28 Jan 2007

Skiing the Alps

Woke up early Friday (actually, an hour earlier than necessary) to go to the Train Station. Train to Gryon was quick and quiet. Once in Bex, we traveled to Gryon via Cog Train--it was exciting.

We checked into our Hostel around 10. They call it Chalet Martin. It was an enjoyable place that was packed with Australians (did anyone know that Friday was Australia Day?). We took the Cog Rail even further up to Villars and rented skis and hopped on a Gondola to the top of the mountain.

Skiing was decent enough. We were able to drink some Vin Chaud at the top of the mountain (hot wine). Shortly after, one of our group tore up her knee pretty bad and needed a bit of assistance from the SOS. That put a dent in our day. We left shortly after that and returned to the Hostel.

Dinner was Tuna, Nutella, and Bread. We hung out with the Aussies a bit and took an Australia Quiz (apparently Eliane Bettis was not the first person to say "Maybe the dingo ate your baby").

Next morning started with a train ride back to Bex and then to St. Maurice. We were searching for some Thermal Pools but the bus schedule was so screwy (very different than the normal, punctual buses of Switzerland) that we decided to hike up to a little Church on top of a cliff called Chapelle du Scex. Supposedly it was 1600 steps up to the Chapel on the edge of a cliff. Quite intimidating but very beautiful once we got to the top.

The climb back down was very scary. Ice was melting and crumbling down on top of us. Oh well.

After returning to the Hostel, we went out to dinner with a few chaps from Boston University (who are staying in Geneva as well). I had some Escargot with Zach and then a Thai Beef salad. Fun times. The rest is history--only providence can judge us from here.

A Beintôt

23 Jan 2007

First excursion

Friday came and went downtown Geneve.

Saturday morning we went to the Train Station at 0600 to hop on a 0700 train to Luzern. Exciting ride.

Once in Luzern, we traveled to our Hotel on foot. Small, quaint, family place called Hotel Garni Spatz. We ripped them off (we put 4 people in a 2 person Room).

We took a Bus to Mt. Pilatus and paid 30 CHF to go to the Summit. The view was worth it (and the Gondola ride up was fun).

Once back in Town, we saw the sights. We went to the Bridge (you know, that famous one), the Lion (the dying one...who knows what he represents? Really, do you know?), and the Casino. We ate dinner in the best vegetarian Restaurant in town (how was I supposed to know, the menu was in Suisse German) and drank some good beer.

After dinner we went to Mr. Pickwicks Hotel and Pub (where people sleep) and got invited to a table by some Suisse Germans. They immediately began to whistle Hail to the Chief--maybe they can see the future? We left them alone after they asked us to buy the next round.

Our pub crawl began in "Cheers" (they didn't know my name--or English) and went on to a Spanish Tapas Bar, then another Pub and back to Pickwicks. Fun night in all.

The next morning we left for Bern. Pretty city, but Sundays are always dead in European Cities so we just walked around and went to the top of the Church there (I think it was Munster Cathedral) and got more panoramic pictures. I ate some awesome Rösti there (it's a half pancake half hash brown plate full of onions and sausage and butter).

On the way Home I solved the Rubicks cube for the first time. I also saw da Bears win da Game and now they're going to da Superbowl. Too bad I wont be in da Chicago or da Indiana. Ok, enough of da da's and enough of this post.

A Bientôt.

21 Jan 2007

Caged and Abused

19.1.07 2213
Disclaimer: All words written here are entertainment and might have happened, but each event did.

Today is worth writing about. Today, not even a picture could describe my stories, so a thousand words (or so) will have to cut it.

Normal day today (if by normal I mean walking a marathon in Km in the AM then nearly dying after being locked up).

I’m going to save you the pain of reading the habitual activities of my normal day in the morning and early afternoon and skip right to the good—nay, great—stories.

Zach and I (remember my fellow IU-ian?) took a chance and walked to the Airport with somewhat poor directions. But really, it was a simple hop-skip-and a jump away. The walk there was uneventful and of little evidence of what was to come. Zach, who initiated this trip in order to cash out an undisclosed amount of cashiers checks, was heading towards the AmEx counter when I spotted a Duty Free store. We had little to do tonight besides pack, so we figured we’d stop by the Store after the AmEx to pick up some entertainment, duty free of course.

In order to get into this Store, there was a set of automated doors that one has to walk through (they actually are the doorway into France—I’ve walked there twice). So we walk in and stop at the Store. Zach, in his facil français, asks the woman if we need tickets to buy items Duty Free. She says yes, so we leave. We leave…

The door in had a “Do Not Enter” sign and above that, in French, it said “Pas Sortie”. The only place to go was into line for customs to cross into France. Up to the Counter we go.

“Parlez-vous français?”

“Non, mais tu parles le français bien.”

Zach turns to me, “Kevin, your French is better than mine, tell him we don’t want to be here.”

“Ok, nous na voulons pas être ici.”

“Ah, desolée.”

“Est-ce que nous pouvons sortir”

“Ah, you made mistake.” (this is my non-English speaking French compadre. Very funny ass).


“You can leave ::presses button and hidden door opens::, bye.”

We made it to Suisse. We left the airport defeated. One might think we were done, but never doubt my fortitude.

Once back onto fresh Suisse soil and breathing fresh Suisse air (ever breathed French air?), we continued our journey back. We joked a bit about our excursion and temporary imprisonment on French soil, and vowed revolution. In the middle of our vows, a 18-22 year old ‘boy’ walked by us. He wore a blue puffy jacket, baggy jeans, and was listening to his iPod. He was a bit on the stout side, and would also be considered short. Oh, he also wore a genuine leather belt. He looked at me; I looked at him. It was a consensual look. I continued on nonchalantly.

.276 seconds later, I heard “blah blah blah quoi?” (That’s what French sounds like when you don’t listen carefully.) Zach and I both turn around in symphony and look at this foreigner on our soil.

I respond in American, “What?” and even act un peu bedazzled.

In response, he begins to remove his belt. Yes, his genuine leather belt was beginning to be removed from his pants while looking, with his angriest face, like he could take two on one.

My first thought: “This punk wants my recently withdrawn money…we’ll see who wins this one.”

My second though: “Maybe he is looking to trade sexual favors…”

Thirdly: “He likes my belt—maybe I should take mine off and trade with him.”

In reply, Zach says, “Not now, thanks,” and we both walk off quickly. Way to avert a sexual/violent disaster. It is possible that my superior size scared him off, or that he was so confused by our refusal at his attempt at malicious behavior.

A Bientôt

18 Jan 2007

Top to bottom: Herny Dunant and myself; Zach, Nicole and I riding horses in Geneva; Myself at Chateau Chillon; Amy, Kyle, Zach and I after Antonio's

First post

18-1-07 1622 Hours.

This post will be of shortened length due to its nature of being a first. I have been all about Geneva for the past 9 days. It really is a new world. Different languages (even though 43% of the city is foreign, I feel like no one speaks English). The people dress differently, act differently, speak quickly like chirping squirrels, and the best of all is they think we are the strange ones.

The people are great--the chocolate, I suppose, deserves the superlative form. In essence, I have not run into something I dislike besides the exorbitant prices on everything from Coffee at Starbucks to Booze at Antonio's.

My French has been used a bit, but luckily I've made friends with a Canadian lady who speaks wonderful French. My Spanish is utilized in few locations (such as Antonio's [the local bar] and with Jose in the Kitchen at the JKC). One would assume that my Arabic would go rusty while here, but Fatima works in the Kitchen with Jose and is from al-Maghreb so we converse slowly in rotten Arabic.

I suppose that will be about all for now. This weekend I am traveling to Luzern with my fellow IU-ian Count Slovin and Shirin (my Canadian friend) and Ashley, who hails from the town of Harrisburg, PA. I have other trips planned, but will keep you updated as the time comes closer.

A bientôt