Swiss Sports: Tobogganing

On our Neuchâtel fun day, we drove through La Vue des Alpes on the way home for what else but the view of the Alps.

The view wasn’t bad:

Forests, lakes and Alps. The average view in Switzerland 🙂

As we walked back to the car, we saw a chute underneath where we were standing….the place offered tobogganing!

The three bravest members of our fivesome decided to try it out.    The other two of us decided to partake in another Swiss sport: regional wine drinking.

T and I enjoying the Neuchâtel white….

When they passed, we left our perch to watch.

What goes up…..

……must…..

come down!!!!

They really enjoyed their adventure sports and joined us for a glass after they finished.  The warm sunshine and views of the Alps were quite nice.

The big find of the stop for me was a little farmer stand in the parking lot.   I adore buying things from local places.   I bought a pack of copa, a type of meat that was Gabe’s favorite delicacy from our trip to Italy.  It all has to be eaten in one sitting so think we’ll save that for when we have special visitors this month!

Gratitude Friday: Happiness on the Homefront

I just got back from the USA.  It’s always so nice so see everyone.   I had nine awesome days.

However, instead of just being grateful for my trip, my gratitude Friday post goes out to my thankfulness for everyone’s health and happiness.    All the friends and family I saw are doing well.

Adding on to the thankfulness for joy, many friends are enjoying parenthood for the first time, or just enjoying their families expanding.     On last Friday alone, I visited 14 children, all under four.  3 of whom I’d met for the first time.  Many prayers have been said over the last few years hoping for these sweet little ones to be born healthy.  It is pretty neat to see how it’s come to life 🙂

As a bonus, I got to see my 4th infant on Monday, hours before flying out.  You’ll be happy to know that Gisele (from Zermatt &  Mt Blanc blog adventures) had a baby girl just in time for me to meet her in route to the airport.

It’s not like me to not take photos…but I was having too much fun visiting to bring out the camera.  I literally didn’t remember it until Saturday at the pool cookout that R & R threw.  So here are a few of the ones I took that day:

A special cookout – so good to hang out with everyone!

Bon weekend, everyone!

Switzerland vs. Google

There was an interesting article in the NY Times this week on Google Maps and Switzerland.

If you are familiar with Google’s “Street View” on Google Maps, you know that you can see an image of a building if you have an address.

It’s been pretty helpful for me to use in Geneva to research buildings that I am going to for the first time, so that I’ll recognize them.   It was quite helpful when researching bike shops to find out which ones did repairs.    I couldn’t find an address or a name, but knew what it was next to:

Preliminary research, courtesy of English Forum

Drilling down to Street view of the known address, Auberge de Saviese, to find Hot Point

 

I never stopped to think about how this might be taken by the Swiss, who have a high value on privacy.  As the article suggests, many Swiss citizens don’t have their name on their letterbox to protect their privacy.

I am glad they reached an agreement – I use the application often for seeking businesses.

What do you think of Google Maps?

A Page from the Swiss Rulebook: The Swiss Kiss

It’s been a year we have lived here and I think that it is only now I am getting used to “The Swiss Kiss”.

When people great each other, they kiss cheeks to acknowledge and welcome each other.

I had some exposure to this when I was working in the US, as a lot of the advertising folks I worked with at our agencies were European.   I just usually followed their lead in what was appropriate.  I do remember it being a tad awkward for us Americans who preferred a shake and we were afraid we’d “mess up” when it came to professional kissing.

Swiss camels perfecting their Swiss kisses.

Living in Europe it becomes more secondhand.    Here are a few guidelines:

–Swiss Romandie (French speaking Swiss) people greet each other with 3 kisses:  left cheek, right, left.

–The French version includes just two kisses – left, right.

–Just barely touch the person’s cheek or the air next to their cheek.  I usually do the air and make a slight smacking sound.

–When in doubt, just watch what other people are doing and follow their lead.

If you are visiting us, I hope you are perfecting your Swiss kisses.

Related links:

Gydle:  how to Swiss Kiss

World to the Wise: Swiss Kiss

Great demo video:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEV60lYHaIM

Swiss Sports: Sunday Window Shopping

Beyond wintersports, one of the things I have noticed the Swiss folks like to partake in is the pastime of Sunday window shopping.   Please note that 100% of stores in Geneva are closed on Sundays.

When going to the gym or taking a Sunday stroll, it always surprises me how many people are staring into the window.  These photos were all taken on Sundays:

Perhaps all the goods are so expensive that the only ‘safe’ time to look is when the stores aren’t open?

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

We rented a car so we could see Ireland’s magnificent countryside.  However, in Ireland, they drive on the left side of the road.    Gabe was a bit apprehensive…mainly about driving a stick.   The worries went away once he discovered the operations for the manual worked the same way, that he wouldn’t have to do that in reverse.  Just remember to drive on the opposite.

He did a remarkable job.  Not that it was easy.

First, the roads were narrow.  Our friend A in Geneva lived in Ireland a few years.  He called them the “sweaty palm roads”.

Yes, this road is for both directions

In addition, you had to watch out for oncoming traffic.  And random farm animals.

Not enough room for two

Watch out…cows!

Kudos to Gabe for keeping us alive!

Gratitude Friday: My Time Capsule

When we were in elementary school, we sometimes made time capsules.  The concept was that one would fill a box with things of that era, bury it, so that in the future, someone would know find it and know what life was like back then.   In 6th grade, I think we filled ours with Milly Vanilli cassettes, slap bracelets, and the like.

I was visiting my Mom in Virginia this week and happened to find a special time capsule.

She’s had all my father’s memorabilia packed into the basement since his passing.  I remember as a child a really neat scrapbook she’d made him after they got married. She took all his souvenirs and keepsakes from his summer in Europe and made a book to tell the story.  Anyhow, I have been looking for it for at least the past five years and every trip down to the basement, I haven’t found it.

It became more important to me now we live in Europe.  I wanted to line up our travels and compare sites.

I always loved this photo and wanted to know the history. Anyone know what city this could have been? Amsterdam?

And this leads us to this Friday’s gratitude post…. this trip, I attempted again and voila, they were found.  Actually in the spot they should have been.  Not sure how I overlooked these totes each time.

I wanted to share some of what I found:

Dachau brochures

Was a book from Sweeden

The Berlin wall would only have been 5 years old when he visited in 1966

Loved the 5 franc piece

They had “crashed” a party of Princess Grace and Prince Rainer while traveling through Monaco. They even took a napkin and menu as a little souvenir. My grandparents saved the article from The States about the party.

Their road map with stops circled

Mugs from Haufbrau House

Coasters from all over Europe

We’d seen this rainbow the night before setting over the house.  I’m grateful for the spot of luck in brought me in my search!

 Not sure what my plans are for the items. They’ll stay in Virginia I think until we are back in The States.  Then maybe the coasters can become a glass topped table, and we’ll surely have to display the HB house things in our future home.

Bon weekend, everyone!

Animals of Ireland

I loved seeing the different animals during our time in the Irish countryside.  Since farming is the #1 industry, there are a lot of them.   I was happy with how well they were all treated.  They were all free range, happily roaming in their vast craggy fields and keeping guard on castles:

Horse in Liscannor

See the brown and white cows on the top of the cliffs?

Cow on the top of the Cliffs of Moher

Donkey guarding the stone ring fort

Sweet sheep

Aww. Cute baby.

Happy Irish Cows

Hello, I like to pose

On its perch

She’s going to make a nice sweater.

Donkeys

People friendly

Watch out for sheep!

I hate to say it, but they were pretty tasty too.   I had beef, lamb, and duck while in Ireland.  It’s nice to know they are free range and treated so well.

Irish Castles

We have seen our fair share of castles lately.  I thought I’d post a few from Ireland….

First of all, we ate in a castle on our way from Dublin to Galway.  At first glance, we thought it might be cheesy but it was the only open restaurant in town, Tyrellpass.  As it turned out, it was fully with locals.

Our 2nd castle-dining in a week. This one not a UNESCO site like Bellinzona.

Next we drove through The Burren and spotted a few on its craggy coast.

Dungary Castle

On the Ring of Kerry, we saw quite a few.   We spied this one from the road and it was completely deserted.  We thought it was quite cool with the growth.

Ballycarberry Castle

We also saw ring forts in the distance and explored two.   The ring forts were defensive structured.

Ring fort #1

Ring fort #1

Ring fort #2

Ring fort #2

Ring fort #2

On our way back from Killarney to Dublin, we stopped at Blarney Castle (home of the Blarney Stone) and the Rock of Cashel.  We found Blarney to be incredibly touristy.  We couldn’t wait to get out of there…

The Blarney stone is at the top

Rock of Cashel, however, was cooler.  It was a home for kings until one donated the grounds to the church for strategic reasons.  It then was used until only recently.  The roof has falled into decay so I am sure it is not that pleasant with the typical Ireland weather.

Approaching Rock of Cashel

Inside of Rock of Cashel

Nearby monastery

Beautiful gravestone

The Ring of Kerry took our breath away

When I first started researching our Ireland trip, something that caught my eye was driving the “Ring of Kerry”.   It is a road, about 112 miles looping in the county of Kerry through some pretty amazing and dynamic landscape.

Image courtesy of The Moorings

We got a hotel in Killarney which is the northernmost part and also the biggest town.

Here are some of our views from the drive:

Cliffs of Kerry

Cliffs of Kerry

Watching some surfing action.

Rolling hills of green

House overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

Loved the many little islands

Beautiful panorama

We were warned that there would be tour buses galore and it would get annoying driving down the roads.  However, we only saw three tour buses all day, so we really lucked out with the mild weather and unpopulated roads.    We only had to watch out for these guys :

Sheep in the road

In my reading, it said you could take from a full day to an entire week to do the ring of Kerry.  We only had a full day.  By the time we’d stopped at a few gorgeous places, we were running short on time and had to keep trekking back in order to get to our hotel at a reasonable time.  However, since we’d driven from Liscannor, we only started the ring at noon, so didn’t have a full day to start.

We stopped for an awesome seafood dinner at this “beach bar”

But to those going, I’d encourage you to break it up and try to do it in two days.     One, you can do it more leisurely and see more.  Two, if you are like me, I got so overwhelmed with how gorgeous it was that at the end, I couldn’t take in any more.  I had “panoramic shock”.

If you do it in two days, note that there were plenty of cute B & B’s along the route that would be lovely and advertise only 25 euro / night rooms.

Our tips:

–Do two days if possible

–Do the Skellig Ring add-on.  Our favorite!

–We also heard people liking the Skellig islands but we didn’t have time

–We ran into some recent grads from UGA and they said the cut through path in the middle of Ring of Kerry was pretty incredible too

–Don’t try to go too far off road. We almost got our rental car, Patrick, stuck in the middle of nowhere:

Yup, we drove down this road.  Gabe’s idea.