am planning to open the champagne we were given by Gabe’s co-workers. We have been waiting for a special occasion, and I cannot think of a better reason to celebrate!

Reason I Wish I Knew French #77

Today at Globo-gym, we had an unpleasant surprise. Ironically, the class I was taking was named F.I.R.E. and I am not quite sure what those initials stand for in French, since the acronym doesn’t mean anything in that language. However, 20 minutes in, the F.I.R.E. alarm went off.

A french voice came on the loudspeaker and everyone started moving for the doors. Hmm. No clue what they said but I am pretty sure I should follow. We weaved down stairs and were in the basement of the large department store and we eventually found our way outside to find a huge crowd of people, also from other floors in the building.

They ushered us to the lakeside only a block away. Everyone looked down at their feet in dismay. Most of the shoes had never seen the light of day since they have to be brand new and squeaky clean to be worn within the facility.

Yes, that was the first thing that popped in my head too during a fire emergency as well.

A few minutes later, the suited employees came running out of the building with stacks of towels for everyone. Remember, Swiss people (or at least in Geneva) don’t like to be seen in gym clothes in public. Many of the people in the class with them took them and wrapped them around themselves. Not for warmth…it was 70 degrees out….but as the sweaty attire was not appropriate for the posh neighborhood we were in.

My American brain was thinking maybe the instructor should continue class outside – we were wasting precious work out time there!!! I am sure that would have been frowned upon though so I didn’t lead the movement.

You’ll be happy to know that it was a false alarm and we all returned in after 20 minutes.

Glad I hadn’t taken an earlier class and been in the shower – that could have been super unpleasant without being able to understand and follow the lead.

So, this week, I resolve that I will attempt to learn more about emergency words in French so I am better prepared.

Reason I Wish I Knew French #76

Most every day, I have been going to my gym. I secretly call it Globo-Gym (you know, from Dodgeball) as it is just very “interesting”. Post on the word “interesting” and its different meaning in Europe to come in the following weeks.

Here are just a few reasons why its “interesting” (European meaning):
-Women wear full fledged make-up, hair perfectly done, and jewelry to work out – I am talking gold bangles, etc.
-Other than my husband, i have not seen a guy wear a tee shirt in that place yet – all spandex outfits
-I have seen several women in “couture” gym clothes, which I didn’t know existed!
-I am the only one who ever walks in or out of this gym in my gym clothes. Everyone else who comes in or out is in suits, formal business clothes, or totally put together.
-You aren’t allowed to wear shoes from the street, you must change into special gym shoes
-There are always more trainers than people working out in the gym (at least in the hours that I frequent it, i could only afford the “off-peak” pass)
-People sunbathe topless on the outdoor part of the gym. Really.
-They are obsessed with disco lights. I did a prior post about disco spinning, but since have discovered that during all the classes, the last 10 minutes they turn out the lights and on the disco ball for the finale of class. Why, I ask?
-Oh, and the men who check you in and give you towels are wearing suits.

Anyhow, it is because of these “interesting” things that I don’t feel so bad shelling out an obscene amount of money to have the pleasure of attending this facility during only certain specified hours. It’s worth it in entertainment value alone.

Also, I am learning French better by attending. Since I go to classes most of the time and the instruction is in French, I have learned a few more words. Here is a cheat sheet for those thinking of attending a French gym class anytime soon:

Left “Gauche”
Right “Droite”

Do it again “Encore” or “la meme chose”
Let’s go “Aller”
Poitrine “Chest” as in, we are moving on to that muscle group now. I only actually know this from buying chicken breasts at the store.

Today, the instructor kept saying the word “souffle” . After the tenth time, I started to guess what he was saying. My thought process went something like the below.

See if you can guess the meaning!

a) Souffle….served at the end of the meal, maybe he is telling us we are ending this set?

a) Souffle….a yummy treat. maybe he is saying that we deserve to eat lots of it after this super hard weight-lifting class. Maybe I’ll go see if I can find the ingredients at the Migros….chocolate…check…..

a) Souffle…maybe it is some sort of reverse psychology that if we actually ate souffle last night, we should work harder in this class.


a) Souffle….a derivation of the verb souffler for “to breathe”

and the answer is…….

Wow, I am glad I learned this before my first French yoga class.

Thanks, Google Translate!!!

Fete de la Musique

This weekend Geneva hosted the 20th annual Fete de la Musique in Old Town – three days of non-stop music, ranging from classical, to jazz, to reggae, to rock. It was only a 5 minute walk from our house, so really close.

We tried to go Saturday, but were rained out after about 45 minutes. We returned home rain drenched but happy as we got delicious “to-go” fair food from the Madagascar tent and sausage tent.

We returned Sunday in the better weather and enjoyed the different artists and venues they had set up in 30 different locations, all over Vielle Ville. Here are a few photos below.

What a great weekend! Those wanting to come visit next Summer, should definitely try to come for the Fete de la Musique.

A rainy regatta

This weekend was the Bol d’Or Mirabaud on Lake Geneva. It is the largest regatta in Europe, and we had planned to go out, bright and early and picnic to watch the sailboats set off for their journey to the other side of the lake.

Mother Nature had other plans.

As we approached the shore from our 10 minute rain-soaked walk from home, we saw this scene:

At one point, the sun sneaked out a wee bit and we could see a more beautiful kaleidoscope of sails that was originally hidden by the grey sky. There were so many!

The ducks enjoyed watching the faint images of sails on the skyline as well.

Maybe next year we’ll get to enjoy this beautiful scene in the sunshine!