Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back in the USA

Yes, I know that I have not updated the blog in quite some time. It is not because I have lost interest or because I have been lazy. It is because life has been a bit crazy. Actually, life has been more than a bit crazy…it has been completely hectic. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off crazy! There is so much to report that I have no idea where to begin. I guess to keep it simple (if possible), I will start with the present and work backwards (most likely over several entries).

Right now I am composing this blog not from the comforts of our Geneva flat but from the not so comfortable cramped, stuffy laundrymat at the Marriott Courtyard in Washington, DC. Yes, we are in the US. And we are not just on holiday…we are back for good! After an amazing and unforgettable 3.5 years in Europe, we have said our goodbyes and have our feet planted on home soil (Ok, the feet are far from planted but they are slowly digging). While I want to describe my thoughts and feelings about moving back, I will save that for another time as the chapters are still being written in a novel that is guaranteed to rival the length of War and Peace. Facts and logistics first…

This move has been in the works for many months. However, it has been kept a small secret as major details such as where and when changed daily if not hourly as Jignesh was exploring new career opportunities. Despite moving out of our Geneva flat over a month ago and being homeless since that time, those details were just finalized late last week. I can, with confidence (I think), finally report that we were will be returning to Southern California (Orange County) where Jignesh will re-connect with the same boss and company that he worked for while we lived in San Diego!

Yes, the last few months have been absolutely nuts and but I have to admit that we have also managed to have a bit of fun along the way. Since my last entry, we have travelled to Lyon (France) and Istanbul (Turkey) for short getaways. We also squeezed in a 10 trip to Kenya for a safari and some relaxation on the coast. Finally, we were had a wonderful time with my 93 year-old Grandparents in Boston. Of course, more details and pictures on those adventures are to come!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Edinburgh, Scotland

With Jignesh on a two-week plus business trip earlier this month, I found myself getting a bit stir crazy and decided to take a last-minute trip to Edinburgh. Alone! While I have always admired people who have the confidence to dine alone or got to a movie by themselves, I am just not that type of person. When I do things like that, I feel like a fish in a bowl. So, I really debated about going on this trip as I was not sure I would even have much fun. In the end, the lure of travel and visiting a city that always gets great reactions took over. So, off I went! And I am more than glad I did. I had the freedom to do exactly what I wanted when I wanted. I browsed all the cashmere and wool stores to my heart's content and stopped in every charity shop for a few mindless but enjoyable books. I practiced my photography using the most random things as subjects and scheduled in a daily run. So, I have established that travelling alone is not so bad afterall. Now, a little more about Edinburgh itself.

A small and beautiful city, Edinburgh has a distinct old and new town. Old town is filled with mazes of closes and alleys where Edinburgh's entire population lived in crowed tenements while new town is considered to be one of Europe's greatest examples of Georgian town planning. I explored both. I walked the Royal Mile of old town starting at the top with the Edinburgh castle and ending at the bottom with the Palace of Holyroadhouse (the Queen's official residence in Scotland and pictured above). Along the way, I peeked into a few churches and admired various statues and buildings. On my second day, I even took a tour of the undergound vaults where people used to live and work. With Princes Street, new town is the popular shopping district and is also filled with some great cafes, restaurants, and boutiques hidden on back streets and squares. I had a blast window shopping and leisurely checking out all the famous statues and former residences of well-known writers.

My favorite part of Edinburgh was Holyroad Park and Canongate. Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano, dominates this area as it soars 823ft above the city. Last erupting 325 million years ago, it now provides locals and visitors with great veiw of the city and the eastern coastlineof Scotland...just don't climb it in flip flops!

While I still would rather travel with others, travelling alone is definitely eye-opening and definitely builds character. It is even fun! While I will definitely do it again (maybe soon), I do not think I will every feel completely comfortable dining alone.

Au Revoir.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Edinburgh Pics

View from the top of Arthur's Seat

The path to Arthur's Seat

A Statue of a Horse

A Small Side Street

Gotta Love a Man in a Kilt!

Old Town

Some More Old Town

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grocery Stores Woes

One of the most frustrating things about living in Switzerland is the lack of store hours. All stores, including grocery stores, close by 7pm on weekdays and 6pm on Saturdays. Everything is completely closed on Sundays. If you need something unexpectedly outside of opening hours, your only option is to trek across town to the airport where there is a small grocery store with extended hours. So, as you can imagine, grocery stores are completely packed on Saturday afternoons.

Since I have a bit of flexibility in my schedule, I have adapted to these hours and usually do not find them inconvient. This weekend, however, I found myself wishing (for the frist time) there was a Kroger or Super Target around the corner.

While out on a kayaking trip with Ski Club on Saturday, I discovered that Monday is a Swiss holiday and that all stores and businesses would be closed. My thoughts immediately drifted to a visual of my refrigerator and pantry and I realized that unless I could make it to the store before closing, I would be forced to survive on old green onions, a half jar of peanut butter, and a few stale granola bars for two and a half days.

Arriving in Geneva at 5:35 still in my swimsuit and wet clothes, I bee-lined for the grocery store while making a mental grocery list. All my thoughts went out the window when I was confronted with complete chaos. What I found resembled Toys R' Us on the day they release the hottest Christmas item. There was a line to just get into the store and people were practically fighting for the few remaining carts and/or baskets. It was impossible to navigate the crowded, narrow aisles while dodging carts, strollers, and running children. I did not think things could get any worse until an employee started to discount the very last of the fruits and veggies. Shoppers started to surround this poor guy as if he was Brad Pitt stripped down naked. Even though I really wanted some fresh fruits and vegetables, I skipped the produce area seeking out any area that would not leave me with scratches and bruises. Juggling the most random items (What can I make with prosciutto, yogurt, oatmeal, and cashews?) in my arms, I just wanted to get the heck out of there! I soon discovered that would not be so easy when I encounted what seemed to be a mile long wall of people waiting to check out. If I had had enough cereal and milk and at home to last until Tuesday, I would have jumped shipped but I knew that I had absolutely nothing at home. So, I braved the line and waited impatiently. Of course, the 15 people in front of me all seemed to have one problem or another. One could forgot to weigh her veggies. Another could not get his credit card to work while another one dropped a can of pasta sauce. Finally, I reached the front of the line, checked out and payed as if I was being chased by a shark. It is a good thing that I one of those random items I bought was a bottle of wine!

Au Revoir.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Munich Pics

Let's Explore!

The Hofbrauhaus

Some beer...

Another Beer Garden

Surfing the Isar River...these guys were awesome!

Marienplatz, Munich's Main Square

Munich, Germany

Wow. I cannot believe that it has been a month since my last post! I am not sure where the time as gone. We have had a lot going on but at the same time nothing much to report. Is that possible? At any rate, I am back!

Last week, we put the Daewood to another test as we headed to both Milan and Munich. Jiggy had a conference in Milan so I (of course, Schlopy came too) tagged along and enjoyed the ammenities (gym, spa, etc) of a nice hotel. I also bummed around Milan and hit some shops of the world's biggest fashion capital. Surprisingly, Jignesh was the only one that benefited from those days out.

After Jignesh's conference, we spent the rest of the week and part of the weekend in Munich, Germany. The drive from Milan to Munich took us through four countries (Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany) and treated us to some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. We were not disappointed in our final destination either.

A city full of history and culture, Munich is also diverse, vibrant, and liveable. Since Munich has endless things to see and do, we did not have time to tackle everything. There is, however, no doubt that we caught the contangious buzz of this southern German city. Jignesh, of course, loved the beer gardens and halls and took every opportunity to visit them. While Jignesh endulged in his vice, I was more than happy to sample one of mine. Pretzels. At the beginning of the weekend, I tried to match every beer of Jignesh with a pretzel of my own. However, a girl can only eat so much bread so I quickly gave up (not before trying a delicious pretzel soup) and started to try some of the other local specialities. Aside from drinking lots of beer and eating lots of pretzels, we also checked out all the main sights and walked around the Isar River.

An extremely friendly bike city with expansive parks and gardens, one of the best things we did was join Mike's Bike Tours (www.mikesbiketours.com/munich) for a half day tour of the city. With Matt as our trusty and entertaining guide, the tour was suppose to be a leisurely, fun way to learn about the city, its history, and its buildings. Jignesh, however, thought we was competing in the Tour de France and after attempting a wheelie, came away with some incredible road rash. Only Jignesh!

Since we loved Munich so much, it is a good thing we left some things on the list as an excuse to return!

Au Revoir.

Friday, May 6, 2011

7 Year Itch

Last Sunday, May 1st, marked our 7th wedding anniversary! Despite the stigma of this particular anniversary, I have to admit that there is no itching here. In fact, it feels like just yesterday that our wedding party went missing in Tijuana and we set our hotel curtains on fire. While we normally try to take a weekend away for our anniversary, this year we decided to stay home since we had been on the go with my parents for the previous three weeks. Instead, we bummed around Geneva all day with a pub stop followed by lunch at an outdoor Italian restaurant. With absolutely incredible weather, it was a perfectly relaxing day. Typically, we do not make a big deal of anniversary gifts but we both wanted to exchange them this year. However, when the day came around, neither one of us had found the time to hit the stores. For some reason, I was a bit upset. I did not care about not receiving a present but was mad at myself for not making the effort to make the day truly special. So, Jignesh came up with the idea to turn the entire month of May into annivesary month. we have decided to surprise each other with small gifts or gestures for the next few weeks. Week one brought an hour long home massage for me and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups purchased at the American Market and snuck into his computer bag for Jignesh! Let the fun continue!

Au Revoir.