Friday, May 21, 2010
I took an exam on the 12th, so it was study study study up until then. Work was also really busy.
The day after my exam I flew with Christina to Naples. We rented a car and drove to Sorrento and stayed there for 3 days. We were orignially staying at a hotel outside the city on the ocean where we got a good deal online. Shortly before we were supposed to leave we found out that the hotel staff went on strike, so we had to find a new hotel.
Honestly, that was the best thing that could have happened. In the end we found another hotel much closer to the city and the pier. The Hotel Bell Air. (http://www.belair.it/)
I STRONGLY recommend that hotel. It's right on the water and every room has a balcony with a sea view. (Pictures coming soon!)
The staff were so friendly. They told us the best way to get into town with the bus, where to take the ferries, recommended some restaurants, etc. The hotel even had a shuttle that went to some of the restaurants in town. Granted they were touristy places, but still really good. We took that option one night and went to a seafood restaurant near the marina. Great seafood, but a little pricey.
The first night we passed a place called the Corner Shop in Sorrento (http://www.surrentum.it/cornershop/). They had a bit of everything, but mainly a huge selection of Lemoncello in really cute bottles. We stopped in and the old man that worked there was SO nice. He gave us samples and we promised we'd be back. We came back the next night and bought lots of gifts and a bottle of wine to share that night. Before we left we asked if he could recommend a restaurant. He walked us across the street to a little place where he said they ate lunch all the time. He walked us into the restaurant and seemed to be best friends with everyone in the restaurant. (I love that about Italy, the people are so freaking friendly!!).
He told the owner that we were his friends and that he should treat us well. They brought us a free glass of wine as soon as we sat down. It was great!
It was all locals eating there, which was so great. They brought us the menu which was just a copy of something handwritten on a piece of paper. The prices were great too. I had veal and I think it was 12 Euros...and it was amazing! We ordered dessert and they brought us 2 lemoncellos and our whole dinner for 2 people was 40 Euros. Love it!
Tonight I'm flying with Christina to Amsterdam for the long weekend. We're meeting Marie, our friend who now lives in London.
It annoys me a bit that everytime I tell people I'm going to Amsterdam they ask me if I'm going to do lots of drugs. Honestly, I'm more excited about going to the Van Gogh and Anne Frank museums and I'm a little bummed that the Concertgebouw doesn't have any concerts this weekend. Yeah, I'm an arts nerd. :-)
Friday, April 9, 2010
I recently went on a tour of the Zürich Google office organized by the Swiss Expat bloggers group. Thanks Ellen for organizing that! It was a blast and really made me wish I had taken a few more programming courses in college so that I could work there. ;-)
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind and it's still going. We had our quarterly busy time at work so I worked through most of Easter weekend. Luckily we got the day off on Sunday and I was able to enjoy a wonderful brunch at Hiltl with my friend Mimi and a nice Easter dinner with Matthias' family in St. Gallen.
Matthias left for China this afternoon. :-(
He's going to be in Shangai until the beginning of August working at the Swiss Pavilion for the World Expo. I can't wait to go visit in June and have my first trip to Asia (!!), but I miss him tons already.
Tomorrow morning I'm going with Christina to Davos. We're going to stay Saturday night and try to get one last ski weekend in.
Monday I leave for Chicago! I'll be there for a jam-packed 6 days. Tuesday I'll be visiting my old office and meeting friends and colleagues for drinks and Wednesday and Thursday I'll be visiting Jonanne and Travis (friends from Drake) in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and Saturday I'll be in Chicago watching my cousin Kalya in Animal Farm at the Looking Glass theater and visiting with the family over an early dinner at Bistro 110. After that I'll be shopping on Michigan Ave. and meeting a few friends for drinks in the city. I'm also fitting in a mani-pedi and a haircut and lots more shopping. It's going to be crazy, but I can't wait!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I just looked at this blog and saw that I haven't posted anything in about 6 months. My how time flies!
I've become more of a reader of blogs than a writer. After moving here expat blogs were really helpful and fun to read and I still keep up with a few.
I was recently back in Chicago for Christmas. I went a little crazy shopping, but it was so much fun. :-) I really love Switzerland, but being home made me realize how much I miss all of the little things.
One of my coworkers is going to be moving to Chicago in March and I'm having a blast telling him about Root Beer, diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, deep dish pizza, bars in the city, the Blues Fest, etc.
Matthias (the Swiss boyfriend) and I wanted to cook something for New Years eve. I started looking through my American cookbooks and realized we would have to improvise with a lot of things...there are so many silly little things that you just can't find here.
We wanted to make pineapple chicken....but you need brown sugar.
A few times I've thought about making nachos. I guess I could make them with gruyere or something like that. All I want is shredded mexican cheese. I understand that Switzerland is pretty far away from Mexico, but it's funny to me that there are hundreds of kinds of fancy cheese in the store, but when you look for packaged shredded cheese you're more likey to find 10 kinds of parmesan.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Nothing says America like mayo and ketchup in the same tube....weird....
But I am excited about trying these....
And these...bought this last week.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Most people know that I really like Des Moines, Iowa. I went to college there for 3.5 years and discovered the great things about small city life.
I booked a flight home for Chirstmas and I'm also planning a trip back to visit friends in Des Moines. The last few days I've been reading a lot about all of the great new developments going on in the city.
I discovered a great website/blog (www.livingdowntowndesmoines.com).
Coming from the Chicago area, I decided to go to Drake because of the actuarial program, the small size of the school, and the great scholarships that they offered me. I never expected to like living in Des Moines.
Des Moines is one of those cities where you need to find your niche...but once you do there's so much to do! I'm used to driving a car, but I hate traffic and can't parallel park to save my life. One day when I was fairly new to the city I had a job interview in downtown Des Moines at 9am on a weekday. It was just a few miles from my apartment, but I though "rush" hour...better leave at least 30 minutes to get there. Well, I was there in under 10. People from Des Moines complained that the new shopping mall was SOOOO far away. It was a 15 minute drive. :-) You could really get anywhere in the Des Moines area in under 15 minutes and never had to worry about traffic.
Since I started college and even more since I left Des Moines, the city has seen many new developments.
This began with the new Jordan Creek mall and the nearby West Glen town center. There have also been lots of new developments downtown. When I moved there in 2003 I couldn't believe how dead the downtown was on the weekends. It was a place people went to work during the week and that was it. That is all changing. They're building brownstones, lofts, condos, and many new apartments. New restauraunts are moving into the area and there's a downtown Farmer's Market. They've been doing a lot of work on the downtown river walk and there's now a skating rink and a new pedestrian/bike bridge opening soon.
I love trying new restauraunts and for a small city, Des Moines had a surprising number of amazing places to eat....from thai and indian on the east side to the La Mie Bakery to some of the best steak and lobster I've ever had at 801.
Des Moines is still one of the cheapest places to live and it's getting nicer and nicer every day.
I really want to move back there one day. :-)
Riding my bike in Zurich is still a little scary, but I like that people in cars are used to bikers. For the last few months I've been taking the tram 11 to work. It's just 9 minutes and runs pretty frequently, but I decided to ride my bike the other day and realized that it takes the same amount of time to ride my bike and it's a very flat ride. I've been riding my bike every day ever since. :-)
In Schaumburg every once in a while I would go grocery shopping with my bike. The store was under a mile away from my apartment, but when I got there there was absolutely nowhere to lock up my bike. I had to resort to locking it to no parking or handicap signs. Today I rode my bike to the Aldi and parked it in the bike rack just outside the store. When I got out there were no less than 8 other bikes parked there. LOVE it!
Today I rode my bike to work and had some errands to run after work. I rode home, grabbed my recycling, rode to the glass deposit bins, rode to the post office to pick up a package, stopped at home to drop off the package, went to the Aldi, stopped at the UBS ATM, and was home in just over an hour from leaving work. Awesome!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I complain about a lot of silly things and I'm still adjusting to how expensinve things are, but in the end I really do love it here.
Today, for example, I planned to go rollerblading with some people from one of the Expat groups. I'm not sure what happened, but I ended up renting rollerblades and being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not finding the group. I decided since I had the rollerblades I'd try it out on my own. First of all, it was so cool that I was able to rent rollerblades complete with a helmet and wrist, elbow, and knee pads, from the maintrain station. (http://www.sbx.ch/) At 25 CHF for the whole day or 20 CHF for a half day it really wasn't a bad deal. I rode along the lake trying to avoid cobblestones and had a great time. When I was starting out I was going really slowly over some bumps in the pavement and this old man smiled at me and said "nicht so schnell" joking about how slow I was going. :-) I went almost to Ruschlikon, where I used to live and remembered how gorgeous it was there. I took off my blades just in time to catch my old bus back to Burkliplatz and hop on my favorite Tram 11 back to the station to return the skates.
It was about 8:30pm and I was wishing that the grocery stores were open because I pretty much had nothing at the apartment. I remembered that the Migros at the airport was open until at least 9 and luckily there was a train leaving 2 minutes later.
That's one thing I love about Zurich....the trains are AMAZING and almost always on time.
I honestly don't think I will be able to handle taking the CTA anymore if and when I move back to Chicago in a few years... Maybe if the Olympics do come to Chicago they'll work on making the publich transit system a little bit better.
I got to the airport in enought time to pick up a few things I needed from the Migros and head home. One of my coworkers told me that you're either a Migros person or a Coop person. (The 2 big grocery stores out here.) Although I'm still a coupon clipper at heart and like to read the sales that come in the mail and sometimes shop at Otto's, Aldi, and Lidl, I'm definitely a Coop person. I've found that a lot of the Coop store brand stuff is really good and pretty cheap. Their strawberry yogurt especially! My apartment is about equidistand from a big Migros and a big Coop but if I have the choice and unless I'm standing right infront of the Migros, I always go to the Coop. One thing that really bugs me about the Migros is that they put the prices on the items. That sounds nice, but the thing is that the prices are ONLY on the items. Nowhere on the shelf, unless something is on sale, do they put the price. Everytime I go to Migros I have to pick up every item, turn it over and over trying to find the tiny black lettering where they put the price. This is especially annoying with frozen items where I find myself constandly opening the freezer door, taking something out and trying to find that tiny little price.
It still bugs me that most stores close at 6:30 or 8 on weekdays, but in some ways it does make evenings a little more relaxing when you're not running out to the store at midnight.
In other ways, I feel like sometimes I'm planning my life around when stores are open or when I was able to sign up for the one washing machine in my building.
On the other hand there are so many things that I absolutely love about Zurich. I love that I live on the outskirts of the city, but I'm just a 7 minute train ride to the main train station. I love that it only takes 10 minutes to get from the main train station to the airport. I really love that Zurich is a small compact city, but really feels like a big city. There are more concerts and cultural events than I have time to see. Everytime I talk to a coworker or check out someone's blog or read about the city I add something else to my list of restaurants to try or places to visit. I've been here 3 months and I feel like I could be here for at least another year and still have plenty more exploring to do just in Zurich. I also really love how close Zurich is to everywhere in Europe. I can take a 3 hour train ride and be anywhere in Switzerland. I've taken a night trian and be in Vienna, a 4 hour train ride to Paris, and a 2 hour flight to Dublin.
My family is looking into a trip to Egypt in November. I looked into flights in Chicago and it's looking like 17-23 hours of travel with long layovers and really early or late flight times. From Zurich to Cairo for under $600 you can take a 4 hour flight direct to Cairo at a normal time of day. That's just cool!