Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grand Archives

Coming from "The Live Music Capital of the World", Austin, TX, it seems only fitting to check out the music scene here in Zurich. Is it cheating that we saw a Seattle-based band? We got a solid recommendation from our music-guru friend, Marc (yes, the Marc that visited us over New Years). He described the Grand Archives as a mix between Band of Horses (one of my favs), My Morning Jacket (one of Josh's favs), and The Flaming Lips (a lot of people's fav). Can't go wrong with that description.

Pretty straight forward. Buy a couple tickets. Go to show. But, you know with me there is always a story. The night almost didn't happen. Josh of course had a meeting that wasn't supposed to be done until 8pm. Ok. Not too much of an issue. The band goes on at 8:30pm. Hopefully the venue wouldn't be too packed and we could still squeeze in. Well, at 8pm guess who I hear from. Joshua saying his team hadn't even presented yet. Argh...Google...Marissa...why do you always get in my way of having a good time?

Now it is 8:20pm (it takes at least 20 minutes to get to the venue from our flat). Josh leaves me one quick AIM note saying "meet me in 10 minutes". Ummm...where? Now you see where I am going.

We both end up running all over town in the freezing cold trying to find each other. Mind you, Josh's phone is of course dead. I think Josh remembers to meet me over at Schmiede Wiedikon tram stop, but not sure he knows how to get there. He thinks I might meet him at Maneeseplatz bus stop. I start to wonder if he meant to meet him at Google because I don't think he knows where the band is even playing. It was one big cluster. We both basically made circles around one another finally seeing each other at the tram stop next to the show venue.

I jump off my tram to run over to him just in time to see him get on the tram to go back home. I start banging on the window, he sees me, tries to get off, but he is stuck going to the next stop. Eventually he makes his way back to me and we get to see the last two songs of the show. What a mess.

From the small amount of music I got to hear, I can say I wish I had seen the whole show. They didn't disappoint. And, Hafenkneipe reminds me of Emo's back in Austin. Dug it for sure. Maybe we will meet again back in the States. Check out their music if you are looking for a little something new.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 10 List: Things Y'all Take for Granted When Living in the States (con't)

Without further ado, here are the final TOP 5 "Things Y'all Take for Granted When Living in the States". You may see a reoccurring theme here. Trust me. This isn't only my stomach pains talking, but each of my other expat friends as well.

5. The Traditional American Breakfast. The very reason the majority of Americans are overweight. A staple of our culture. Pancakes and bacon. Oh, that sweet smell of grizzle. There are no more Sunday brunches or even Bisquick to be bought at the grocery. And, they say they have bacon, known as speck over here, but it is no crunchy, blackened, fatty strips like we see at home. I am sure somehow the Swiss have also managed to make this healthy for you. It probably comes from "happy" pigs, which means no extra goodness and no extra yummy taste. I have had to learn how to make pancakes from scratch and Mom had to smuggle in the Aunt Jemima. Gotta do, what you gots to do.

4. Turkey. You can go to the grocery here and pick up any cut of pork possible, but there are no "happy" turkeys laying around. I shouldn't say none because they do have a few turkeys in the store around Thanksgiving if you want to pay about $10 a pound and there are a couple tiny slivers packaged up in the refrigerated section, but there is no walking into Central Market (oh, I miss you too) on any Tuesday morning to pick up a 5 lb breast to bake up for the week. Oh, no, no, no. There is none of that. And, not that my kosher upbringing has made me stay away from pork for the religious reasons, but I just didn't grow up eating it and my taste buds reject the squealing now. Leaving only chicken and beef as choices. Poor Josh. He is stuck grilling up hamburgers at least once a week now. For that, I am not complaining.

3. BBQ. I think I might have to bust out the last vacuumed sealed package of Rudy's that Marc brought tonight. Surprising that this is number three on my top 10 list since I grew up hating the stuff. But, once I figured out not all BBQ was the same and that there was way better out there besides Angelo's, now my heart beats for some 1/3 lb moist brisket, small cream corn, and an orange Fanta from Rudy's to wash it all down or even some baby back ribs from Artz Rib House. I'm flexible.

2. Mexican Food. Including, but not limited to, queso, quesadillas, fajitas, and margaritas. If I could only have one more day at Curra's. There is nothing even close to mexican food out here, which you could probably guess considering where Switzerland is located in relation to where Mexico is, but still. I need to start developing my business plan for the first queso/margarita food trailer in Zurich. As long as I can control myself from eating and drinking all the profits, I think we could have a winner.

And....the NUMBER ONE thing Y'all Take For Granted When Living in the States...drum roll, please...

Photo by benketaro.
1. Velveeta and Mac 'n Cheese. Hands down this is the number one requested item to be smuggled into the country. I realize we are living in cheese central, but there is just no replacement for good old fashioned, processed cheese food. On my first trip to the grocery store, I may have even cried as I walked endlessly up and down...and up and down...and up and down the aisles hopelessly looking for a blue box of goodness. I found one microwavable meal that they called mac 'n cheese, but it was no Kraft. Mom has now been responsible for my macaroni needs. I have to ration the stuff out to me depending on when the next trip from the parents is scheduled. The stash is getting low. Just another reason for the trip to San Francisco. I think I can make it another couple weeks. It will be  hard, but I will be strong.

Here's the take home message for all you friends of expats living in the States. You need to take one for the team and on your next trip don't question our crazy rantings for which processed foods we need brought over, just smile and nod your head "yes". We need your help.

I think it is only fair that a Top 10 List of what Switzerland has to offer that the States can't make an appearance on This probably won't be driven by my obsession with food. And, even as I look at all the snow falling outside, there are still many other reasons to be here. Next list coming soon.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Top 10 List: Things Y'all Take for Granted When Living in the States

I can see the dirty disease of homesickness starting to creep into the room. I have been pretty darn successful stuffing it away in a closet and not opening the door. But, with all this talk about jealousy and now that I bought a plane ticket for San Francisco early February, home has been on the brain. I think it's time to share with you what it is really like living on the other side of the pond. What you have to give up for this experience. For all those soon-to-be expats making the big swim over, be aware that life of endless travel does have its' downsides. is my "Top 10 Things Y'all Take For Granted When Living in the States" list. Oh, how I miss thee.

10. Lines Meaning Something. There is this weird phenomenon here that lines mean nothing. People do form and stand in lines here, but for no reason in the long run. Example. The airport. The plane is here, people start walking over to the gate, and form a line. Once they start boarding the flight, the once beautiful, straight line turns into a mosh pit. Elbows out. Each passenger for themselves. Europeans actually make fun of us Americans for being such pushovers. We interpret it as being courteous.

9. English. I think it took me a good three months before it didn't completely throw me off when the first words I heard in the morning were "Gruezi" or "Morgen". Who? What? Is this a dream? Something so simple as language is a comfort you seldom realize til it ain't there anymore.

8. No Reservations. My new, fav restaurant here is Lily's Stomach Supply. Not sure if it is because it ONLY costs us $65 for dinner (cheap by Swiss standards) or the fact I don't have to call and make reservations before hand. Even for lunch, you are supposed to make reservations. It puts a little damper on being spontaneous.

7. Lululemon and Vinyasa Yoga Classes with Gio. For a girl that lives in workout gear, there is comfy, cool, "I never want to stop wearing you" exercise clothes. Nothing. And, yoga classes in general have been a disappoint to put it nicely. I miss all the equipment back in the States, especially the yoga walls. Which I promise you, someday, I will have in my house.

6. Alamo Drafthouse. Josh and I must have gone here once every couple of weeks back in Austin. This is more than just your regular, boring, old movie theater. They had Iron Chef nights, Air Sex competitions, special appearances by movie stars, sing-a-longs and quote-a-longs, TV show nights, you name it, they had it. It definitely fits the city motto of "Keep Austin Weird". Plus, you get to eat and drink during the movie. Popcorn, pizza, fresh-made chocolate chip cookies over ice cream...ahhhh. I am starting to drool a little. Here you have the standard flick, maybe some popcorn if you have cash, and a 15 minute intermission right at the climax of the film. Oh, and it will cost you about $20 for all that (not including the popcorn -- that's another $11).

Do you have tears in your eyes yet? The things I have to go through. Let's take a breather. I don't want to drown you in my sorrows. So I leave you with this. Here's a hint for the final Top 5, coming to you very soon. We haven't even gotten to the food aspect. And, you know how I love me some food!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's Getting HOT-T in Hier

After writing yesterday's post, surprisingly everyone seemed overly excited about my dog humping comment. Who? What? Dogs humping? Calm down folks. I am actually surprised this was my first run in with some dog-on-dog action here in der Schweiz.

This blog is two-fold, but let's start with the story first. Yesterday was one of the first sunny days I have seen in a while, so I figure I better take Stinky (aka Stella) over to our Swiss version of Town Lake. This is a leash free area at the base of Uetliberg. The day couldn't have been more beautiful. Stella and I are enjoying our stroll, making friends with other pups, I am chatting it up with another dog owner. Nice. Normal. Regular day. We split for a minute from our new friend and her dog....who you should know is a boy dog. A second later I look back just to make sure Stella is in sight and WHAM! there it is. Our new boy dog friend going to town on a girl dog in some sort of a dominatrics getup. Come to find out that was a diaper she was wearing. The dog was in heat!

Both owners start yelling at each other. My best translation is that both are blaming each other for not keeping their dogs on leashes. The woman with the boy dog rightfully screaming at the woman with the girl dog not to bring a dog in heat to an off-leash park. And, the woman with the girl dog screaming back that the boy dog should be on a leash if the owner can't control her dog. A smile just crossed my face. I found it all too humorous. And, then there is Stella trying to bury her nose in the middle of the two lover dogs. Not quite sure Stella had any idea what they were doing. Her virgin eyes are gone forever.

The dogs finally get separated with the boy dog getting put back on his leash while the girl dog is left to roam free to attract the next suitor. We ended up running back into the girl dog and guess who was going through the same argument with another boy dog owner. Yep. Ridiculous. There were some frustrated dogs leaving the park that day.

Which brings me to my second point. How is it that no one neuters or spays their dogs over here? Haven't they seen "The Price is Right" where at the end of every show Bob Barker signs off with his speech about controlling the pet population? Man. Stella got fixed as soon as it was possible. There was no way I was going to deal with that mess. Poor Stella. Just another frustrated dog. Works for me.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I was going to write about the dog humping show at the park today, but after I got home and checked some email a few interesting pictures caught my eye. Let me start from the beginning. The other night I am out with a girlfriend having a beer (or two...ok, maybe three) and I get a message from my dad saying that he got two tickets to the Cowboys v. Vikings football game. Seriously. If you don't know, I am a HUGE NFL/Cowboy/Farve (you can be both) fan and going to this game would have made me cry tears of sweet joy for years to come. But, since I live over here...who gets invited instead...of course...the always lucky brother of mine. I was even checking flights into Minneapolis and my dad actually told me that Dave was already coming and that he would be seeing me in a month anyway. What's the big deal?

Sorry to tell you Dad...I wasn't gonna fly back for you. Love ya, but in your own words, I would see you in a month anyway (insert smile).

Now it is a day after the game and I finally get to catch up with the daddyo. The video chat went something like this...

Me: So, how was it?
Dad: You are going to hate me.
Me: (interested look)
Dad: I actually ended up with FOUR tickets to the game. Dave and Carson ended up coming.
Me: (steam coming out of my ears)
Dad: You are going to hate me even more.
Me: (thinking to myself...oh really, how could that be possible?)
Dad: Our seats were three rows up from the field, on about the 40-yard line.
Me: (thinking to myself...oh, that's how.)
Dad: It was actually a little hard to see some the time. We were so close to the Cowboys bench.
Me: (heart officially broken)

Oh yeah?! Well, I got to sit on our super uncomfy couch and try to make out which of my Cowboys players just fumbled the ball or who threw the interception on my lovely computer screen. But, on the bright least the bench of Cowboys players wasn't getting in my way.

No jealousy here.

*This is all in good fun. I am happy Dave and Dad had such a great time together. I am holding out for Superbowl tickets.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, the Places We'll Go

The next few months are going to be crazy ones. I told this to our friend, Stacie, yesterday over coffee and she just looked at me and laughed. Like when isn't it crazy travel time for us? We have a million cities on the books to see and Josh is finally going to be taking some real vacation time.

After my upcoming father/daughter trip to Vienna in February (so excited), Josh and I are going exploring on our own through southern Spain and Portugal. Figuring we will fly into Malaga and then drive along the coast, with a few detours of course, and end in Lisbon. Some cities of interest are: Malaga, Grenada and the Sierra Nevada mountains, Ronda, Sevilla, Cariz, Faro, Lagos, and ending in Lisbon. I know this all can't be done on our 10 day time frame, but that is where y'all come in. I am looking for your thoughts on which cities are a must see, where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and any other words of advice.

Who would have thought we would be doing this stuff? It still blows my mind. It makes being so far away from everyone and everything we love, a little easier.

Comments are welcome!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snow beard

While the husband's gone, the kids will play. Took Stella and Josh's macro lens out for some fun in the snow today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Saas-Fee and Blue Snow

The months of November and December have left me in a daze. With all the people visiting and the bundle of day trips and overnight trips taken, I am starting to lose track of where we have been and which stories I have already covered with y'all. I think they would call this "traveler's brain", kind of like "pregnancy brain" where your brain turns to complete mush and you forget which tram takes you home or the dog's name (at least that's what I hear -- don't get your hopes up, people). So, one trip I think I forgot to mention was to Saas-Fee when Marc-ie Marc was in town.

I have no valid excuse for forgetting this city. I think it was the highlight of Marc's visit for me. Saas-Fee is in the same region of Switzerland as Zermatt, close to the Italian boarder. This trip might never have happened without my procrastination on booking a hotel room in Zermatt. If no one has told you yet, you have to book out rooms well in advance during ski season and especially between Christmas and New Years when we were going. You would think late September would have been enough time, but you would be wrong. I ended up finding a place in Visp, which is where you switch trains to get to Zermatt. Just makes sense that we should go the other direction the next day after spending a day in Zermatt and then sleeping in Visp.

The bus trip to get to Saas-Fee is not for the weak. You are driving along cliffs of a mountain, staring down I don't know how many hundreds of feet (a lot), on icy streets that either fit two teeny cars or one gigantic bus, and you are hauling it through tunnels where the driver has to sound a loud horn because he can't see what is 6 feet in front of him. It's intense, but if you can handle an hour of that, you are good to go.

Once we got to town we made our way to the Alpine Express to catch two gondolas and one train up to the top of the mountain range at Allalin. This time I don't think we were the only ones wearing jeans and not skiing. If you go to Saas-Fee, you go to see the blue snow. Not yellow snow, but blue. There are massive glaciers under heaps of snow and they give off this blueish glow to the snow. Ridiculously beautiful. It was worth standing in the freezing cold, feeling like the wind was gonna swipe you off your feet and off the mountain at any given second. This might just be the most beautiful spot in Switzerland. It is so hard to compare it to the Matterhorn or Jungfrau. All are amazing and all should be seen. It's more than that. All should be experienced.

Hard to get that glowing effect in the pictures, but see the greyish-blue areas...that is all glacier, baby.

After freezing our fingers off from snapping pictures, we grabbed lunch in the "World's Highest Revolving Restaurant". Cracks me up. Everything is something here. Food was nothing special, but it was a cool way to take in the views warmly.

One last thing to do before heading down the mountain. For 5 CHF we had to check out the Ice Pavilion -- the "World's Largest Ice Pavilion". It was pretty fun running around an ice cave, in and out of little tunnels, and going down the kiddie slide. I had to. I fit. Why not? The craziest thing was having to walk out of the cave. Going up maybe 50 stairs was tough. I was definitely having a hard time breathing. You sometimes forget how little air there is from that high of an altitude. No worries though, we all made it out safe 'n sound.

Looking forward to our next trip there sometime. I have to get my ski on here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kansas Style Swiss Cooking

I guess someone didn't get enough Swiss cooking when they were visiting. Hard to believe. I got an email last night with these pictures from my brother of their Berner Rösti and Aelpler Magronen. Just like being back in der Schweiz. Where's the Züri Geschnetzeltes?

For recipes, check here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Piriformis, Please

Today marks massage number three and I am pretty underwhelmed with the talent over here...and I use that word talent very loosely. I just spent an hour with probably the best of the three therapists so far where I thought I was going to be thrown off the table at any minute once his Mozart music crescendoed. Imagine walking into a room with a Polish guy who could win a strong man competition, he turns on the classical music, talks for a second, and then doesn't so much hurt you because he isn't really putting any downward pressure on your back, but more of a rough swiping motion with every effleurage...over and over...and over again.

Thankfully none of the horror stories I heard before moving here have happened to me yet. Not sure I could completely undress while the therapist stands right in front of me. This may be Europe, but I am still American.

Anyone have any recommendations for a solid, therapeutic massage therapist with any myofascial release skills?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Permit Shermit

We have been in cheese land for just over 7 months now and these hausfrau days are starting to eat away at me a bit. I was wondering how long it would take before I would be biting at the bit to get back to work. Like when you are in junior high and the last bell, on the last day of school, rings and all you can think about is not having to go to school for the next three months and then about a week later you are bored. Yeah. That's about where I am now.

I mentioned a few weeks back that there might be some interesting work opportunities available in the new year for me. I can't go into too much detail right now, but wanted to voice my opinion when it comes to lameness of work permits. I still don't understand the system very well, but I am now learning first-hand. There are two main categories that expats like me fall into. Either you have a B Permit, which means I could work here no problem (there is a limited number and are basically saved for EU peeps) or the Loser Permit, the L Permit, which means a company would have to sponsor you in order to work.

When we found out we were moving here we had no idea which work permit we would receive. I don't think we actually found out until after we had lived here for 6 weeks and got our official alien ID card in the mail. Bam! Both of us Losers. No worries for Josh though since he already had a company going to bat for him.

Another lesson learned was if a company was to put a case in for me, the Loser, it could take up to three months before we heard anything and it could still be rejected. But, of course if I was EU this would be no problem. Sounds like they just have to pick up the bat phone and poof! I would be granted my wish. All of this is oh so interesting.

Wish me luck though. I should be finding out some more tonight. Hopefully a loophole will be found. Till then, I will be spending my day in usual hausfrau pants and a ponytail.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


If Silvesterklausen wasn't enough...

We were just getting started with our NYE celebration. The day continued on with all the last minute party preparations. Music playlist had to be made, apartment cleaned and arranged for our guests, and me, being the little chef that I am, had to throw together an apple strudel and spinach artichoke dip. Oh yeah! I am a cookin' these days. Who would have thought.

Being the popular expats that we are (I crack myself up), we had a house full of friends from all over the world. It still amazes me how quickly we have made friends and the quality of these friendships. We had a great time toasting to the New Year and fueling up on some munchies before heading down to the big city celebration at the Zurichsee.

A few months back we had played around with the idea of going somewhere else to bring in the New Year, but kept hearing how Zurich was actually supposed to be the top city in Europe for NYE. This was hard for me to believe since the Swiss aren't knows for their party animal skills. But, in the end...this is exactly where we wanted to be.

The party downtown had a bunch of tents set up with food, drinks, and music. We started and ended at the 80's music tent. Where else would a bunch of crazy Americans want to be? The clock struck midnight and the usual kissing and cheering went on. But, where are the fireworks? Everyone had talked about how great the fireworks show was going to be, but it is midnight, and there are no sparkles in the sky.

Come to find out, the fireworks don't start until 12:20am because the hotels and bars don't want everyone living until after the big champagne toasts at midnight. It makes sense. Can you imagine how much money they would lose? So, it is 12:20am and I am standing in line for the restroom (of course) and the fireworks start. It was like no show I have ever seen. This is by far the best fireworks show ever! And, they just kept going. They went on long enough for me to see the start while in line, go to the bathroom, and make it back for another 10 minutes of bangs and bursts right on the water. Awesome!

We continued dancing the night away to some Wham! and Michael Jackson before finding our way back to the flat around 4am. Such an amazing time and I have all of our friends to thank, especially Marc-ie Marc for making the big trip across the pond. Hope we can all do it again next year. Happy New Year all!

Monday, January 4, 2010


You know how your expectations for how amazing New Years Eve is always going to be and then the realization of how lame the night actually turns out to be? Well, finally (it only took 30 years and living in another country) to make that NYE dream come true.

Ever since our trip to Herisau for the Alpabfahrt this past Fall, we have been planning a return trip for their Silvesterklausen extravaganza on NYE morning. We are so lucky to have made such incredible friends here in Switzerland and even cooler is the fact that one of them is from this festive area ( rock!). We were extended an invitation to join HP, Stacie, and the family out at their house in Herisau to bring in the New Year with a little käsekuchen, wurst, and prosecco.

Who could say no to such an offer? We boarded the train early, early and headed to the land where on this day men dress up as women or as trees with elaborate cityscape hats.

If the invitation of coming to their house wasn't enough, Hanspeter's Mutter (being from Appenzell where this tradition originated) had a group of friends who actually do the whole costume thing and on their trek from city to city they stopped at the house for a private performance. We all scrambled around throwing on scarves and jackets while at the same time switching camera lenses and running down the stairs to not miss a beat of the dancing and singing.

The men were incredible...or should I say ladies? The performance went on for about 10 minutes where the men dance in a circle, swinging their cow bells, twirling around, and yodeling beautifully. At the same time, Hanspeter's Eltern would offer them white wine through a straw to keep them going for the rest of their journey. How these men wear these heavy costumes (sometimes close to 100 lbs.), sing and dance from city to city (starting at about 3am), and drink white wine (from a straw) the entire time -- I have no idea. What you won't do to keep your traditions alive.

After the private show, we made our way down to the center of town to join the rest of the crowds trying to get a peep of these spirits. The streets were packed. The glühwein was flowin'. And, every so often another pack of tree people or drag queens would come barreling through the streets.

I know I am going to get the reasoning wrong for exactly why they do this every year, but basically each one of these costumes represents either a "good" or a "bad" spirit and the singing/dancing is to keep the "bad" spirits away, bringing in a Happy New Year.

*This was only the start to our Silvestersauber...stay tuned for the rest of the story. More tomorrow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Planet Hoth

To start the year 2010 off on a humorous note, I bring you the guest blog post from our good friend and most recent visitor, Marc-ie Marc Perlman. Happy New Year everyone!

Over the past nine or so days that I spent with Josh and Deb here in
Switzerland, I've been struggling to come up with something to blog
about. The Peterthals had already posted pictures of the Rudy's BBQ I
snuck into the country, her brother has posted some stupendous
pictures of the Matterhorn, and Deb was planning to write about the
amazing New Year's Eve experience we had in Herisau for

So, instead of boring you with tales of how I'm a better skier (and
drinker) than Bode Miller, I thought I could tell you about how my
trip to Switzerland has actually just been a series of scenes from
Star Wars.

That's right folks, I came to Switzerland to visit Josh and Deb and
all I can talk about is Han Solo. Not the majestic Alps, the pounds of
wurst, or the gallons of beer. Just Star Wars geekery!

Since Deb already shared a picture of the BBQ with her faithful
readers, I'll just take the time to explain a little bit about the art
of international meat smuggling. If you're like Han Solo and happen to
have your own aircraft designed for smuggling, you can skip below --
but for anyone else who is coming to visit the Peterthals, pay
attention. They are going to expect illicit deliveries from now on.
You will not be able to pass off some Swiss Beaverwurst as Grade A
Jalapeno Sausage no matter how hard you try, so you better get used to
the fact that you, like Han Solo, are flying with illegal goods.

First up, pack your meat products carefully. Thanks to our friends Jay
and Alli (who, I believe, coined the term "Peterthals"), I had access
to a vacuum sealer, but some sturdy ziplock bags would probably work
too. If your perishables are actually perishable, freeze them. Freeze
them in carbonite if you've got to! The seven pounds of BBQ I brought
sat in my freezer, freshly vacuumed sealed, for over a week. You don't
want lukewarm squishy meat products and neither does Josh.

Next, stuff your goods to be smuggled into your luggage. The cargo bay
of an international flight isn't toasty, so your animal carcass isn't
going to thaw out. Also the TSA doesn't really care about what you
take out of the country; They are looking for things that'll blow up a
plane, not things that will piss off the folks on the other side of
the pond.

But here's the thing: the folks at the Zurich airport customs area
probably couldn't care if you had an entire suitcase filled with
heroin, much less meat. They (might) ask you how long you're staying
for and if you're here on vacation while stamping your passport. When
the kind woman stamped my passport, she didn't even look up and she
didn't even acknowledge my existence. On the way out of the baggage
claim, it's literally up to you if you choose to say "I have something
to declare in my bags" path or just walk out of the airport. Choose
your own adventure! There's no Jabba the Hutt checking up on you
'round these parts.

I chose to make like Han Solo and smuggle the meat.

The Han Solo parallels sadly didn't stop with becoming a smuggler (or
with having a vacation beard like a scruffy looking nerf herder).
Unlike Deb's brother Dave, my trip to the Matterhorn was not all blue
skies and skiing. In fact, it was no skiing and no blue skies. Were it
not for a brief glimpse of the Matterhorn from Zermatt, I wouldn't be
sure if Josh and Deb took me to the right place. (Truth be told, all
the souvenirs also featured the Matterhorn so that's probably an
indicator that Zermatt is somewhere near the Matterhorn.. right?)

Instead, the three of us somehow wound up on Hoth.

As Dave mentioned, the Igloo Bar wasn't open for his trip but that's
because the bar doesn't open for the season until Christmas. That
meant was Josh and Deb were easily cajoled into checking it out!

Sadly, we couldn't rent tauntauns for our trek across the snowy
expanse between us and aforementioned igloo. That's right, since I'm
actually not a huge skier, we rode a lift and a train half way up the
mountain to get to the bar. Except that the bar is actually halfway
between two stops, which meant the three of us hiked down a mountain.
Why they didn't put the bar about twelve feet from the train stop is
beyond me.

And, by that point, the mountain really did look like Hoth: grey
skies, blowing snow, and low lying clouds blended with an endless
expanse of snow to create the least interesting visuals known to
mankind. We couldn't even see the Igloo Bar, but after asking for
directions, off we went. Sadly, we don't follow directions too well.

Instead of immediately crossing over the ski trail as instructed, we
hiked down the edge of the ski trail. What kind of fools hike down a
ski run, in the Alps, to get to a bar? These fools.

After some slipping and sliding by Josh and Deb (shockingly the guy in
jeans and not snowpants didn't fall once) we made it to the "Igloo"
which was actually just a wooden bar standing in the middle of Hoth.
Next time someone advertises something as an "Igloo Bar", they better
get more than 50% of the description accurate. I'm not kidding folks,
there was a wooden bar with some folding lounge chairs and wooden
stump seats... in the middle of the ski slope. No igloos here on Hoth!

It didn't stop the three of us from enjoying some (literally) ice cold
beer, jagermeister, and hot glühwein. While other people skied up to
the bar, the three Americans sat on lounge chairs sipping our
beverages wondering when those huge Imperial AT-AT Walkers would come over the horizon.

Welcome to Hoth!

So my trip to see the Matterhorn was kind of a bust, but we did have
the story of hiking down a ski slope. And the rest of my time here was
great: Plenty of rosti, more than enough wurst to last a lifetime, a
great view of the Alps and a glacier in Saas Fee, and wonderful hosts.

Next time I visit though, I want to make like Han Solo and ride a
tauntaun. Or at least find out if Victorinox makes lightsabers.