Archive for May, 2012

May 29 2012

Just One Week in CH

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How does Switzerland manage to be a place simultaneously serene/boring and where crazy things happen such that I have so much to blog about? I don’t understand it. More mini-stories:

  • I went on a hunt for a mushroom brush.  My friend Quinnie knows what I’m talking about! They are these cute little brushes that look like a mushroom to be used for scrubbing mushrooms clean.  They also come in potato, and I think carrot, form. I have regretted since we left that we gave away our mushroom brush instead of taking it back to the States. Switzerland apparently takes seasonality to a new level—when I finally found someone in Migros (amazing! friendly!) to ask about mushroom brushes, I was informed that she knew exactly what I was talking about, but that they were not in season. But…doesn’t mushroom season happen in spring and fall? Anyone?
  • Ran into one of of my favorite professors at the Nyon train station that I thought I wouldn’t have time to see!  This place is so small!
  • On Monday night, I had dinner at Natalie’s in Renens, our old haunt. We talked late, and I was deciding whether or not I should take the train to Nyon for the night in Alex’s empty apartment, or sleep at Natalie’s. Good thing I chose to sleep at Natalie’s, because at the exact same time I would have gone to the station, there was a big fire there! When I went in the morning, however, I didn’t even notice that a big section of the station was charred…
  • Hm. Everyone is still white in all advertisements. But, whoa, so few advertisements, mostly for cultural activities or political referendums. Refreshing. Speaking of political ads, there is a vote coming up on childcare in Geneva, so there are lots of posters of babies, or, in one case, of a couple in bed working on baby production (it says, “Make love…we’ll take care of the rest. YES to the initiative on babyhood, NO to the counter project.”).  Then there is another ad floating around for milk, with a mama cow on a bike with several bike trailers carrying baby cows…that’s the kind of product ads that exist in this country.
  • For the first time when I was visiting archives at the UN, I was apprehended by UN Security.  They said (in French), “excuse me, but why are you in this staircase?”  I answered, “Well, because if I took a different way to the library I’d have to go down a big hill and then climb all the way back up to the top of the building where the League of Nations archives are.” They said, “True,” looked at me hard, and then walked away.
  • Apparently, if you have a car in the countryside, you can buy insurance against these small, cute martens who chew the wires in the hood.  This has actually happened to someone I know TWICE in just a few years!

My conference went well.  I flew back through Dublin, which, as it turns out, has a full US Customs on site, meaning I did the whole agriculture and passport inspection thing in Dublin and landed in domestic arrivals upon reaching Boston Logan.  How convenient, given the wedding I was rushing toward.

Now, we’re in New York (mostly) for the summer!

 

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May 21 2012

A Return Visit

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So here I am once again, running around the stretch of Lac Leman between Geneva and Lausanne for the week, still suffering from jetlag.  I am here to present at a conference on the history of international organizations at my school on Friday.  As it was in February, it is strange to be back.  At least this time it is not frigidly, unbearably cold.

Events and observations so far, since Friday’s landing:

  • I got myself from a landed airplane through customs and my bag from the belt and onto a train in less than 30 minutes. I love Geneva Cointrin!
  • There are thermal baths in Geneva! Who knew? They were pretty nice!
  • Geneva continues to mess with my mind by changing the whole public transit system and train station around. Gah.
  • Fresh peas! Fresh fava beans!  Asparagus galore! The best tasting strawberries ever! Cheese! I miss these markets!!!
  • I found a coton de tulear wandering outside the thermal baths in Geneva, with a collar but no owner or tags.  She was just like Ruben, and came running over to be pet when I called to her. Then I freaked out and called the ASPCA, then animal control, and was continually re-directed because of the lack of things being open on a Saturday, until I was finally told automatically to “take the lost dog to the local police station.” That would require knowing where the police station was.  Instead, I picked up the Ruben doppelganger (albeit with a terrible haircut) and marched her around the nearby park until I found a bichon-frise owner who thought she recognized the dog and promised to care for her until Monday when things re-opened.
  • I stayed a night at a friend’s parents’ house in Lausanne.  Their kitchen comes equipped with a built-in steamer.  I was like, “What is that?!”  She said, “What, I always assumed all kitchens in America had them! You don’t recognize it?”  Um, nope. I think it is something along these lines.
  • A confiserie/chocolatier in Nyon was selling chocolates that looked like iPhones.  They were remarkably accurate, but brown instead of black and not as shiny.  They had a batch of them created to be children’s party favors, with each child getting an “iPhone” with his/her name on it.

Yep. I am not in Pittsburgh anymore.

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