Bonjour de la Suisse

Hello from Switzerland! ~~ The adventures of a California girl who got married to a great guy, G, and traded in her old life for the chance to live in a foreign land and live the expat life for a couple years. We live in Geneva, Switzerland with our globe-trotting cat, Scout.

Ma photo
Nom :
Lieu : California, United States

"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." ~ G.K. Chesterton

mercredi, septembre 27, 2006

Welcome to the family!

I just want to say congratulations to my little brother who just asked his girlfriend (now fiancée!) to marry him and she said YES! I am so happy! I have adored her since we first met and I will soon have another great sister-in-law!!! :)

I’m sending you all my warmest wishes! I can't wait to see you guys to celebrate in person! :)

lundi, septembre 25, 2006


I know I tend to think that a lot of things in life are great, but I have to honestly say these last two weeks in Africa have been absolutely amazing. It truly was the trip of a lifetime.

Our trip to Tanzania and Kenya was incredible! It was so different from anything I had ever done. We saw more wildlife than I ever dreamed we would and we learned so much about the local cultures and people. We ate the most scrumptious local cuisine and I even learned a bit of Swahili.

We had 10 solid days of game drives in 6 different national parks, including Serengeti National Park. We visited a Maasai Boma village, donated school supplies at a local orphanage, toured the famous archeological site (and museum) of Olduvai, and hung out at our guide's local bar in Arusha. Our adventures included landing on a dirt airstrip in the middle of nowhere in a tiny plane, dining on a traditional dhow boat, feeding giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi, sailing on a outrigger carved out of a log, and swimming in the Indian Ocean. One of my favorite parts of the trip was camping in the middle of nowhere, where the only thing between us and the roaring lions outside was the canvas tent!

Experiencing all the amazing, wonderful things Africa has to offer also includes coming face to face with the staggering poverty that is here too. Especially around Mombassa, on the Kenyan coast, we saw poverty like I have never seen before. It really makes you appreciate what you have and want to share it with those less fortunate.

I will write a more detailed account of our adventures with a few more pictures (you know me!) next week. We are off again! This time to Munich where G has a business meeting that just happens to be at the same time as Oktoberfest -- very convenient! :)

Although, I think I may be in trouble because I now know significantly more Swahili than German… hmmm... I better get studying!

vendredi, septembre 08, 2006

My bags are packed, sort of...

Okay, after this frenzy of blogging activity, I'm giving you all a rest for the next two weeks. We are off to Africa! I am so excited I can hardly wait, but of course there are a bunch of things we still have to do:

We are bringing a checked bag full of school supplies (which aren't cheep in Geneva, where is Wal-Mart when you need it?!?) for kids in orphanages we will see on the way (this was recommended by our tour company and I was all over it). I have to finish cleaning the house so our 15 year old cat-sitter doesn't report to her dad (G's co-worker) that our place "looks like we left in a hurry." And finally I still have to finish packing, which I know may come as a shock to those who know me. ;)

Strange thought report: Nothing to report thank goodness, except very vivid dreams on my part, but that is nothing new. Mingle, in one dream we were diving to the bottom of the ocean to recover computers that were sunk in giant barrels... I'm not sure what the interpretation of that is... just strange I guess.

mercredi, septembre 06, 2006

The Reader

I went to my first book club meeting this week! I know this may not sound very exciting, but I actually had to wait until there was a spot in the club to join. The people are all from GoL and so far everyone is really nice and fun to hang out with.

Our book this month was "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink. We were supposed to read "Like Water for Chocolate" but when a few copies were ordered through the local bookstore, they didn't come for 3 weeks (instead of 3 days). So, some of us read it and some of us didn't. To solve our dilemma, we all switched to "The Reader", which most of us ordered through Amazon in Germany -- free shipping to Switzerland, but the order form took me about an hour to fill out since I had to translate it.

"The Reader" was really good! Turns out it's an Oprah Book Club book, but one I would never have picked up on my own. Translated from German, it's set in Berlin and is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. It's the story of Michael Berg who falls deeply in love with a mysterious older woman, who one day disappears. Years later, when Michael is a young law student, he sees her again as a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past. Michael struggles with the overwhelming question of what his generation should do with its knowledge of the Holocaust. The book is very sad, but really makes you think. It's a beautifully written book, but the subject matter is a little tough to read at times.

The great thing about the book club is it's made up of people from all over the world. One guy, from Belgium, is the grandson of a camp survivor. Another girl is German and had a great uncle in the SS (although for years it was kept from her). The discussion was lively and very interesting among all of us (when the topic of flag-waving came up, me, the only American in the group, was asked to explain why we love to wave ours so much). It was a great meeting. I can't wait for the next one.

I also went to my Toastmasters meeting last night. I was the "Welcome Hostess", not a big job, but I participated! This is another group of people from all over the world (I think I'm one of only three Americans). I'm making fast friends with a really cool gal from Jamaica. We joined the same week and both have a fear of giving our second speech (we both did our "ice breaker" speech in June). More updates on that in the coming months! :)

mardi, septembre 05, 2006

Strange thoughts

Next week we are off to Africa and yesterday we started our malaria medication, Lariam. So, for a percentage of people, the side effects include "strange thoughts" which may or may not include "abnormal dreams, emotional instability, insomnia, panic attacks, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, and/or paranoid reactions." SUPER -- We have to take this stuff for the next 6 weeks.

We are about 36 hours in and so far, so good. Updates to follow!

lundi, septembre 04, 2006

Confessions of a Material Girl

Neither G or I have ever been to a Madonna concert. I'm not sure why I have never gone. I've been a huge fan ever since her "Like a Virgin" days and I still own the album in LP version. So, earlier this year we were thrilled to find out she was touring in Europe and we got right on getting tickets. Of course, she was not going to be anywhere near where we are, but we didn't care, we were determined to see her! We originally thought Paris, since it's only a 3 1/2 hour train ride away, but in the end, we found substantially cheaper tickets in Amsterdam, and what better excuse to fly in and spend the weekend in this amazing city?

We had been to Amsterdam together before, and it was really nice to visit together again. We didn't feel the frenzy we did the first time around when we felt we had to see everything in two days. Now we could relax, take things a little slower and see some things we didn't get to before. Too bad the rain was back... but that was all right, it wasn't going to stop us!

We saw some pretty cool stuff like Our Lord in the Attic (Ons' Lieve Heer op Soler), the hidden Catholic Church. It's built in a normal looking townhouse in the middle of the Red Light District back when Catholicism in Amsterdam was illegal (1578-1795). After we headed over to the Heineken brewery tour. Rick Steves claims it's the best brewery tour in Europe. I think it's a close second to Guinness, but fun none the less!

It was Saturday and we tried to do a little shopping, but really didn't find anything. Well, except some swimwear for G that he refused to buy! I've been bugging him to buy a Speedo (hey, we are living in Europe now!!), but he has stood firm and refused to own one. So, when I saw a whole rack of them on sale, I had to check it out. One was black with a sunset on the back and the words DUNE RIDER across them. They were hilarious!! I thought he HAD to have them!!! But sadly, we left without them. Too bad. Next time I see them, I'm getting them! ;) That evening we headed over to the Boom Chicago Theater to catch their "Best of 2006" show. I love that place, and the comedy there is great!

On Sunday we went on a boat tour (mostly to get out of the rain) and checked out the Amsterdam History Museum (again, an indoor activity). Then, it was time to head to the concert! I was so excited, and the performance did not disappoint. It was a bit political, but good political. Themes like peace in the middle east, ending AIDS in Africa and no more war are all things that I'm all for!! She also was asking where everyone was from to point out that there, in the Amsterdam Arena, were people from all over the world, all enjoying the same music. And the music was great! She had a lot of new stuff, but threw in some classics as well. We had such a great time. I hope we will make her next tour too! :)

Cheers from the Heineken brewery

I don't really LOVE this beer, but it makes for a funny picture! :)

G & Amsterdam's canals

Pedaling away in the museum

Finally at the concert!!

The European Confessions Tour -- Madonna sure puts on a great show! :)

dimanche, septembre 03, 2006

Pillow fighters unite!

Has anyone ever heard of a FlashMob? Neither had I until a friend of mine here in Geneva invited us to a "Pillow Fight Club" in the middle of a big square in the old town, Place du Molard.

The invitation read (translated from French): "Our FlashMob will be a coordinated gathering between friends and other randoms with absolutely no political goal, but for the unique goal to have fun itself, to be delirious and all this in a synchronized scene of total elation and of fleeting chaos, only to disperse into the city five minutes later. Prepare and be ready with your pillow - be punctual."

Cool! At precisely seven, pillows & feathers were flying! I got in there, pillow in hand (G was doing a bit more picture taking than fighting). I recognized a couple people I knew, but there was no time for chit-chat, after 5 minutes a whistle blew, the crowd dispersed,... and we were off to the circus!

samedi, septembre 02, 2006

Elephants on parade

I was rushing out of the house to meet up with a friend for lunch when I turned the corner and just about ran right into a parade of elephants! They were being walked right down the middle of the street by their keepers. Here they are just about 2 blocks from our house.

This could only mean one thing... The circus is in town!

Gary & I went to the famous Knie circus, which has been performing in Europe for over 200 years and is now touring through Switzerland. It was highly recommended by people at G's work and was really good. Sort of like Cirque du Soleil with lots of acrobatics, but also animals (including llamas) and knife throwing... crazy! It was all in French, of course, so we didn't get all the jokes, but we had a great time none the less. My favorite part was the elephants! :)