Oh, how this phrase needs to be coined over here. You should all know, whether you are an expat or just visiting, that there is a BIG difference between a "Swiss pour" and an "American pour". We learned this lesson early on. After ordering my first glass of wine during our preview trip, a glass with a couple droplets of wine was delivered to our table. I thought, hmmm...maybe there was a language problem. Maybe the server didn't understand what I wanted. I wanted a GLASS of wine. Not a dash, a dribble, a teaser...a glass!
Take note of the picture above. To the left you will see a traditional Swiss pour. On the right...an American pour. Also notice the measurements etched into the glass.
Know that when you order a glass of wine, they will bring you 1 dl. To convert this to our English system, it basically equals a splash of liquid. No joke. The trick is to order however many deci's you want at the beginning. My friend, Stacie has now developed the term "The American Pour". We are hoping it catches on and there won't be those looks of uncertainty in the server's eyes the next time we order "zwei deci". Some day.
For fun: Ask a Swiss-y how many glasses of wine are in a bottle and I guarantee they will say 7.5. Ask an American and you will get a range of answers somewhere between two and four depending on glass size.
Found. Great photography classes in English! We took a phenomenal "DSLR Photography for Beginners" course over at the Viewfinder Center here in Zurich this past weekend. I think we both had the normal apprehensions about how much we would really get out of the class, especially with Josh being at more of an intermediate level. Would it be more talky, talky with no real application value? Would I feel bogged down with terms and still feel like I didn't have a good grasp on where to go from here? Would seven hours of photo talk sing me right to sleep?
The class was a good combination of informal lecture and hands-on practice. We both left feeling invigorated and empowered...chomping at the bit to take more pictures and try out our newly acquired skills. The instructor, Bryon Paul McCartney (gotta love the name), hands down knows what he is talking about and his passion for the subject is evident. Big photo geek for sure.
This is how good it was. After being in class all day, we got home and immediately pulled out our laptops. Josh started our search for the perfect tripod. Who knew they could be that expensive? Gotta remember most hobbies aren't cheap. And, I got signed up and started playing with my free trial of Aperture. My lack of photo editing ability is going to get better. I see bright and vibrant colors in my future.
Because of winter I have forgotten how easy it is to just get on a train and go somewhere random for the day. I know. I know. Go skiing. Hike in the freezing cold. Yeah. Not really my style. This girl doesn't do cold. Ask my folks. After experiencing the worst winter in the history of South Dakota during my senior year in high school, I vowed never to live in a place again that I would have to own a windshield scraper. The first snow fall here was pretty, but then it just gets gray...and I have been seeing gray for the last too many of months. Enough.
Thank goodness Spring is here and to celebrate Stella and I jumped the first train to Thun yesterday and got the hell out of dodge. It's just a short hour and a little trip southwest of Zurich, in the direction of Interlaken. It must have been one of the first expat blog posts I ever read after moving here telling about the beauty of the city and for some reason I have been itching to check it out ever since.
The city is, just like they had said, beautiful. It felt quaint to me. Lots of little shops lining the streets, streams following in and around the city, tiny alleyways. Perfect for a dog/mom day. We made our way through the town checking out the usual Swiss city sites. Rathaus. Check. Church. Check. Castle. Check.
I was busy trying to take pictures while Stella was either pulling me in the opposite direction or trying to pee on the graves behind the church. It definitely made for an interesting few hours.
We strolled along the water. Had a "ladies that lunch" stop down by the water. And, then continued along the waterfront hoping to reach the edge of the Thunsee and get some amazing panoramic shots of the Alps overlooking the city. Funny enough though, I must have looked at the map wrong. I needed to be on the other side of the water (opposite side of the train station) to get where the water opened up. All I got was a gate saying "Geschlossen". Boo.
Now, I might have retraced my steps trying to make my way to the other side until I realize I had a bigger problem. How was I going to use the Toilette when I have a dog in tow? Hmmm. I guess maybe people tie up their dogs outside? I thought maybe I would just catch the next train back and hope there was a large potty on board where both of us could fit. No such luck.
Then Plan B was to have Josh ditch work early and meet me at HB (the Zurich main train station), hoping I hadn't peed myself on the way back to town. Maybe Plan C should have been to have him ditch work and bring me some dry pants, now that I think of it. Luckily, the sensation, that turned into discomfort, that turned into pain, subsided and I was able to make it home without making a scene. I know you are all concerned. But, seriously, these are things you have to think about when it is just you, your camera bag, and a dog.
Besides not having three hands to juggle everything, it was a wonderful day. The sun was out. I was experiencing a new place. All by myself (which is huge). The only thing missing that would have made the day even better was, of course, Josh...but, someone has to bring home the bacon.
I love when people over here ask me where I am from. I can see the determined look in their eyes when they are trying to figure out where my accent comes from. Am I British? No. Maybe Austrailian? No. Then the light goes on. The States? I guess my mutt-mix of South Dakotan and Texan drawl throws them for a loop. Even better are the looks after they figure out I am American, are when they find out I lived in Texas. Immediately they assume I carry a gun and follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush.
Makes me laugh every time.
I do love me some Austin! Josh and I lucked out getting to a trip back to visit. I probably shouldn't say it that way. Let me rephrase. Josh was required to attend the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference for work. As you know, Josh's final project with Blogger launched. Works for me.
So, while Josh was attending lectures and networking with other technology geeks, I was basically catching up with friends and eating (fine, drinking) my way through the city.
Mushroom quesadillas and queso at Trudy's. Breakfast sandwich and french toast at Counter Cafe. Fajitas at El Chile. Baby back ribs at Artz Rib House. More bbq at Rudy's. Oh yes. One small girl can eat all of this. Thankfully, I did get one 4-mile run in around Town Lake before the sickness of all sicknesses attacked me.
Still not exactly sure what I got...maybe food poisoning (not from any of the places above), maybe the stomach flu that had been going around, maybe a combination of the two with a side of mega-allergies. I haven't been that sick in a long, long time. I am still trying to recover from its' hold on me.
Somehow I made it through the week. I was a warrior with only a few extra naps required in between friend outings. I hate to admit it though. The subject of moving to Seattle instead of back to Austin (whenever that day should come) was discussed -- briefly, very briefly.
I swear it was the congestion speaking.
We loved being back and seeing all of our friends. You all mean the world to us and we hope to see each and every one of you over on our side of the pond someday soon.
It only took me about three years and moving out of the country to finally get the cowboy boots of my dreams. Old Gringo Marsha Brass Blue. I feel like I should be saying, "You fixin' to go to the rodeo?" or "How y'all doin'?" or maybe "How's your zoody, son?" whenever I slip them on. You can't get any more Texas than this.
Quick wanted to inform you all that Josh's baby has launched! Try out the NEW Blogger Template Editor by going to http://draft.blogger.com/. Click on Layout and then on the Template Editor. So proud of my husband. Have fun clicking.
Not a ton of time right now to enlighten you on all of its' wonders. We are off to Counter Cafe for my first tastes of Austin. More to come.
Western Europe Itineraries open on the table, Lonely Planet Western Europe guidebook sprawled across my chest, seven websites open, post-its in hand, pencil behind ear, and a snoring puppy along side. The research has begun for our upcoming trip to Amsterdam. Taking suggestions...
Looking for a solid Swiss restaurant to take family and friends to when they are visiting you? A must stop on the Peterthal Zurich tour is dinner at Zeughauskeller, an old armoury turned beer restaurant. Everyone needs a little rösti in their belly before leaving us.
The reason for rösti being on the brain was that this past weekend, Josh and I did a little catching up with the Zeug. We must have been going here at least once a week when all the family was visiting around the holidays. It has taken a couple months, but my stomach has finally given me the go ahead for another round at Zeughauskeller.
Couple of key take home notes about eating here.
First know that reservations are very handy to have at this restaurant, but not required. We have actually been told they are booked for the night, but to just come in early (around 6pm) and they should be able to squeeze you in.
Check out their specialty menu. You really can't go wrong with anything on this list. Still never ventured to get the meter-weiner. Scary. But, I get the Kalbgeschnetzeltes - Zuri style with rösti every time and Josh and my brother have split the Bergermeister Hans Waldmann Sword (steak on a sword).
You have to try the Zeughauskeller Eidgenoss at least once. This is a flaming beer they make right at the table. The actually have a bottle labeled "Feuerwasser". Who knows what it really is. I wouldn't say it's anything I would order again, but a good story to tell.
There menu comes in something like 10 languages. Some random trivia for ya.
And, in case you are too chicken to order the Eidgenoss "flaming beer", here's a couple videos detailing my experience. Bon appetit!
We have an answer! After posting my rant about the random toilet cord and plug-in in Was Ist Das - #2, I got a quick response on Google Buzz from our friend and past tenant of the apartment.
Barbara: hahahaha :) did you try to push the buttons at the sides?
Me: Buttons? Be right back.
There turns out to be two silver buttons on the side of this machine. And, yes, I now call it a machine. This toilet has way too many abilities to be just a toilet. Hmmm...what do you think I do with those? I start pushing both in, turning them forwards and backwards, pushing one while turning the other...nothing. They have to do something. And then something happened. Come to find out all I needed to do was put pressure on the toilet seat and push the right button.
So, I am leaning over the toilet with one hand on the seat and the rest of my body zoned in to figuring out this button mystery, when all of a sudden I start getting sprayed head to toe with water. I start screaming at the top of my lungs wondering what the hell just happened. There is a fountain of water spraying out of this machine. Once my screams settle and the mechanical arm spraying the water retreats, I notice that not only am I soaked but the bathroom door, floor, and bathtub are drenched.
What the hell just happened?
I come back to my computer and Barbara is online messaging me to look in the kitchen, under the stove. I am truly scared now. She sent me in to uncharted territory last time with no instructions and look what happened. Now what? She tells there is an instruction manual for the toilet. She also said that after she had seen the instructions, she was too scared to test out its' capabilities.
How can an instruction manual be that scary?
I dig through the instruction booklets of all our appliances and the last one I come upon is for the toilet. At first sight, it looks normal. There is a booklet with directions like usual, but when you keep looking there is this separate page of illustrations explaining the simple 4-step approach to using the machine successfully.
These graphic illustrations are just wrong. At first glance, I thought the guy just had a lot of cellulite, but turns out he is made out of clay. Then I keep looking and he has this creepy smile that keeps changing at each step. He looks the happiest (and creepiest) when the water is shooting up his yoo-hoo. And, in the last picture, during the "drying phase", he even has a newspaper in his hands. So strange. Just so wrong.
You may be wondering then, if after all that, did I go back in and try out each of the steps. Hell no. The closest I got was spraying my camera when trying to shoot the video. What kind of a toilet has a mechanical arm that shoots water high enough to reach the ceiling? It also had three spray directions, an air freshener, and dryer.
And, no. I am not that slow. I realize this is a toilet, but check out the cord hanging down and the outlet to the left. Was ist das? We have plugged it in and nothing seems to change. It doesn't shoot up water or sing a little congratulatory song to you. We thought maybe some sort of automatic cleaner. That would be a very Swiss thing for a toilet. Still no clue. Thoughts?
So, there I am having my regular free weekly lunch with Josh at Google and we end up sitting with a guy possibly looking to move to Zurich from the States and a couple other transplant Googlers giving him advice on what it's like to live on our side of the pond. I don't know why I found this so hilarious, but we sat down probably about 10 minutes after the group had started chatting and they were diving in to all the tiny, in my opinion "fluff" details, about what it's like to live in Zurich. Details about having to use a blower room to dry your clothes, how often you have to go to the store to buy bread, why milk doesn't have to be refridgerated at the grocery. All things that shouldn't make or break your decision to move half way across the world.
I just kept thinking, these are the issues people living in the magical bubble world of Googleland focus on. Funny.
It was interesting though when the guy introduced himself to me and kind of brought me into the conversation. He asked what Josh and I thought about living here. Of course we said we liked it, but my real question for him was, "Tell me what your concerns are for moving over here". Not sure if anyone had asked that question yet and his response caught my attention. He said, "Well, my wife would want to work over here. She would need a job.".
A smile crept onto my face. Forget about laundry day and the daily trips to the Coop.
Oh, funny little Googlers living in Googleland, it is fine to spit out all the little details you were told before moving to Zurich, but take it from a Hausfrau -- don't forget to look at the bigger picture.
Nerd Speak 101: Here is your lesson today, class. Code Freeze.
We were sitting around the other night, pretty much like we have been for the past two weeks. Josh on his computer working away to the wee hours and me making my way through Season 1 of In Treatment. Not so exciting after the first couple nights, but that is the price I pay to be married to an engineer. Just part of the job.
So, on Sunday night, Josh leans over and asks me if I know what a "code freeze" is. I think he sees that my eyes have officially glazed over and my butt has made a permanent imprint in the couch. I am in need of some serious motivation. Some choice words that will show me there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Code Freeze. Nope. Out of all the nerd speak I have heard come out of his mouth, these words are new to me. Come to find out, these words are just what I want to hear. They tell me that Josh won't have to be working late nights after Monday and that are lives can be taken off pause. Thank god.
However, for you all (especially you BLOGGERS), code freeze has another significance. It literally means that no more code can be written for a project being launched soon...very soon! I can't give you all the details. Just know there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Blogger launch coming soon!
I am nervous to jinx it, but is that the sun I see?
It's been tough these past couple of months dealing with the winter. It has been a long time since I have lived in a place that has snow and is gray day in and day out. I admit though that this was nothing compared to those nasty, friged months growing up in South Dakota where the windchill would be -75 degrees below and there is a mountain of snow in the front yard and somehow school is still not called off. Feels kind of like the story a grandparent tells about having to walk UPHILL, in the snow, both ways to and from school. Yes, admittedly...Zurich is nothing like that story, but it is still so good to feel the warmth on my skin...finally.
For all you wondering what a hausfrau does with her spare time, let me give you a hint. It involves a Kindle, a beer, and a chair in the sun.