Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swagger International Headquarters

So after flying back to Zurich from attending market in Atlanta - I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my apartment complex had been SWAGGERIZED! Seriously - see below! The building was already lime green but they changed the awnings to ZEBRA!!! I guess they knew that I was operating Swagger's International Headquarters out of the building and they wanted to give me a welcome home present!:)

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Real "Welcome to Europe" Weekend!

Okay - I know - it has been a while so I hope you guys are still interested in our travels:) To be honest we haven't been doing a whole lot that I thought you would be interested in. But this weekend was awesome!

On Saturday, Nathan and I went to the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen - "Europe's Biggest Waterfall". It was only about an hour train ride from our house. Not Niagara Falls - but still very cool. They have this rock - literally in the middle of the falls - that people climb to get a better "view". Not that the view wasn't awesome from the banks of the Rhine - but if they are offering to go stand in the middle of the falls - you HAVE TO GO - right? Nathan wants to know how much longer that rock is going to be there - I was hoping at least 3 hours longer than we were going to be there. Because - by God I was going to the top AND I didn't want to see anyone else get washed away either:) Seriously though - some statistics on how big the rock used to be and how much longer they thought it was going to be there before it eroded would have been nice - scary - but nice! It actually wasn't that scary from the side we entered on - we took a train to the Schloss Laufen stop then crossed the Rhine by boat below the falls. AFTER taking a boat to the rock and climbing it we went up river to see the Falls from the opposite side - this was the angle that I thought was scariest because the rock didn't look as substantial - see below! Here are some pics and a video!

I'm on a boat..... headed for the falls!

Our boat is headed for that rock in the middle of the falls

Almost there......

Almost to the top of the rock!

There were very narrow stairs that you climbed to get to the top

View of the falls from the top of the rock!

Pic of us at the top for posterity:)

Here is a video of what it sounded like:

Picture of the falls from the banks of the Rhine

View of the rock from up river - kind of scary!

The falls are located in Neuhausen about an hours walk (or 10 minute train) to Schaffhausen - an old Medieval Town. Why train it when you can walk right? :) It was actually a very nice walk along the banks of the Rhine. Pretty entertaining too. First we see these kids (punks) walking down the path blaring loud music. So maybe somewhere besides Switzerland this wouldn't be so strange but HERE everything is perfect and quiet and no one really does anything that would disturb someone else so it was very odd. The funny thing was the little punks had some good Swiss engineering and rigged a cart with speakers (with serious bass), then piled all their stuff on it and then managed to rig it so they were pulling it from their pants so their hands could be free - to drink beer. I guess you have to appreciate ingenuity - and we got to break it down with a little dance party so it was cool:)!

Next we saw some old guy practicing to be Rocky Balboa - dressed in his Sunday best - in the middle of the path - I tried to get a picture but I didn't want to be rude.:) Then we saw this "statue" in the water - cool but again unexpected and odd - we loved it!:) I guess that is what you would look like if you fell in the river and were headed to the falls?

Finally we made it to Schaffhausen - cute town with some great shops! The highlight was the Munot Fortress (built between 1564 - 1589). Great views from the top! It was surrounded by vineyards too - I wish we could have stayed for a wine tasting but it was getting late and we wanted to walk back to the Falls via a different path so I couldn't partake - maybe next time:)!
Rose Garden at Munot Fortress

Inside the Munot

View from the top

View of Munot from the street
Sunday - Nathan got up and biked to the top of the Utleiberg again. We hiked there last weekend so I know how high it is and I think I would rather shoot myself than try to do that on a bike -so I slept in and tried to prepare myself mentally for our first game of Cricket! (I did play this when I was at Oxford but that was like 10 years ago so I didn't think it should count:)!) Someone from the "glocals" group set it up. (Glocals is an expat group that we belong to) After being schooled on all things cricket we picked teams and started the game! Who knew it would take so damn long!:) We played 15 overs (whatever the hell that means) and our team won 89 - 43:) Of course they asked ME to keep score and I really had NO idea what was going on so that might have been an inflated score - but not my fault - who asks the AMERICAN to keep the cricket score anyway?! Nathan did a great job bowling (basically pitching) as well as catching some fly balls to get some of their best players out. I wasn't a great bowler or batter but - I surprisingly caught two balls as well! I'm now addicted:) It was a great group and everyone was really nice! Everyone barbequed then some of us went down to the lake for a swim/beer.

Our friend Miriam bowling

Me hitting - I think I missed that one:)
This is where it got interesting. We ended up at Seebad Enge (a swimming bath/bar on the lake - kind of like the Frauenbad that I posted about before). Only Miriam and I (the two girls) decided to actually swim so we headed off into the FREEZING water to swim to the platform. Everything was great - we were enjoying the view of the beautiful snow capped mountains - when out of the water - onto the platform comes a COMPLETELY NAKED MAN (out of the freezing cold water mind you:) ! He does a little naked stretch (unfortunately this image is now burned on the retinas) -then another one comes onto the platform! Then another! Then ANOTHER! Am I on candid camera? Where are all these naked people coming from anyway - we entered the lake from a bar where everyone was fully clothed?! Before the platform was completely taken over by the nudists we swam to the other platform. This was a sight to be seen! I so wish I would have had my camera! So these 4 naked men with white butts are all facing away from us (thank god) looking out at the majestic view and off to the side was a flying Swiss Flag! All I could think was "WELCOME TO EUROPE" because you certainly wouldn't see this on Lake Jordan! Anyway, what a missed opportunity! I could have made millions on this pic as a postcard! "Hi Mom - enjoying my time in Switzerland - here's the view! Love, Mandy":)

(Here's a link to the rest of our pics if you want to see them!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack!

Did you miss me?:) I can't believe it has been over a month since the last time I wrote on this blog. I have truly missed it! I just found it so hard to write while I was in the US - too busy!!! Like I have mentioned before - I am not a natural writer so it takes me a WHILE to spit out all my thoughts. But well worth it to keep track of our travels (and your comments and positive feedback keep me going so THANK YOU)!:)

What a whirlwind - I have been in the US for exactly one month and it has felt like an eternity since I arrived AND that it has gone by in the blink of an eye - all at the same time! Has that ever happened to you? I miss Nathan terribly (I'm not just saying that to be cheesy). :) It has been really hard to be away from my husband for 30 days and I told him it will NEVER happen again. That part has been the eternity. The rest of it - family vacation, working at Swagger, Market, visiting with friends - went by so fast. I don't even feel like I got to see anybody. Where did the days go? I wanted to start crying when I hugged my Dad goodbye this morning b/c I hadn't even see him in the last two weeks more than 10 minutes before I went to sleep. I kind of knew that would be the case though so I really did try to cherish every moment. Sounds kind of sappy I know - but I think sometimes we just get set on auto pilot and go through the motions every day. Moving to Zurich has made me appreciate the everyday beauty of my routine life as much as the fantastic trips and new experiences. Is this just happening b/c I'm getting older? And more sentimental? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, as I sit here in Toronto - BY MYSELF - during my SIX HOUR layover with NO PHONE- I want to kiss whoever decided to have free Wi-Fi in the airport! THANK YOU important Toronto Airport people who make the decisions - you ROCK! I wanted to Skype Swagger but I decided that might be a bad I idea - I am already carrying a baby doll for a friend (I didn't want her to get squished or decapitated in my luggage) so people are already staring at me - talking to my computer screen MIGHT have made someone call security!:) I also thought that maybe I needed some time to reflect - I have seriously either been with someone or on my phone for every second since I have been here! (I just checked my Verizon Wireless minutes and I have spoken over 1000 minutes in the last 4 weeks!) Which is probably another reason I haven't been writing this blog!:)

Ooooh - they just called my flight! Talk to you tomorrow - I promise!
love, me
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