Aug 23 2008

Slugs, sheep, & mountain chalets

by at 9:50 pm

We are in a chalet in Gryon! Jackie is eating a chocolate croissant. Posts won’t be this long in the future, we hope.

The flight went smoothly–a bit of a delay on takeoff, but otherwise, no problems. We watched the second Narnia movie. Seth fell asleep right before the climax and got way more sleep than Jackie but still not that much. We got right through customs, got all our bags, and met Mary (from the Swiss-Jewish-American family) at the airport. We were able to squeeze everything into the car (it was a cross between station wagon and minivan) with just enough room for another backpack or so (good thing we didn’t check another suitcase!).

Mary took us the long way up to the chalet, which was very beautiful although it’s cloudy and drizzly here today. Jackie got rather motion sick as we climbed the mountain. Things we learned from Mary on the car ride:

  • Despite passing the Nestle world headquarters on the way, Nestle chocolate chips (which are essential for baking chocolate chip cookies, apparently) are unavailable in Switzerland because they do not have a high enough chocolate content to be considered “chocolate”
  • Retired Olympic athletes can sometimes be spotted in Lausanne, exercising in the vicinity of the Olympic headquarters
  • Switzerland has world-class outdoor swimming pools
  • Lake Geneva is dirty–especially compared to the Great Lakes
  • Switzerland not only has a dense public transit network and shared bike and car programs, but it also has a dense network of footpaths (called Wanderweg), marked very clearly with where they head and how many hours it might take to walk to that destination.

We drove by the University of Lausanne, which employs a shepherd and a flock of sheep to do its lawn care. We also drove by EPFL, the school that Seth is going to be working at (looks a little industrial). No sheep though. Lawn care probably isn’t the right term–both campuses had trimmed meadows of sorts.

We stopped at a mall to get SIM cards. We are now on a Swisscom prepayed plan (which is really expensive for us to make short outgoing calls!) and that will have to do until we have our residence permits. Send us an e-mail for our phone numbers. And remember! You can always reach us on Skype.

That chalet is very nice. Not fancy, but very comfortable. And it has a dishwasher! Mary got a lot of food for us, and somehow even managed to provide us with soy yogurt which will be great for Seth. Switzerland is a duvet country, which inexplicably perplexes Jackie, who really likes sheets. (Note from Seth: She’s crazy.) We took a jet-lag induced nap (it was REALLY HARD to drag ourselves out of bed) at the chalet and then headed into town. Town included a bike rental place, a convenience story/grocery (we got some more lactose-free foods), an amazing boulangerie, and a tourist information center.

On the way back from town we passed dozens and dozens of slugs next to a series of upscale chalets. They were everywhere: on the sidewalk, perched on the terracing of the landscaping, and seemingly dried up on the foliage. We shot a video which is a bit juvenile–if you know some small children, watch it with them so they’ll think you’re cool. Careful though, it’s a bit gross.

In another video that may appear later, we argue about our current location. Jackie, who grew up in Philly and New Jersey, is no stranger to hills and mountains, and visited Switzerland at age 14, is of the opinion that we’re not currently in the Alps. Seth, who’s never been to Switzerland and first encountered (and was terrified by) mountains at age 14 is convinced that if we’re in mountains, they must be the Alps. Who’s right? We’re still not sure.

We cooked dinner. And ate it. Then we wrote this post. Off to bed!

P.S. Download Skype! …and don’t forget to actually sign onto it.

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Slugs, sheep, & mountain chalets”

  1. Judy (aka Seth's mom)on 24 Aug 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Yaaay, Seth and Jackie for doing all the million things you had to do before you left. On Weds. and Thurs. I had some serious doubts about whether it would really happen, but you pulled it off!

    Here’s my question though: If I correctly guess the objects in your video, what do I win? Not one of them, I hope.

  2. Zachon 25 Aug 2008 at 11:43 pm

    After watching your video and unsuccessfully trying to “love it” (although I’m happy it didn’t work, because at best I merely like-liked it), I have to say that I hope counting is not an essential part of any of the jobs you are doing in Swisserlands. Also, please refrain from referring to turd-slug debates as juvenile. That is the very thing that the pope excommunicated Galileo for and now we can all be thankful we live in a heliocentric solar system.

  3. Annaon 27 Aug 2008 at 2:27 pm

    This all sounds pretty fabulous. Speaking of boulangeries, Gwangju is chock full of a boulangerie chain called Paris Baguette (pronounced “pah-ree-bah-geh-tuh”). For example, the directions for getting home from my school are “take bus 54, get off at Paris Baguette, turn left at the next Paris Baguette, and turn right to go home.” I’ve had some tasty things there, but their chocolate cake was unfortunately not up to par (get it? kind of?). For some reason, chocolate isn’t that popular in Korea anyway. Their loss.

    P.S. They also have 7-Eleven here, of all things.

    P.P.S. Mmm, slugs.

  4. SwissWatching » Moved in!on 30 Aug 2008 at 9:48 pm

    […] Switzerland has a reputation things generally working. Trains run on time. The government regulates cocoa content in food products called chocolate. But this does not apply to washers and dryers. They were […]

  5. […] couple of weeks ago, Seth talked about how sheep mow the lawns of the University of Lausanne. Turns out they also mow the random fields and green spaces along the highway. Seth and I are were […]

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