Archive for June, 2010

Jun 21 2010

Avoiding the World Cup in Switzerland

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…is difficult to do. For weeks, we have been sealing the windows against buzzing plastic vuvuzelas and honking car processions.  The park behind our building has become a center of World Cup noise—boy, do kids loving blowing on those horns.  It was bad the night Switzerland beat Spain. Also, in our town of Balkan, Portugese, African, Turkish, and other immigrants, any win from Balkan or Portugese-speaking countries elicits rounds of buzzes and honks.  The apartment buildings are decked out in a wide variety of warring flags.  I kind of think spectator sports are generally ridiculous, particularly when they bring out everyone’s nationalist and sexist leanings. And even if I liked soccer and nationalism, we don’t own a TV and I don’t have time to watch. If I make leisure time, it’s going to go towards picking and baking strawberries, not watching men run around on a field in South Africa. I’m trying to finish my master’s thesis and prepare for a conference on the EU, here.

**complain**

Anyway, if you are trying to avoid the World Cup in this fine country, here are some tips?

  1. Don’t live in a town with representatives from many nations.  If you do, head to the most isolated Alpine valley you can for the affected time period.
  2. Keep your windows closed.  You never know when an important team to your neighbors might win.
  3. Don’t take buses.  They have notices that their routes might be disturbed because of the World Cup.  I’m not sure how buses and the Cup are related.
  4. Stay outta the street.  You might get flattened by people more intent on alerting their neighbors to the new World Cup status than on saving gas money.
  5. Don’t talk to anyone other than Americans or students currently taking exams or finishing theses.  Everyone else will launch into a discussion of soccer.

Wait.  I hear buzzing and honking.  What just happened?  The Internet tubes tell me that Portugal just beat Korea.  Are our neighbors cheering for Portugal?  For Brazil beating Côte d’Ivoire?  In preparation for the upcoming match of Switzerland v. Chile?  Oh no, we’re going to Portugal on Wednesday…

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Jun 18 2010

Raining Strawberries

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There are not many fruits you can go pick yourself in this country.  The one widespread fruit-picking availability is strawberries, not apples like it is in the northeastern US.  Thus, even though we’ve been getting plenty of strawberries and cherries the last few weeks from our CSA, Adar and I decided we had to go picking.

Adar, Seth, and I agonized over where to go (using this helpful listing).  Adar called a bunch of places, found out about pesticide use, opening hours, and prices, and after we checked each place on sbb to see if we could get there by public transport, we settled on Fraises de Bussy.  They have an adorable pdf ad, the owner (Stéphane) was nice on the phone, the price was right (5 chf/kilo), picking was “non-stop” (no lunch break in a field!), and no pesticides used!  This was a much more casual, smaller, lawless, place, I think, than the type Swisstory’s Jessica blogged about.

Bussy-Chardonnay Train Station

We took a little local train up from Morges, on which you have to request a stop.  We stepped out into fields, and followed signs to the strawberry picking.  Then…the heavens opened.  Within seconds, we were drenched.  Only Seth’s high-tech rain jacket was sufficient protection, and that only went to his hips.  We sprinted towards the farm, Adar wheeling her vegetable cart at top speed.  A kind man stopped his car and asked if we’d like him to take us somewhere, but we turned down the offer and aimed for the tent-covered stand in the distance.  A few seconds later, the three of us ran under the tent, soaking, dripping wet.  Once we caught our breath, and in my case, wiped the drops off my glasses with a dryish patch of shirt, we laughed about how silly it was that we’d come and it started to pour.  Stéphane thought we were hilarious.

Under the Tent

We stood under the tent, laughing and chatting with Stéphane. We took turns pushing the tent up to release the pooling water, took some photos, and since we were already wet, Seth and I ventured into the fields for a few minutes to grab at least a few fresh strawberries.  They were tasty.  Since the rain didn’t seem like it was letting up any time soon, Stéphane decided to just go home for the day, and he offered us a ride back to Lausanne plus two kilos of strawberries he had picked this morning.  We took him up on the offer.

Strawberries!

As we drove away, a couple showed up to pick.  Stéphane graciously offered that they could help themselves in the fields.  They went out with their umbrellas.

In the Car, with Strawberries and Oranges

Tonight: 2 kilos (well, a bit less…we’ve been eating them) of strawberries worth of baked goodies.  Yummm.

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Jun 09 2010

Published by under Status updates

Just found out that Yom Kippur, a choir retreat, and my master’s graduation are all happening the same weekend in September.  =/

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Jun 08 2010

Concert in the Campagne

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This week, tomorrow to Sunday, I’ll be performing in 5 concerts at the Theatre du Jorat in Mézières, a little country village about 15 minutes’ drive northeast of Lausanne.  Here is a link with info about our concert,  Choral Attitude.  The theater is in a gorgeously renovated, wooden barn.  If it was a bit easier to get to via public transportation, I would go there all the time for shows.  As it is, I take a bus to the Lausanne metro (M2), the metro to the end of the line (Croisette), and then a bus from Croisette to  Mézières (it works, but it is tedious).  Yesterday, during our dress rehearsal, the whole town had the distinct perfume of cow.

The concert features a yodleuse.  She is super cool.  She yodels, she dances ballet, she plays accordion, she speaks French with an awesome Swiss-German accent, and it turns out she can also conduct choirs should the need arise.  Also, she uses a pitch pipe; the only one I’ve ever seen in Switzerland…she had to explain to our conductor how to use it.  Probably the best part about being in this concert, at least as an American, is getting to be on stage with her and listen to her.

So, needless to say, our performance will be very Swiss.  Not traditional, but full of references to the traditional.  There is a percussionist on stage who has a full set of instruments meant to resemble Swiss sounds, like cowbells, hooves, and churchbells.  Oh, there are also a few choirs.  I think a lot must be lost on me, but it is still pretty exciting.

All of this is to say, if you are reading this, and you are in Switzerland, you should be buying your tickets now.

In other news, Seth just got a job.  Yay Seth!  He’ll be working at the World Health Organization, doing statistics and data analysis for a project on micronutrients.  Double commute to Geneva, here we come.  Anyone have an apartment to offer us in Geneva or near the gare in Lausanne?

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