24 Feb 2007

Vices and Wiesses

Sorry that it's been so long since I last posted, but it has been a pretty hectic week here. It started with a trip to Austria (details forthcoming) and followed up with a test in International Business (me?) and ended with a final paper about Swiss Direct Democracy, so please excuse my sloth-like posting time.

Last Thursday I hopped on a train to Salzburg, Austria, with 4 other friends. It was an overnight train, so I booked this sweet little bed (they call it a couchette just to be difficult). When we arrived at 4:45 AM, it was obvious that the hills were alive. The city was absolutely stunning. The morning quickly turned into day as the the fraus ventured off for their musical tour of Salzburg and Zach and I went searching for a beer brewing monastery atop one of the bluffs overlooking the city. Our success in discovering it quickly melted into disappointment. What kind of brewery is not open at 1000 hours?

Alas, we rejoined with the girls and continued our journey through the city and actually gained access to the brewery and drank a few liters and split. That's right, we saw the whole city in 14 hours--at least I enjoyed what little we did see. We hopped the next train to Vienna and crashed as soon as we hit the pillows in our hostel.

The next day, we woke up and hit a large flea market on our way into town. Few people bought anything, but it was a good time. Immediately after, we walked to a restaurant that serves a bit of local cuisine and we ate some wiener schnitzel (for those of you who don't know, it derives from Wien, which is Vienna in German, thus making it schnitzel from Vienna). I hijacked a mug on our way out. Ginnie guilt tripped me a bit, but I would soon get her back.

We ventured about the city, saw the Opera house and the Habsburg palace. They ruled. After returning to the hostel, Molly didn't feel so well and Abby, Ginnie, Zach and I sat around waiting for her to feel better. Abby left us that night to return to Geneva while Zach and Molly serenaded Ginnie and I with the Elephant Love Song Medley.

The next day, we saw just about everything. We went to a excavated temple that was ruined in the 16th century, saw inside the St. Stephen's cathedral, and walked the streets. We also ate gelato--two times.

We left for home that night and caught the train back to Geneva from Zurich with about 1 minute to spare. We also barely made it home in time for Monday morning class, again about 1 minute to spare.

In addition to the past, I will post you on the future. I am heading to Paris Monday morning to meet up with my dad his his girlfriend, Kathy. I am excited. We will stay there a few days and then head to Interlaken, Switzerland, and finally back to Geneva before seeing them off Tuesday and 7.

A Bientôt

FYI--You can view more pictures (many more) by going to www.facebook.com and signing up and then friending me. If you do that, you will see pictures from my entire time over here-100's of them. Enjoy.

13 Feb 2007

Day to Day

Life here in Geneva really isn't all the different than in Indiana or Illinois. You make friends. You go to class. You do inappropriate things at night. I guess the difference is I don't go to a different state every weekend in America, although I probably could if I had the type of money I do now here all the time. My biggest problem in the next two weeks is to figure out how to get a hair cut explaining what I want in French.

Last weekend I took a much needed break from the weekend routine and went to Paris to visit my mom. She was there for work; I needed something new. I bought my ticket and headed up. It was one of my favorite things so far. The city is nicer than I imagined--and I've come to slowly realize that my anti-France edge is dulling. Although I will admit that my favorite thing in all of Paris was a Lebanese restaurant and an obelisk from Ancient Egypt. We spent time together and it was exhilarating. Thanks, mom. I love you.

The weekend before that I spent in Madrid. I never finished my weekend summary, but trust me, it was a excellent time. I really think this is the most exciting thing I've done with my life, but I hope it wont be the most exciting for the duration.

Food is expensive here. So is booze. And cigarettes (I don't smoke, but I know people that do). Cigarettes also say "Warning: You will die younger because of smoking" or "Warning: Your child will be deformed from your smoking" or "Warning: You will die painfully because of smoking". I think you get the point. Why doesn't everyone else? It's a smoke infested environment over here. It's come to the point where you stick out if you DON'T smell like smoke.

Being here has brought out both the best and the worst in me. I've realized all my faults and all of other peoples. I wont name them, but I'm guessing a specific few of you could guess pretty easily. On the other hand, I've always told myself I am independent--moreso than the average joe I know. I've now realized that this really is true. I'm still offering an open invitation to come visit me.

This coming weekend I'm showing the girl in me. Myself and 3 friends are traveling to Austria (girly, I know). We will start our journey in Salzburg with the "Sound of Music" tour and end it in Vienna.

I know I've been pretty poor about keeping contact with most of you. Please forgive me as it has been one new experience after another and I hope that this will suffice in keeping contact with you. If not, please send me an email. Beyond that, I've also been pretty bad at posting on here regularly (once a week isn't the best record) and my pictures have lagged behind recently as well. I will do my best to avenge my wrongdoings, but please be patient.

I'm sure I have more to say, but instead of rambling, I would like to depart with a simple piece of advice. Some may call it a Nugget of Wisdom.

We're not all that different from them. Religion is a bunch of dividing factors. Race as well. But in the end, we all have the same goals, ideas, and aspirations: subsist, protect our family and interests, and to be the best. The latter is the most dangerous.

A bientôt.

4 Feb 2007

Estaba en España

In search for a real adventure, I opted to spend my latest weekend in España's capital, Madrid. It sure was an adventure.

The plane ride was quick and short--a mere 90 minutes from gate to gate. Customs was a breeze and I received my first stamp in my passport (although one of my fellow travelers apparently got yelled at while proceeding through customs). After advancing through the aeropuerto to the metro, I diligently asked the information desk where my hotel was--she gave us excellent directions.

After precisely following said directions to Hotel Villagarcia and failing to find it, I realized I asked her for directions to Hotel Villagarcia, not Hostal Villagarcia. The adventure began.

The starting point was the North East side of the city. The end point was a long walk aways--notwithstanding the lack of directions. One hour later, success. Hostal Villagarcia was within grasp. We rang the bell and I politely told the owner (in Spanish) that I made a reservation. In response, he politely told me "Full occupancy".

"Where can I find another Hostal? Can you, perchance, suggest one?"

"Right down the street is another one, try there. If not, I have no clue. Everyone is booked."

"Gracias." We left and ventured on. Luckily, the second Hostal (Hostal Palacios) did have a room for 60E per night. We thought it was a good deal so we say sure.

We ventured through the city for the day--drinking sangria (for those sangria-virgins, find out how to make it and do it), eating paella (same for this) and snacking on Tapas. We saw the sights (including Puerto del Sol, Plaza Mayor [with dancing horses], Palacio Real, and Museo del Prado). Siesta came early then it was out to the bars.

We went to bed late, but for Madrileños, it was quite early. We woke up around 11 and got some coffee from Starbucks. Yes, that's right, I'm American. We hopped on the Metro towards some tourism fair--it sucked.

For now I feel neither the motivation, inspiration, or dedication to continue on. It's been a pretty rough week. Enjoy my first half of Madrid. The rest is yet to come.

Hasta Luego