Monday, December 21, 2009

Where is Christmas?

With only a few shopping days left, I have to admit that it does not feel like Christmas. Yes, we have some snow on the ground and downtown Geneva is sparkling in lights and other holiday decorations. However, our flat remains void of any signs of Christmas. For the first time in many years (possibly forever) I do not have a proper Christmas tree and all the other decorations remain boxed and sitting on the top shelf of our hallway closet. Because we were in the States for two weeks over Thanksgiving and we will be in Italy for Christmas and New Year's, I figured it would be silly to spend time and money on adorning our half-furnished and disorganized flat with random Chirstmas paraphanelia. Well, for someone who usually loves Christmas, this was an awful decision. I truly miss having a Christmas tree filled with all the ornaments that I have been given over the years from my great Aunt Helen. I miss my Charles Dickens' Christmas village as well as my red and green stockings. I even miss attempting to untangle all the Christmas lights and then eventually giving up and buying new ones! So, with only a few days left before Christmas, I decided to take matters in to my own hands and today I bought a small Christmas cactus. I know it is not your typical Christmas tree but at least it is loosely associated with the holidays! Even though I have no one to pawn them off on, tomorrow I might even bake some cookies! Merry Christmas!

Au Revoir!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This weekend, one of Geneva’s biggest events took place. L’Escalade is the annual celebration of the defeat of the surprise attack by troops sent by the Duke of Savoy during the early mornings of December 12th, 1602. The Savoyards marched on Geneva and tried to enter the city walls by scaling tall ladders (a climb in French is an “escalade”). The night guard in Geneva rang the church bells to alert the townspeople, who joined the fight. According to Genevois legend, a local mother of 14 children who lived above the city gates, seized a large cauldron of hot soup and poured it on the attackers. This heavy soup landed on the head of a Savoyard attacker, killing him. This commotion further roused the townspeople. Only a few of the Savoyards were able to enter the city gates. The rest became confused and cold. They were all forced to retreat. During the attack, the Genevois lost 18 men during the attack while the Savoyards suffered 54 fatalities. Thirteen invaders who were taken as prisoners during the attack where hung the next day as thieves.

Modern day celebrations of the attack from 1602 take place throughout the weekend closest to December 12th. People break chocolate cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables and candies wrapped in the Geneva colors of red and gold. It is customary for the youngest and oldest person to hold hands and break the cauldron while reciting Ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République! " (Thus perish the enemies of the Republic). Other traditions include hot, spiced wine, vegetable soup, and children in Halloween- like costumes singing Escalade songs for money. There is also a massive running race the weekend before all the other Escalade celebrations. While Jignesh I were unable to participate in the road race last weekend (we were experiencing some jet lag from our trip back from the states), we did attend some of this weekend’s events. We sampled some of the yummy veggie soup and joined thousands in watching the Sunday evening parade. The parade portrayed many of the individuals from that night in 1602 including the local housewife and her 14 children, the attackers of the Savoyard, and the Genevois militia on horseback and holding tourches. All were dressed in period costumes and carried lifelike weapons from that time period. There were even characters that represented the attackers who where hung, complete with shackles and nooses around their necks! Who needs a Mickey Mouse parade when you can have fire, nooses, cannons, and 10 foot spears!
Au Revoir.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aisle vs. Window

Until now, I have always been a window type of gal. The thought of curling up against the window for a long nap while avoiding the constant barrage of service carts and flight attendants always seems appealing. (In reality, I can never get comfortable no matter where I am seating and I can never get a wink of sleep regardless of how tired I am). Well, after this most recent flight, I am officially a changed person. Attempting to be a good international traveler, I followed all the tips by eating healthy and drinking plenty of water. I boarded my 9 hour flight with visions of curling up with my pillow and dreaming the night away. Yeah right! Just moments into the flight, the overweight, middle-aged and balding man next to me fell into one of the deepest sleeps that I have ever witnessed. I am convinced he was not a person but a bear in hibernation. He snored so loudly that he was getting stares from people more than five rows in front of us. Of course, the cup of coffee and over 60 ounces of water that I had drank leading up to the flight started to catch up with me! At first I waited it out and thought that the man blocking my way to bladder comfort would soon wake up. Well, I was wrong. He slept right through dinner and some rocky turbulence. I tried all the tricks in the world to gently wake the man up. I "accidently" hit his arm while fumbling through my backpack. I turned my overhead light on and off serveral times in a row. I loudly coughed and cleared my throat. And as I had heard on tv, I even laid down and played dead. Nothing worked. It was useless. So, I waited a bit longer convinced that Spring was around the corner and this bear would eventually emerge from his den. Who can sleep this well on an airplane? (Oh, I later found out that Jignesh was on a flight only miles in front of mine with three seats to himself enjoying a winter's rest of his own). After no sign of life from my seatmate and with my bladder about to explode, I was no longer going to play nice guy. I literally shoved and kicked him to get him to release me from my pain. Still, no luck. I thought about climbing over him or asking the flight attendant to help but decided that neither were the best ideas. So, I spent the next 7 hours watching two bad movies and one not so funny episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway trying to distract myself but actually staring at this bear for any sign of life while simultaneously crying from the immense pain. I even got so desperate that I considered using the barf bag as my personal toilet. FINALLY, with exactly 54 minutes left in the flight, my neighbor woke up when the smell of pastries filled the cabin. I politely asked him to let me out and then sprinted down the aisle to freedom. That was the longest and most satisfying pee that I ever taken! So, from now you will always find me in an aisle seat!

Au Revoir.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Colorado Thanksgiving!

Our Niece

A Scenic Hike

The Whole Family

Hiking Along

For the first time in many years, I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my entire family! My sister Lauren is enjoying some time in the States on a break from her Peace Corps adventures in Ecuador and my parents exchanged their Tennessee lake house for some time in the Colorado snow. My sister (Jen), my brother-in-law (Brian), and their 8 month old daughter (Sam) did not have to travel quite as far as they live in Denver. To experience a truly magical Thanksgiving, we rented a cabin in the mountains and were spoiled with amazing hikes, runs, and evenings in the hot tub. Of course, I cannot forget to mention the amazing home cooked turkey day dinner that we are all still trying to work off. Jignesh was unable to make trip due to important meetings in Europe...well, so we thought! Imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang at 7pm on Thanksgiving night and we opened the door to find a tired but happy Jignesh standing on the stoop after a week of bouncing around Europe followed by a 13 hour flight from Frankfurt and then a long drive to the mountains.

While the Thanksgiving holiday is winding down for most, I still have another week in the States. I am going to help my sister move into her new house, fill my empty suitcase with all my new purchases, and simply enjoy a taste of American life. Jignesh, on the other hand, is going to surprise his family in Chicago for a quick stay before flying to New York for a conference. We will both return in Geneva within 5 minutes of each other next Saturday!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Au Revoir

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our New Digs

The Entrance to our Building

Our Building

The Living Room

The View from our Master Bedroom Balcony

Master Bedroom

One Tiny Kitchen

I know it has been a while since I posted a blog, but I do have a good excuse! Last week, we finally said goodbye to our temporary flat and moved into our new digs. Thus, we have been without internet until today.

Flat hunting in Geneva is not as simple as logging onto Craigslist or opening your local newspaper to choose from hundreds of options. Places in Geneva go off the market just as quickly as they went on the market. In many cases (including ours), flats do not even go on the market as they are snapped up by a friend (or a friend of a friend) of the owner as soon as the old tenant gives notice. Because of the extreme housing shortage, most flats in Geneva are old and outdated (landlords don't bother putting money into places because they know they will easily get rented) and come with almost nothing (including ceiling lights, kitchen appliances, etc)!

Our place is on the 3rd floor of a 7 story building. The building is about a 10 minute walk from the city centre and is a short 25 minute bus ride from Jignesh's office. Compared to London, this place is quite big. We have a large living room, three bedrooms (one tiny with room for only a single bed), two good sized bathrooms, two balconies, and one very tiny kitchen. While I love some of of the old characteristics in the crown moldings and glass panel doors, I could do without the salmon colored bathroom and the dingy, small kitchen. In London, our flat was tucked away on a quaint side street and came with a garden. Here, we are on somewhat of a busy street and have to go down either three flights of stairs or one slow elevator to bring Schlopy out! We still have a lot to do make it a home (hang pictures, get curtains, buy some more furniture, ect) and it may be far from perfect but at least we have loads of room for visitors!
Au Revoir!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Few Updates!

Just thought I would fill everyone in on what we have been up to recently...

*We signed a lease on a flat and will officially get the keys tomorrow. We will then move in later this week! Stayed tuned for some pics and a description of our new digs.

*I found a beautiful 50m pool and have been swimming a few times a week. Although, unlike my sister in Ecuador, the charge is $6.00 per swim and it does not come with a free lunch or a takeway package of fresh fruit.

*We opened a Swiss bank account. Too bad it does not have as much money as most Swiss bank account. In fact, to date it has NO money in it.

*I have attended a running club full of English speaking expats. Although it is a bit unorganized and very laid back, it is nice to run with others.

*Jignesh has been extremely busy at work and was in Zurich at the beginning of the week for a meeting. He seems to really like his co-workers and is working on some good projects!

*Schlopy was almost abducted by the local security while I was in the grocery store for less than 5 minutes. Try explaining to some non-English speaking security guys that you have only been living here for 3 weeks and are in the process of registering the dog. It made my brain hurt!

Au Revoir!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Price is Not so Right

As I have mentioned before, the cost of living in Geneva is simply outrageous. Since we re-located from another expensive city in London, I did not think the difference would be too extreme. Wow, I was wrong. Below is a list of some common item/services and their price (US dollars) in Geneva. There is a reason why people who live in Geneva drive to France for groceries and haircuts! Let’s just say that when I am in the States for Thanksgiving, I will be bringing an empty suitcase to fill up from one major shopping spree.

Men’s haircut- minimum $40.00
Manicure- $55.00
McDonald’s Value meal- $13.50
Ski Pants- $450.00
1 small frozen pizza- $8.00
1 beer at a local bar- $9.00
Meal for two at a basic Italian restaurant- minimum of $75.00

Don’t get me wrong, not everything is ridiculously overpriced. Wine, public transportation and rent are a few of things that seem to be about the same as in London. I guess if all else fails and we find ourselves digging in our pockets for coins, we will just pick up a bottle of wine and ride the bus around for entertainment!

Au Revoir

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Week Down...

After living in Geneva for a little over a week, I have to admit that I have some feelings of concern. The city itself is not the prettiest, most interesting, or biggest. I am very frustrated that I cannot speak the language and find myself trying to avoid talking to people. I feel completely helpless everywhere. At the grocery store I cannot read the labels or communicate with the cashier. I have been trying to get a frequent users card from our local grocery store for a week now to no avail! Calling a public swimming pool for hours and prices was a complete disaster. I have no idea how I am going to meet people and make friends. I am scared that I might actually have to join the American Women`s Club and learn to quilt. I am quickly realizing that any small hopes of finding a job have most definitely flown out the window. To say that I am worried about the cost of living is an understatement. The cheapest men`s haircut that we could find today was $35.00 (Jignesh used to pay £6 in London…that is about $10.00). Even though the only thing I have bought is food, I feel like money is just flying out of the bank account quicker than a mouse running from a cat. I also have to mention some of the strict rules in Switzerland. There are some residential buildings that forbid you from flushing a toilet after 10pm (I will let you think about that one all by yourself).

With all this being said, I have to remember that we have only been here a week. I am sure that once we are out of our sterile, dark temporary flat and in something more permanent with all of our things, Geneva will feel more like home. I know that with some classes and a lot of practice, my French will become usable (I hope). If I really reach beyond my personality and put myself out there, I am sure that I will find a friendly running or triathlon group similar to the one I left and loved in London. If all else fails, Swiss chocolate always makes for good therapy (oops, I forgot that I cannot afford the chocolate either).

As for Jignesh, he has been thrown into the fire at work. He has already been put in charge of a major project and has had hours of client meetings in his first week alone. He once again has his own office and really likes the co-workers that he has met so far. His commute from home to the office is almost half of what it was in London. So, thumbs up for Jignesh and work.

I guess the only thing left to say as of now is….to be continued.

Au Revoir.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More Pics From Our Last Days in London

Entering the Hampstead tube station for the last time

Goodbye 17a Willow Road

Leaving our flat for the last time

Some more leaving do drinks

Some Pictures from Our Last Days in London

Having fun at our leaving do!

A little more fun...

Jignesh and Schlopy on moving day

Our London lives all packed up!

Origin: London
Desitnation: Geneva

The best movers!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hello Geneva!

Well, we made it! We have officially been residents of Geneva for a little over 48 hours. The London side of the move was surprisingly smooth. We dropped Schlopy off at British Airways cargo 4.5 hours before the flight and then proceeded to the terminal where we enjoyed one last breakfast in the UK. Once we arrived in Switzerland, things got a little more interesting. After landing we made our way through customs, collected our luggage, and boarded a bus to collect Schlopy at cargo. Well, after about 5 minutes on the bus we discovered that we were on the wrong bus AND going the wrong direction. So, we quickly got off at the next stop. While we were standing on some random street with way too much luggage trying to figure out how to get to cargo, Jignesh received a phone call. Apparently while we made the flight, Schlopy did not! Schlopy was stranded in London! How is possible that BA could not get Schlopy to the plane on time despite having over a 4 hour window? Luckily, BA was able to get him on the next flight so we found ourselves drinking some wine in the Geneva cargo staff restuarnat while waiting for Schlopy to arrive. Although he was shaken and definietely confused, he was otherwise healthy. Wih our son and all our luggage, we hailed a taxi to our temporary flat where we will be until finding a permanent place to live.

After just 48 hous in Geneva, here are some of our initial observations on our new home!

*The place is bloody expensive! Our bill at an average italian restaurant totaled $65.oo. Yes, $65.00! That did not even include dessert, appetizers, or coffee! We only had one main and one glass on wine each. How are we going to survive here?!

*EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays. If you want to buy anything (milk, clothes, gas) simply forget about it. Hours for stores during the week are not much better. Most businesses close for 1.5 hours during luchtime and lock their doors for the days by 4:30pm or 5:00pm. When do these people actually work?

*Apartments are extremely difficult to find. It is not unusual to have over 20 applicants bid for the same apartment. Most people have to bid on several places before securing something.

*People here love their little, perfectly groomed dogs and you can bring them everything...including restaurants! I think that I may have to bring Schlopy to a professional groomer (no more Mom cuts) if he wants to fit in.

Stayed tuned for some pictures from the move!

Au Revior

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday, I celebrated my 29th birthday (yes, I will always be turning 29 for the rest of my life)! Despite that fact that the we had a ton of things to do before leaving London on Thursday, we still managed to hit the theatre one last time. The selected show was Jersey Boys. We were a bit worried when we found our seats only to realize that we were completely surrounded by an audience with an average above that of my parents! But I guess that happens when you go to see a show about a popular band (The Four Seasons) from the 60's. Despite our lack of knowledge of the band, the show was fatastic. The musicians and actors were incredibly talented and the direction was simple but interesting. It amazes me how each theatre production is so amazing yet so different. We have have enjoyed taking advantage of London's West End and are certaintly going to miss having a huge selection of quality theatre productions at our doorstep. The evening finished with a glass of wine at home and few phone calls from friends and family! What a perfect birthday!

Au Revoir

Goodbye London!

Today is moving day and our London lives are quickly and efficiently being packed away. In just a few hours, we will watch our surprisingly few number of boxes drive away for a final sendoff. I thought that I would be a bit more sad on this day but I am shockingly ready to leave London. In fact, I wish we were directly following the truck instead of waiting until Thursday to board the plane. I guess I cannot really say why I am ready to leave when I have absolutely loved this experience and this city. Maybe it is because we have alreay said our goodbyes. Or maybe it is because for the last 6 months this move at times as been a "go" and at other times a "no" and I just want the whole process to be over and done with it. Or maybe I am simply anxious and excited to begin writing the next chapter of our lives. Regardless of my mixed feelings, there is no doubt that this move is happening. The packed boxes, the cancelled utilities, and the booked flights confirm that there is no turning back now!

Au Revoir!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Our Days are Numbered

Well folks, the time has almost come. Our visas have been approved, our one-way flights are booked, the movers are scheduled, and our goodbyes to friends have started. This time next week, we will wake up in Geneva for the first time. Last night, Jignesh's co-workers had a fantastic farewell party for him (which I, of course, crashed!). As we were walking along the Thames River with the Tower Bridge as our backdrop, I began to think about all the things I will miss about London. The list is truly endless. I will miss my long runs and walks (with Schlopy) on Hampstead Heath, the unusual words and phrases used by the Brits, and the buzz of central London on the weekends. I will miss the architecture, history, and diversity of the city. I will miss the markets (a ostrich burger from Borough Market sounds so good right now), the shopping, and Marks and Spencers. I think I might even miss going to the grocery store almost everyday and lugging my bags of food home! Of course, I cannot forget about all the friends we have met through work, running club, and other random ways.

With all that being said, I am looking forward to so much about Geneva. I cannot wait to hit the slopes, hiking trails, and cyling paths that are so abundant in Geneva. I am excited to learn a language and throw myself into a true foreign experience. I am already planning all our weekends away as we will be centrally located in Europe.

I have been trying to remember what I was feeling when we were only a week away from moving to London. I am sure I was having all the same feelings that I am having now...excitement, sadness, nervousness. While I may not know what to expect of our new lives in Geneva, I do know that we are incedibly lucky to have this opportunity.

Au Revoir

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An English Weekend

The Tower of London

Cambridge's famous mathmatical bridge

A scenic shot of the River Cam

Trinity College and set for the movie Harry Potter

Colin, our trusty tourguide

With our days in London numbered, this past weekend we explored parts of London that we have been wanting to see since we arrived. Our first stop on Saturday was the Tower Of London. One of London's most popular tourist sights the tower's original function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison. It has also served as a place of torture and execution (two of Henry VIII's wives were beheaded here), a treasury, a zoo, and Royal Mint. Since 1303, it has also served as the home of Crown Jewels. We were actually able to see many of the past and current crowns used by various UK royalty during coronations and other royal ceremonies. I have to admit that the collection was quite impressive. We even saw the two largest diamonds in the world! We were surprised by the size of the is not just one building but an entire complex and we spent over 4 hours exploring the area. We finished the day with drinks in Camden Town, an area of London known for great people watching.

On Sunday, we headed to the scholarly town of Cambridge. We started our tour of Cambridge by getting belts made at the outdoor craft market and feasting on ostrich burgers. We then headed to the River Cam for a punting tour. Punting, a method of driving a boat by pushing off the botton of the river with a long, skinny pole, is a true artform. We were going to rent our own boat but were happy with our decision to let someone else do the work...especially when we saw several people take an unintentional swim when the boat when one way and the pole went the other! Along our tour we saw several of the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University. Each college has its own history, traditions, and personality. They all, however, have some amazing architecture. Since we had not rested quite enough on the tour, we found a nice green patch on the river's edge and watched all the tourists attempting to guide their boats down the river. We then headed to a local pub for yet some MORE resting. What a great weekend!

Au Revior!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fany Dress

Last night, we attended a farewell party for our friends Steve and Teresa who are returning home to Australia after a two year stay in London. In true British fun, the party was "fancy dress" famous characters. Similar to Halloween, fancy dress is an excuse to become someone else by dressing up in some ridiculous outfit. Here, it is done all year long and it is not unusual to see Batman while traveling on the underground on a random Friday night. As with almost everything that we do, we waited until the last minute to secure outfits. While I kept it simple as Wilma Flintstone, Jignesh went over the top as Elvis. He completely transformed himself with a jumpsuit, wig, sunglasses, jewelry, and guitar! By the end of the night, he even had some of the moves down. Check out some of the photos for a good laugh!

Au Revoir!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Yesterday afternoon while at work, I received an unexpected email from Jignesh stating, "Meet me at Victoria...6pm sharp!" Since I was having a bit of a rough week, I was looking forward to spending what I assumed would be an evening with my husband. Well, I not only got to spend the evening with my husband but also with Glinda, Elphaba, and all the other characters from the hit production Wicked! Jignesh had escaped work during his lunch break and secured tickets that day! We have been talking about seeing this production since first arriving in London. But, with many things, life just got in the way. Well, the wait was more than worth it. The show was simply amazing. Every time I go to the theatre I am amazed at all the talent on stage. I am not just talking about the actors but also about the writers, directors, musicians, costume designers, etc. There really is nothing better than spending an evening at the theatre....especially when it is a radom Wednesday night.

Au Revoir!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Learning a new Language

Switzerland has four official languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansch. Our future city of residence, Geneva, is primarily French speaking. In attempt to integrate myself in the culture as much as possible, I have begun my quest to learn French. Unlike Jignesh who has an uncanny knack for languages and picks them up way too easily, I struggle a bit more. So, this should be interesting.

Monday night, Jiggy came home from work bearing a fantastic gift. Rosetta Stone French is a complete language learning program that teaches you to learn a language similar to how children learn their first languauge. It is suppose to be one of the best systems out there (the price proves it!) and even has a voice recognition system that will not let you continue until you say the word correctly. I quickly downloaded the program onto Rocket, my trusty laptop, and was able to say simple things like "the girl swims" in minutes! Ok, don't get me wrong...I have a very long way to go. I feel like a tongue-tied giraffe when trying to pronounce these words that sound nothing like the way they are spelled! I know that I am in for a complete shock when we actually land our feet in Geneva and I know that I will have no idea what people are saying. But, I have to start somewhere and I have admit that it is nice to use my brain (even if it does hurt). Rosetta Stone is just a supplement to my language quest. I plan to take classes once we arrive in Geneva but for now I hope to at least pick up some bits and pieces. Since we are speaking of languages, I guess this is as good a time as any to change the blog's official entry sendoff. So.....

Au Revoir!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Things are About to Get Crazy!

Over the past two weeks, a lot has happened regarding our move to Switzerland. The most important item and the one that we have been waiting on before making additional plans is Jiggy's work permit. We originally thought that this would take 6-8 weeks to obtain. Well, after just a few weeks, it was approved this past Wednesday! With this approval came a both a huge sigh of relief and whole new list of worries.

Even though we do have have an exact moving date, I also handed in my resignation at the club. I am counting down the days to my last day of September 29th. I definitely have mixed emotions about this one. While I will not the miss the job itself, I will undoubtedly miss the people and all the laughs that the job provided. While the job has not been perfect, it has allowed me to truly experience the British culture, keep me busy, and make some extra cash (in pound nonetheless!). Finally, in our quest to learn French, we ordered Rosetta Stone French (a language learning system) last night. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Schlopy even applied for a pet passport today! Wow...this move is real.

With Jiggy's work permit approved and the resignation of my job handed in, things are really going to get crazy. Since we did this whole move to another country thing less than 18 months ago, I would like to think I know what we are getting ourselves into. I also keep telling myself that I know what to do and not to do this time around. Clearly, I am fooling myself. Over the next month, we have a list as long as a giraffe's neck of this things to complete. And I don't even want to think about all the things that will need to be done once we have arrived in Switzerland! Let the fun begin.


Monday, August 31, 2009

They're After me Lucky Charms!

This past weekend, we took advantage of a Bank Holiday weekend and made the short journey to Dublin, Ireland! In case you are wondering...yes, it rains a lot! The rain, however, rarely washes out an entire day and does not seem so bad when you are surrounded by extremely freindly people and lush, green landscapes.

Our trip started early on Friday after a quick flight from London. We spent our first day exploring the city of Dublin. We slowly meandered from our hotel to the centre of the city. Along the way we stopped at St. Stephen's Green, a small but perfectly manicured park and Trinity College, Ireland's most well-known college. We also did a little window shopping on Grafton Street and people watch in the busy area of Temple Bar. After a lunch at Bewley's, a popular cafe, we headed to the Guinness Storehouse where we learned about the history and brewing process of the this popular Irish beer. Of course, the best part of the tour was the free pint of beer that we enjoyed at a 360 degree bar overlooking the entire city! The day ended at Botticelli, an Italian restaurant recommended in several tour books. The restaurant did not disappoint. Although the atmosphere was far from fancy, the food, wine, and service were impeccable.

On day two, we decided to head out of the city to the small fishing village of Howth. We explored the town and its amazing seafood stores and even made friends with some of the its most popular residents....seals! We then decided to check out the popular cliff "walks." Of the 4 "walks" available, we opted for the 10k (6.2 mile) trek. The sign estimated about 2 1/2 to 3 hours for the entire journey. Well, either the the estimate was severly off (maybe the person who determined estimate had just had a few pints of Guinness!) or we are just really slow hikers but we finally reached the end 4 1/2 hours later! Oh, did I mention that we were not exactly outfitted in proper hiking gear?! Regardless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. Heck, we even managed not to throw one another off the cliff! The trail conviently ended near the door of a poular pub (do you see a theme here?). Before heading back to Dublin, we picked up some fresh fish and chips, headed to a bench overlooking the harbor, and watched the sunset.

Day three, our last full day in Ireland, we headed to another small costal town. Malahide is quaint village with a quiet beach and intercoastal way. We browsed some shops and checked out some of the local pubs (shocker, I know!). Since it was Sunday (everything is closed on Sundays in Europe) and rather quiet, we decided to finish some of the forgotten sights in Dublin. We listened to some traditional Irish music in Temple Bar and checked out the Liffney River. We even visited Mulligan's, home to the "best Guinness in Dublin" and once a host to President John F. Kennedy. Our day and trip ended with yet another dinner at Boticelli....this time followed by homemade gelato and tirmasu!

Ireland was a truly relaxing and enjoyable weekend away. We were able to escape the city and explore some areas not always frequented by tourists. Also, there was no pressure to see some famous castle or musuem. Until our next trip!


Ireland Pictures

The sign that greeted us at the beginning of our trek
One of the many seals of Howth Harbor

The beach town of Malahide

A scenic shot of our 7 mile hike

A furry friend that joined us for a part of the hike

A shot of the Howth lighthouse

You need strong arms to drink all that Guinness!

The Gravity bar at the Guinness Storehouse

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Renting Pains

For the last 6 months, we have been experiencing some renting pains. It all began when we (along with our next door neighbor) started to notice yellow stains developing on walls throughout the flat. When the stains climed the walls and turned various other colors, we our landlord finally decided to listen to us. He sent out numerous builders, contractors, and surveyors to determine the cause. They all came out looked at us, looked at each other, and scratched their heads. Some claimed there was leak in the tub while others swore there was a leak in the floor pipes. A few even blamed it on the flat next door. With no identifiable cause we have been visited with a constant parade of workers (mostly at ungodly hours in the morning). Jignesh was even caught in his underwear! Our bathroom floors have been ripped up and replaced. Pipes have been dug out of floor and re-fitted. Bathtubs have been cut out and then returned to where they were. Until now, we have been understanding and let this continue with no significant gripes. However, this week has pushed me to my limit. Right now I writing this while confinded to my bedroom while all the hardwood in living room is being completely ripped up and replaced. Since the room needs to be empty, all our furniture and other belongings are crammed into the very small second bedroom and conservatory. It is a struggle to just get to the garden to take poor Schlopy out. After the living room is complete, they are moving on to the conservatory! We have no TV and only have internet after 5pm. I don't even want to talk about the thick layer of dust and debris that is covering the entire place. I think Schlopy even looks a bit dirty. Even though they claim that the problem has been found, I am not convinced. Let's just say that if this happens again, we are not going to be so nice. I think it is time to move...oh wait, we are moving! Hopefully, leaks do not exist in Switzerland.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hampton Court

Jignesh and the palace in the background

Some of the manicured gardens

More manicured gardens

Another shot of the palace

The palace and the gardens

We made it!

Henry VIII

In an attempt to see more of the UK before our move to Swizterland, we headed outside of the city this weekend to explore Hampton Court. One of the main residences of Henry VIII, Hampton Court is a palatial complex filled with history. Unlike many of the other palace and castles that we have visited, Hampton Court treats visitors to re-enactments of special occasions that occured within its walls. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Order of Service of the marriage between King Henry VIII and his sixth wife to be, Katherine Parr. We followed the costumed actors throughout the palace as they prepared for the big day. In the process, we learned about many details of the life during the those times. After the tour, we explored the rest of the palace on our own, including the vast kitchens and private aparments of Henry VIII. Our day ended with a fantastic lunch at an outdoor cafe (London was enjoying an unusually warm, sunny day) and a long stroll through the amazing gardens. We even found our way through the famous Hampton Court maze and watched some locals play on the the royal tennis court (a cross between racquetball and tennis). We are also tempted to pick some grapes from the world's longest grape vine. It was great to escape the city and see a bit of the English countryside.