Saturday, May 30, 2009

Zurich and Luzern

I'm finally going to write about my weekend excursion to 2 cities in Switzerland. My photos below are backwards in order of my visits, so bear with me.
Zurich:
This is the largest city in Switzerland. It was a little under 3 hours to get there, so the car ride was very pleasant...and thanks to Jane's cd mixes, quite fun (I'm still not forgiving her for "Hey There Delilah"). Honestly, I was expecting a more scenic ride. It was nice but not nearly as nice as France. Its probably because the northern part of Switzerland isn't that mountainous.

Anyway...we arrived and checked into our hotel. The hotel was cheap and weird as hell. I would try to explain it to you, but its beyond words. I guess you can say it was like a dorm room with a touch of "little kids bedroom" and a dash of airplane commodities, all rolled into one.

The city was pretty nice. It wasn't GORGEOUS but it was a drab either. There really wasn't too much to it other than the prototypical Switzerland river converging into a glacier lake and cute little side streets stemming off from it. We were able to find several cute nooks and crannies. And even the main street with all the high-end fashion stores.

Oh! We were serenaded by this very interesting church ritual where we were eating our dinner. I've included a video at the end of this post. I was mesmerized by it. It was so cool! But we had no idea what religion it was. It was extra-strange seeing as how these were probably the ONLY people that weren't white that we saw all day. It is Switzerland, after all.

All in all, it was nice, but nothing to write home about. Even though I am.

Luzern:
I liked this city more than Zurich. I thought it was a very cute city with old flair that made it stand out. This city is much closer to the Alps than Zurich is. So the scenery is much nicer. In addition, the old wooden bridges that go across the river were gorgeous. But what I liked most were the old city fortification. There are 4 towers which are all connected by a wall that you can walk on. Being the history major that I am, this was the best part of the trip for me.

Something that we really noticed with these 2 cities were how quite they were. Imagine walking along a country road...that's how loud these cities were. Perhaps it is because there aren't many places for cars in the old streets. Or perhaps it was the quite reserve of the people. Whichever the case, it was creepy. It was like no one was having fun.

Would I recommend visiting these cities? Probably not. I might go back sometime before I leave...but the longer time goes by, the less I'm wanting to fulfill my wish.
This is the view from atop the walls of Luzern. This was probably the best part of the trip. Lots of history on these walls and in the towers...and gorgeous views.
There are many statues in these Switzerland cities. This one happened to be moving. I didn't give him any money because the cities took it all.
This is the famous part of Luzern. This old wooden bridge spans the river. Inside tells the story of the city. Too bad its in German. Oh...and it burnt down about 15 years ago and they had to rebuild it!
Look how artistic I am.
Sweeeeett!
It was sooo hot...I'm glad there was free water. Not so glad that I had to drink it out of a spout coming from the lower part of a man.
Cool streets.
Zurich from the top of a church.
My first beer that I ordered and drank. It was a Lowenbrau...in honor of my dad.

video

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Naked Boys

No, sorry...I don't have any pictures of these stories. I think they would be illegal anyway. However, I can describe these two stories by saying "naked" as many times as I can.

Story #1:
For a while I'd been planning on taking the boys to this big public swimming pool on one of their days off from school. Finally, last Friday, I was able to do so. Because Aiden had to take an early nap, we decided to go in the afternoon. The boys were excited about going the whole day. I even used it as a prize for being good for me.
We finally made it to the pool. Instead of getting naked (1) in the changing rooms, they said that they could get naked (2) outside. I believed them...it is France. So, the boys start changing in the middle of the park (lots of people around). Everything was going fine. They were excited...pointing out all the fun things they were going to do, while being naked (3).
Then, all of a sudden, as I was finishing getting Aiden dressed, Macsen shouts out, "I don't want this bathing suit! We need to go home and get my other one!" Of course, he was naked (4). I told him that we couldn't drive back home just to get a different bathing suit. It would be a waste of time and most of all, unfair to Aiden. So he had 2 choices, sit there naked (5) or put on this suit and play with us. He chose the former. However, he didn't just sit there. Imagine an almost 7-year old who is buck naked (6) screaming, crying, and jumping up and down. This was a MAJOR tantrum. I decided not to give into his fit and tried to ignore him while Aiden and I played. This went on for nearly 45 minutes!!! I really thought he was going to tire himself out. I was wrong. Finally, for fear of a burnt penis, I told him that we would be going home so that I could punish him.
I would think that he would put on his clothes and come willingly. Wrong again. He froze and wouldn't budge. So...I carried this naked (7) little boy probably 200 yards to the car. I can only imagine what people thought when they saw us.
To make matters worse, I had to cross the border to get back into France. Thankfully there was no one there checking ID. Can you imagine what they would have done to me if they found me with a crying naked (8) boy in the back seat without an ID?!

Story #2:
While I was getting ready for my recent trip into Switzerland, Aiden comes into my room...naked (9). This was our conversation:
"I'm not wearing any pants."
"Why not?"
"Because I like playing with my willy. I love it! I love it, I love it, I LOVE IT!!!"
Oh...I might not have made this clear...Aiden was the one playing with his willy...naked (10).

I'm glad I got to double digits.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Annecy

Making out in public is very common here. This couple decided to show us that 20 feet away from us. Thank you for the show.

Pretty, non?

There's basically a small river that cuts through the center of the old town. This is that river.

That river again.

The wedding party...see story below.

Eating baguettes, cheese, roasted chicken, croissants, and fruits has become a staple for us. Oh...and drinking wine in public. C'est la vie!

I love fresh markets!!!

Lake Annecy

So, this weekend we decided to go see Annecy. Annecy is a small city that's south of Geneva (in France). It only took about 30 min to get there. Here's something interesting about that. We drove on a French highway for about 15 min and we paid about 6 euros for the toll!!! That's ridiculous.

I can't imagine a better day. We started by picking out our lunch at the fresh market. Honestly, it seemed endless! Sure, there were a fair share of clothing/antique stands, but the majority are food stands. They each sell their specialty. 1 for cheeses, 1 for breads, etc. Its hard to tell which one you should go to because they mostly look the same. Oh...and the fish stands are the best. I'm sure you can imagine how good fish that's sitting in the open on a hot day smells! The vegetarian in our group loved that smell.

We took our meal (see above) to the park by Lake Annecy and enjoyed the scenery (see the making-out couple above). Basically, the lake is surrounded by mountains on one side and the city on the other. And the lake is crystal clear. Because the Michelin Guide told us we had to, we took a paddle boat around the lake. It was great because we could see how active the French are with their rowing, swimming (coooold water), and nearly topless sunbathing.

We then strolled around the old town for the rest of the day. It's amazing to see how old the city is. It really struck me while we were walking around that I'm in France. This was such a French-looking city. And the oldness of it all really took my breath away. I really wish that I could describe just how gorgeous everything was!

Oh! While we were strolling, we came across this wedding (see above). What a train-wreck!!! The clothes were sooo gaudy, it was hard to look away. And to make matters even more funny, there were much more people than us with horrified looks on their faces standing literally 5 feet way from the bride and groom.

On Sunday, we went to some more markets in Divonne (20 min away). We got some more food and wine, and had ourselves another picnic. I just love those kids of days. Or do I love eating an laying out in the sun? I think the latter. This is just a dream over here on days like that. I love this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just Pacause

Both of the boys are very different. The older one, Macsen, seems like he actually wants to please me. I think he views me as a cool young male whom he wants to impress. Yes, he does want a lot of attention, but I can usually keep him under control with no problem. Aiden, on the other hand, is just rambunctious. If something doesn't go his way (which happens a lot) he immediately pouts, cries, and/or throws a tantrum. However, he says the cutest things ever! So here are some cute things he does/says....
  • Instead of saying because, he says pacause.
  • He always says "Did you know that?" And usually its about something that only he would know, so I usually respond with a "No, I didn't". So one time, he said to me, "You don't know much."
  • His favorite game to play right now is, "You are Mary Poppins, and I'm the guy that dances." Basically, it means that I have to follow whatever he does.
  • After watching him pratically undress himself to pee, he gets up and heads towards the door. I say to him that he forgot 2 things (wash his hands, and flush the toilette). After staring at me for a little while, he pushes me out and shuts the door because he wants privacy.
  • Juliette was giving me directions to the tennis courts, but Aiden butts in and says that he knows how to get there. "You go to the hill and turn right. And then after that you go right again. Then you are there." Wasn't that easy?

He says so many cute things...I'll probably have tons of his quotes by the end of this. I just wanted to share what I'm dealing with...a love/hate relationship.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Driving in France

This is my Renault Scenic. My family laughed at me when I told them that this would be considered small in the States. Well, maybe it would be a medium size. Not the van that they think it is! I got really lucky because this is a very nice car...better than the other au pairs. And it's an automatic! Too bad there is a Celine Dion (in French) cd stuck in my it :(

As for the driving...
After getting quite lost today, I feel like I've gotten the hang of driving finally. It is so fun here! There are so many weird rules that they have and fun advantages.
  • Round-a-bouts are everywhere! Personally, I love them. You hardly ever have to stop, and its easy to turn around if you got lost (like I do).
  • They hardly have any stop signs or traffic lights in the towns and villages. This leads to a very unusual rule. When coming up to a "T" intersection, the driver on your right has the right-of-way. That means if you are going straight and you see a person coming from your right, you have to stop and let the person that is turning go first. Does that make sense? Its very bizarre.
  • Driving is fun. Instead of long stretches of doing nothing, it seems like you are always turning and slowing down along the winding roads. And on top of that, there are many times when you are driving down fairly narrow roads with large stone walls on either side of you. Its beautiful AND dangerous! Doesn't that sound like fun?!
  • Everything is so much closer here. They think 15 min is a long drive where we think that is short.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bye, Bye, Sally

Before I start...I have a link with some of my pictures to the right. I couldn't figure out how to get them on this page. I'm really tired and can't think straight!

Last night I finally got to see Geneva. Well...I didn't really see much of it because it was pretty late at night. We (the other au pairs and I) took Sally (the au pair I am replacing) out for some drinks and to go to a club. Of course, it was a lot of fun. But honestly, and perhaps this is because of the locations we went to, it wasn't that much different than I'm used to. I was able to get around strictly speaking English. Even the vast majority of the music was English...not our best American songs, I might add. The biggest difference was the dancing. The girls were pretty much the same...but the men here actually dance. Of course, this is great for me because I love to dance (I didn't say I'm good at it). But there were several times when I would just stare at groups of guys dancing together. Seeing men dance is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

What made the night exceptional was getting to meet the other Au Pairs in the group. There's Jane from Akron, Caitlin from Vancouver, and Lauren from Brisbane. They are a lot of fun and its great to have potential friends over here. Being with only kids and parents will eventually get quite taxing I'm sure. The only problem with them is that they are leaving soon, too! And it looks like some of their families aren't getting replacements.

Its nice to finally have some time off with this being the weekend. Its a little weird though because I need a break from the kids, but they keep wanting to play with me. I'm going to have to find a way to get out and spread my wings some more, I guess.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This could be the start of something new...

After months of anticipation, I'm finally here. So where do I begin?

My first impressions came from the scenery that I get to see everyday. This might be pointless to describe until I actually take some pictures, but I can't imagine a more gorgeous location. Looking behind our house, there is a large mountain range (Jura) that is within walking distance. Then you can look in front of the house, and you can see the snow-capped Alps. Mountains all around!!! Gorgeous!

After flying all night without any sleep due to a crying child, Juliette picked me up at the airport and brought me back home so that Sally (their current au pair) can show me a typical day. Macsen, the 6 year old, immediately took to me. Aiden, on the other hand, hid in Sally's arms complaining that he doesn't want a boy au pair. That lasted for about 15 min until I took them outside to play. 15 min into a gun fight, as I lay dead, Aiden came to my rescue by cuddling up beside me and giving me a kiss on the cheek. The rest of the day, they held my hand, kissed and hugged me, and told me that they love me. They are absolutely sweet kids! Oh, and Sally has been absolutely wonderful showing me everything. I really have big shoes to fill...she's a great caregiver.

With all that being said, I still feel very overwhelmed. I'm sure once I get used to everything, I'll relax a little bit. But with everything being so new to me, and the boys wearing me out, I'm exhausted. I knew this going in -but I didn't fully understand- this is going to hard work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On a Jet Plane

Today's the day! I'll be leaving this afternoon for Frankfurt and then off to Geneva. I really don't have anything to say other than that...I just felt that I should remind people that I'm no longer in America.

This feels like a Tweet more than a blog.