Friday, March 25, 2011

Movie, Pizza, and Lots of Wine

While we love to learn about new cultures, it is also fun to introduce others to a bit of American life. For some time now, Jignesh has wanted to introduce a few of his co-workers to one of his favorite movies, "Office Space." So, earlier this week we hosted a mid-week movie night.

Unceremoniously released in 1999 with little fanfare and almost no marketing, Office Space flopped at the box office. However, when released on video, it quickly found a following and soon became an American cultural icon. In fact, this movie has become one of the most quoted in the last decade. If you haven't seen this movie, go rent it today. If you have seen it, watch it again! You cannot go wrong with this intelligently constructed social satire of corporate America (or any general office environment).

Although our living room is small and seating was limited, we made up with lots of yummy homemade food and packed the frig with beer. And what did people drink? Wine. Lots and lots of wine. Only in Europe would people attend a casual movie night and drink wine. Oh well, at least Jignesh is stocked for the next 3 months!

Au Revoir

Monday, March 21, 2011

Torino, Italy!

Last weekend we headed to Torino (Turin), Italy with our good friends Riefqah and Cesar (oh, Schlopy came too)! Located in northern Italy and the host of the 2006 Winter Olympics, Torino is a bustling city known for its industry (headquarters for the car companies Fiat and Alfa Romeo are here) but highlighted with a gorgeous city center. The 2.5 drive from Geneva is a beautiful one as you pass through the Alps, the Mont Blanc tunnel, and many small, rural Italian towns. The number of castles and forts perched on hilltops just off the highway is amazing!

We stayed at Townhouse 70 (, a small boutique hotel in the city center. The best part of the hotel? The delicous breakfast served around a huge communal table! Umm Umm Good!

While we originally had loose plans to see all the main sights (cathedrals, museums, etc), I have to admit that we spent most of the weekend shopping, eating, and taking loads of pictures... we had to escape the constant rain somehow! And yes, our wallets were a bit lighter at the end of the weekend as we all scored some beautiful Italian threads. Our stomachs, however, were a bit bigger after visiting several pizzerias, pastry shops and a more formal restaurant serving traditional (and very interesting) northern Italian dishes.

Before reluctantly heading back to Geneva on Sunday, we visited the Lingotto. Once the largest car factory in the world, the Lingotto impressed architect Cesar as with its interesting design and test track on the roof! Today, this building is home to a shopping mall, cinema, university, hotel, and concert hall.

The weekend was so short that we even missed one of the most important and famous streets in Torino. Ooops! I guess we will just have to go again...

Au Revoir.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The French Riviera

Last weekend, we headed south to the French Riviera. Nice, France is located in the Cote d' Azur and shares the coast with its more famous neighbors of Monaco, Marseille, and Cannes.
For some, this area is the quintessential Mediterranean playground while others consider it overdeveloped and trapped in its expensive image. We found it relaxing and captivating. Leading up to the trip, it had been a long week and I have to admit that we were both not expecting much. At 5 hours, the drive was a bit long for only two nights and the forecast called for rain all weekend. And with such a good deal on the hotel, how good could it really be? Well, we were proven wrong the minute we arrived. Our hotel room was amazing. It was modern and surprisingly spacious. With ceiling to floor windows overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and a huge balcony complete with a lounge chairs and a table, we were in heaven. The bed seemed to be as big as our living room and Schlopy had a blast trying out all the chairs and comfy sofa. Furthermore, we were excited to learn that Nice's annual Carnaval festival would be taking place that weekend and that our balcony would provide front row seats to the all the parades and activities. Oh, and despite being a bit overcast, the weather was temperate with not a drop of rain in sight.

After a great night's and much needed sleep on Friday night, we had a long, lazy, and amazing breakfast before heading out for a long walk on along on the Promenade des Anglais (Nice's popular seaside boulevard). We meandered throught the market and then climbed the hill to the chataeu for some amazing views of the city and sea. Slowly making our way back to the hotel so we could catch the afternoon Flower Parade, we stopped at a Thai restaurant for take-out and had a picnic on the water. With a glass of wine, we were entertained with fantastic floats, dancers, musicians, and other characters in the Flower Parade. We also loved people watching as silly string and streamers filled the sky. With a few hours left before stores closed, we hit the city center for some shopping and more sightseeing. After dinner at Poco Loco, a lively mexican joint, we headed back to the hotel and caught the spectacle of Carnaval's Night Parade.

Before heading home on late Sunday afternoon with a stunning drive through Provence, we decided to spend a few hours in the famous city of Cannes. Although Nice undoubtedly has money, it is also a working city as it is the fifth largest in France. Cannes is all image. The amount of money is incredible and on display. The port is filled with boats that start at 15 million dollars and dogs wear diamond studded collars. Women are dressed in nothing but the latest and most expensive designs while men are distinctively distinguished. Although it may not be our type of place to live, it was fun to spend a few hours wandering around and imagining a life full of yacts and diamonds.

I am not sure if the weekend went by so fast because it was crazy short or because we had such a great time. We were together (with our son!) in an great city and enjoyed the benefits of a nice hotel. There is definitely something to be said for just "getting away" and I think it was just what we needed.

Au Revoir!