2 weeks of glorious holiday!

January 10th, 2010

I find that the regular routine always starts up again so sharply after Christmas break. One minute you are stuffing yourself with delicious pie, sleeping in every day, and seeing friends and family, and the next moment you find yourself with a full inbox and late for work. This first week back for me was a little hectic as I started a new tutoring position, worked my first afternoon as a snowboard instructor (which I realize now is just a glorified name for professional nose-wiper and mitten-finder) and resumed my hours at the high school. It is nice to be back, but Seth and I sure had a wonderful two weeks of holiday together.

First Seth returned to Grenoble, where we spent Christmas in my new apartment. We made a wonderful Christmas dinner that included an apple pie made with a cream-red wine caramel sauce (all my favorite things in the same sauce!) and a whole trout, which Seth lovingly plucked the bones out of.
We also had the chance to go for a hike, because the weather was unseasonably warm and lovely. We started by checking out the excellent map so we wouldn’t get lost,dscf3668_907×680.jpg and then started on our way. Almost immediately we found a little dog who appeared to be starving, and called the number on its collar. It was so cute that we ended up giving it a good portion of our lunch before the owners arrived, and were quite surprised to find out that he had not been lost for long. We were very concerned by the number of his ribs we could see, but in the end we were told that he is a hunting dog and just runs a lot. I still think he could use some more food. We did feel a little bit uneasy after that moment, since his owners were hunting wild boar in the same forest that we were hiking, and we were dressed completely in boarish-brown and taupe colours!dscf3676_907×680.jpg

We also got the chance to check out one of the ski stations nearby, Deux Alpes, and had a truly excellent day ranging from sun and powder to ice and sleet in our faces. dscf3678_907×680.jpg

For New Years we were able to meet up with our friends Patrick and Elaine in Marseille, where we spent 4 days being tourists, walking around checking stuff out and going for a hike along the ocean.dscf3684_907×680.jpgdscf3692_907×680.jpgdscf3693_907×680.jpgimg_1361_958×1277.jpgimg_1363_1277×958.jpgimg_1391_1277×958.jpgimg_1406_1277×958.jpg

We celebrated New Years in our hostel, on the streets, and in a pub, and you can track how much fun we were having by the state of the ‘flare’ on my head…

With the wonders of the French school system, I now have 5 weeks left of work before my next 2 week break, where Seth will be taking some time off of work and we plan on going to Holland and doing some more skiing together in Switzerland.

My turn to host!

December 22nd, 2009

So this post is kind of late in coming, but that should not diminish it’s importance!  For two weekends in a row I was given the great pleasure of hosting not only Claire (yes, twice in one fortnight :) but also my parents!

The weekend of Dec 5th and 6th was Claire and Seth time.  We pretty much just hung out together and did romantic things such as go to the pool, and drink beer with friends.  Daniel, who has featured on this blog before, has become a regular drinking buddy and generally comes out with us to find a watering hole.  At our new favorite place – a bar with a 4 page beer menu – Daniel acts as translator of the various drink descriptions.  This is a great thing, but we have learned that having a translation is not really a guarantee of ordering success…

The week after Claire left my parents arrived.  I managed to find a really nice B&B in the old town of Winterthur called Bagels, just above a coffee house of the same name.  The people there were really friendly and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for accommodation in Winterthur (link – opens new window).  Funny thing though is that they don’t really eat bagels in Switzerland and we heard more than once someone asking what a “bag-el” is…  In German, the English pronunciation would be obtained from Bägel, which we thought might be a good change of name for the coffee shop.

The first few days of their visit were Seth and mom time.  My dad had work in Düsseldorf and flew there Tuesday, returning Thursday.  I worked most of the time, but got to spend evenings with my mom, practicing German (generally embarrassing both of us), watching German TV, eating and drinking.  We spent some time in the Christmas markets, but those are for the most part seen one, seen ’em all.

Not much changed in that routine when my dad returned.  We went out, ate food, and walked around the old town of Winterthur.  On the Friday I took my parents into my work and showed them around.  They got to see the production facility and also meet my colleagues.  Unbeknownst to us, the Research Dept Christmas party was the night before and my normally social work group was acting elusive…I later found out that they were pretty much all hung over!

Claire arrived on Friday night and on Saturday we spent the day in Zürich.  I really like Zürich and with the help of my parents I found another reason why: Kunsthaus (link): the city art gallery.  As a lover of modern art I felt like a kid in a candy store.  We went in, had a bit to eat and then scattered to cover as much ground as possible.  Claire and I stuck together, but we didn’t see my parents again for about 2 hours while we walked around gaping at the collection.  Magritte, Picasso, Kandinsky, Rothko, awesome.

Alas, all good things come to an end and on Saturday night I had to say goodbye to my parents.  They flew out on Sunday morning, but I look forward to seeing them when they return for their 10 day bike trip in June (it’s blogged, now it’s official!).  The next day Claire went home and I returned to my normal routine, but somehow better…

dsc_0200.JPG Claire, Bob and Seth in Zürich

dsc_0232.JPG Politzei keeping those Amnesty international hooligans in order in Zürich

dsc_0265.JPG German Santa and his totally sinister buddy. In Switzerland he has two sidekicks, both whom carry clubs to f*ck up bad kids! (I’m not kidding)

dsc_0174.JPG Winterthur house of stars.

dsc_0295.JPG Claire and Seth after a visit from Mr. Blobby (Gilchrist family version of Santa)!

sethandclaireresized.png Claire and Seth in Zürich.

Sadly, as the official family photographer, there are no photos of my mom in Switzerland, so I’m putting in the following Photo-shopped (actually GIMPed link) image to give you the idea.  Claire and I were really happy to haver her around.

seth-mom-and-claire.JPG Seth, Sally and Claire in the Swiss equivalent of FAO Schwartz.

The 6 Hour Feast…

December 19th, 2009

Well it feels like Christmas has arrived in Grenoble all of a sudden, with an amazing (pre)Christmas dinner and a lot of snow!

I have decided to move apartments over Christmas, because although the family I am currently living with is really nice, I miss living with people the same age as me. I was lucky enough to have some of the French people I know here offer up a room in their lovely, huge, 6-bedroom apartment in the center of town, and of course I said yes. It is really neat, because it is the same apartment that my friend Kristin lived in when she was here a couple of years ago, with even a few of the same people. I really appreciate her introducing me to them, because they are really nice and, as I found out last night, excellent cooks!

They invited me over for a Christmas dinner to celebrate the beginning of the holidays, and that day it began to snow. By the time I was walking over to their apartment, there were several inches! It was really lovely to sit inside the living room, listening to them play some Christmas carols on the guitar, and watch big flakes of snow drift down past the window.

The evening was certainly one to remember. We started eating at 9pm, and we finished the last dessert (yes, that means there was more than one) at 2:54am. When I arrived the kitchen was bustling just like you see in a restaurant during the peak hours, with people running around and things sizzling. I retired to the living room to listen to the music and keep out of the way, and soon everything was ready. We all sat around the dinner table, and then proceeded to eat, talk, and sing our way through the next 8 courses, and 6 hours. We did take a short ‘snowball fight’ break, but it literally did go on for that long.

The Menu…truly magnificent!
Un purèe aux carottes, avec coriandre et crème fraiche
Un pot de crème, melangè avec les tomates seches et du jambon cru A little pot with cream, sundried tomatoes, and proscuitto
(Served with a sparkling white wine)

More Entrèes
Les huitres, cru, du pain avec du beurre salé huitres are oysters. cru is raw. I was not a fan…
(served with Gevertzraminner – not sure how to spell that…)

Plat Principal
Les St. Jacques, avec les poireax à crème et du pain Scallops fried with onions and herbs, and leeks cooked with cream. And bread.
(served with un bordeaux)

Plat Principal #2 (this one took me by surprise because I thought we were done…)
Un ragoût du sanglier, avec du chou et les pommes cuit Wild boar and potato stew, with stewed cabbage
(served with some other kind of red wine…I kind of lost track by this point)

Du pain et fromage, fait à la main Bread and homemade cheeses

Sorbet aux citrons verts avec vodka Homemade lime sorbet with a shot of vodka poured over it

La bûche de Noel The traditional French Christmas cake, shaped like a log, covered in chocolate cream. Delicious.

I think the funniest part of the evening was when we tried to go retrieve the Christmas cake, which had been chilling on the balcony, and realized that it was completely buried under the snow.

Seth will be coming to join me here on Thursday, and we will be hanging out in Grenoble for Christmas, hoping to do some skiing, sleeping in, and hopefully, more good eating!

Hosting in Grenoble

November 29th, 2009

So I am still pretty much in love with this city. And over the last few weekends, I have been thrilled to be able to share some adventures here with some visitors!

First Seth made the trek here from Switzerland, and we had a wonderful weekend of activities, most of which consisted of either hiking or eating. First we went shopping at the markets, which is always hard because everything looks so good and there is so much choice. Within 5 minutes walk of my house here, there are 4 big markets. After we had bought fresh chestnuts to roast, a whole chicken, homemade yogurt with fresh fruit, and all kinds of other delicacies, Seth seemed to think we would never be able to eat it all. (of course, as usual, we managed!). dscf3587_907×680.jpg
The next day we met up with our friends Kate and Ken, who are here from Vancouver for work for 7 weeks, and took their rental car on an adventure. We tried to find a hike that I had heard about, but seeing as we had sketchy written directions in French and no map, the day did not start out well. After driving for over 2 hours on twisty mountain roads (which was awful considering how much wine we had all drunk the previous evening) we ended up not at a trailhead, but in another big city called Chambery, far away from where we had intended to go. We reassessed the plan while picnicking in the parking lot of a gas station, all feeling quite depressed, but decided despite our raging headaches to have another attempt. After finally buying a map, we located a different hike on the way home, and hiked up to a beautiful lookout. We saw mountain goats and tramped in the snow, and figured that after a shaky start, it ended up being a wonderful day. dscf3589_907×680.jpgdscf3593_907×680.jpgdscf3598_907×680.jpg

The following weekend I joined a weekend hiking trip with the international student’s club at the university. At least, I thought it would be a hiking trip. I should have known…international students always tend to be a bit more serious about partying than studying! We took a crazy road up into the mountains – look closely and you can see the little tunnel where the road goes! – dscf3605_680×907.jpgdscf3604_907×680.jpgdscf3601_907×680.jpg
and ended up at a little refuge in the mountains. We did some hiking, although not as much as I would have liked, because everyone seemed to be intent on returning to the refuge so they could start drinking. Well, I am usually not the life of the party, but I can generally hold my own. Here, I was definitely outclassed. They had brought a huge dinner for everyone and a DJ for after, and I danced until after 3am, which I thought was pretty good for my old age. However, I realized how much of a grandmother I was when I got up at 11am, and some drunk guy stumbled past me mumbling in french about how it was time to go to bed! As much fun as it was to explore some new regions, I don’t think that is really my scene…

Finally, this last weekend my friend Reike, an assistant working in a town a couple of hours away, visited me. We were blessed with warm, summer-like weather, and made the most of it by walking, shopping in the markets, and exploring the town on foot. Yesterday afternoon we were invited over to the apartment of an American friend of mine here, who had for some strange reason decided to take it upon herself to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people. She did a wonderful job, and we all ate so much delicious pumpkin pie, pecan pic, stuffing, and mashed potatoes that all I had for dinner last night was popcorn! It was neat to see the reactions of all the french people there, because apart from myself and 3 others, everyone was French and it was their first taste of things like ‘stuffing’ and ‘pumpkin pie’. The pumpkin pie was especially surprising as here in France they make something similar, but it is not sweet at all and is eaten as part of a dinner.
This morning I slept in, and am having a lazy Sunday with coffee and an omelette, resting up before another week begins!

The Gods made them crazy!

November 23rd, 2009

So I wanted to share a few things that have alternately made me smile and cringe since I’ve been in Switzerland:

First to smile:
For your cold-blooded furry friend!
For the cold blooded dog

Next to cringe, (and maybe cry a little):
I don’t think I need to translate this one…  It’s from a right-wing political party and basically promotes religious and racial profiling in immigration.  These posters are everywhere, from major train stations, to barn doors in the country – where I took this photo.

And finally to laugh again:
Have you ever wondered where your recycling goes?  Well, in Winterthur they have no secrets!
Where the recycling goes

Hey Eiger, I bet you hear this all the time, but you look good in snow.

November 12th, 2009

This last weekend I decided it was time to go find the mountains in Switzerland.  I had originally planned on going the weekend before,  but the weather was predicted to be bad so I stayed home and scrubbed the floor and worked on my PhD.  A good time until the weather turned out to be 180 degrees from the forecast and it was one of the best days I have seen since I’ve been here!

Again, as the weekend approached the weather report was not very good.  This time I thought, “Maybe their trains run to the minute, but the Swiss are as good at weather prediction as the Canadians.  I’m going for it!”  Well this time they were right and I was in Grindelwald for the first snow of the season…

die Stadt Gindelwald Grindelwald after the snow.

Grindelwald is a small town in the Swiss Alps that is basically at the base of the Eiger.  It’s no wonder that it is snowing there in mid November and even with the poor weather the views were stunning.  Kind of like an attractive woman in sweat clothes, generally there’s not much to see, but every once in a while…wow!

die Eigernordwand The north wall of the Eiger.  If you look closely you can see the peak in the clouds.  Oh yeah, that’s it…mmmm.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun of being at the Eiger, I was determined to do something.  Since a round trip to the top of Jungfrau (the highest peak in the Alps) cost CHF 170 (!!!!!!) I decided that come hell or 8 cm of snow I was going hiking.  I couldn’t convince any of the other tourists at the hostel to go with me…so I headed out alone.  This isn’t as foolish as it sounds. It is Europe, so pretty much every inch has people and I was headed for the town of Kleine Scheidegg (map), so I could follow the railroad the whole way.  As an experienced adventurer I was sure to go properly prepared, so I strapped on my running shoes, put on my jeans and headed in to the winter.

michMe with a hole in the clouds.

meine Schuhe Four and a half hours of this led to some pretty wet socks.

I got to the town of K.S. about 12:30’30”.  The train back down leaves at 12:30, 1:30, 2:30… Damn their punctuality! I looked into the conductor’s eyes as the train left and walked inside to buy my ticket for the 1:30 train.  I was fairly cold at this point, so I just hid my head and waited for the next train.  Hey, at least I wasn’t walking down!

Cog rail The cog-rail of salvation.

The trip down was really cool.  The track steep, and always that feeling of, “man I hope these engineers knew what they were doing.”  Of course the trip down went smoothly and I found myself back at the train station 3 min before the train back to Interlaken.  This would have been sweet except that my bags were stashed in the ski storage at the hostel (which was now closed for a month for renovations) and the next train wasn’t for an hour.  Had I known that Claire was sailing around France in a free car at this point I would have known just where my luck was being siphoned off to!

Never mind.  I went back to the hostel and collected my bags before heading to the local sports center and into the pool.  I didn’t have a swimsuit, but they had hot showers and that was all I really wanted. The showers turned out to be a room with no door, open to the co-ed change room, so walked to the last stall and just stood in the water, all modesty frozen with my still wet feet.  As my feet thawed, so did my modesty and I retreated to my soggy trousers, but dry socks.  A quick watch check told me I had 40 more minutes, so much to the displeasure of the other patrons I spent 20+ of them standing at the hairdryer with my wet shoes.  Worked like a charm and I had dry feet for my trip home.  And that was sweet.

I wandered back to the train and my trip home was very smooth.  The law of averages was working in my favor and I never waited more than 5 minutes for a connection.

der Zug fahrt The trip from Gridelwald to Interlaken.

I will come back to this area, but next time there will be MORE SNOW, and I will be prepared with plastic footwear, two planks and waterproof clothing :)

Luck of the Irish

November 11th, 2009

Events over the past few weeks have been truly remarkable. I have had an amazing string of luck, and I am not sure how I managed to get it. I am not even Irish! I wonder if it was those weird gnomes in Winterthur….

After sadly leaving Seth in Winterthur, I went to visit another language assistant, Reika, who is placed in a small town in the mountains near Grenoble. We both enjoy hiking, however, after several hours of searching for a way to get from her village to a trailhead for a hike, we felt quite frustrated. During the winter there is lots of public transport so that people can go skiing, but because we were there in the ‘off-season’, there wasn’t really anything practical. We sadly decided we would have to find less adventurous things to do and started looking for a little path next to the river to walk along. Well even that proved difficult to find, and finally out of frustration we stopped an older woman and asked her if she knew about it. That was the beginning of an amazing new friendship, and by the end of the evening we had taken tea with Odile and her husband, had been invited for dinner, AND been offered their car for the next few days. Yep, that is right. Some random woman just gave us the keys to her car. I am not sure if I would do the same thing in her place, but it was certainly an incredibly trusting and welcoming gesture, and we were able to thoroughly explore the countryside and do some wonderful hiking. We called the car ‘Flocon de neige’ and she served us well!

Next I stopped by Grenoble for a few days before taking of to visit Talia and Steph in Paris, and in the space of 24 hours found a posting for a job and managed to talk them into hiring me. Again with the luck – I was searching for something else online and came across a posting for a snowboard instructor. I called up the number, arranged an interview for that same day, and was offered the job pretty much on the spot when the guy found out I was from Vancouver. Whistler is pretty well known around here, and I think simply the fact that I live within 200 km. of the mountain was all he needed to hear. Of course, he did look at my other experience with kids, but I do think it was mainly the fact that I was Canadian that got me in. Starting after Christmas, I will be taking up less advantaged kids to the slopes on Wednesday afternoons, and I am really happy to be able to do that, both for the extra money and to be able to get outside a bit more.

Well, to complete my week of luckiness, I found a free bike and also found out my friends, Kate and Ken, from Vancouver, are moving 100 metres from my house here in Grenoble for 7 weeks for Ken’s work. We are now living closer together than we were in Vancouver! It will be nice to see some familiar faces around for the next little while.

I ended my holidays with a trip to see Talia and Steph in Paris, where we had a thoroughly girly time going to the Turkish baths, trying on ugly wedding dresses, and making crepes. I am now back to the ‘grind’ (okay, not so much of a grind…) and am looking foward to having Seth come visit Grenoble this weekend!

Claire’s first visit to the ‘thur

November 8th, 2009

Two weekends ago Claire made her first visit to Winterthur.  She arrived late on Friday night after a 6 hour train ride from Grenoble and I met her at the station with my friend Daniel, who lives downstairs.  We went straight back to my place and I introduced her to the Africana, which I have been slowly molding into something more comfortable than the old brothel it used to be (no joke!).  The land lord was kind enough to drop off an extra mattress, blanket and a mega-sized pillow for her to use while she was here.

The next day I thought I’d give Claire the run down on how to live in Switzerland on a budget.  This is a pricey country, and like all countries they pay their intern’s like temporary immigrant labor (…which I guess I am), and thus I have learned the ways of ‘shopping the deals’ in Winterthur.  Normally this isn’t such a big thing, but with no car and no U-pass (UBC’s budget transit pass for students) we were forced to do the shopping by bike.  And we hit it all – Brokenhaus (this is actually the name of the local Salvation Army-type store!), all the different kinds of budget food stores and the mall.

dscf3554_907×680.jpg Seth and Claire in Winterthur, the home of Falkor (link)

One thing that was a theme for the weekend was looking at rings in jewelry shops…this is something that I have not learned to do on a shoestring.  We looked at every shop in the city and the cheapest, even-okay ring was in the range of $700 each! Feeling the the old ‘thur wasn’t going to do it for us, on Sunday we took our search to Zürich where we managed to find the perfect one – only it cost CHF50,500 (~$50k).  You know what they say, “How else can two year’s salary live forever?”

dscf3565_907×680.jpg Lunch in good Euro fashion – bread, meat, cheese and the water bottle contains wine :)

We also went by the Rhine Falls on Sunday – the largest in Europe – and were sort of disappointed.  For the largest waterfall on the continent we kind of expected more (see photo).

dscf3556_907×680.jpg Seth at Rhine Falls. Sweet! Now let’s kayak it.

On the way back to the train station we had a tour through the local town and found what may be the most fightening place I have ever been.  There were very few people, but plenty of cats (with cleverly constructed ramps for getting in and out of their houses) and a den of gnomes, frolicking in a hot spring or something.  No doubt breeding like rabbits behind the bushes.

dscf3563_680×907.jpg Cat house

dscf3560_907×680.jpg Gnomes relaxing, unaware that we were watching them. Someone must stop them!

Monday I had off, and we spent the time enjoying the company.  Running in the woods, Skyping, etc. I was really glad to have Claire here and to get to show her my town, work place, living quarters and all that good stuff.  I look forward to having her back, with more local knowledge and more activities up my sleeve!  But first – it’s of to the French quarter for me.  I’ll be headed to Grenoble next weekend to see Claire and her diggs.  Looks pretty sweet from the photos!

Auf wiedersehen!

Claire – My first ‘rendez-vous’ with the Alps

October 21st, 2009

Last weekend I had my first chance to really see the mountains around Grenoble. I have been doing some wonderful hikes around Grenoble, which are accessed by public transit, but I decided to also join a club so I could go a bit further afield, I found a small hiking and skiing club that has been around since WWI, and they still have an archaic method in place where after a new member tags along for a few adventures, the president and board have a closed meeting where they either vote you in or give you the boot. Apparently it is almost always an affirmative, so thankfully I didn’t feel like I was on a hiking edition of Survivor. Last Sunday, we headed south of Grenoble and climbed up to the top of one of the ‘Two Sisters’. (Apparently we climbed Sophie – she looked a lot gentler than her sister!) It was a lovely day of sun, high above the clouds, and we even saw some of the local wildlife – the big mountain goat-like animals they call Bouqetain. I was very impressed by the lunch that people brought, which was every kind of cheese and sausage I could imagine, with fresh bread, wine, and even a ‘digestif’ of some kind of liquor made from 145 plants. It did taste quite earthy, and made hiking down quite fun.
Looking at the BouqetainAbove the cloudsThe summit!Sophie’s scarier looking sisterHappy to be at the top!Beginning the descent

In other news, I have been really loving working at the school, and this week I did a really fun activity called ‘story in a bag’, where I collected lots of odds and ends and costume pieces from my house here, and put about 4-5 objects in each bag, and then each group of 3-4 students made up and performed a skit using all the objects. It was pretty hilarious, especially the group that received a toilet paper roll with no toilet paper left…. (I am sharing my blog with the students and asked their permission to be on it). I think next week I am going to do a lesson on the song, ‘If I Had a Million Dollars’ by the Barenaked Ladies, because not only does it do a good job of demonstrating the second conditional (okay I am an grammar nerd) and also starting up a lively conversation of what the students would do with that much money.
Grade 10 class after skit

It has also been a noisy week at school, as they demolished the old school and are starting to build the students a new one. As you can see, the building they are using in the meantime is not very inspiring. It doesn’t help that the heating seems to be broken (we are told it will be fixed within the month) and the temperature has been just above freezing in the mornings here.
Old school….
The school they are using in the meantime

Finally, I wanted to post a funny picture showing the dog parks here. Dogs are allowed in most public spaces here, but in very congested neighbourhoods there is not much green space, so they have made little fenced off dirt-pits for the dogs to do their business. Instead of a simple sign that says something like ‘dog area’, they decided to show a very excited dog saying, roughly, ‘Here, I can do whatever I want!’. (I am not sure what else a dog might want to do in the 3 foot square patch of dirt besides pee….)
Dog park signLovely dog park…
That is all for now, I am really looking forward to visiting Seth in Winterthur this weekend and doing some hiking in the mountains there.

Geneva – Thoughts and photos

October 14th, 2009

I just wanted to add some of my own thoughts and photos to Claire’s post about Geneva.

Geneva was a really beautiful city.  Even if it out prices you to the point where all you can do is walk around, as long as you are in good company I guarantee that you will have a good time.  It was alternately pouring rain and sunny while we were there, prompting me to buy an umbrella from our hostel…one of the many rain-proof items that I have to acquire while I’m here.  Why didn’t anybody tell me that Switzerland had such temperamental fall weather?

We stayed at the City Hostel in Geneva which was nice but small.  My only complaint is that after advertising that they had a full kitchen on each floor, there was no coffee pot!  We got lucky and found an old, handle-less one on another floor, but I loath to buy coffee from their Nestle machine or from Starbucks (German lesson: ein Tall ist sechs francs, fünfzig rappen).

We spent time wandering thought the old city and also looking for the green space.  While Europeans my drive less than North Americans, their smaller streets mean that they fill their space just as efficiently and you end up feeling like you are walking on the side of a highway where ever you go.

Claire in the mega-chess park near the UniversityClaire in the Megachess part of the park.  Not for the faint of heart!

Claire in the market. Claire in the Hungy? cheese and sausage market.  Yum!

Being attracted to useless information of all kinds (there must be a term for that), Claire and I were drawn to the Natural History Museum, where we spent time in the minerals and rare animals sections.  One of the most shocking exhibits was the Darwin one, where they so accurately captured the chain of evolution.  However, the labeling was poor and I couldn’t tell which was the final product and which was the proposed “missing link”.  See if you can.

Peak of Evolution?

On Saturday night we sought out traditional Swiss fondue and managed to find the best place in town.  Right on the lake…actually almost in the lake…with a laid back atmosphere and inexpensive (20 CHF/Stück) pots of pure melted cheese and wine.  Does it get any better?

 Seth with the huge pot of fondue Seth with his pot of fondue.  Actually we shared the pot, but I really wanted my own.

Finally, we spent time roaming around the Botanical Gardens and lake wall.  The Sunday was beautiful and the lake was alive with activity.  Nature was frolicking and the local jets of water were spraying almost totally vertical. A calm, sunny day.

Swan Swan on the lake.

Claire and the “Water Jet” Beautiful Claire and the creatively named “Jet d’eau”.

Just out of curiosity I visited the Wikipedia site for the Jet and found that they run it with a set of two pumps consuming an impressive megawatt of electricity.  Yes, after doing some easy research, I found that – for our viewing pleasure – the city of Geneva spews water and a justifiable ton and a half of carbon into the atmosphere every day!  Sorry Hermione, I did buy those high efficiency bulbs, but I’m afraid that just admiring this monster for a few seconds undid years worth of my carbon savings (for those reading this – go to www.justsaving.org to carbon-sponsor Hermione on her cycle from London to Morocco and lets see if we can undo some of this.  Her target sponsorship is 15 tonnes and last I saw she had exceeded that goal – lets see if we can smash it!).

For now it’s back to the work week.  Wow, it’s already half over again – that’s 2 of 35 weeks gone!