Monday, August 31, 2009


I don't know how many weeks it has been now that we have been talking about going to the Rheinfalls. Maybe since Swiss National Day when there is a huge fireworks display. Any whoo...we finally made the trip this past Saturday. We met a couple friends and their pups at the Hauptbahnhof and boarded the train to Schaffhausen.

Schaffhausen, like most other Swiss towns, is adorable. With its' cobblestone roads, narrow alley ways, and fountains every 10 feet, it did not disappoint. We cut through town in search of the Rhein. I had heard you could just walk to the Falls along the Rhein. Figured this was the way to do it instead of a bus. See some more of the town, take a peak over into Germany...why not?

Pretty spectacular, huh? We all couldn't get over how fast the current was moving and how clear the water was.
And, unlike the Limmat River in Zurich, you can swim in the Rhein. This was nuts. They were hauling down the river. Somehow they were able to navigate themselves over to the waters edge and hop up on some of the rocks leading into the river to get out. Definitely not for me, but I give them props. These guys have probably been doing this since they could walk. Second nature.

Now, this walk was supposed to only take about an hour in Swiss time, but in American time, it takes about twice that. Finally with four adults and three pups, we make it to the Falls.

Not too shabby. The Rheinfalls are the largest waterfall in Europe. Notice the people standing on the rock in the center. There is the option to take a boat out to the rock. We opted for a beer instead.

All in all, a great day trip with great friends.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Art of Making Friends in Switzerland

How do you go about meeting new people? Is it difficult to make new friends? Where do you find potential friends? These must be the top questions I get from all of our friends and family back in the States. It's like they think there is some special recipe to making friends in a different country. Well, let me tell you there is a secret ingredient -- have a dog, and a cute one works even better.

Stella seems to be the one attracting all the new friends. Whether we are in the Google lobby meeting Josh for a free lunch or straight from her pictures on this blog, she attracts some good quality folks. I will admit that these friends in particular also have smush-faced pups. So having things in common helps. Something about these breeds though...they always have good owners.

New friend, Emma. Same age as Stella. As adorable as Stella.

This past weekend our social calendar was booked. New ex-pat blogger friends who just moved to Zurich over for dinner, mexican food and margs at a friend of an Austin friend's flat, and dinner out on the town with fellow Googlers. Who would have thought we would make such good connections so quickly? Everyone says your ability to make friends here, will make or break your time in Switzerland. And, I believe it. The Swiss are not the most outgoing, personable, talkative bunch of people if you didn't already know.

Recently moved to Zurich Boston Terriers, Pedro and Dooley. As crazy and fun-loving as Stella.

I shouldn't give Stella all the credit though. As you may have read previously, I do like my blind dates here in Zurich. It seems like everyone we know has some connection to Switzerland except for us. We have met some incredible people through that friend of a friend connection. It's like getting a referral. How can you go wrong with that?

Check out our new friend, "Mrs. Mad Scientist". You know she has to be a keeper when her blender breaks and she still finds a way to make mango margaritas for dessert. My kind of people.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hiking the 'berg

We have this amazing view of Uetliberg from our balcony and have been curious about the trails leading up to the top of the mountain. When I was back in the States not too long ago, Josh ventured out and found the path to the top. We woke up this past Sunday morning, the sun was shining, a little chill in the air, so we packed up our camelbacks, strapped on the hiking boots, grabbed the cameras, and headed out.

We made our way down the hill, over the Sihl river, and through what we like to call "Zurich Town Lake".

Into the forest and through the woods...isn't that how it goes?

There were plenty of stops for water along the way. Stella just hopped right up there. She has become very used to the number of water fountain around the city and especially the secret-ninja doggy fountains usually attached.

We hiked for a little over two hours and ascended 1500 ft to finally reach the top. Even though we have been here before (by train previously), it was a beautiful site to see. Uetliberg overlooks all of Zurich. There were also a bunch of people out paragliding and hang gliding. How awesome is that? Just another thing to add to my "must do list" before we move back.

Now the question is, how do I get this view?


There is a beautiful river that flows through the center of Zurich, right through Old Town, called the Limmat. From what I have heard, this river has a serious current and people aren't normally allowed to swim here. Very dangerous. But, once a year the waters are opened to the public for the Limmatschwimmen.

Josh and I went down to take pictures and to see exactly what this Limmatschwimmen entails. I was envisioning something along the lines of the Salt River in Arizona. A ton of people, drinking beers, relaxing in their intertubes, and taking in the rays -- occasionally with people diving off cliffs foolishly. One big party basically. Oh, but this is Switzerland and everything has rules. It makes me laugh.

Instead of there being hundreds of people in the river at once, they were only letting a small number of people in at a time. And, instead of beers and intertubes, there were inflatable duckys and boats with lifeguards. Very different than my past experiences. Even without all the craziness, it looked like something we should be a part of. As we were trying to figure out the schematics of how we were exactly going to do this schwimmen, like where do you keep your dry clothes for when you are done, is there a bus or something that takes you back to the beginning, how much money does it cost, etc., we noticed the crowd of people by the start of the swim.

The line just kept going and going. I guess we weren't the only ones thinking floating down the Limmat in 90 degree weather was a good idea. We decided to skip out on the actual schwimmen and save this event for next year. Come to find out, I heard that tickets were already sold out before that day. So, thank goodness we didn't end up waiting in line.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Human Race 10k

Nike is rolling out the red carpet for the 2nd Human Race 10k on October 24 this year in over 30 cities worldwide. Last year, there were 780,000 participants around the world running to celebrate the sport and to be apart of something bigger. Yes. I said 10k -- 6.25 miles. It sounds scarier than it really is.

I have always wanted to be a part of a large scale wellness/fitness event, but have never considered myself any type of athlete. Could you ever see me running a marathon or even a sprint triathlon? I don't think so. I was always a gym rat...lifting weights, spinning, yoga-ing. Anything that would keep me inside and away from competition. Well, I don't know what happens when you turn 30, but I have changed and running has become a part of my life. And, the personal trainer inside me wants to motivate as many people as possible to start training for this event and participate. I am here to help. Information on the event, locations, training programs, and more can be found at Nike+.

Josh and I are both planning to run the race in Berlin. This is a night run where the city is lit up specially for the race. Not sure how Josh is going to take pictures while he runs, but we will figure something out. And, if you are thinking that just because your city isn't on Nike's list, you can't compete. Think again. You can still register, run at home (even better...get a group of friends to run), and then upload your run to the Nike+ website. My dad is already registered and would be happy to head up a Sioux Falls, SD group. Right, Dad?!

First step is to register. Do it now before you realize what you have gotten yourself into.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Louvre = Ridiculousness

The Louvre. In all its glory...and all its absurdity. I had my heart set on seeing the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry, when in Paris. I couldn't have foreseen the amount of craziness taking place underneath that glass pyramid and within those concrete walls. People go nuts for some famous art. Seriously. They will take you out if you get in their way. There are no such things as lines or politeness in a place like this. You have to go in knowing that you will be dealing with the masses. Our plan was as follows: put your game face on, see what everyone comes to see, and then get out, regroup, fuel, and re-enter if we dare.

We took a deep breath and entered. Once we got our tickets and picked up a map, we headed straight for Mona. To get to her you have to walk through a number of other hallways all filled to the brim with paintings upon paintings. This was my first taste of what the Louvre really is -- more art than any one person can absorb in a lifetime.

The Louvre is no joke. Wall space is limited to say the least. Paintings literally seemed to be on top of one another. We must have been overwhelmed by the amount of art on the walls or by the crowds of people, take your pick, that we walked right past the room Mona lives in, Salle 6.

There she is. Yep, that is her. Little, ole Mona. Are you thinking what I am thinking? Really? That's it. I mean, good painting, but why all the built up drama of the MONA LISA? Now, I don't speak for Josh here, but I think he is in the same boat as me. Josh was actually more infatuated with the massive picture on the opposite wall in Salle 6.

We lasted about two minutes and then took off for the next must-see, Venus de Milo. Again through the crowded halls we walked.

And, BAM...Venus and her crowd. These couple areas truly felt like we were in a zoo. People rushing to get closest to the painting or statue. A million flashes going off around you when no flash photography is allowed. It was like everyone was on a photo scavenger hunt and were racing to be the first one's done. All a little overwhelming for me.

I decided to hide out in a corner for a bit. Take in her beauty from a far and get the best picture of them all. Who ever sees the backside of Venus? Again, my lame sense of humor.

Done and done. Mona and Venus. And, that only took us an hour or two. We packed it in and headed out to find a quick bite to eat and to regroup after the frenzy. After this needed break, we found a secret entrance for anyone who already has a ticket. Sweet. No line for us. Once we got back to the crowded center, we set off in a new direction. Away from the mob, away from the craziness.

Josh has this sort of luck that follows him. Whenever he just wanders aimlessly, we seem to stumble upon the best parts of wherever we are at. Somehow, through this maze of a museum, we end up at Napoleon's Apartment. This was a total surprise to me. I have never heard anyone even mention this area of the Louvre.

You've heard of "little man's complex", right? We sat down on a bench to just take this site in. Unreal. Who sleeps in a bed like that? How much gold does one man need?

Dinner for 40, anyone?

For some reason I feel like Donald Trump and Napoloen would have hit it off. Diamond-encrusted this, gold upon gold of that. It was awesome. But, after all of this sparkle and glimmer, my favorite part of the Louvre was still this random picture I caught glimpse of when walking through a side room off of the crowded halls.

Le Singe Peintre by Alexander-Gabriel Decamps. What do you think the artist is trying to get across in this piece of work? That any monkey can be an artist? I love when you find those hidden gems in a congested madhouse.

I still feel like I was part of the Griswald family in "European Vacaction" wondering the halls of the Louvre trying to squeeze in as much art as possible in only a days time. I am looking forward to my second trip when I can steer clear of the crowds and really get to focus on why you come to the Louvre in the first place.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Notre Dame

Another Paris must see is Notre Dame -- which Josh informed me means, "Our Lady". This cathedral is well-known for its use of the flying buttress support system. You can giggle too. I did every time Josh said BUTTress. I am easily entertained.

Check out the BUTTs.

This is part of the entry door. The doors must have been at least 30 feet high.

A little taste of what the inside had to offer. Imagine more stained glass and chandeliers than you have ever seen. And, if that wasn't enough, you could even make your very own cathedral mixed tape as a take home souvenir.