28 March 2009

Moving fun ahead!

One of the 'pleasures' of moving is the perfect opportunity it provides for sorting out one's belongings and if we really wanted to make life easier for ourselves - particularly since we currently move internationally with an annual frequency - we would stop adding to our book collection or perhaps even get rid of it. It's doubtful that that will ever happen so we just have to live with the fact that our moves will require substantial energy and more muscle power...

Our book cases was sold Tuesday this week so now our books are piled up on the floor. Hopefully our chests of drawers will also go soon and then we can literally live in a suitcase for the next month!

27 March 2009

Bear and Bernese Oberland

According to legend Bern is named for the bear that the founding Duke of the city shot on his first hunting expedition in the region. Therefore, there is of course a bear pit in Bern today. Only a single bear was outside when we walked by but we hope that he has some friends, just as we are happy that they are busy building him a new ... ehr.. pit. He did look healthy though, although perhaps slightly annoyed that we didn't throw him some goodies.

As mentioned, the oldest part of Bern is surrounded by the river Aare on three sides and since this area in addition comprises a ridge, it provides excellent views of water several places around the city just as one can see as far as the Bernese Oberland on a clear day. From the top of the cathedral tower we could just make out the Jungfraujoch where plenty of snow is still to be found.
We would recommend enjoying the view above from the micro brewery with the lovely translated name: 'The old tram depot' (http://www.altestramdepot.ch/htm/home.htm) (OK... that sounds a lot funnier in Danish, the English and German versions are quite similar) where they serve pretty good beer and hearty food in a relaxed atmosphere seated by communal long tables. In the summer time their terrace must be the ultimate spot to enjoy a cold lager.

The various levels in the city produce a need to easily reach one level from another so by the cathedral a public elevator is found. This way one can quickly reach the gorgeous little cathedral park from the river level. We had no desire to leave the sunny areas though so for once we just admired the lovely old building instead of trying out the structure.

26 March 2009


Having lived in Geneva for almost one year we thought it was about time to visit Bern - both because it's only a two-hour train ride from here but also because we fell we can't leave the country again without having visited the capital.

'We' were us and Emilia, who Lisbeth knows from her studies in Rotterdam and who recently moved to Geneva. It's a small world, Europe is even smaller, and Geneva is smallest of all: Emilia is now living in the street behind ours!

It was an incredibly cold and windy day but with a clear sky so when dotting the wander with plenty of breaks for coffee and lunch we managed to spend most of the day outside.

None of us know much about the city before the visit but it is beautifully located on a sharp bend on the river Aare (for once it's not a city by a lake!) and even has a Unesco nominated medieval city centre. Add a couple of interesting museums and some great cafés and you have plenty of reasons to visit.

The parliament of Switzerland is obviously seated in Bern and is located in a beautiful palace-like building which unfortunately was closed for tours this Saturday and which is also completely impossible to photograph on market day.

It is however also the clock tower - Zytglogge - which is the landmark of Bern. We dutifully returned to it just before the hour struck to watch the little figurines do their thing but we weren't all that impressed...

On the other hand we really liked the characters that adorn the tops of fountains scattered around the city (photo below) or sit on projections on the old buildings. Particularly the ogre that eats small children was .. ehm .. interesting.

08 March 2009

Snow hike on Salève

Vivienne and Richard spent a few days in Geneva this week and wanted to go up Salève. We haven't been there since the trip with Kirsten and Steen last summer, so we were eager to experience our local mountain at winter time. Luckily we choose to go Saturday when it was sunny in contrast to Friday when Richard and Vivienne had to try to enjoy a rainy Geneva.

The snow on Salève has appeared to be diminishing in the last few weeks so we were VERY surprised to see high piles of snow already where we got of the cable car.

It was a wonderfully clear day so the view over Lake Geneva (see photo above where the dark blue area to the left is the lake) and the alpine back country (last photo) was excellent. It was a strange contrast to be standing in knee-deep snow and looking across the complety barren city area.

We hiked along the usual paths which luckily were quite easy to traverse without snow shoes and we enjoyed the great weather and all the happy dogs that jumped excitedly about in the snow.

Obviously, the trip ended by the snack shed where a crouque monsieur and a cup of hot chocolate completed the experience.

We guess we could also have made a bonfire and roasted sausages without the danger of starting a wild fire at this time of year!

06 March 2009

Btw. we have had a little one...

.. A mini laptop that is!

Since we live parts of our lives online and more than a fraction of that in travelling mode, we invested in this smoking piece of electronic with the aim of increasing our mobility.
Lisbeth bought it when she was in Copenhagen in December but since it wasn't delievered with a protective sleeve, the return trip to Geneva wasn't quite the ease on the cabin luggage as expected.
But subsequently it was duly equipped (in Newcastle - it is evidently a globetrotting laptop!) and the first 'proper' trip through various airports showed that it is exactly as handy as hoped for.

05 March 2009

Chère Brigitte

GHI is the free weekly paper of Geneva which we faithfully leaf through every week and thus happily find that we steadily can read more and more of the content. Initially it was primarily the personal adds that we fully understood - and unfortunately it wasn't the section that either of us really needed to get established here - but now we can also follow some of the other events in town.

But recently we discussed the oddity of the paper containing 'Dear Abbey' (here called Chère Brigitte) regarding sexual problems. Brigitte answers questions on anything from infidelity to erectile dysfunctions and since the Genevans seem to have an abundance of problems, it is obviously a fine service but is it really suitable for a weekly paper that otherwise concentrates on classifieds?! Not even in the so-called liberal Denmark have we seen something similar.

03 March 2009

Parallel import

The post on imported baking ingredients last week made us think about which other things we are having summoned from other parts of the world. Obviously certain products are not widely available and we feel nostalgic about them (TimTams from Australia, smoked rolled sausage from the butcher in Tue's hometown; Danish chocolate turtles) but we don't actually NEED them. But here we present some of the things where we haven't been able to find similar products or where the found substitutes just can't match the preferred items.

First the stuff we are having sent/bring back from Denmark:

Cheese strings - The Danish/Scandinavian cheese cutter isn't yet globally found so we have to send for spare strings when they snap. Luckily they don't take up much room and a packet of three strings lasts a long time.

Liquorice - because in contrast to all expectations it is almost impossible to buy liquorice here in Geneva. With the proximity to Northern Europe we had expected that it would be easy to find but actually it was easier in California where Trader Joe's carry Panda liquorice (connaisseurs will know what this is) as part of their regular assortment. In Geneva the best option is to go to IKEA but since it's both quite far and they only have a limited selection, we have build a little stock pile after several visits from and to Denmark.

Lypsyl lip balm - Despite the fact that our lip balms states an US address we never succeeded in finding this brand in Santa Barbara and neither here in Switzerland have we seen them. So we make sure to buy them when we're in Denmark because attempts with alternatives have not been successful. Since we also prefer the same type and they are rather small, it doesn't prove difficult.

Books - Both of us like a number of Danish and Scandinavian authors so in order to follow these authorships Danish books are often found on our wish lists. Before Lisbeth moved away from Copenhagen, she attempted to keep Tue up to date on the best new Danish movies but this is an area where we have given up now.

After our stay in the US we are also relatively dependent on certain non-Danish things:

Biotherm cleansing foam - Yes, it is possible to buy Biotherm in Switzerland but not the specific foaming soap that an insistent sales woman in Nordstrom, Seattle made Lisbeth try and then prefer. So on his recent visit to the Netherlands poor Drew had to bring several bottles across the Atlantic.

Gillette clear gel - It is not just Lisbeth who is particular about certain beauty products because when Tue on his arrival to Geneva realised that he couldn't buy the special Clear Gel version, he promptly imported 6 sticks from the UK. And since that's plenty for maybe another year Drew didn't have to go shopping on Tue's account.

Excedrin tension headache - Drew was however also delegated to bring Lisbeth more Excedrin since her stock ran out in November. But since he brought a huge jar (250 count - no, there is no reason to hide one's medicine consumption) she should be covered for a long time now.

American magazines - Desired British and American books are relatively easy to locate here in Geneva and if not, we are keen customers with Amazon but Lisbeth really misses Border's wide selection of magazines. Bon Appetit was one of the few favorite magazines which it was possible and affordable to sign up for an overseas subscription of so every month we test the efficiency of both the US and the Swiss postal systems (so far we have received 2 out of 3). Other magazines can be bought here in Geneva for astronomous amounts of Swiss francs which is why she is starting to do without...

We have no immediate expections for the need to import Swiss stuff when we move again but we guess we won't know until later just how dependent on Gruyère Salé we have become!

02 March 2009

Better Mornings

.. it just is a better morning when one can enjoy the morning coffee (or tea) drinking from one's recently purchased cow-mug (or mountain goat cup). They lift our spirits.