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Saturday, April 30, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - Z is for Zurich


Zurich is my home base where airports are concerned.I talked about the airport (where I used to work) in last year's A-Z so this time let me take you to the city. 

Join Colin and me on a gorgeous spring break day on the town!

Well, at first we weren't so sure about gorgeous. It had been raining in the morning, so we only drove into the city before lunch time. We like to make our own pizza by choosing from the 30 or so ingredients at Sam's Pizza Land.


Aren't the trees pretty?


When in town, check out the toy store!



 The blue sky is coming along nicely! Bahnhofstrasse, our Fifth Avenue.


Colin was done with his hair appointment and ready for a snack. 
The macaron of the month is strawberry/rhubarb.


Let's hop on the tram that takes us to the ferris wheel!


Whooo-hooo! We're pretty high up!


Look how small the cars are!


Mom wants a selfie to capture the happy moment!


Back on the ground we admired the pretty flowers.


More pink trees.


The young man must be going through yet another growth spurt. More snacks, please!


I don't know where he gets his questions from, but out of the blue, over his sandwich, he went "how can we be sure that Jesus existed?"

I said we can't be sure, we just choose to believe he did. And that there probably was a man who was doing good things to people, and word got out, but you know how it is, everybody tells his story in his own way, and by the millionths person the "facts" have changed. Kind of like the telephone game.

Either way, to me it isn't all that relevant if there was a Jesus or not, I think it's much more important how we treat each other today and tomorrow.

C nodded and went to the bathroom to wash his hands.

That's when I witnessed a modern day's Jesus. 


The lady whose back you can see, noticed that the woman who sits across from her entered the restaurant and studied the menu. She must have looked hungry, and something told lady #1 that lady #2 didn't have the money to buy herself a sandwich.

She approached her and asked "may I buy you a sandwich?"
After some back and forth they went to the counter and ordered.

I was stunned and delighted. 

You can see people begging for money at the train station and in front of department stores, and many times when you ask them what they need it for they say "food", then you offer to buy them food, and they tell you they'd much rather have cash for later.

Lady #2 didn't look homeless, but she seemed confused.

I didn't catch the conversation they had once they sat down because I told Colin about it when he returned from the men's room. 

"How did lady #1 know that lady#2 didn't have money, and if she didn't have any money why did she step into Subway in the first place?"

We don't have all the answers, but we can watch and learn, right?

This encounter made my already perfect day even better.

Just as we got ready to leave, our Jesus lady left, too, and we gave her the thumbs up.


We usually park next to the observatory, and I always tell him that there is a bar on top, but we never go. This time, with hubby out of town for business, and it being spring break, and just because - I said let's go up there!

So this is the view from the 10th floor. Pretty cool, isn't it?




All of a sudden he jumped up and said "I think something isn't right with this pineapple juice" and ran. All I could do is shout after him "there is no bathroom on this floor, you need to go downstairs, will you be OK?"

I paid for the beverages and followed him, meaning, waited outside the men's room.

"Let's get out of here" he said. "Maybe I'll have to throw up, and I probably shouldn't do so in the elevator."

When did he become so grown-up?

We sat on a bench, and I was desperate to say or do something to make him feel better.


Bingo! The Panini Album! It's a sticker album for European (or World) Championships in soccer. Colin's friends gave him the stickers they don't need, and I got him the album that day, so he was busy going through it, and after a while he felt better and we got home without any incidents.


Zurich is not Switzerland's capital, (Bern is), but Zurich is with 400k citizens in the city and 1.8 mio in the greater area the largest and economically most important Swiss city. 

If you're a student, chances are you attend Uni Züri or ETH, and if you're a banker, you most probably work in Zurich. The first Starbucks store in continental Europe opened 2001 in Zurich. That's about everything you need to know ;-)



Thank you for keeping me company throughout my A-Z journey! I hope you had fun!


Friday, April 29, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - Y is for you only live once


You only live once - except you're James Bond. Then you live twice! ;-) 

I saw this oldie but goodie on my flight to L.A.




As I was saying when I was scrolling through the meetings with my Los Angeles and Seattle friends, it made me think of something...

I don't want to sound morbid, but here goes: 

A trip like this is something I might do if I got a diagnose like "you only have a couple of months to live - you can try and get treatment, spend what little time you have left in hospitals or go out there and spend it with people who are important to you!"

I'm glad and grateful that I got to do this while being young and healthy and without the bitter taste of "this might have been the last time we saw each other."

Even though you can't really know. 

Last year we lost a bunch of friends and family members. In that post I mentioned my father's youngest sister, C. She also attended the funeral, and I told her about the many funerals I had been attending. 

As it was going to turn out, this was going to be the last time we saw each other, too.

She hadn't been feeling well for a while and went to see a doctor in December. They told her that  things were not looking good at all. Cancer cells in the large intestine, liver and lung. The first chemo treatment must have been really bad, so she decided to quit. 

On Valentine's Day she sent a message to her siblings, my Dad being one of them, informing them that she was probably not going to make it. She asked us not to call. She didn't want to talk about it, and basically just wanted to be left alone.
"Maybe if I feel better we could meet for a picnic in spring" she suggested.

This was the first time I heard about her being sick. 

I thought about e-mailing her. Only what was I going to say? 
How unfair is this, you have been living as a health nut, being a vegetarian, taking long walks with your dog, and this is what you get? Only 66 years old? (Same age as my Mom. Don't even get me started..)

Then my surprise trip came up, and I had other things to think about. 

A few days prior my departure there was a strange envelope in our mail. Lime green with birds on it, not doves, more like flying something birds.



She had prepared her own death notice. 

John Lennon's "Imagine" lyrics, a few personal words, don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened...

She never made it to the picnic.

So what I'm gonna do here, is to share some picture of our last family get-together when my brother and two of his kids were visiting from Israel.

It was a super hot day in July. We went to an area in the forest that was full of caves and hollows.



We used to come here when my brother, my cousins and I were little.



The lady on the left is my aunt C, in the middle my cousin, and on the right my brother


My Dad with two of his grandkids, Colin and Neil, my brother's middle son



My lovely niece, Liv


On the right my Mom with C, my Godfather and his wife





So this was going to be the last cheerful event I was going to share with my aunt. 

What does this tell us:

Don't postpone things that are important to you! Big and little things! 

Take that trip, move to that house, tell this person you love them or that you're sorry! 

You can't be sure that everybody is going to be around "later" or "as soon as x or y is over".

You only live once - make it a good life!








Thursday, April 28, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - X is for XXL

When I went to the United States for the first couple of times, I was always amazed by the size of everything: buildings, freeways, malls, clothes, food portions,... 




Everything was tall, broad, large, big, huge!

As service-oriented as American sales people usually are, when you ask for "small" they frown and shrug "sorry, don't have small." 

I must know. It was during my tenure with Starbucks that the short cup disappeared from the menu.



(As you get more savvy, you'll know to look for travel or snack size, or individually packaged. Plus short cups are still around. Ask for it!!)

Speaking of coffee.

Joe Fox explains perfectly how confusing (or liberating) it can be to order a beverage in the U.S.:



“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, et cetera. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”

Now imagine ordering a whole entire meal!

Actually just a visit to an American full-service restaurant is pretty different from Switzerland. Let me show you: 

  • In most Swiss places you are allowed to walk into a restaurant and seat yourselves. 
  • Unless they wear a name tag (rarely ever happens) or you're a regular guest, you'll never know your waiter's name. 
  • You order every course separately, meaning no soup or salad is included.
  • Typically there are two salad dressings to choose from: Italian or French. 
  • The sides belong to the dish. If you want a different one, you have to ask nicely. If the waitress is feeling bitchy, she'll say no right away.
  • If you think the meat is too well done to be medium, be prepared to a defensive reaction and a bit of a wait, should they decide you're getting a new one.
  • If you're old enough to come to a restaurant, you're old enough to order a glass of wine
  • After coffee and desert you may sit and chat, and if you want the check, you actively have to motion to the waitress. 
  • Tips are included in the check. If you were super happy with the service (which doesn't happen too often in a random restaurant) you may leave an extra tip.
  • Oh, and up until spring 2008 (I remember because it was shortly before Colin was born) people were allowed to smoke in restaurants. It was such a treat to go out for dinner in the U.S. for this fact alone!

Can you imagine the challenge for first time visitors in an American restaurant?



The wait is 30-45 minutes, here's your buzzer.

Hello, my name is Ashley, I'll be taking care of you tonight!

Study the menu really well and be prepared for questions.

There was a funny incident that happened twice, once with my ex-boyfriend, and once with my husband.

Waitress: "would you like a soup or salad?"

Ex-boyfriend: "yes, please."

Husband: "what is a super salad?"

Hahaha!

"What dressing would you like: French ranch, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, thousand island, honey mustard,..."

Once you ordered the meat the way you want it cooked, don't take a breather just yet.

"What side would you like?"

"Baked potato, please"

"Sour cream or fully loaded?"

Loaded?

Until my late 30s I had to bring ID. No exceptions. No ID, no wine. I kind of miss being carded.

Don't be afraid to send something back. With my Swiss background I was really hesitant, but one day, my beef fillet had been cooked way too long, so I dared complaining nicely. Not only did they take it back without a word, I immediately got a new one, with apologies, and they didn't even charge for it at all. 

I so love to eat in American restaurants.

Another thing that strikes you when you're new to the U.S. is that they are using different words than the ones you've learned at school. 

We don't mean to be rude when we ask where the toilets are, but obviously if you need to take a comfort break, the restroom is where you're gonna wanna go.

Speaking of... When I was living in the U.S. I was really confused when I wanted to buy toilet paper. There were packages with cute puppies or babies, h*** even bears on it - where were the ones for grown-ups? Cause I understood, for "adult" products you're usually supposed to go to a different kind of store.

And how could I be sure those were TP rolls not kitchen paper, nowhere on the package does it actually say what's in it?



People don't just die. They pass (away), depart, decease, or, should it happen at the hospital, are a negative patient outcome. 




With Starbucks we would say a partner (employee) got promoted to customer ;-)

Can you relate to XXL?
What terms have you encountered that sugar-coat the cold truth?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge - W is for Wedding

Finally I get to share the main reason for my trip: my friend Patrice's and George's wedding!

She told me that when they went to check out the location at Laurel Creek Manor, the person who showed them around said "and if the weather is nice, here's where you can have your ceremony", and they were like "Haaahahahaaha! As if THAT was ever going to happen!"

OK, can the sky be any bluer? I think not!



Anticipation


There comes the bride!


I now pronounce you husband and wife!


For the first time... Mr and Mrs


Where has everybody gone?


I see!


Drinking on an empty stomach is no good. Let's get some dinner!


The sons were quite the comedians telling us about a regular day living with their parents!


Waterproof mascara isn't what it used to be...


Her California friends


Her Swiss friend


It was an honour and a pleasure witnessing this day, thank you so much, Patrice & George! See you soon on your trip to Europe / honeymoon! *hint*