Friday, April 06, 2007

The Stooges

Okay, this is unrelated to everything I've written, but I went to see the Stooges at the 9:30 Club in DC about an hour ago and it blew my fucking mind. Half of Led Zeppelin is dead, half of the Beatles are dead, but the Stooges are in tact (pretty much). Iggy Pop was born to be a fucking rock star and I don't think I've ever seen anyone live up to anything as much as he did. Prowling the stage like a fucking rockstar predator. Unbelievable. Played pretty much all the best shit (almost all of Funhouse, I Wanna be Your Dog - twice, in fact). The only disappointing thing was that they didn't play a thing from Raw Power. I really, really, really wanted to hear You're Pretty Face is Going to Hell and Search and Destroy. But still, it's like complaining about sex, it never sucks, and this was like a night with, well, whoever the greatest lover ever is. A few quotes:

"Happy to be here. Happy to be fucking anywhere."
"We see you, and we fuckin' know who you are."
"Turn those cheesy lights down, asshole!"
Iggy Pop is a god.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Home, by any means necessary

Ok, so I didn't keep up with my travel journal as well this time around. That is probably because the best souvenir that I brought back with me is a pickled liver. We certainly did our best to experience the nightlife (or should I say publife) of Zurich. Once again, fantastic all around trip, and this time with many new friends. I've now got an English Premier League team to follow (Tottenham Hotspur) thanks to the Stevens brothers, so maybe I'll write about that. Who knows. The travel nightmare that was my trip home, notwithstanding, I think everything went off without a hitch. I can now say that I visited all three major international airports in New York City in one evening. Supposed to fly into JFK, we were diverted to Newark. They actually went through the trouble to fuel up and take off and fly to an airport that is literally less than 20 miles away. Of course, missed the last flight to DC, slept on the cold floor of a JFK airport terminal, found out I was rebooked onto a flight leaving La Guardia, took a cab, and then ran into a ridiculous mass of people. I thought I was trying to get on a plane leaving Mumbai, trying to smuggle livestock onboard. Civilization has decayed, people, and that is no more evident than at the check-in counters at La Guardia airport. Anyway, finally got back this morning and made it to work. I made my lady a promise, that I was 100% certain that something of mine would get left behind in her apartment. Lo and behold, I left my camera cord there, so that's why there's no pictures. Working on finding a spare. So that's that, another trip to Zurich successfully in the books, with plenty more to come. Perhaps a return this summer (if no trip to Malta), but for certain, a trip back in summer 2008 for EuroCup 2008, hosted by Switzerland.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

In medias res

And we begin my epic tale in the middle of things. To be perfectly honest, sloth and booze have prevented me from posting any pictures up until this point. While my lady has been laboring intently over her paper, I have been either sleeping or lounging, so not much to report. However, she should be finishing her manifesto this evening and we can enjoy the rest of the week unencumbered. As I suppose it is a shame that I have been sleeping until 1pm and then not seeing the other side of the door until the early evening, you have my word that these next few days will be far more involved. Now, on to some random pictures that I have taken.

Here is little Ali, dutifully toiling away.

Here's a nice view across Lake Zurich

Alex in the Niederdorf

While walking by the lake, we saw this guy balancing rocks. He sometimes took minutes and sometimes just a few seconds to balance the rocks on each other. He just used rocks that he could find. It was very neat.

In such a liberal place, he had to make a Che Guevara rock. Fight the power.

Just some folks hanging out by the lake on a beautiful day.

Yours truly, strolling by the Lake

Positively breathtaking view of the Alps in the distance, to the South.

Cool pic of the lake at dusk. That'll do it for now. Be back later today or tomorrow, with hope.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Well, I'm here at least

Arrived very early yesterday - 6:30 AM to be exact. Went straight home and took a nap. Lovely. Since this is my second time here, I am in no rush to get out and do stuff, I'm just happy to be on vacation. We've just been chillin' in the cut, not doing much. Well, I'm not doing much, Alex is writing a 15 page research paper on the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Trust me, it's as whimsical and life-affirming as it sounds. Anyway we celebrated my arrival by going out and getting royally wasted. The lounge we went to had bad music so we went to a place called Outback (not the steakhouse, but an Australian themed bar) and drank Fosters, which I've heard they don't really drink in Australia anyway. Then we went to a place called Zodiac that apparently is the hotspot for the, um, younger crowd in Zurich. We were easily the oldest people in the place, but it was fun nonetheless. All in all, a good night. Well played by all. We had a crowd of one American (yours truly), one Swiss (Alexandra), one German, and two Brits. Very multinational. Trying to get the second day underway, more later.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Oh right

Must have taken a couple forget-me-nows. The whole reason that I wrote that last post was to begin my diary of my trip back to Switzerland. Friday, March 23, 2007 I depart on my second journey to that kick ass town. So, stay tuned, mayhem will ensue.

I'm back. Booyakasha.

Seriously, who has the time to write a blog. Not me, obviously, considering that it has been nearly 4 months to the day that I wrote my last post. I guess the whole point of this thing was to get a rolling start by writing about my trip and then continue to write things. However, every one has a blog, and just about all of those people are really self-important pricks about it. I don't give a shit about your college football picks for this week. Oh, you're live-blogging something? Great, I don't care. I understand that it's like the Bruce Campbell Old Spice commercial - to get experience you have to have experience and you don't have it, you can't get it. All that myth of Sisyphus, perpetual motion, paradoxic bullshit. I understand that, but if you're not Deadspin or someone else good, get bent. I guess that even has a strange ironic twist to it because why would you even bother reading this when I'm just some nobody? Exactly. They say that the average number of readers of a blog is one. That's right, one. That means that there are some that have none, which I guess means that the author doesn't count. And since I am the only one reading this, I will celebrate my return however I please. Just like this. So, I'm back like Jay-Z motherfuckers.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Going out on top

Today will be my last day in Switzerland. Alex and I spent the day traipsing around the city as we have become accustomed to and shopping for souvenirs and things like that. We had lunch at the Sprungli cafe like we did last Saturday and it was excellent. It is just a busy, bustling cafe full of all kinds of people and their food is exquisite. I had gnocchi in cream sauce with prosciutto and Alex had a veal and mushroom pasta dish. Delicious. Anyway, we are having some people over and little Alex is cooking fondue, so that should be fun. Then we are spening the evening at the Polyball at her University. It's scheduled for 7pm to 5am, so I'm not exactly sure when our party is going to stop. Since I need to head to the airport starting about 6:30-7am, it probably won't stop at all. But we are going to get all dressed up and drink our asses off either way.

I am going to be sad that I can no longer watch Pimp My Ride International or nudie commercials after midnight, but I have had my fun here. And I will say although I can remember getting here pretty clearly, the time did not pass too fast. Sadly, there will always be a time to go, but I will certainly be back. Here are some cool pics that I got today and perhaps I'll post once I get back tomorrow. My flight leaves Zurich at 10:15 am and arrives in Newark, NJ about 8 or 9 hours later. Then I will be getting back to our nation's capital around 4 pm. Then I can kick back, pop the top off an American beer and catch the late football games and reflect on my week+ in Switzerland and start plotting to go back. As always, check the old flickr for all the pictures.

An old home near the lake. Very intricate architecture. Good stuff.

The Eden au Lac hotel, one the poshest, nicest hotels in Zurich. Nice place.

Just a view that I saw today, pretty nice right?

Goodbye from Switzerland! Catch you on the other side of the Atlantic.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wait, it's made of what?

This is definitely my favorite picture so far. I've been trying to take lots of pictures of things with the Swiss flag. This was an incredible view of the Alps with the flag in the fore. I couldn't get it to cooperate perfectly so you could see the entire thing, but I think this is pretty good. And yes, those are chickens running around on the ground.

We'll get to the title in a second, its worth it. Today, Alex and I took a train ride about 5-10 miles out of Zurich down the east side of the river to the town where she grew up, Herrliberg. It is a very cute little hamlet and the views from the hillside are incredible. It is simply beautiful Swiss countryside. We went to the little schoolhouse where Alex went to elementary school and even went to the house where she grew up. Then we hiked even further up the hill and walked through the woods and green farm fields. There were people walking their dogs and playing with their kids. The air is amazingly fresh and the views are great. You'll see some pics below. We walked and walked and walked some more, so now we are beat.

Ok, now on to what I'm talking about in the title. We walked far, far up past the town and into the more coutryside area and there is a small restaurant on a farm that serves a lot of traditional Swiss food. It was a tiny dining room with some local farmers hanging out inside. Well, the menu was mostly meat as it was metzgete, the slaughtering period. Alex said that it was right about prime slaughter season, so they make all their meat fresh. Sipping on my beer, I couldn't quite decide what I wanted to eat. There was bratwurst, leberwurst (liver sausage), nierewurst (kidney sausage) and some other things. I couldn't make up my mind, so I said whatever is good enough for my lady is good enough for me, so I said "I'll have what she's having" (well, she had to translate for me to the waitress). Well, what she was having was blutwurst (blood sausage). The liver sausage was made of liver and the kidney sausage was made of kidney, but I apparently wasn't in a very literal-thinking mood. Anyway, I got a very large, sausage-looking sausage and cut it open to find a very soft, fine meat inside. With a bit of courage, I took the first bite. It honestly was pretty tasty, especially when I combined it with the rösti, a Swiss potato dish, much like hash browns. Well, we ate and said our goodbyes which is when Alex finally decided to tell me that the blood sausage was actually made of blood. They fill an intestine or esophogus or whatever they use to stuff sausage in with cow or pig blood and some herbs and stuff and boil it until it congeals to a solid consistency. Alex has assumed that since I ordered it with such confidence that I knew what I would be getting, which was definitely not the case. I was wondering why she playing dumb when I asked her if it was pig meat. Anyway, it really tasted pretty good, I was just so surprised at what it really was. Like I said, I wasn't thinking literally; I didn't think that the blood sausage was actually made of blood. It's just that afterwards, when she told me, a whole lot of things retroactively made sense - why she acted so surprised when I ordered it, why she wouldn't tell me what it was made out of because it was too late to change my order, and lots of other things. It was pretty funny, and I must say that I was pretty proud that I ate boiled pigs blood. Seriously, look it up. There are no pictures in that article that quite do justice to what I actually had, but you'll get the idea. Ok, enough about that. We had a great great day walking around the Swiss countryside with great views of the lake and the Alps. Tomorrow is my last day here, which is sad, but the week has passed slow enough that it does not feel over too soon. Here are some of the good pics I got today.

Here is the former Schaerrer Swiss homestead. This is where Alex was born and raised until the age of 14. I know that it is difficult to make out from the picture, but it is a beautiful house with and indoor pool and big backyard.

Great view down the hill looking at Herrliberg.

This is Blümlisalp, the restaurant that served me one of the grossest sounding and looking things that I have ever seen, but it was quite tasty.

Here is little Ali bonding with some billy goats outside Blümlisalp

Good view of the mountains, but that doesn't quite capture it. I can't describe to you how it looked in person.

Cool view of homes across Lake Zurich from the hill we were climbing.

Little Alex in little house in a park that she used to play in as a little Swiss school girl. We actually saw trees that she remembers climbing and places she used to hide. Very cute, she got pretty nostalgic.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday in Zurich

Right now, we are watching Boston Legal in German. For some reason, William Shatner just isn't the same dubbed over auf Deutsche. Oh well, the English channels are limited to a North American sports channel that shows yesterday's hockey games, 3 BBCs, CNBC and CNN international. MTV shows programs in English, but let's face it, I can only watch Date My Mom so many times. I have taken great pleasure in watching Die Simpsons, however. I think I will use this to teach myself German since I know what they are actually saying in English. Anyway, haven't been too too active in the last 2 days as little Alex has been busy with her studies. Spent yesterday just wandering around getting rained on while waiting for her to get out of class and today did a little more of the same, minus the rain. Got a lot of good pics today and got to do some quality wandering. Spent some time just creeping through the maze of the narrow streets of the Niederdorf. Tons of cool shops on stone lined streets, with nifty Swiss houses up above. Treated myself to some heisse Maroni, a local delicacy. They are hot, roasted chestnuts that are served in the shell in a paper cone. You crack them open and eat the sweet flesh on the inside. They are delicious - soft and sweet, flavored with brown sugar, I think. I'll take a picture of some tomorrow. Then Alex and I walked along the Bahnhofstrasse again and bought her some housewares. This street is very cool, lots of people out and about, young and old, rich, poor, all kinds. It is Switzerland's answer to Fifth Avenue, with all of the exclusive stores. Here are some pictures that I wish I could have taken myself.

Ok, I'll throw in some pictures of some of the stuff I saw today and will hopefully get into some more tomorrow. We are going to try to preserve a bit of our Americanism by having some people over tomorrow and having a pseudo-Thanksgiving dinner/party. Then, Friday and Saturday, Alex will not have class so we will be able to get out and see a lot more. Oh, and I don't know about you, but I am kinda disappointed that the OJ book isn't coming out anymore.

Beautiful shot of Lake Zurich. I am looking to the Southwest from the east side of the Limmat river. This is my favorite part of Zurich so far. There are so many spots from which you can catch a great glimpse of the lake and it is definitely beautiful.

Cool building, Alex doesn't know what it is, maybe I'll try to find out.

The main building of ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), little Alex's university. The dragon is an advertisement for the Polyball, a huge party for students and all of Zurich. They are expecting about 10,000 attendees, 2 of which will be us. Should be a great time.

This is a shot of the view taken from the terrace behind the building above. You can see a lot of Zurich, but strangely, not the Lake. It was a cloudy day, but the view is very beautiful.

Cool shot while walking in the Niederdorf, the old town of Zurich. Full of shops and cafes and stuff. Very neat.

This was taken from the park behind the Swiss National Museum which is an awesome building. Lots of towers and courtyards. We will be going there on Friday, so I am looking forward to that. As the link says, it is one of the most important art museums of cultural history in Europe and the world.

This is the train schedule that I saw inside the Main Station. It even does that cool European airport thing where the numbers flip over to change. I guess they are shunning digitization in Europe and I say good for them.

Oh, and just for fun, a XXX theater. Sadly, I was in too much of a hurry to take in the triple feature, but maybe I'll have some time tomorrow. Hopefully. Well, I'll make some time.

I posted all my pictures up to yesterday to flickr so check them out and I'll be back tomorrow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Zooh! Zurich

Today, Alex and I went to the zoo. Now, this was not an ordinary zoo, at least not by my zoo standards. About a year ago, she and I went to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. We spent the entire time wondering where all the cool animals were. Lamest. Zoo experience. Ever. I couldn't have been more disappointed. But today, I forgot all about that. I mean, I'm sure there are some good zoos out there, but this one is definitely world class. I have never seen a zoo that had such a variety of animals and such a clean and pleasant setting. There were absolutely no empty cages, and no sad looking animals. I think we saw just about everything. Flamingos, rhinos, buffalos, elephants, tons of different monkeys, birds, fish, snakes, lions, tigers, everything. We were like two 5 year old kids running around. And I haven't even gotten to the best part yet. But first, here are some of the guys that we saw.

Mustache monkey!

Monkey jam

Flamingo party

Mr. Rhinoceros

Anteaters making out, trust me, that really is what they are doing.

Ok, now the best part. I would almost go so far as to say that this was a seminal moment in my life. Ok, maybe that's a bit much, but this was one of the god-damndest things I have ever seen. You saw at the beginning our handsome penguin friend (a king penguin, by the way). Well, toward the entrance to the zoo, they have a little habitat with about 15 or 20 of those guys. And once a day, they open up the gate and have a Pinguinparade, that's right, a penguin parade. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. These little dudes just toddle around, looking at people, flapping their wings, taking a walk. Everyone follows them as they take a lap around the zoo. Absolutely hilarious. I think I saw a kid of about 3 that had the same look on his face that I did. Anyway, we loved it. I'm sure you'd rather see it than hear me talk about it, so here are some pics.

Yes, it was awesome as it looks. I'm not exactly sure if I can explain to you what this really looked like, but I think you get the idea. We are just spening the evening in the apartment as little Alex has school tomorrow. But I will get to check out ETH (her university) tomorrow and hopefully get some more cool pics. Again, I would like to think that I will get all my photos posted to flickr pretty soon, so check it out and see if I actually followed through with that. I will eventually. We end today with a few warnings from your friendly folks at the Zurich zoo.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mein Erster Tag

See, I pick up the native language pretty quickly, huh? Well, not really, my translator had to help me with that one. It says "my first day", by the way. Anyway, a minor delay in Washington, DC and then an 8 hour transatlantic flight are seemingly far behind me at this point. And I would have been pretty bored if it wasn't for the ability to watch Talladega Nights on the plane. Well, I'm the best there is. Plain and simple, when I wake up in the morning I piss excellence - hilarious. I arrived in Zurich just before 8 am local time and immediately began soaking in the culture.

The beautiful Alexandra greeted me at the gate and we hit the train and headed for home. Zurich is a beautiful city; incredibly clean, beautifully classic architecture, and the views around the lake are breathtaking. Put simply, I dig it. Alex's apartment is very cool. You can see the lake from the balcony and the Swiss Alps in the distance from the window. Very cool. We spent yesterday afternoon walking all over the city, just checking out shops and cafes and things. Walked past the Swiss Opernhaus, which is pretty cool.

After that, we crossed the bridge and walked down the Bahnhofstrasse, which is the posh shoppin avenue in Zurich and also the home of many Swiss banks and financial companies. The third photo is the Credit Suisse building.

Then we went home and after sleeping off the jet lag, went out and had and an amazing dinner at an Italian restaurant and went clubbing. Not too bad for a first day.

After playing cable guy, we spent quite a bit of time watching crazy German tv. Everything here is so familiar; the concepts are the same, but everything is very very different. I suppose that is the way it is in cities around the civilized world - public transportation, cafes, shops, sidewalks, people, etc, but it's all done in just a different way that makes it so incredibly interesting. Ok, more tomorrow. And if you were wondering, yes, there are McDonald's in Zurich.

I'll eventually put all my pictures here, since these don't capture everything.