Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Zurich!!! "Party in the Woods"

My friend Maggie and I decided to embark on a weekend trip to Zurich (top middle part of Switzerland). We left on the train Saturday afternoon and were in Zurich by 5pm. We had both decided to try couch surfing so that we could save money and experience a bit of a local aspect of the city. Well, we were certainly in a bit over our heads!

Our host was Jonas, a Swiss local who goes to school in Zurich and had a spare room since one of his roommates was out of the country. He was really chill! He took us to this hippie, organic outdoor bar where we were entertained by pharmacist musicians and the US - Ghana Football Match. On our way to the bar we were greeted by a French Condomman. We stopped and talked with him a bit since he spoke French. I wish I had taken a picture though he was seriously dressed as well... Condomman. He gave us candy, it was quite yummy actually :-)

Once we got to the bar we watched the game and drank some organic beer! Unfortunately Ghana won. (Maggie and I were the only two cheering for the US... even though she wore a Ghana jersey - that confused many). Our host is in the yellow shirt and his friend Mitch is beside him. We are sitting on some sweet big bean bag type chairs.
The bathroom at the bar was pretty awesome! It was all neon and black lights with graffiti. Very punk rock grunge (which seems to be the style of choice for Swiss-Germans).
Next Jonas told us that there was "A party in the woods" (This became our phrase of choice for the trip). We told him we didn't really care what we did as long as it was fun! Well... off we hiked through some woods up a hill and all in flip flops! We came to literally a party in the woods. There was a DJ, lights and bar all set up in well... the woods! Oh.. and no bathrooms,... we got to experience some girls scout camping 101. The party was pretty lame when we got there so Maggie and I decided to show the Swiss how us Philly girls like to dance. They didn't really get the hint until a little later. Swiss techno rave dancing was a bit like a middle school dance though. Boys were together and girls were separate, just side-stepping to the music and talking, drinking and smoking. Probably fun if you were on drugs (which I'm sure some were) but for Maggie and I it was probably only fun for about an hour. Then we just found a nice spot to sit and chat or danced some more. It was a pretty cool experience though.

On the way back to the apartment Jonas and his friends stumbled on this Euro sign and decided to take it with them! It was really funny, I took pictures!

The next morning we were woken up by bells announcing the start of church... and then after trying to get back to sleep announcing the end of church. We ended up just crawling out of bed and going into town. We let Jonas sleep in since it was a bit of a late night.

We got into town and walked around most of the day! It was quite beautiful by the river and lake, although I still like Geneva more :-)

Finally we found a nice cozy plot of grass near the lake and laid down and relaxed. We were so lucky to have such nice weather! We then embarked on the trip to the train station to come back to Geneva.
Fortunately the fun didn't stop there! Towards the end of an exhausting train ride a guy asked us to wake up this guy who was asleep on the train. We had over heard them talking about a "Super Fete... Super Fete!!" They guy who was asleep had told us he was a little drunk. Well when it came time to wake him up Maggie tried to yell at him... kick his foot... poke his shoulder... everything to wake him up while onlookers laughed and motioned to just shake him awake. Once he woke up we're pretty sure he didn't know where he was. He jumped up and started looking for his daughter (we think)... he was telling some poor little girl they had to go "On y Va!!" On y va!" and she was just like "pas moi!" (It's not me!) haha. He got off the train and went over to the window of the girl he had thought was his daughter and just shrugged then went to the map of where he was... we really hope that he didn't have a daughter on the train... it was so funny though!

Anywho, Zurich was a success!!! ALSO, this weekend I have a date! :-) I probably won't go into details about that online but just want to mention it because it's on my to do list! :-) I will say that he's French and doesn't speak much English!

Next up: My big July trip in 2 and a half weeks! AND NEW I'm going to Barcelona Aug 20 - 23!!!!! HOORAY!!!!

Signing out,


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fête de la Musique

So I have discovered a fantastic program that makes picture collages! Get ready for loads more pictures in my blog!!! Here is an example of the pictures that I took at the Fete de la Musique in Geneva this past weekend!

Cute huh? I wish I had taken more, but alas I wasn't really in the picture taking mood since it was rainy and cold and I hadn't taken proper precautions when choosing my outfit that day. The past week the weather was very rainy and cold. So all of you in the states with gorgeous sunny and warm weather you may feel lucky now. Although today it is BEAUTIFUL! Unfortunately I'm babysitting until 2 so I won't get to go outside most of the day. Maybe I can convince the boys to play outside today.

On another note, the fete de la musique (Music Festival) was pretty cool! I only went on Saturday during the day since I was babysitting at night and Sunday morning. I was able to see a jazz band that was decent. Intonation wasn't very good but I'll just blame it on the weather. I also saw some African music which was really cool! I actually got to see some of the stuff I learned about in Methods (Music Methods in college)! AND I had the best crepe EVER!

I want to let everyone know that I am making a trip to Zurich this weekend so expect a big post come next week about that! I'll be leaving Saturday afternoon and coming back Sunday night. I'm pretty excited since the weather is looking nice!

Well, I'm off. Sorry this post was so lame. Better writing later, I promise :-)


P.S - 17 Days until my birthday and 24 days until my two week Europe trip!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gruyeres: Cheese and Chocolate

This is Gruyeres, land of Cheese, Chocolate, Milk and anything to do with cow's milk. It is pure Switzerland and beautiful. The town was very charming and quaint composed of tiny shoppes and restaurants offering the best cheese and chocolate fondues. We decided to stick with the cheese and chocolate we'd be receiving on our tours for lunch. I did however buy a Swatch in town! It's beautiful silver band with a navy / blue face and rinestones of the 3 and 9. I LOVE it!

Here's a picture of me overlooking more of Gruyeres. It was a bit cloudy the day we went but still beautiful. It's so nice to see how low some clouds are when compared to the mountains.

After walking around Gruyeres we came to the cheese factory and took the tour. It was an interesting tour that described the process of making cheese which I probably could have lived without. It was seriously a vegans worst nightmare. We were able to taste 6, 8 and 10 month preserved cheese. I prefered the 6 month since I don't like strong cheese. Here is where the cheese sits:

After the cheese factory we went to the Calliers (pronounced Ki-yay) Chocolate Factory. This tour was AWESOME!!!!! It's a walking guided tour through rooms designed to show you the history of chocolate and the beginning of the factory. At the end of the tour there is an all you can eat buffet of chocolate!!!

That was my favorite part! I ate FAR to much but it was SO good! I am so going to miss Swiss Chocolate. It's a good thing that Neuchatel Chocolates is about a mile from my house when I get home. I will be making more frequent stops there. :-)

This trip was a great last minute idea and I am so glad I was able to go and experience some more of Swiss culture! I'm not sure where I'll be going next since I have to save some money for my big trip in a month but I'll be sure to post!



Geneva: The United Nations

On Saturday, June 12, my friends and I went to look at the United Nations building in Geneva. Geneva is home to the Geneva Convention and League of Nations which is now the United Nations. It's basically world peace central. It was a very nice tour where we got to go into many of the meeting rooms and tour the old building of the UN. It was so nice to be in a place of such optimism and hope for a better world.

After the tour we went to Diana's to have an "American" BBQ with cheeseburgers (minus american cheese or cheddar cheese because let's face it, it's difficult to find..) bread, salads, and a ridiculous amount of ice cream. It's too bad that I can't send the ice cream home because it is seriously AMAZING!

After multiple complaints of having a full belly we went into Nyon to watch the US vs. England football match. It was packed with a bunch of English people living in Geneva. I was one of maybe 6 or 7 cheering for the US. Fortunately I wasn't kicked out. I thought that they played well against England and am excited to see the next game. I'm definitely hopping on the band wagon with this one. The score ended up being 1 - 1 which is disappointing but I enjoy how you can know when the game will end because there isn't over-time. Unlike baseball where you can have infinite innings trying to win.

The next day we planned a trip to Gruyeres to check out the cheese and chocolate factories!!!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tre città italiane

In the span of 2 days 7 girls embarked on a trip to Lugano only to discover more than they had bargained for. Sam put it best as:
7 Girls
6 Beds
5 Hours there and back (roughly)
4 Flights of stairs to our room
3 Beautiful Cities
2 Paddle Boats
1 Amazing Roadtrip

We started off early Saturday, June 5 and piled into the van. All of our stuff packed into the trunk, with snacks and water we embarked towards the East. We crossed through the French speaking parts into the German speaking parts, said Guten Tag to some swiss army guys, went through the longest tunnel EVER, crossed through the Alps and landed in sunny Lugano among the Italians, palm trees and brightly colored buildings.

Our hostel, the Hotel and Hostel Montarino, was beautiful and by hostel standards quite nice! As soon as we checked in, checked we had sunscreen and checked facebook we were off to explore the city of Lugano. We saw the Cattedrale San Lorenzo, a beautiful Renaissance church, the Piazza della Riforma, a square filled with cafes, music and Gelato, the Palazzo Civico, a Neo-Classical town hall, the San Rocco, a Gothic church, and the Villa Ciani, a beautiful building that houses the Museo Civico di Belle Arti. We also walked around the lake and took the most beautiful pictures! At one point in the day we rented paddle boats and enjoyed a relaxing (partly because I wasn't doing the paddling) boating adventure along Lake Lugano. We stopped and had Pizza for lunch which was molto deliziosa :-)

For dinner we had a great time on the terrace of our hostel eating food we bought from the grocery store. We each got to learn a little more about each other and had one of my favorite evenings in Switzerland. After an evening walk around Lugano, one last bottle of wine and some ice cream we were off to sleep in preparation for the next day!
Our original plans were to spend another day in Lugano but we became a bit travel-zelious and decided to travel to Bellinzona and Locarno as well! I am so glad that we went to Bellinzona, Locarno, meh... but Bellinzona was so Beautiful!!!

See? I told you it is Beautiful! I'm in love with the Italian architecture and Roman Castles. The city was so picturesque although it was quite dead since it was a Sunday. Just to let you know a bit about Bellinzona it was a fortress town from Roman times. "During the Middle Ages the Dukes of Milan built three castles here, enabling them to defend this strategically placed town (it's located in a valley on the route over the great Alpine passes) and controlled traffic passing through the valley. It is now the capital of Ticino. Here's the view walking up to the Castle Grande. The Chiesa Collegiata dei SS Pietro e Stefano (a Renaissance monastery church) is in the background.

After our trek to the Castle we were able to walk around the Castle grounds and walk where more than 1000 years ago Romans were standing. I couldn't stop thinking about how long and hard it must have been to build such a castle. It was constantly being added onto but even so the amount of work put into such a fortress is so unfathomable for me. I am always so surprised to see what man is able to create. It reminded me of being in Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings. I kept imagining people running around the castle walls with bow and arrows trying to defend Bellinzona from horrible beasts. :-)

After we toured Bellinzona, had a brief parking lot fiasco we were off to Locarno! Once we arrived we were all super tired and started looking for "cheap" food. We didn't have that great of an experience with the waiting staff for lunch and it put all our moods down a few notches. That combined with the deteriorating weather and fatigue we all felt we didn't really do much or any exploring of Locarno. Instead we got some Gelato and watched a beach volleyball match that was going on. After that and a bit more of Gelato we piled back into the car and started our journey towards the West.

All in all I thought that our trip was a terrific one filled with good food, good wine, good friends and good sights! Can't wait for my next adventure! Where that will be? I honestly don't know yet!

Signing out,


Friday, June 4, 2010


I LOVE Geneva... Ever since I first arrived I have had a special spot in my heart for the "big village". This blog is therefore dedicated to her.

These are a few of my favorite things:

The Jet D'eau
The Saint Pierre Cathedral
Free Bike Rentals (which I still need to try)
The ever changing flags on the Bridge
Lake Geneva
Proximity to EVERYTHING
The "E" bus
Old town
The English Garden
Window shopping (since I can't go in some stores without a trust fund)
Right after Vesenaz on the bus when you can see the lake and Jet D'eau
The Fish in Nyon
It stays light outside till past 10pm

Also, I am proud to say that I have finally had a few all french conversations. One with another aupair (I think) in Anieres and one with a creepy guy on the bus. Both were somewhat successful. I continue to learn French in my class and am actually starting to understand most of what the teacher is saying. Although I must admit most of it I had either taught myself or learned in the states so I am a bit worried for when we get to things I don't already know.

So now that I have named some things that I like about Geneva here are some things I don't like about it:

People here seem very closed, it's a bit difficult talking to locals because they are so private
Store hours; they close around 6 or 7 everyday and aren't open on Sundays. This is actually a good thing for me since it means I don't spend as much money
If I miss the bus I have to wait between 20 - 40 minutes for a new one
It's SO expensive. Seriously Starbucks drinks between 7 - 10 Francs
Everyone has a lot of money, and dresses really well

That's pretty much it. Not to much I don't like and a lot that I LOVE. I am so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.