Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wii Sports Resort


Wii Sports Resort!

We bought a Ninento Wii game system a couple of weeks ago, and Mark came home yesterday with Wii Sports Resort! It is a lot of fun. It is the upgrade to the original Wii Sports game. It has 12 sporting games, most of which are new. You can sword fight, jet ski, wake board, throw a frisbee, play table tennis, kayak, cycle, and more. It provides a lot of entertainment....I recommend it!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Geneva!



Fantastic view over Geneva!

Yesterday Mark and I took the train to Geneva to do some sightseeing, since it was our first visit. Geneva is a beautiful city that sits on the western end of Switzerland and Lake Geneva (known as Lac Leman in Switzerland). It houses the European HQ of the United Nations and is known as the "International City."

We walked towards the lake from the train station and were greeted by a spectacular view of the Jet d'Eau, which is the world's highest fountain. 113 gallons of water are shot 460 feet into the air every second. It is a pretty amazing sight! It was originally set up in the late 1800's to relieve water pressure during a reservoir system installation, but was so popular with the residents that the authorities constructed a permanent fountain. Luckily for us, it is still flowing over 100 years later!


We headed past the Jardin Anglais (English Garden) marked at the entrance by the Horloge Fleurie (Floral Clock), dedicated as a tribute to show the importance of clock-making in Switzerland's history. We ate lunch at a cafe on the lake and then walked to Geneva's Old Town, where we toured Cathedrale St. Pierre. This is the church where Jean Calvin, famous for his influence during the Protestant Reformation, preached his sermons. We walked up the cathedral tower and took in the amazing view from the top.


Our final stop on the way back to the train was to the American Market. Yes, it sells products from the U.S.! Although all the food here is very good, I have been having a craving for my beloved Ranch, which is not sold in the Swiss grocery stores! I was in luck, and walked out of the store w/ a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch. :)

It was a great day trip and we look forward to going back and seeing more of the city.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This Week's Events and Le Tour de France!


We had a busy week! Mark started his 1st day of work on Wednesday and had a good short week. He is busy getting to know the business and has already started working on projects. I finished my second week of French class. This week I started learning how to conjugate verbs, among other things!

Friday we went to our 1st Glocals event, a happy hour hosted at a bar in Lausanne. Glocals is a social networking site that allows expats to organize get-togethers. The bar, Etoille Blanche (translation: White Star!) was a lot of fun and we met a lot of nice people from all over, including the U.K, South Africa and Montreal.

Yesterday we took the train to Lausanne to go to the movies. We saw Harry Potter (in English, with French and German subtitles!). Afterwards, we went to my new favorite department store, Globus and purchased a Nintendo Wii!, which has been a great source of entertainment thus far!

Today has been a great day! We took a 20 minute train ride to Yverdon-les Bains and watched the Tour de France ride through. Today was Stage 15 and went from the border of France into Switzerland and included a climb at the finish into Verbier. We arrived about 2 hours early to ensure a good watching spot. Before the race came through, we were thoroughly entertained by the sponsor caravan that rode through. Every sponsor drove by in a car or bus of some form, playing music or honking their horn, and throwing out stuff to the crowd. It appears most of the stuff was aimed at the kids for their taking, but being the adults, we were thrown two keychain bottle openers by the alcohol company!!! LOL! Finally, we spotted the cyclists come around the corner around 12:55 pm and fly past us! The route was on a very flat road, so the riders were going at high speeds. The whole event was only about 20 seconds, but it was a sight to see. Check out the video below!

We caught the train back to Neuchatel and I had a productive afternoon getting our laundry done (our day to do laundry again!). Mark cooked a great dinner and now we are playing Wii Monopoly...well he is playing; he bankrupted me a few minutes ago! :)

That was our week in a nutshell! Looking forward to more fun events to come!


video

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Laundry Day!

Sunday was our first official day of doing laundry abroad...and it was an ordeal! I had to laugh at how difficult it was for us, so the story has to be told. First off, Sunday is our designated "laundry day," so I sorted all of our clothes and headed downstairs to check out the laundry room. To my dismay, the washing machine was completely different than any I had used at home. It had a bunch of indistinguishable symbols, so I had no idea what cycle was what! I went back upstairs and dragged Mark down to the laundry room with me, but he had no clue either! Luckily, he spotted the manual which was hanging on the wall, so I left the clothes there and took the manual upstairs to translate! To add to our difficulties, the manual was in 5 different languages, but I could not tell what any of them were! I tried translating them on the web, but none of them would translate with proper instructions. Finally, I decided to go a different route. The washing machine is made by Hoover, so I went back downstairs (for the 3rd time!) and found the model #. I was able to locate an English version of the Hoover manual online...woohoo!. After going through it and figuring out the mysterious symbols, I drew myself a diagram to indicate the buttons for the wash cycle, temperature gauge and "start"! I never would have thought that it would be such a difficult process! After the first load, I had the kinks worked out (the first load ran for 90 mins!...the time settings are quite different from the machines in the States!) It was a tough but good lesson to learn!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Olympic Museum & Park



Yesterday we went and visited the Olympic Museum and Park, which sits on the lakefront of Lausanne in the area known as Ouchy. The park is really beautiful. It has numerous sculptures on display dedicated to different sports, as well as two 75 ton sand sculptures. The museums houses two floors which display over 1000 items from every different sport at the Olympic games, many of which were donated by the athletes, as well as the equipment used. The walls of the museum take you through the history of the origin of the Olympic games and the important events at every Olympic game that has taken place in the modern era (since 1896). The next one to come...Vancouver in 2010!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Relaxing Afternoon & Chocolate!




After a busy week, Mark and I are enjoying some down time. I am relaxing at the table w/ my laptop and a gorgeous view of Neuchatel and the lake outside the window! We have been on the go a lot lately, but I have to admit that it is nice to have some time to relax as well! I just got home from grocery shopping, and am having a snack of some delicious German chocolate. :) Kinder is one of the main German chocolate brands here, and Toblerone is the famous Swiss chocolate. YUM! (Michelle, your Canadian candy update inspired this blog entry!) Next thing on the list to taste-test....cheese and the infamous fondue!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Temporary Relocation to Neuchatel

The view from the tram down the hill!

The view of Lake Neuchatel from our apartment

Today we relocated to Neuchatel, and now have corporate housing for the rest of the month! Woohoo! The Lausanne Palace and Spa is a great hotel, but nothing beats having your own place and a home-cooked meal! Neuchatel is the city that Mark will be commuting to for work. He starts work on the 15th, so work will be close by for a few weeks! The city is a lot smaller than Lausanne, which is why we decided to live there instead. It is beautiful though, and I am looking forward to checking out the area. Our apartment is spacious, fully furnished, and we have a fantastic view of Lake Neuchatel. We took the tram down the hillside to the town center this afternoon and did our first official grocery shop to fill up the fridge! The tram is right down the street from our place and comes up the hill every 4 minutes. It looks like a ride out of Disneyland! The commute to Lausanne is about 40 minutes, but goes quickly with only 1 stop in between. I will be up early tomorrow to get on the train for French class!

Monday, July 6, 2009

French Lessons!

Today was my first day in French school! I was nervous because I only have knowledge of a few french words right now! It is from 9-12 Monday-Friday through the end of July...hopefully I will be able to speak some of the language by the time it ends! We started out today learning the alphabet and basic phrases such as "my name is"..."je m'appelle Vanessa!" Hopefully one day I will know enough to blog in French!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Montreux Jazz Festival


Yesterday we went to the Montreux Jazz Festival, a famous three-week music festival that is held in Montreux, Switzerland every summer. Besides jazz, a wide array of other bands play there as well. We went and saw the Dave Matthews Band, which is a favorite of ours. We took the train from Lausanne to Montreux, which is only about a 20 minute ride. We got there early so we walked along the lake and grabbed a beer before we went to meet up with some people from glocals, the social networking website we joined to meet other expats in Switzerland. :) We ended up meeting 4 people who were really nice and we all grabbed a drink together before the concert. We strolled along the lakeside some more, checking out the booths and grabbed some dinner before heading into the auditorium. Once inside, we braved a long line of people who were also waiting to enter (luckily they were selling beer inside!). During our wait, we were lucky enough to see Dave Matthews come out and perform a quick song for the crowd before the show! The venue was really nice with mostly standing room only. A select few people had seats that were in the back at the top of the building. This was my second time seeing DMB, and Mark's 4th time, but it was just as great as the 1st time. Their entertainment level on stage is off the charts, and we went home thorougly happy, although exhausted as we left the venue at midnight, but had to wait an hour for a train home! It was a great day!
video

Friday, July 3, 2009

Chateau de Chillon


We spent Wednesday on a field trip to see the Chillon Castle, also known as Chateau de Chillon! There is a network of ships on Lake Geneva that stop at many different cities and towns. We took a steamship named "La Suisse"!, over to Chillon. The ride took about 1 1/2 hours and we got there at 2:00. The chateau has an extensive history...one of its most important eras dating back to the Savoy era (12th century-1536). Most of the chateau is open to the public so there is a lot to view, from the towers, to the kitchen and bedroom areas, all the way down to the prison chambers in the dungeon below. For any of you visiting this region of Switzerland, I recommend this spot! It has a lot of history and provides some extraordinary views!