Monday, 31 March 2008

Stoopid Technology

Reto and I are fairly addicted to our laptops. A few weeks ago he found that his was dead. We were both distraught, he because he had no computer, me because it meant I had to share mine with him.

Reto toyed with the idea of not getting a replacement computer, but fortunately not for very long, and so a replacement laptop was ordered online. The initial information he had was that it should be delivered within 10 working days. Reto was elated. Soon after that he got an email saying it would be delivered on the 16th of April (almost a month away at the time). Reto was forlorn. He read and reread the email for days, whining that it couldn't possibly take that long to put his computer together and send it over. He then got a new email saying the computer was to be delivered on the 31st of March. He was elated again.

This morning Reto woke up at the crack of dawn* and spent basically the entire day sitting on the couch staring eagerly out the window like some sort of puppy dog who desperately wants to chase the postman. Every time he heard the sound of a car driving past his attention left whatever he was doing (eating, reading, having a conversation) and he stared enthusiastically out the window. He didn't have a shower and he refused to leave the house because he didn't want to miss the computer (in spite of the fact that 3 other people were home at the time and would have ben more than capable of collecting it from the delivery dude).

Happily the computer arrived in the end. The courier person showed up at about 5.30pm, just as Reto was beginning to contemplate the terrible possibility that his computer might not arrive until tomorrow. Poor Reto. It's the happiest I have seen him in ages. I now expect not to have a conversation with him for days as he ponces around with the settings and ... well, whatever it is that he is so interested in.

* relative to the time he normally wakes up, anyway

Friday, 28 March 2008

Dolder Whatever

Today Reto and I went to see the newly renovated Dolder Grand (a big fancy schmancy hotel on a hill overlooking Zurich). Apparently they have been spending a fortune over the last 4 years to shiny the place up, and yesterday, today and tomorrow there are open days where for the mere price of queueing quite a bit you can have a gander around all over the place.

We arrived at the Dolderbahn (the wee train that takes you up the hill to the hotel) at about 2.30pm and the queueing began. The train, which comes by every 10 minutes or so, was just at the end of being packed completely full of people (average age - about 65, I think. Which is fair enough given that it was a workday, and who but retired people and the odd slacker layabout has time to spare to gawk at hotels on a weekday?) so we waited for the next one with an ever-increasing throng of people. We got in the next train (packed in like sardines. If you'd collapsed you wouldn't have actually fallen over we were that tightly wedged in) and moments later came across the next throng of people that we had to queue amongst.

They were letting groups of people into the hotel every 10 minutes or so, so there was quite the crowd waiting outside to get in. Fortunately it was a nice day, and what with the apparent Swiss inability to queue in an orderly or organised fashion, we only ended up waiting outside for about half an hour (in which time I suspect I may have got a little bit sunburnt, which is completely ridiculous). In we went, and around we wandered.

It was a bit ordinary. Well, obviously it was actually really lavish and fancy and there were all sorts of cool designerish chandeliers and interesting wall-substitutes (by which I actually mean these hanging metallic beady things, the poor cousin of which you would see in studenty flats, but here they were in the bars and they were quite shiny and flash) and things made of marble and so on. There were also pools and gyms and "wellness" areas and of course fancy rooms and suites and luxury grand suites and so on, but really ... it all seemed a bit desperately overdone, and there was far too weird and non-cohesive a mix of old stuff (gargoyles and hideous colour schemes and olden days wallpaper) and new stuff (the hangy beady walls and newfangled lighting). And then later I read somewhere that apparently the cheapest room is something like 560 chf a night, and the most expensive is 14 000 chf a night. Which is obviously insane. Why would you want to spend that much money to stay somewhere that is jarringly decorated and inconveniently located? Of course it did have a rather lovely view over the city, and if you were inclined to spend all your time spending all your money, playing golf, being massaged and feeling confused it might be super. If not, perhaps not so much.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Museums Galore!

Not only do we have shiny new train tickets, as of today we also have shiny new museum passes that let us go to squillions of museums all over the country for free! Yay! Although, pathetically enough, we are off to a very bad start having visited absolutely no museums at all today.

Stoopid Technology

Hey, does anyone else who uses find that they can't add any lists or text or whatever to their blog at the moment? Every time I click on the "layout" tab thing the page comes up with the "error on page" message thing, and the "add a new page element" button, which I'm sure used to be there, is missing.

Is it just me?

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


To celebrate the first day of our shiny new GAs, Reto and I got up at the crack of dawn and went on a giganto train trip across the country and around a bit. I had been meaning to go to an outdoor thermal pool back in December, while it was wintery but before we left for the sunny shores of Australia. Somehow we never got around to it, so today (with all the snow that has been falling lately) seemed like an ideal day.

Generic snow pic at 7.30am (aka "crack of dawn")

We got up, as I said, at the crack of dawn. We stood in the snow and waited for the bus. The bus arrived but for some reason drove very very slowly, so we got to the train station late so we missed our train, so then we missed the next train as well and had to wait in Zurich until the next decent connection which wasn't for an hour. This was actually not so bad as it gave us time to have a nice coffee and complain a bit before we got down to the really arduous "sitting on a train" stuff.

Then we sat on a train for hours and hours. We went from Zurich to Bern to Thun to Spiez to Visp, then we got off that train, and on to another one that took us to Leuk, and then we sat around in the freezing and waited for the bus that would take us up the big big hill to Leukerbad. The roads up to Leukerbad were some winding and treacherous roads, reminiscent in my opinion of those horrible winding roads that take you up to the ski resorts in the Queenstown area of New Zealand. Admittedly I have only been there (the ski resorts of the Queenstown area of NZ) once and it was about 10 years ago, so if the roads there are less winding, less unpaved (although that might just be a figment of my imagination), wider, and have more guard rails to stop you from plunging to your inevitable death off the side of the road and the mountain every time you turn a corner or come across another vehicle going in the opposite direction, I apologise unreservedly to whatever authority is in charge of roads to the ski resorts in the Queenstown area of NZ. But assuming nothing has changed, you NZers would feel right at home on the roads to Leukerbad (although at least these ones are coated in bitumen, as roads really should be). It was all blind corners and overhanging rock faces with enormous icicles dripping off them (and looking like they wanted to fall and stab you through the heart) and slumping snow (threatening to turn into an avalanche and sweep you to your death if nothing else has already) and life flashing before your eyes at every turn. Or something like that.

Anyway, we got to Leukerbad and we had lunch (nothing better than swimming on a full stomach. Although frankly I think that whole "no swimming for an hour/two hours after lunch, kiddies" thing is a load of hogwash) and we went to one of the various thermal pools there and it was super.

Leukerbad with imposing mountains

Interestingly enough, the pool itself was kinda dull. I've been to a few thermal pools in Switzerland, and most of the ones I have been to have had at least some pretence of a therapeutic thing going on, with jets of water that are supposed to soothe your sore bits or hideous fountains of undrinkably sulphurous water that is supposed to be the elixir of youth or whatever. This place that we went to had about 4 different pools, only one of which was outdoors, no novelty jets of water (well, not many and none that could be classified as therapeutic) and offered nothing disgusting to drink. There was also another pool area upstairs, the "roman-irish bath" which was vastly more expensive than the rest and seemed to involve lots of nudity and some sort of mysterious massage.

We spent most of our time in the only outdoor pool, floating around, admiring the ridiculously impressive view (mountains galore) and wishing we had brought our sunglasses (what with all the water and all the snow it was very glary). The entertainment that was kindly and accidentally laid on by the establishment involved not only the mountains, but also this really interesting and large flock of birds (jackdaws, Reto says, but now that I have looked at Wikipedia I see that he is wrong, because our birds had white or possibly yellow beaks. Reto has now updated his answer to include some grumbling about not being able to translate the names of birds into english, he's not an ornithologist, and that they were alpendohles.) which spent ages floating and swooping around above us. Then came the planes, which Reto (who spent the day being very knowledgeable. I have more faith in him on the topic of planes than I do on birds, though, because apparently this is all Top Secret Stuff He Learnt In The Army (or something)) told me at length was all about the Swiss army playing practice plane games (since, let's face it, they are never really likely to play real plane games). There were 3 planes (FA-18 Hornets, for the nerds out there, or the people who want to suggest that Reto doesn't know what he's talking about. Unless I just don't remember properly, of course, because let's face it, I don't care) and they were zipping very noisily about in the sky above us, chasing each other and twirling about all over the place and occasionally shooting mysterious flare things in the general direction of each other. Very entertaining.

Entertainment Number 4 came in the form of a former Miss Switzerland (or here if you are after a less wordy overview) turning up to be involved in the filming of an ad or something. Ever more people turned up and sat in the outdoor pool and waited and waited and watched and watched (while very little happened) and didn't leave in spite of their skin turning all wrinkly and their retinas being burned irreparably from all the glare. Eventually, after much faffing by the crew, (former) Miss Switzerland turned up skulked about in a bathrobe for a while, then spent ages standing in the freezing air in a bikini and eventually was allowed to get in the pool while the rest of us stood around trying not to look like we were gawking. Which of course we were. It was actually extremely uninteresting.

And then we came home again, another 4 hours or so in the train (and the bus and the other train and the other train and the other bus).
A non-treacherous icicle. We didn't get any pics of the good ones.

It was a super day. I would thoroughly recommend a mountainous outdoor thermal pool experience to anyone, even better if you can get assorted birds and some fighter pilots along too.

Money not spent: (train ticket cost assuming I had a halfy card, which until yesterday I did: 101.80 CHF)

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Tables And Guns (And Roses)

Today was an outrgeously successful and busy day (by our standards). Not only did we have a remarkably efficient trip to Ikea (a rug, table and chairs, and a coffee table that we wanted and then couldn’t get and then resigned ourselves to not having and then totally unexpectedly found heavily discounted! Hurrah!), we also moved out of the HOT and in with Reto’s dad. Which is great, because it’s a bit of a change in scenery, it’s a house far less hardcore on the cleaning front, and it also sort of symbolises the passing of time, which means that every day we are getting closer to finally moving into our new flat! Hurrah! Plus it’s also great because R’s brother was also there to help us carry boring heavy things, thus saving me from having to exert myself too much. Hurrah again!

Arguably the best bit of the day, though, was the trip home from table-buying. The music playing in the car seemed to be some sort of mix of mid 90s rock type ballads (songs along the lines of November Rain by Guns and Roses, and The Wind of Change by the Scorpions, which I believe I owned on cassingle at the time) and when I commented on it I discovered that in fact it was some sort of mix tape that R had made himself way back when (when the songs were popular and cassettes still existed). It was super! It was like high school all over again (but without all the appalling bits that I have no desire to revisit)! It’s sad that all that long-haired, bike-shorts-wearing earnest rock hasn’t come back into fashion in a retro kinda way. Then again, maybe if it had have I would be fed up with it and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the it anywhere near as much as I did.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Super Things That Happened Over Easter*

1. It snowed a lot. While this may well be picturesque and adorable and just the sort of weather I like to say that I like, it might not actually be super. It was freezing, my coat is not very snow-proof, and my hands have a tendency to shut off the blood flow when it gets below about 5 degrees C. But it did look pretty, especially on all those trips to Zurich which involve catching the train up and over the hill, so you see it get snowier and snowier and then less and less snowy. Which is always entertaining for some reason.

2. After wandering around in the icy air at the local Easter markets this morning, my hands did their usual trick of turning numb then icy white and bloodless. Happily they stopped short of turning gangrenous and rotten, but it was fairly unpleasant nonetheless. Actually, who am I kidding? I love it when my fingers do this. I enjoy the horror/sympathy it evokes. Although sadly Reto is fairly immune to it these days and he is the main person whose sympathy I enjoy.

3. I learnt a bunch of stuff. On Friday we went to a friend's place for lunch (although I'm not really sure if it still counts as a lunch event if you don't leave until 10.30pm) and apart from all the excellent eating and drinking and chatting and loitering and showing of wedding photos, we also played the latest Australian edition of Trivial Pursuit. Although the three Australians in the room were at an obvious advantage (who else would know what rugby league team is represented by a sea eagle?), as it turns out a good trick in this particular game is, if you don't know the answer, just say either "Australia" or "Peter Carey" and you will probably be right anyway.

4. I saw a really large bank note, both in terms of size and monetary value. Today Reto and I bought ourselves some super-duper-go-everywhere-and-pay-a-fortune-for-the-privilege-but-never-buy-a-train-ticket-again train tickets (aka GAs, which I believe stands for General Abonnement and lets you go practically everywhere in Switzo), which we paid for up front. We decided to do this in cash, and so we went to the bank and so for the first time I saw a 1000 franc note, which was purple and enooormously long and had a picture of Jacob Burkhardt, the well known Swiss historian, on it. It's funny how many people are Swiss. Well, there aren't really that many of them, but I am often to surprised to learn that famous people are from Switzerland. Like Marat, the dude who was killed in the bath during the French revolution. Huh. I don't think he's on a bank note though.

5. I hung out with even more Australians. Apart from the ones mentioned in Number 3, I also went out for dinner one night with a really good Swiss friend and his Australian friend who is visiting. It's practicallylike I never left, if you just ignore all the foreign languages and snow and so on.

6. I caught a wacky temporary ferry. I have done a bit of this lately. Every time you see a river with a walking track and more than about 5 people on the track there seems to be some sort of volunteer-run, free-but-give-us-a-donation type ferry manned by people who want to paddle you the 10 metres or so to the other side (where there's always a cafe and an array of yummy icecreamy desserts awaiting your arrival). Today's was there especially for the easter markets and it was far more technologically advanced than the one we went on last weekend (this one was powered by an outboard motor, as opposed to last week's oarsmen) but it was still extremely charming. And freezing. And popular.

7. I failed to call my parents. Apparently the phone card thingie that I usually use has become completely pathetic and unreliable, and so I think I might toy with joining the Skype age. Finally. It seems ridiculous to have spent years in an international relationship and then years more living on the other side of the world from everyone and to never have even looked into using Skype. Any second now, though, I might give it a go.

* And possibly some not-so-super things

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Carpet - Is It Gross?

No, obviously, but since I realised it was a controversial topic (it seems that all Swiss people think that carpet is completely unacceptable) I have spoken to several people who I previously thought were right-thinking and sensible who surprised me by saying that they think carpet is a bit gross. Apparently the issue is that it's full of yucky things that vacuum cleaners just can't deal with and so unless you get an industrial strength carpet cleaning person in every 10 minutes or so, you'll be walking around on dead insects and sticks and old drool and all sorts of similar things that have got lost in the pile. Huh.

Personally I'm not particularly convinced by all this lurking filth that people like to talk about (I'm not saying it's not there, I just don't care). I like carpets. Not that I have a problem with non-carpetty flooring either (except that it's cold and it's hard and it's unpleasant to sit on), I just don't really get the anti-carpet backlash. Oh, unless it's in the kitchen, which is just plain weird.

What do you say? Carpet - Yes or No?

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Happy Birthday Mary!

... who doesn't read this blog! Don't worry, though, Mary. I don't hold it against you.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


I'm very unhappy to say that someone (according to my crappy blogstats thing) found my blog by googling "fiance unemployed wedding -maggot at the wedding". Hmm. While my fiance may well have been unemployed when we got married (and indeed also when we got engaged, and for the entire time in between, and also now and for the next fortnight. Then again, who am I to cast stones? Some of the best people I know are unemployed. By which I am obviously referring primarily to myself), there was definitely no maggot in attendance at our wedding. Or at least none that I know of.

Interestingly, googling "fiance unemployed wedding -maggot at the wedding" doesn't actually bring up anything about this blog on the first page of hits. Apparently someone was seriously researching the topic to be able to find me.


I would have hoped that my recent name-changing frenzy might have solved all my problems with being called stupid things in this country, but apparently not. I am still getting quite a bit of the "Robin" stuff (although I am resigned to that happening forevermore. Happily I also enjoy being OUTRAGED about it, so it's fine), but there is also quite a lot of "Mrs Reto'sFormerSurname" going on, which I don't enjoy at all. If I had wanted that I would have taken his name instead of making him agree to our new icecream-themed option. Grr.

Mr K

For reasons I feel no pressing need to go into, I made an amigurumi kitty cat a while ago. I was toying with the idea of giving the finished product to one of the small people I know, but when he was finished I realised he was far too adorable to suffer the drool and vomit of tiny people, and was much more suited to a happy life at Chez OurNewSurname. And so here he is. Introducing the many faces of Mr Kitty:

there's "at-ease kitty" (note the hint-o-crankiness about him)

"cranky kitty"

and "cranky kitty number 2" (although he could also be pretending to be a monkey here)

Isn't he versatile?

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Shopping Frenzy

We may not be moving in for another 3 weeks, but that doesn't mean we can't have a shopping frenzy. Yesterday we bought this
rather excellent sofa (sadly not in that wacky shade of yellow, which is great but probably a bit too high-maintenance), and a bunch of useful but less exciting other things (like saucepans and doona covers and spatulas).
Then last night I had a dream that we had moved into our new flat, and the view from the bedroom window was of the beach. It was lovely. It was quite sad to wake up and realise just how wrong I was. Stoopid landlocked nations.

Sunday, 16 March 2008


It's a month since Reto and I got married. Much as I don't approve of people noticing such things (and believe me, normally I am the sort of person who doesn't), I can't help but feel vaguely nauseatingly happy.

In other news, in the book I am reading at the moment (the title/author of which is too atrociously embarrassing to mention) the main character's husband dies on the 16th of Feb. Which is our anniversary. So that's nice.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Just Say No To Cleanliness

Guess what I did earlier today? I steam-cleaned all the tiled floor in the house. Although it wasn't really so arduous (no more so than vacuuming) and it really does seem to have the power to make things quite clean, I hope I never ever do it ever again in my whole life. Why? Because I disapprove of that level of cleanliness. I don't care if I live in a bit of filth, and indeed I would even go so far as to say I prefer it. I don't like the constant pressure that having everything spotlessly clean creates to keep everything spotlessly clean. I may not have the busiest life ever, but I would much rather spend my spare time doing whatever it is I enjoy doing than spend it steam cleaning things I stand on and breathing in the offensive fumes of genocide-strength antibacterial surface spray.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Not Homeless!

Hurray! All my incessant complaining for the last few days has come to a cheerful end! We're not flat-hunters any more! Although things were looking quite positive, and then sort of positive, and then a bit negative, and then ridiculously negative (although that could have just been my half-empty tinted glasses that I was apparently wearing this morning), we have just heard that we are the proud new renters of Flat Number Two! Hurrah!

In less good news, we can't move in for another 3 weeks (boo!) but then again, that would be the first weekend when it would be handy for us to move in anyway (what with our hectic social schedule over easter, and then other people's hectic social schedules over the weekend after easter, which would prevent us from having the hands and the wheels that will be so helpful in getting us moved out and in) (yay!). Which means that Reto has to commute all the way from here to there (a few tedious hours in the train) for the first few days of his job (boo!) but this is made easier by the fact that by then we will finally have our super-duper-go-anywhere train tickets (yay!), which incidentally are going to be tons cheaper than we thought they might be since his comes at student rates and mine is the discounted "second person in the house/family" ticket (yay!). It seems to me that the "yay!"s are way out in front. Yay!

Now all we have to do is buy a couch and a table and a toaster (and spend all the rest of our wedding present money (yay!)) and we will practically be living like grown ups!

Why I Kinda Miss Aarau

We went to Aarau yesterday, and in addition to finally seeing a movie I have been wanting to see for ages (Into The Wild), eating some rather excellent tapas and seeing a good friend, we also scored all these books ...... for a mere 20 francs! Well, okay a few of them are library books, but we bought 14 of them at the second hand bookshop. Lugging them all the way home again was annoying, but definitely worth it!

Now if you don't hear from me for a while you won't know if it's because I have been poisoned or because I am hiding under the covers with a book.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Mysterious Occurrences At The HOT

Something strange is afoot. The other day while having a shower I noticed that ... I was not alone. In what I imagine is a display of total unSwitziness (for I have never seen an unauthorised creature in anyone's home here. Which seems remarkable given this nation's abhorrence of fly screens), there seems to be a spider living in the shower here at the HOT. Although not such a fan of spiders myself, this one looks mostly harmless and so I have decided not to tell anyone in case they decide to kill it.

Strange thing number two happened a few days ago. A big box of Lindt balls turned up on the doorstep. No one knows who put it there or why, but it was in pristine condition (ie. unopened and apparently untampered with) and so after a few days of hemming and hawing we decided to throw caution/paranoia to the wind and scoff the lot. No adverse reactions so far, but if I mysteriously don't write anything here in the next week or so, you'll know I've most likely been poisoned.
Please note that the photo above is not an accurate portrayal of reality. The real packet of chocolates was bigger, redder, less empty (indeed unopened), and the daffodils at the back weren't in bloom. I like daffodils.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Boring? Not My Problem!

Last year I was acquainted with the idea of commitment. If I started reading a book, I kept going right through until the end, even if it was unbearable tosh. This year, not so much. It's really very liberating, but I do wonder if I am missing out on some great stuff.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Flat Update

We are in the throes of searching for a new flat, and happily we now have a short list. Our options are:

1. Possibly over-priced but charming. On the 4th floor (I think) with rickety stairs and no lift (a nightmare for moving our furniture in). Tiny bedroom but excellent living room and, fairly revolutionarily, it comes with a washing machine! No communal laundry nightmares! No allocated half day a week and cranky neighbours! No storage space (like a basement or a cave or whatever). Mostly super location. No balcony, but an excellent bath (those are the two things I really want in a flat, a balcony and a bath). We could move in instantly, which would be great.

2. Heaps cheaper and deceptively large. Another tiny bedroom, and another excellent living room, and also a spare room. Crappy old-fangled kitchen and bathroom (with bath!), but cosy and adorable. On the 3rd floor (I think) with not-so-rickety stairs and no lift (a nightmare for moving our furniture in). A shared washing machine but one shared by only 5 or so flats, with space for hanging laundry out (I hate driers) and no timetable (a good thing). Super location. An attic basement. Oh, and there is no way to buzz people in through the front door! You have to actually go downstairs and open it! No balcony.

3. I don't know, actually. Reto saw this one on his own this evening and said it was super, but I really don't know. Apparently it also has its own washing machine. I believe it has a balcony, but a tiny tiny crappy one, and no bath.
UPDATE: Apparently this flat has semi-tiny rooms (although not as tiny as the rooms in the other places), a spare room, a newfangled-ish kitchen (which is also where the washing machine is, whic I think is weird and Reto doesn't), a lift (it's only on the 1st floor so you don't really need one. Oh, and apparently the lift actually opens into the apartment! Weird! Mock swanky!) and a super location. As well as no bath. The fact that I haven't seen it makes me not care so much for it, though, and Reto says he puts it at the bottom of his list too.

So there are the options. We're applying for them all and seeing what happens. I'm secretly going for Number 2.

All Of Us

I used to find it really annoying when people got my name wrong. They would mispronounce Robyn (sometimes), they would spell it incorrectly (allll the time), they would assume I was a man (really fairly entertaining until the squillionth time it happened. Actually, the last straw was when it happened when we were dealing with the Swiss consulate in Australia. I know they're still Swiss, but they're in Australia! Robyn is a girl's name there! Aagh!).

Anyway, fast forward to now and my shiny new surname, and I love the fact that it has lots of variations. I am fairly fond of the official english version, actually (because that is what I have been calling myself for the last few months), but I also enjoy the german version, and I am also looking forward to the french-speaking option, whatever that might be. It's like suddenly I could be anyone! Or all sorts of different people! Wacky!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Not Asleep

Well, here I am at 6.30am on a Saturday morning, all bright-eyed and awake. As I also was an hour and a half ago. Which is far better than yesterday, when I woke up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep, but it's still not really ideal.

In addition to my lack of sleep, I am also having a quality of sleep issue. For a start, the bed we have here is tiny and Reto is pathetic at not hogging all the space, and secondly, I had a nightmare last night! Happily I don't really remember it, apart from some vague idea of lots of death and blood, but I do recall that I woke up traumatised. I blame it on the fact that yesterday we went to my favourite library in this neck-o-the-woods, the Aargauer Kantonsbibliothek, and, true to form, there were lots of new and/or currently popular books around in english (because apparently no one but me ever borrows anything in english from there). And so last night I started reading "No Country For Old Men" (having failed to see the movie yet) and it was all death and blood and sociopathic violence with the threat of lots more to come. So it's no great leap of personal insight to see where the dream might have come from.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Coming Up This Week

The other thing that happened was that I read my horoscope in Who (magazine) and apparently this week I am going to give birth to a baby*. Or maybe it's this month. I don't know how often Who comes out.

* Actually, what they said was that I am reaching the end of a period of gestation, and that that might mean that I am going to have a baby (right now), or it might mean that I am about to start a new business or that a new romance I am having is about to flourish. Hmm. And by the way, I think that my relationship with Reto is a bit old to be called a "new romance".

Switzerland Versus Australia

Our first flight to get back to The Land Of Calc was with Qantas, which you will all no doubt recognise as an Australian airline, and the second was with Swiss. And so, to sum up finally whose country is better than whose ...

On our Qantas flight we had a spare seat between the two of us. You might uncharitably suggest that this is because no one is foolish enough to fly Qantas, hence the empty seats, or you might just recognise that gift horses' mouths are not made to be looked in.

On our Swiss flight, not only did we have far less leg room and noticeably narrower seats, but we somehow managed to be wedged into the middle two seats of a row of four, which is obviously the worst possible seating luck.

WINNER: Australia.

On our Qantas flight we didn't have individual screens! I couldn't believe it. I wouldn't have even thought such a lack of technology was still possible these days had my sister not recently told me that the same thing happened to her on a United flight to America a few months ago. Happily one of the movies they showed on this flight was Michael Clayton (which I had been meaning to see and really enjoyed watching), but the other one which I embarrassingly endured most of was some tosh with Nicole Kidman and space aliens. Happily for Our Nicole, she had to spend much of the movie pretending to be a soulless, emotionless zombie type, which suits her acting style down to the ground. I have never seen her so convincing.

On the Swiss flight we had sensible individual screens and shows on demand, as it should be. Funnily enough, I watched another Nicole Kidman flick, this time Margot At The Wedding, which was far better than the Qantas one, but still kind of awful. I also watched a fairly excellent and peculiar Canadian movie without Nicole Kidman in it, called Lars and The Real Girl, which was bizarro and comes highly recommended (by me).

WINNER: Switzerland

The Qantas blankets were all soft and fluffy, and the cushions had surprisingly endearing little ruffle things around the edge.

The Swiss blankets seemed as though they had previously been used on horses and made me itchy. The pillows were fine but had no endearing qualities.

WINNER: Australia

The food on the Qantas flight was okay. I scoffed every skerrick of my first meal (and some of Reto's. This possibly says more about my hunger than the fact that the food was great, but it was certainly edible. It was an asian-themed pork thing). The second meal was worse (pasta with an extremely mushy cheesy sauce, allegedly gruyere but I would be very surprised) but still not bad. In between meals they gave you fruit, semi-upmarket 2-minute noodles (of the Suimin variety, if that means anything to you), hot chocolate and peppermint or jasmine tea. Oh, and one of the cold drinks you could get was Ribena!

On Swiss, the first meal was okay but not super (Some sort of unidentifiable chicken and rice number. Possibly I ruined it for myself by having a fantastic bowl of ramen at the airport in Hong Kong), and the second meal was atrocious. Reto disagrees with me vehemently on this point - it was breakfast, a bread roll, a croissant, strawberry jam, butter and strawberry yoghurt. Oh, and a banana, orange juice and a piece of gruyere. In my opinion, this isn't a meal so much as a bunch of assorted undesirable food items placed in close proximity to each other. The cheese was nice, and the banana would have been had it not been pre-frozen, but that's about all I can say for it. Reto, on the other hand, thinks this is his ideal breakfast (or something like it) and always goes on about how he likes the breakfasts on Swiss.

All the wine I drank on both the flights was Australian, so we're all even there, but on the Swiss flight no one offered me anything at all to drink for a stretch of about 6 hours. Possibly this is because I was asleep a lot of the time (and I suppose it's polite not to force beverages on people who are in no fit state of consciousness to drink them. Or even hold them), but there was also a lot of time there that I was awake and so dehydrated that my mouth felt like it had been chewing on the horse-blanket for the last few hours.

WINNER: Australia. Although Reto would disagree.

The Qantas flight had a landing gear (or whatever it is that makes the wheels go up and down) that sounded so scarily loud and crunchy that I was sure we were all going to die. Coupled with the alleged flickering of the cabin lights just after take-off (coinciding with the up-crunching of the wheels), the fact that the down-crunching seemed to need 3 goes to work properly, and the fact that it was a mere 12 hours or so since we had seen footage of that flight that failed to land in Hamburg, I was convinced we were going to die. Then again, I usually am.

On the Swiss flight - no crunching, no more than the usual mild-to-moderate anticipation of death during take-off and landing.

WINNER: Switzerland

Actually, in general both the flights were okay, but it would have been better if they were the other way around. On the first flight, which was shorter (9 hours vs 12 or so) we were not tired (we left at 3pm) but we had plenty of space for comfy sleeping and no real chance to watch movies (which is my favourite thing about flying). On the longer flight we were trapped in tiny claustrophobia-inducing seats with entertainment galore and hardly even the ability to stay awake for dinner, let alone a movie. It sort of goes with my theory about life here being all backwards and topsy turvy. Sigh.

Not At Work

All yesterday morning while I was gadding about town [having the world's most delicious breakfast at a cafe near my place that I am very sad to say I only discovered yesterday] I was hoping that some random stranger would comment on the fact that it was a Wednesday and I wasn't at work, ask me if I was having the day off and thus allow me to say "no, I'm actually emigrating today". But no one did.

Happily my sister managed to work it into the conversation, though. She was in a meeting and she had to leave a little bit early. Everyone apparently glared at her and she said "sorry, but my sister's emigrating today and I have to drive her and her Swiss husband to the airport", and then apparently everyone looked all astonished and talked about that instead of whatever the meeting was about. So that was good.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Things I Am Fed Up With

1. Packing. It's boring, and having to constantly panic about the weight limit is incredibly annoying.

2. Wondering on which side of the world my life is. I suppose it would be foolish to think at the moment that it is this side of the world, since I am leaving tomorrow and not coming back in the foreseeable future (how depressing), but do I really need to try to wedge all my pretty dresses/skirts/tops/jewellery that is still over here into the suitcase? Will I ever wear any of it? But then again, what's the point in leaving it all behind (apart from the fact that they won't really fit into my allocated 20kg), thus ensuring that it will all remain unworn?

3. The attitude of assorted foreign (Swiss) people towards Australian food. No, it's not the same, and yes, some things are nicer in your country, but please appreciate the fact that I don't agree with you about almost everything that you have to say, and I could do without hearing you denigrate everything constantly. Perhaps it says more about your fussiness than it does about the inedibility of everything that this entire continent has to offer.

4. No, that's about it for the moment. Now I'm off to the pub for some trivia and a beer.

Monday, 3 March 2008


This morning I had an unreasonably long conversation with a loopy dude in the bank.

I went in and took a number and since there was no more seat space I stood up. Some old chap moved along the seat and said "here, you can sit down, there's plenty of room" and, not wanting to hustle the oldies along, I said "oh no, no, it's not necessary.." etc and he insisted and I demurred and eventually he barked at me "oh, just sit down!". Urmmm ... okay, so I sat down, and he proceeded to engage me in conversation. We talked about the exact opening hours of all the local banks (and compared them favourably to the opening hours of other banks, which apparently close at 2pm which is completely insane and quite possibly untrue. I haven't actually been in a bank branch for years, so I couldn't really comment), we chatted about what "NSW" stands for, we talked about the recent refusal by the PM to accept a pay raise and it was all went on and on and on. Happily he eventually left, and when he did every other person in the room smiled at me in a kindly way as if to say "thanks for being the one who saved me from that".

It was the happiest anyone is ever likely to be in a bank.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Yay For The Weather!

Well, depending on whose opinion you listen to, it's either not summer any more (yay! That's my opinion), or it's still winter (also yay! That's Reto). And then on Thursday, when we're back in Switzy, it will still be winter/not summer! Yay!