Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Love Lugano!

This past weekend Kevin, Mya, and I went on a two night getaway to the lovely city of Lugano located in the Italian region of Switzerland (Ticino).  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city and made some discoveries along the way...

Discovery #1: Mother Nature can't even put a stop to Swiss efficiency.
One day before our trip a landslide resulted in a 300-ton boulder blocking the train tracks, and thus interrupted our 2.5 hour direct train ride to Lugano.  Although it was disappointing to go from a 1 train trip to a 4 train/1 bus journey, it surprisingly ran very smoothly and only took 1 hour longer than normal.

Discovery #2: In Lugano "Trani" doesn't mean what you think it means.
The night we arrived, Kevin took me to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Trani.  At first I was like, "Wait, where are you taking me?", but as soon as we stepped inside I knew that once again Kevin had found a gem. With a warm and romantic atmosphere and food & wine to match, Trani definately scored big.  Here is the link Trani Osteria & Wine Bar

Discovery #3: Mya's still a tourist attraction.
Just like in Lucerne, Mya is always getting some Japanese tourist love.

Discovery #4: We love chillin' with the cotton heads.
After a long day of what I call hiking and maybe what others would just refer to as walking, we settled ourselves into Grotto Castagneto.  A grotto is a traditional tavern of Ticino offering local wine and food, and more importantly locals.  While enjoying some local Merlot by the cozy fire, we watched some local oldies play an intense 3 hour card game. 

The guy in blue stood up on more than one occasion to animatedly yell in Italian to his fellow players.
Local Merlot

Discovery #5: Mya is so over the funicular.
She may have been lovin' the ride in Stoos, but in Lugano I think the novelty has worn off. I, however, am still lovin it.  

Discovery #6: We will never tire of spending an afternoon enjoying some great food, drinks, and amazing views.
Pictures from our walk around town.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Expovina - How Switzerland does Wine

Last Saturday Kevin and I attended an amazing wine tasting event on Lake Zurich called Expovina. It's an annual wine expo held on 12 docked boats.  Each boat is filled with wine vendor booths where you can taste and then order bottles of wine for either pick up or delivery.  Some of the boats are restaurants, which is much needed after all those tastings!  We only made it to two boats followed by dinner at a fondue restaurant on board, but we definitely got our money's worth out of the 20 CHF entry fee.  We spent about 3-4 hours at the tasting and came away with 41 bottles ordered!  The last booth we visited, Louis Bovard winery, is where 1/2 of our 41 bottle order came from.  Our large order was due in part to the effects of all the previous tastings,  but mainly due to a charming and informative elderly wine rep and some impressive wines.  Louis Bovard is a Swiss winery located in the French region of Switzerland, so we are supporting the local economy!  Yuh know cause Switzerland is in such dire need of an economical boost. The remainder of our order featured wines from Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, and Argentina.  So if you needed another incentive to come visit we now have quite the wine selection for you to enjoy during your stay. If interested here's the links for Expovina and the Louis Bovard Winery.

One of the South African wines we ordered.  Kevin actually visited this vineyard on his 2010 World Cup trip.


Our fellow wine tasters.

View of the Wine Boats

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Snow

We got our first snowfall in October. Snowed for about 2 days. Like New York, this place transforms in the snow.

Fall and Winter at the same time

I took a video from our rooftop, while it was snowing......

Football in October

Before starting work, we got the chance to catch a couple of world cup qualifiers. First up, we went to Bern (the capital of Switzerland) to see Norway v Switzerland for a Friday night match. Bern is fantastic (only 1 hour away by train), very old city with a great old town, and probably the coolest street mall I have seen. We only came for the day of the game, but we will definitely come back to spend more time.

Main drag through Bern old town

Main drag through Bern old town

Hopp Schweiz! - Norway v Switzerland

Norway v Switzerland at the Stade de Suisse
Next up was the Tuesday night match in Milan (4-hour train ride), with Italy v Denmark where we saw the Azzuri win 3 - 1. There was basically a mob riot trying to pick up tickets outside the stadium (can't expect anything less at the San Siro), so we missed the first 30 minutes. But with just a couple of sore ribs from the mob jostling and pushing we got our tickets and just in time to catch the first goal. Again we stayed for way too short (only 1 night) and were focused on the football so we will need to come back, but we were able to find the Milan cathedral (Duomo di Milano) which is ridiculous. We were able to get a puppy passport just in time for Mya too, so she has now officially been to Italy.

At the Duomo di Milano

At the Duomo di Milano

Italy v Denmark at the San Siro

Lake Zurich

Chilling by Lake Zurich doesn't get old.................................

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moving Madness

Wow, long time no blog.  I have an excuse though.  We've been in the midst of moving from our temporary apartment to our real apartment, and we have been without Internet for a week or so. Finally we are starting to feel somewhat settled into our new place, but not without a few hiccups along the way...

Foreign Appliances
The first time I used our fancy washer/dryer combo unit it began to, as the manual describes, "wander" during the spin cycle.  By "wander" I mean violently bang back and forth against the kitchen cabinets while making a run for it across the kitchen floor.  I was frantically trying to find the English portion of the instruction manual to figure out how to turn it off, while in my head I had visions of  the kitchen cabinets crashing to the floor.  Thankfully yesterday the repair guy came to fix our unleveled and poorly secured machine.  Wish me luck as I attempt to do laundry today.
The next time your Swiss Washer/Dryer tries to escape, remember  "Aus" means off.

Foreign Bed Linen
Who would have thought that bed linens would become my new nemesis.  Here in Switzerland mattresses do not come in Full/Queen/King.  They come in 140x200 cm, 160x200 cm, etc.  You would think if you have a 140x200 cm mattress, that the 140x200 cm bed sheet and duvet would fit. Think again.  When you come to visit us yuh gotta love the one you're with and snuggle up close if you want your fair share of that duvet, because it barely reaches the edge of the bed.  And too late, no way am I returning to the black hole that is Ikea to exchange them for the next size up. 

Even Mya is confused

Hiccups aside, we really do love our new apartment.  It's not fully set up yet, but by popular demand I am posting the tour of our place.  No judgement on interior design; I'm not finished!

Alp view if you stick your head out the window and lean over.  I had to make the picture X-Large so you could see them :).
  Guest Room (pictured above)

Master Bedroom

Notice  our 160x200 cm bed has a duvet that is literally 160x200 cm.  Why?

View from Master bedroom.  You can also have the same "Alp view" as the Guest room by leaning out the window (the rooms are on the same side of the apartment).

Living Room
Our cable kicks in this Friday, and I am very excited to watch some English speaking shows.  Good thing I like British television because there aren't any American channels.

Mya enjoying our chaise lounge sofa.  The view from here is the same as the Master and Guest rooms, as all three rooms are on the same side of the apartment.

Look at space!  Massive improvement from our tiny Manhattan kitchen.  Perfect for all those home cooked meals I'll be making for my new job as a Hausfrau.

My favorite part of the kitchen.  Our espresso machine.  We could open up our own coffee shop with this bad boy and give Oslo (our favorite coffee house in NYC) a run for their money.  All we need is some hipster clothes from Urban Outfitters, learn the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, and we'll be good to go.

Office/2nd Guest Room
The sofa folds out into a bed.  The office portion of the room will be across from the sofa once our Mac and printer arrive from our NY shipment (expected end of November)

Check out the view.  This is the view from the office/2nd guest room, kitchen, and bathroom as they're all on the same side of the apartment.  Too bad the layout isn't reversed.  Wouldn't this be an awesome living room view?

Mya enjoying the best view in the apartment...from the bathroom

View during snow fall we had last week
...I'm having trouble uploading this video, and have to wait for Kevin to come home to help. To be continued...