Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can I blame it on jet lag?

Lac Leman
I'm struggling to get back up to speed at home, I'm blaming it on jet lag, but it could just as easily be the craziness that is my life right now, which is all just an excuse for today's super short post. I still have more photos and stories to post about Switzerland, but it's just going to have to wait until my brain catches up with life.

Until then, yesterday I wrote guest post for one of my favorite daily read blogs, The Kat Eye View of the World.  The wonderful and talented, Kat is moving home to Portland from Italy and asked other folks like me who had lived abroad and moved home to share a bit about our experiences.  It was such a fun post to write, if you have a chance hop on over and check it out.

This band is new to me, but I'm liking this mellow song.
The Low Anthem - To Ohio
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Monday, June 27, 2011

By Bus and By Plane

Today is a travel day for me, so as you are reading this, I'll still be navigating one of the 2 train stations and 4 airports I'll be visiting on my way home.  Cross your fingers that I manage to make all of my somewhat tight connections.  I still have some more photos and stories from Switzerland to share later this week once I get unpacked and back on the correct timezone.  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that your week is off to a good start.

Congratulations to the adorable and talented Amanda of Project Simple Life.  She is the lucky winner of the postcards, I can't wait to hear how she's going to use them.

On a musical note, I asked my Swiss coworker if there were any Swiss artists I might know - thinking it would be fun to post some of those songs here, the only one he came up with was this.

If this causes anyone else to rewatch Ferris Bueller let me know, I foresee it hitting the top of my netflix queue this week! Pin It

Friday, June 24, 2011

Things that made me go "hmm"

Snail Tripdych

Shortly after a rainstorm over the weekend I went out for a walk.  As I got close to my apartment the cute little guy in the top photo caught my eye.  He was slowly making his way across the road, at (get ready for it) a snail's pace.

For some reason it made me grin that he was moving across the "stop" sign and I thought it would make a cute triptych.

It was only after I got home and started putting the photos together that I noticed something else.  I'm in the French-speaking portion of Switzerland, so why is the stop painted in English.......hmmm?

We are going old skool musically for this post...

Don't forget to enter the postcard giveaway, you have until the end of day today.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Giveaway: Postcards

Tree by Stream

Photo from my favorite postcard

I'm interrupting my endless travel stories for a very good reason - a giveaway.

The day before I left for Switzerland I got some postcards I had made in the mail (in preparation for Kat's Postcard Swap.)  It was such a rush to see my photographs printed as postcards - when I opened the package I felt like an artist!


When UPrinting, an online printing company, asked me if I wanted to do a postcard giveaway, I said yes right away.  Even if you aren't participating in Kat's swap, I can think of several postcard designs that might come in handy - Christmas cards, invitations, even something for your business.  Here's some details on the giveaway:

The winner will receive 100 5x7 postcards, printed on 14 pt Cardstock, gloss, no folding, with front and back printing.  There is a two business day print turnaround time and (sorry) the giveaway is restricted to US residents 18 years old and above.

To enter, comment on this post telling me what kind of postcards you'd make (be sure to include an email).  You can add a second comment if you are a subscriber/follower to this blog.  Comments must be received by end of day Friday, June 24 (MST.)

Coldplay - Postcards From Far Away

Disclaimer: You should assume that the owner of this blog will receive free print products in exchange for the post. Any and all reviews posted are based solely on my own experience and may be atypical. Please practice due diligence in making any related purchase decisions.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday Stroll

The weather was terrible a good part of the weekend - so Saturday I stuck to the house and caught up on a few things.  Sunday the sun came out and I joined half of the city in the area called Ouchy - it is so beautiful and perfect for a Sunday stroll.

One of my favorite things about being in Europe is the architecture.  Having spent most of my life in the US (and the Western US at that) I'm not used to buildings that have so much history.  We are lucky to see something that is 100 years old - let alone hundred's of years.

   These grand, sweeping buildings always catch my eye and make me wish we had a bit bit more variety in architectural styles at home.

Things here are built to last - some of these buildings are hundreds of years old and are still so beautiful and charming.

I've just got one week left to go here, I can't believe how quickly this trip has flown by!

I listened to this song as I walked home from the bus stop on Sunday - an oldie, but a goodie.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - A Place In The World
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Planes, Trains, Ferries and Buses

It seems as if I've managed to use every mode of transport this trip - with the possible exception of a hot air ballon.  And I've decided the stereotype about everything in Switzerland running precisely on time, may just be true.  The public transport system here has been so easy to use - even for someone who doesn't speak French or German.

I've also decided that seeing a place through the eyes of a daily commuter is a blast.  After a week, I'm starting to recognize faces, the walk/ride/run gives me a chance to check out the architecture, cars and other sights, then I get to work and get to ask questions.  I've noticed there are some very fancy cars here - which led to a discussion about the wealth in the country.  The next day I noticed the garbage men and wondered what kind of a living they made and how they could afford to live here (everything is so expensive.)  Luckily my coworkers are happy to answer my questions and I feel like I've already learned a few things.

Just a quick post - I'm off to dinner with a friend in Friborg.  Dinner with E is one of the reasons I love my job.  She's Australian, but had been living in the UK just before we met in Brazil, we then lived together for a while in India, then she moved onto Canada and I cam back to the US.  Now she's living here in Switzerland and we get to meet up for dinner.  The world really isn't as big as we sometimes think it is.

I've been craving a little Mumford & Sons all day - so here's a little something to take you into the weekend.  Do you have something fun planned?

Mumford & Sons White Blank Page
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

People Watching

I'm not much of a street photographer - too afraid to ask people if I can take their photo.  But I spent Sunday along the waterfront in Lausanne and managed to grab a couple of shots I couldn't resist sharing.

It was a beautiful day, perfect temperature and it felt as if half the city had the same idea I had and were hanging out along the water too.  Lausanne (and much of Switzerland) shuts down on Sundays.  The shops are all closed, with the exception of a cafe or two, and people just rest.  Even public transport cuts down to the bare minimum.  I think I could kind of get into that lifestyle, and I may follow their example the rest of my trip, work M-F, play Saturday and relax on Sunday.

If I'd been anywhere else, I might have thought this was a homeless person, but she was covered up with a nice blanket and good sweater so I think she must have just been cold or trying to get some sun without getting burned.

The woman in the cream slacks grabbed my attention right away.  Not only did she have the chic European look, she was so expressive.  I happened to be sitting on a bench and watched them walking down the path.  I attempted to "shoot from the hip" to get these shots.  Turned out better than I expected!

How do you feel about street photography?  Are you brave enough to walk up and ask someone if you can take their photo?  Or do you just attempt the "shoot from the hip" method?

I have been on a Ryan Bingham kick for the past couple of weeks.  I just can't seem to get enough of his gravelly voice.

Ryan Bingham - Don't Wait For Me
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Breakfast and Dinner

I haven't been here a week yet and I've already found new favorites.  I seem to have some combination of this meal for breakfast and dinner.
  • Pears - I'm trying different varieties and haven't found one I don't like.  
  • Cheese - I bought a wedge of Gruyere my first day here and am still working on it - so good.  I'm trying a soft cheese next, any suggestions?
  • Yogurt - Can someone please explain why at home I feel the need to add honey to plain yogurt, but here I like plain just as it is.  I'm honestly curious about the different flavors, so if someone knows the answer please share.

I've bought the dessert to go along my meal, chocolate, but haven't opened it yet (I'm afraid I'll eat the entire thing if I do. 

There is a great grocery store near where I switch buses, I've spent a bit of time there already and keep finding excuses to go back.  One of my favorite things to do when I travel is explore grocery stores.  I think you can learn a lot about the area and the culture by checking them out.  One surprise this time - prepackaged meals have arrived in Switzerland, I don't remember seeing those on my last visit.  I bought a lentil salad to try when I get tired of pears and cheese.

Am I the only person that finds grocery stores fun to visit?

I heard this song on the train Saturday, one line seemed to stick in my head:  "And if your too busy talking, you're not busy listening, to hear what the land has to say.  Quiet your mind."

Zac Brown Band - Quiet Your Mind
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Friday, June 10, 2011

The Journey So Far

The view from my balcony - isn't it dreamy?

Years ago I kept a travel journal where I recorded the interesting or strange things that happened along the way, this blog has taken that journal's place.  So this post may bore everyone but my mom, but it's late here and I'm tired, but I'm determined to record a few memories. 
  • When I got a look at my itinerary, with multiple layovers, a hotel stay and a train ride all before I made it to Lausanne (my destination) I decided if ever there was a trip that called for carry on only, this was it.  It wasn't easy to pack for a 3 week business trip in carry on luggage, but I managed it (barely.)  The lack of room in my suitcase will keep me from shopping which is a good thing.  The bad news is I sacrificed my good camera and just brought my point and shoot, here's hoping I can still get a few good shots.
  • I spent 9 long hours in the Madrid airport, what a gorgeous airport, I just wish I had been less interested in sleep and more interested in exploring the architecture.
  • I finally arrived in Lausanne at 6:30 PM, raced to find the train from the airport to the main train station - raced because I'd been told SwissCom closed between 7 and 8 and I needed a Swiss SIM card - my lovely Verizon phone doesn't work here.
  • After what felt like forever wandering around the station I finally found SwissCom, where a nice guy hooked me up - so glad he spoke English!
  • Now it was time to find my hotel.  Lesson for next trip - don't print driving directions when you need to walk.  I got hopelessly lost - what should have been a 7 minute walk was at least 30 - better yet it was raining.   
  • Finally found the hotel, went to my room and couldn't get the key to work, back to the desk, back up to the room, still didn't work, back to the desk, this time they came with me.  Oh no, I was trying the wrong room, how embarrassing - I blame it all on jet lag.
  • Slept til 5 AM (more jet lag) then up and back to the train station.  Figure out how to buy a ticket to Lausanne and where to find the right platform.  I was 45 minutes early because I was afraid of getting lost, good time for people watching.
  • Beautiful train ride, met at the airport by old friends and co-workers.  It is so nice to be here.
  • Discover the plan is for me to stay in a colleague's apartment (he's out of town) and drive his car.  Sadly, I can't drive a stick shift - and I don't plan to learn in his fancy car in a city built on a hill!
  • Beg a ride for Friday morning and convince everyone I can indeed ride the bus and hike up the hill at the end of the day.
  • Spend a good part of the day trying to decide what to do over a long weekend - so many choices.  Still trying to work it out at 10 PM.  
  • Figure out the bus route, hit the station to buy a pass, discover I need a photo to do so, get lucky and actually get a GOOD photo out of a vending machine - why doesn't that happen at the DMV?
  • Works over, time to try the bus.  I make all the stops and even manage to do a bit of grocery shopping when I transfer lines.  I feel completely empowered, I am set for transport on this trip.  Watch out Switzerland, I'm exploring you every weekend.
  • Then the really scary part - trying to use a map to find the apartment (that hill was steep, I'm going to have strong legs and buns when I get home.)  Get lost, see the apartment beyond the vineyard, take a shortcut through said vineyard, get to apartment but must climb over a fence to get there (wearing a dress!)  Finally get to the apartment and find a gate that I can open with my key, think I've lost my key, think about crying, find my key, ahhhh  I made it.  
  • Sitting on the balcony eating pears and cheese for dinner - perfect way to spend a Friday evening.
  • What's that flash of light - fireworks over the lake - they must be celebrating my arrival (or whatever holiday is on Monday?)
Good thing I enjoy getting a bit lost when I travel and having things go not quite as I planned.  I figure I'll not only get a good story, I'll find things I never would have seen if everything had gone as planned.  I can't wait to see what adventures the 3 day weekend will bring, it's a holiday here on Monday - am I lucky or what?

I listened to this on the train ride from Zurich - it was gorgeous accompanied by the Swiss countryside.
Brooke Fraser & Aqualung - Who Are We Fooling (feat. Aqualung)
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cheese and Chocolate

Stream Close up
This has nothing to do with my post - just a little something pretty to look at.

As if my world weren't full of enough stress and excitement as it is (see my last post) but last Friday as I was getting ready to head out the door for the inspection on my little house I got a call from my boss.  They wanted me in Switzerland as soon as I could get there for the rest of June.

I frantically started pulling together all the paperwork I'd need to close on the house, did a ton of laundry and started packing.  I'm flying Tuesday and Wednesday - so as you read this I'll probably still be on a plane - let's just say booking a last minute flight meant lots and lots of layovers (hello Spain, I've never been here before, wish I could stay a day or two.)

I know I'm going for work - and there will be lots of it - but I'm also very excited.  I haven't been in Switzerland for about 6 years and I loved it then.  I can't wait to see more and to have a bit more time there.  As soon as I recover from jet lag, I'll be off to the market for cheese and chocolate!

Have you been to Switzerland?  Any tips and advice?  Things I have to see?

While I fly, here's a bit more Tony Lucca - I really can't get enough of him lately.

Tony Lucca - I Can, I Will, I Do (Solo) (free download from amazon)
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Dreaming Big

I had one of those occasions where a lot of separate conversations, thoughts and ideas suddenly came together and resulted in something big.  A couple of weeks ago I was working on a playlist of songs about "Wishes and Dreams" Inspiration Studio.  Then I was working on an assignment for Creativity Bootcamp that asked us to define and illustrate the core of who we are, the roots that give that core strength and the branches that come out from that core.  Both of these projects made me really stop and examine where I was and what I had done lately to accomplish some of my goals and dreams.

I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was just kind of floating along, I was in a happy place, but I wasn't actively taking the steps I needed to be taking if I wanted to reach some of my long-term goals.  This realization coupled with two conversations - one with my sister and one with a friend made me realize maybe it was time to see what steps I could take to make it a reality.

For several years, I've dreamed of living in Southern Utah, near Zion's National Park (St. George for those who know the area.)  I've learned that as much as I love my home state, I'm not a fan of the winter weather in most of it.  I have a tendency to hibernate when there is snow on the ground, so I feel like I miss large chunks of the year.  In St. George, snow is rare, it is much warmer in the winter and there are more than 300 days of sunshine.  It is very popular in Utah with retirees - or people with second homes who want to get away from the cold winters - which means that in the past it was horribly expensive to live there.

Luckily with my job I can live where I want (as long as I can easily get to an airport.)  And with the downturn in the housing market - St. George is affordable again.  So, I decided to use the Memorial Day holiday to visit and look around just to see if anything in my modest price range was livable - I got extremely lucky and found an adorable little house that had just come back on the market with a lower price.  I took a deep breath and put in an even offer, which they accepted!

I'm now going through the due diligence process so it isn't a done deal yet - but if things to continue to go well, by this time next month I'll have a little oasis in the dessert to escape to when the snows fly.  Proof that it is important to stop every once in a while and ask what steps you can and should be taking to make your dreams come true.

I'm skipping a lot of the boring details - but let's just say that the car I'd been saving up to buy is out of the picture, as is the granite countertops and fence I was planning for my current house.  I'm also extremely lucky and have the furniture, linens and kitchen stuff to furnish it - thanks to my grandparents, whose house we haven't finished cleaning out.  It really does feel almost as if all the stars aligned for me at that perfect moment when it was possible.

Since it's still not a done deal, I thought I'd just share a peak, but not of the house - the photo above is the view from the front yard - aren't those red mountains amazing?  I can't wait to start exploring.  I'm already dreaming of the challenges and fun that will come from learning to photograph this type of landscape.

What have you done lately to make your dreams come true?

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