Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bonus Post

Here is a bonus post for the day.... check out this cool toaster I found at the "InterDiscountXL". I really want one to take one back to the US for me (or as a gift for a fun friend like Erin) but it runs on the wrong power . . . and I already have a toaster. Rob thought is should come with different stencils - now that's an idea! 

Here is a terrible quality picture of an article in the daily newspaper about the protest Rob and I saw. The guy is holding a sign that says translated from French: "Obama to The Rescue". I didn't bother translating the rest of the article...  

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2 Years Married - and a Mercedez Benz

If you would have asked Rob and I where would you be in two years the day we got married. The answer would not have been Switzerland. But two years later, here we are. I love Rob more then I did when we first were married. We have grown a lot since then and our marriage  is as strong as ever. I am sure it will just keep getting better and better. At the bus stop this morning Rob mentioned that we have been together for 20% of our lives now. Wow - the percentage is such a Rob thing to say. :) I love him dearly. 

Since we are still stuck without our apartment till Jan 3rd we kept this anniversary as low key as possible. We hung around Geneva and went the St Pierre Cathedral in old town. Underneath the cathedral we knew of some archaeological ruins but always just thought it was a small collection and nothing interesting to see. We really wanted to get out of the cold wind so we paid the 8CHF and went inside. We were very surprised on how large of a space it was. A video described the several phases (quite complicated) of the modern cathedral we know today. The dig was just done in the late 80's/early 90's and it seems to be completely underneath the city and the cathedral.  There was stuff dating back to Roman times and some of the oldest stuff dated back to 4 BC.  Here are some pictures:



Watching the history of the different phases and looking at a scale model

Freezing Outside St Pierre's Cathedral In Old Town Geneva

Voussoirs - A Part Of The Arch :) These are Roman!


Rob and the different layers of the floor/walls showing some history.


One of the first baptism wells ever!

Funerary Cult Room

He is from right around 40 AD. A Chiefton.

Amazing tile floor! This is where the Bishop sat and saw people and blessed them.  (Roman)

The length of the old church (underneath the modern church)

When we got outside the ruins we were surprised to hear really loud shouting and a bullhorn followed by cheering. Just around the corner was probably 700 people all protesting something. We didn't get too close and couldn't read the french signs and flags. The little newspaper this morning said it was the socialist party and somebody's sign said Obama on it. We still have no idea what the ruckus was about.

We went to Thai food for dinner at this great little place I got recommendations on called "Na Village". We ate and had a bottle of crisp Pinot Grigio. The waiter accidentally brought out a bottle of red and started to open it and Rob has to stop him since it was the wrong bottle. We felt a little guilty about sending it back after he pulled off the foil but we wanted white with our Thai. Thank goodness too since the bottle he tried to open was 88CHF. Rob had a papaya salad and pad thai and I ate poulet spring rolls and prawns in a house curry with noodles. It was the best meal we have had so far in Geneva. A bonus was there were a couple of women doing traditional Thai dancing in costumes on stage during dinner. Ya know, the kind with the long finger extensions? Have you read what it going on in Bangkok/Thailand? If you haven't I suggest you do!




Mercedez
Benz! ~A160 Elegance ~ Not Sold In US. 


This is probably the only time in our life that we'll own a Mercedez but it was such a good deal. It was offered around 2,500CHF under "blue-book". (They call is something else) We put a deposit down on it and the dealer is dealing with the Swiss DMV for us to get license plates and insurance taken care of. In Switzerland the license plates follow you around, not the car. Also insurance is a little backwards. They insure you then bill you. No payments have to be received before you actually have insurance. Trustworthy. 

It is a green color inside and out and gets great gas mileage. It is also a semi-automatique. That means that you shift the gears, but there is no clutch. Odd? If you are curious we bought is for 7,400CHF which is right around $6,300. Not a bad deal. It had around 70,000 miles on it and came with "winter" tires. 

Other small tidbits from the last few days:

- Crazy Russian guy on the train talking obnoxiously loud and everyone staring. (The Swiss are quiet and polite on public transport)

-  We had a starbucks - one grande chai tea and one tall halzelnut mocha - 16CHF!!! Damn it is expensive here. 

- We are really getting tired of potatoes prepared all ways, couscous salad, and bread. (Well - at least I am)

- The exchange rate keeps going up and down. 

- Our winter "holiday" is coming up fast and getting more excited to see M&E soon! Our hotels are booked in all the cities and we are ready to bring in the new year.

- Rob and I are "skipping" Thanksgiving since it is not celebrated here. Oh well. No turkey day for us. I hope everyone back home eats enough for us too! 

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snow!!!

It snowed most of Saturday with some splashes of sunlight and blue skies mixed inbetween. Rob and I bundled up and went to lunch with his advisor Daniel and his wife in Ferney-Voiltare. Ferney is right on the french side of the border and actually home to a lot of expats who have children and want to live a hybrid french country town/close to city atmosphere. A fantastic thing about Ferney is that they have a superb farmers market on Saturday. 

Get ready for this one folks, this is going to be a bold statement. It beats SLO hands down in the fresh produce department. They also have quite a few "bonus" stands I shall say. There are at least 5 different french cheese stands. I can't even tell you how long I spent staring at the chevre. The stand people are really friendly and willing to cut off small pieces of this huge wheel for you to try and sample. There are a couple really large seafood stands with everything you can thing of. Everything looked really fresh like it was trucked in that morning. There are also butchers and fresh bakers as well! I was in heaven. If anyone visits us and we stay in town for a Saturday - we are going!   SLO still definitely beats Ferney in lot of categories including atmosphere, food, scale, and entertainment. 

I'll post pictures the next we go and I remember my camera. 

Most of the day the snow wasn't sticking to the ground and melting as soon as it landed on the ground or us. Rob and I looked out our hotel room window last night to the surprise that everything is sticking! We don't expect it to last thru the day Sunday so I got early this morning and took a few snapshots. 


Building 40? From Our Window

Restaurant 1 To The Left From Our Window

Snow!

Saturday Night - Snow Stickyness!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Apartment Hunt, Laundry, and Rob's Haircut

Laundry~

Rob warned me about the complex washing machines in the CERN hotel. I heard what he was saying but I didn't think it would be that difficult to figure out. So on Tuesday I went into the basement to figure it out.  There are three hostel buildings at CERN and one is across the street. When we checked in we were told to use the laundry facilities in the new building so I lugged the laundry to the basement over there. I come to find out that the newer building has card access locks and all I was given was keys. I talked to the front desk and they snootingly told me to use the laundry in my own building. Grrr.... so I lugged the laundry back across the street (mind you - in the rain!) 

Back to the actual machines. I put my laundry in two of them and started them both off.  Like most apartment buildings you use a card that has credit on it and it takes off the appropriate amount. The machines here take off more then what is necessary and then expect you to put your card in when your done to receive "unused" credit back. I had a hard time decifiering the tens of options on the machines as well. I also figured out way later that I put the soap in the softener section and now our clothes are a little "fresh" smelling. 

Here comes the good part. One the machines stop spinning. Damn it! Luckily (or unluckily) one of the maintenence guys comes in and was vacuuming lint out of the dryers. Its a small room, so I try to ask him why it isn't spinning. (This was mostly done in really broken french, simplified english, and a lot of hand signaling) He didn't know why but proceeded to empty out all the water in my machine onto to the floor to go the floor drain. I then moved my sopping clothes to the last remaing washer while he called another maintenence man. The 2nd maintenance man spoke a little more English and I told him that it just stopped spinning. He was convinced I did something wrong and that the first maintence guy was dumb for not knowing how to fix it and proceeded to try it out himself. I watched (sitting on the dryer and listing to my headphones) them trying to figure it out. They had a hard time with the card payment system and all the options as well. (It wasn't just me!) The 2nd maintence guy then called a 3rd person out to take a look. The lady was convinced both of them were idiots and tries it a couple times herself. She then said in French (I'm guessoing of course) to put a out of order sign on it. Wow - I knew it was broken all along. It took three other people to come to the same conclusion. Efficiency at its lowest. 



The 2nd Maintence Man and the 3rd Person To Check Out The Scene



The Pay Card Machine On The Wall & Washing Machine w/Lots of Buttons!


Rob's Haircut~

No pictures of this one unfortunately but Rob let me cut his hair! It was getting really ridiculously long and I had enough of it. All the haircut places around town were so expensive and the language barrier we felt would be too great to get a good cut anyway. So we bought a comb and a pair of scissors and I went at it! It didn't turn out great but it also didn't turn out that bad. I think Rob let me do this to get my spirits up by giving me a crafting project. :) 


Apartment Hunt~


This is really where most of our time has been spent the last few weeks. We have seen probably 30 that look good and we have Alexia (the ATLAS relocation coordinator) call about and we haved physically toured and viewed around 13. We applied to around 6-7. Yesterday we went on another visit and decided this place was okay (a bit pricey and small therefore bad value) but acceptable. We were the first to turn in an application and we were told we got it! WooHoo! It's over! I think really hitting the ground running and looking all over the place day and night paid off. Here is a few maps of the location.









The kitchen is literally a closet. There is a two burner electric stove, a small under couter fridge and some cabinets. There is also a microwave. No dishwasher, no oven, no double sink, and very little counter space. Tiny Tiny. I think we are going to buy a small buffet counter for some more working surface. It's furnished so there is already dishes and some pots and pans. There are also 4 US state coffee mugs....random. 

The place is a studio meaning everything is in one room. It is also furnished with brand new stuff in the exact theme I was going to do anyway! (Black, White, and Silver) The bathroom is a decent size and is a cute blue and white tile. There is thing funny sling back leather black chair that looks really modern. We don't move in till December 1st and have a lot of paperwork/ money shifting to do before then. It requires a 6000CHF deposit! (3 months is standard). As some of you know we are really tired of staying in the hotel and not being able to cook for ourselves. I am glad the search is done! 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

World Reaction Video To Obama's Election


I really like this video. It even has Geneva in it! Just thought I would share!

I have been looking at all the French newspapers here and every single day, Obama is mentioned. The world is watching! 

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Milano

I really needed to get away this weekend and we still had the rent a car for a few more days. Rob and I decided to take a trip to Milan! The awesome thing about Geneva's location is that many things are within driving distance. Milan for instance is inly 4 hours away. Not bad! It could take you four hours just to get across LA. (That is an exaggeration of course.)

We headed out later then we wanted on Saturday morning after doing the last minute research on driving directions and how to park. Parking can be a major issue in European cities if you have no idea what you are doing. Many of the websites warned of not trying to drive in inner Milan since it can get really crazy. Italian drivers don't exactly follow all the rules. The swiss are rule followers but the Italian driver blatantly go way over the speed limits. For example, we were on the major A4 highway and the driver in front of us decided it was okay to drive in-between the two lanes blocking everyone else. 

We stayed in a budget hotel really close to one the metro station stops.  We ended up parking in a huge garage meant for weekday commuters. There are probably about 10 of them around the perimeter of the city and all of them are close to a metro stop for easy access into the center. I literally mean center. The whole city seems to be built in concentric circles around the cathedral in the center. 

We walked a ton and saw a few of the major sights. We didn't get to see the "Last Supper" since you have to reserve tickets in advance. (At least this is what we were told). The milanese people are known for their fashion and it shows! Lots of people walking around decked out in D&G, Prada, etc.  It was just fun to people watch. 

Unfortunately.... we couldn't find any good food. We totally know it exists - but we just couldn't find it. We ended up on Saturday night at a total tourist trap. BOOOO!!!! We should have walked off as soon as they brought us a menu in English. That was a big warning! We actually went on this long hunt for a vegetarian restaurant and it wasn't even where it said it was! We were starving by this point and ended up eating at a McDonald's! (GASP!) All along the freeways of Italy are these "Autogrille's". While technically fast food - they have some pretty decent sandwiches and would have taken these over MickeyD's any day.  (Side Note - The is actually a chinese fast food place in Geneva called Mr  Wong's. They intentionally use the McDonald's "m" upside down for the "w" in Wong. )

Driving thru Mont Blanc was quite the experience. Like most freeways it has a toll, but this tunnel was a little pricey. 44 Euro round trip. It had a bad car accident a few years ago (about 20 people died in a fiery crash and a memorial is set up outside the tunnel) and they have since installed a ton of safety measures. You have to keep the distance between you and the car in front of you at least one blue light measurement. (See the video) It is amazing how the weather changes from one side to the other. The Italian side was clear sunny and bright. The French side was super foggy and cloudy. 

I really needed this weekend to get away from the insanity of moving. Getting "away" actually made driving back into Geneva feel more like coming home. 

Here are pictures and videos from the weekend's adventures. We are still learning how to become better photographers so bare with us here! 


Castello Sforzesco - Wikipedia Article


The Torre Del Filarete - At Castello Sforzesco


Castle Walkway - Was this in the specs? 


Hanging Out In The Park Behind The Castle


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - Upscale Shopping Mall


High Fashion Shopping


Rob at The Duomo - Milan's Main Cathedral
Here is a link to the wikipedia article: The Duomo


Rob has a word for this - Anachronism


I was probably the 100th person that day to do this . . . 


The ATM Subway - Line 1


Being a Nut-Nut


Driving Home @ Mont Blanc - or Monte Bianco (since we were on the Italian Side Here)


Driving The The Tunnel Under Mont Blanc (French Side)


video
Video Of Driving Thru Tunnel


video
Castle (Note: Rob on the Bench)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prop 8 Drama Continues

"Proposition 8 seeks to effect a monumental revision of this foundational principle and constitutional structure by allowing a bare majority of voters to eliminate a fundamental right of a constitutionally protected minority group."

I completely agree with this statement made from several democractics legistlators to the california supreme courts.

When did a simple majority become law? The courts are there to protect against mob mentalities and majority rule. Since this is a constitutional structure change, it should have been done thru legistlation not a proposition. Hopefully the courts will agree. Protect minority rights!!!

You may yourself find you are in some sort of minority as well one day. Don't you want to be protected?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Have Arrived!

While I have zero pictures to show you so far - I am happy to announce that Rob and I have arrived in Geneva safe and sound. We landed on a Monday morning (Sunday night for you Californians) to great weather and no issues. Our boxes came out of the oversize luggage conveyor belt at the airport and we did get asked by customs what was in them. We got our first dose of "french" attitude from the car rental guy but we shrugged it off. The boxes are now safely stored in a storage unit in the industrial area of carouge. We made our way to CERN and picked up a badge for me and checked in the CERN hostel. We ended up getting assigned to a room in the older of the two hostel buildings which was okay by me. Rob didn't seem as pleased. Tired as hell, we collapsed and took a three hour nap to try to ease the jetlag. We then met up with Daniel (Rob's advisor) and watched him spill espresso all over somebody's office desk.

Monday evening we headed into Geneva for some dinner and to try to stay awake. Lebonese food it was! Falafal's and Poulet Sandwiches are pretty cheap. I am happy to report that we found a chinese market! Small but it has the essentials. There was oyster sauce, rice noodles, eggroll wrappers (the brand I use), turkey sauce, cheap frozen shrimp, and unflavored tofu!

Today was a little more interesting. We looked at our first apartment with the help of Alexia! When we met with Alexia this morning she was very helpful and has set up a fair number of apartment viewings already for us. The first place we saw was a kind of open house for a really cheap place (900CHF). It was not well taken care of. The paint was peeling badly and the kitchen was pretty pathetic. Lots of people showed up but the elevator only allowed for two people to be in it at one time. We decided not to apply. There is an odd policy with the "regies" or rental agenicies. They only let you apply for once place per regie at a time. They also collect as many applications and then they pick and choose whom they want in their place. They actually choose by nationality and how much money the person makes. There is no first come first serve basis here - pure discrimination. Booo.

We moved on and visted the second regie to try to pick up keys to another apartment. This one was was a little pricey (2090 CHF ) but is available Dec 1. It is currently being renovated so we were not allowed to view it. The language barrier was really really really hard here. Rob had to say "No comprend pa" many times. In order to view a place you actually have to fill out an application and turn in a ton of stuff (much more than if you were applying for a place in the US). They wanted copies of our passports, earnings letter, visas, ID's, and Alexia wrote us a letter to help explain things. Only after the long process we were told that they are renovating for 2 weeks. Again Boo. Well, we are trying and the fight will continue on! We have one appointment tomorrow and are working on getting others. There is a couple for next Monday.

Some small snipets of random thoughts/observations:

- It is raining today and it is definitely something we need to get used to.

- Do Europeans not believe in toilet seat covers?

- Dijon mustard chips - Tasty!

- Coop's are everywhere (grocery markets) and have most of the essentials.

- I don't think the french believe in anything but white bread. I found a little wheat but not freshly baked. I think I might have to give up on Squaw.

- Deli meats, Cafe, Chocolate, Cheese, and Bread - seems to be the staples

- Continental Airlines has Coke Zero!

- I need to get used to seeing a white person and not assuming they speak English.


Now that we have finally arrived, I am definitely using this blog thing much more often.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008




Hmmm... Halloween! Too bad I was sick and Rob and I didn't dress up. We had a great time anyway! It was a combined going away party and goolish bash. I enjoyed all the "couple" costumes. Palin/Moose - Juno - Some crazy chemistry thing i don't know..... 

I am trying another slideshow feature using flickr. I can't seem to get to get flickr to blog more then one photo at a time. Anybody have any advice? I am really tired of copying and pasting links for individual pictures. I am also tired of blogger sending pictures I upload with Picasa straight to the top of the post. Frustrating. 


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About This Blog

Tina & Rob have relocated their lives to Geneva, Switzerland. This blog is a story of their adventure during the year and all the details inbetween.

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