Monday, December 24, 2007

An Orange Christmas poem

On the 24th December in Christmas Eve’s glow,
Santa pushes his boots, through two feet of snow.
The reindeers are striking, they’re letting him down,
He’s carrying his bags all over town.
He’s feeling depressed, the man dressed in red.
No smile on his face, he’s feeling real sad.
His muscles are aching, his back starts to hurt.
He has no one to talk to, this is really absurd.

What has happened, where is the cheer?
What happened to Rudolph, his loyal reindeer?
The elves worked real hard, all year round
But also they left, without a sound.
“Have I been rude, have I pushed them too hard?”
I got cramps in my stomach, I think I must fart
“I think this is awful, I think it’s a shame
Letting an old man walk, this is really lame”

“I’ll check and go find them, to make my excuse,
I must have them with me, or else it’s no use.”
“To celebrate Christmas the way it is right now
I could go throw darts or start milking a cow.”
“I need my dear friends, loyal by my side,
Only then I can show up, with dignity and pride”
“We all need our family and all of our friends
Partying and singing, holding each others hands”

“What do I see, do I see alright?
Eight sets of hoofs leading on in the night”
“I think I can find them if I follow the trail
I must be real close, I see a waggling tail”
“Oh yes, I can see them, all eight in a row,
They’re moving ahead, but they’re moving real slow”
All of the reindeer have their heads hanging down,
On each back sits an elf with a devilish frown.

They’re forcing the reindeer to walk down south,
Away from the North Pole, to fish for some trout.
What has gotten into them, are they out of their mind?
I need my crew with me, a replacement I can’t find.
I’ll teach them a lesson, those wicked elves,
Transform them into reindeer, so can walk themselves!
The magic spell is spoken, Santa speaks it out loud
The elves are surprised by a big silver cloud.

Santa is laughing, and while his magic is spread,
The reindeer start relaxing and lift up their head.
Donner starts smiling, Dancer lifts up a hoof,
“Hey there dear Santa, let’s go hit the roof!”
Rudolph breaths heavy, he’s ready to roll,
Blitzen gets impatient, “let’s go on patrol”
Then comes the sleigh as if it all was planned,
To ride out for Christmas with all good intend.

There the team goes, with their captain in red,
High through the sky, while we sleep in bed.
Nobody noticed which dangers we face,
If only the elves would have won their race.
So enjoy the Holidays with all that are dear,
Bring positive thoughts all through next year.
Be happy, be healthy, let the candles burn,
May all your positive thoughts be your reward in return.

Have an Orange X-Mas everyone and all the best wishes for the New Year to come from CS and me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Straight, no chaser

These guys are just amazing! Enjoy and thank you Xmichra!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Who said you needed sport to stay fit?

This weekend, Orange-X drove to Holland to see his daughter before Christmas and that left me alone at home and busy as a bee. Of course, I could have gone with him, but since we only have the weekends to really prepare for Ma and Pa's visit over Christmas, I decided to stay here and take care of a few things. Plus, the older he gets, the more it stresses Dale when we both leave.

On Saturday, O-X woke me up at 6:20 am so that I could at least enjoy a coffee and a short chat (as far as my brain works at that time of day!) with him before he left for a 6 hour drive. I was thinking of going back top bed, but decided otherwise. I went through a few blogs, had 2 more coffees and by 9 am, I was already washing our drapes and looking through our Christmas decorations. While the one set of drapes was in the machine, and armed with a bucket of vinegar water, a cloth and the wiper, I started cleaning the windows and the sills (heck, why didn't I do the walls, while I was at it!). In between washes, I vaccumed and hung up a few Christmas decorations and cleaned some more. My Mom gave me a call while I was doing the dining room windows. While my whole upper body was hanging out the window to clean the outside with the cloth in one hand and my Mom (the phone) in the other, people walking along the woods nearby stared at me, shaking their heads, probably thinking I was insane. I wish someone had taken pictures. It must have been a funny sight.

This past week, we've had quite a few stormy days and regular rain showers, so that whatever leaves were still left in the bushes left and right from our (15 m2) backyard, they were all scattered in our backyard. As a matter of fact, quite a few had found their way to the stairs that we use daily, leading to the courtyard and were dangerously wet and slippery. So today, I spent a good part of the afternoon in the garden picking up about 150 litres of wet(!) leaves that I carried out to the green recycling bin. To relieve my aching muscles from the unusual body movements (don't tell me you hang out the window once a week to clean, do you?), I decided to throw in a few washes.

I think I've done my share of exercise for the weekend and am now enjoying a nice glass of prosecco while listening to Christmas music. Uhm! What were weekends meant for again? Please, someone remind me?

What will your true love send you?

A quizzie that I borrowed from Xmichra.

I'm just wondering whether the glam rockers and the yodeling ladies will get along, or not.

For the twelve days of Christmas, your true love will send you:

Twelve glam rockers drumming

Eleven christmas trees a-twinkling

Ten gymnasts a-leaping

Nine ladies yodeling

Eight sheep a-milking

Seven hot chocolates a-steaming

Six Santas a-hohohoing

Five golden toe rings

Four calling secret admirers

Three French chefs bearing escargot

Two bottles of whiskey

And a fairy in a olive tree

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How do you greet an expat for the first time?

Yes! Finally, and thanks to the TBFs, we got to meet Sal from the “Fat Sal's Smoking Lounge” blog (formerly known as “Sal’s virtual tapas bar”) in flesh and blood. We had arranged for this meeting a few weeks ago already, and we were both really excited. We decided to meet at the Brauner Mutz, one of the oldest and most traditional restaurants in Basel.

Sal and TBFs had lunch there, but we had agreed we’d meet them later. Around 2.00 pm, we walked in and saw that “perfect bald head” and knew immediately where we had to go. We sneaked up behind their table (that was thankfully covered by a half wall and lots of green plants). O-X, armed with only a camera, took this first shot. Just for the record… I think this guy smells that there is a camera 100 yards away! Really! How can a guy pose like that in the blink of an eye/flash??

So how do you greet an expat that you know from blogging and see for the first time? Well, Sal stood up and said “Hi. I’m Sal”, to which I kinda responded: “Hi. I’m CS”. And there we stood… not knowing what to do. How embarrassing! As good Swiss citizen, I extended my hand, inviting him to take it and then wanting to pull him towards me (naughty girl!) for the mandatory 3 Swiss kisses. And then, he catches me off guard by just opening his arms to hug me. Although my plan was ruined, it was a very warm welcome greeting indeed!

We had a beer, chatted a bit and decided to leave the restaurant to walk a few steps through Basel, lost Mrs TBF (she had informed us that she still needed to get a few things and prepare the rest of the dinner and would “jump-off”), took the ferry across the Rhine, had another beer and chatted some more. Thank goodness we had the chance to chat a bit with him before “the party”! You’ll understand as you read. :)

Since TBF also still had a quick vacuuming in mind before the other guests arrived, Orange-X and I decided to stroll through the Christmas market and join them later.

We arrived (like any good Swiss) five minutes before the expected time. Sal was helping set up the table and we had nothing to do. We tried not to stand in the way. Soon enough, the doorbell rang and the other guests arrived. Full house! Seven adults and 3 kids: The TBFs, Sal, Rammy, John and their son Oliver, Andy, Di and their two off springs, Ali and Sam, and us. Chit-chat, chit-chat: My head was already spinning and at some point, I asked Sal: “Is this what you had expected?” Sal’s answer went something like: “Uhm, yeah. It’s pretty much what I expected.” I wonder if he meant the cross chatting, or the champagne. Sal?

Mrs. TBF had cooked an excellent meal again, but much too much (to our luck… we were hoping for leftovers!), and it was De-Li-Cious! First a chick pea soup, then meatballs, filled conghilie (large pasta shells) with light tomato sauce, fennel and a beautiful assortment mushrooms. Of course, I just had to fill my plate (that I couldn’t finish!), but I did have a bit of Tiramisù that Rammy had brought later on. Yummy!

During dinner – even for us – it was difficult to follow all the different conversations that were going on, but let me tell you, it was very lively, fun, entertaining and interesting. We had many laughs … Andy even tried to get TBF to work again. Now THAT is a conversation you would have enjoyed! Of course it was full of jokes! What did you expect? Just look at the pictures!

We had a last few drinks … (yes, we were again the last to leave *sigh*. Will we ever better ourselves?) and left short before 2am. But you know what? We never got the “green fairy”. My fault…. I forgot to ask. Sorry, Sal.

We had a great time again, and Sal? Next time we meet, it will be in Chicago, or in Nova Scotia (this is a joke between Sal ‘n me, okay?) ;) What do you say, Sal?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I got an award... I got an award!!!!

First off, thank you to SwenglishExpat for the "Roar" award. I really don’t understand why he chose me, because I haven’t been very active in blogging lately (both posting and visiting other blogs), and I think there are much better blogs than mine out there. Nevertheless, I’m very honoured to receive it and should encourage me to post more often/regularly.

Here are the details: Those people I've given this award to are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc., etc. Let's send a roar through the blogsphere! The image at the top right can be copied and pasted onto other blogs. Also, a small size of the award for sidebars can be found over at the writing circle site.

I think that’s pretty cool, don’t you? Okay. So let’s start.

Originally, I put it up so that my family and friends, who are pretty much strewn all over Europe and Canada, could follow the daily ongoing of our lives. My blog is about our life in Switzerland, friends, travel and a little bit of bitching every now and then. I do it for fun. That’s all. Like many other blogger buddies, there are no literary ambitions behind this blog. My original thought is still there, but I'm happy to say that I have made many friends through blogging.

However, I do believe that:

  1. A catchy title is always a good start to attract the reader.

  2. I tend to do posts that are much too long (I think I do), and when I’m in a bit of a rush, I really value short and concise posts. Less is sometimes more. (note to self: remember that line).

  3. The contents should – if possible – not be too offensive. Being critical about things happening around us is all right and sometimes a must, but at times, I just think it gets too close to the edge of offensiveness and rudeness. This doesn’t only happen in the posts themselves, but also in the comments, which often results in comments being blocked until approval of the blog owner.

Now to my awards (this is not going to be easy):

The Big Finn (alias TBF)
TBF got me started with blogging, so he gets special thanks for that, too. Yes, it's all HIS fault! ;)

He - and once in a while, Mrs. TBF - write about the daily life as an expat in Switzerland, friends, family and travel. He’s “da” (Did I mention that he grew up in Chicago?) houseman and never gets bored. You'll love it!

ET loves travelling, Switzerland and swimming. Not only that, she’s an excellent photographer. Originally from California, she lived in Switzerland and France for a few years and is now in Canada with her husband.

Shelli’s sentiments
That says it all, doesn’t it? Shelli is a loving mother of three children and grandmother of little Belle, and a wonderful person with a great personality. She’s a talented, witty writer and an avid blogger AND she's my friend :) I *heart* her. Go pay a visit.

Ginnie is pure soul and pure gold. She is a loving Mom and Grand Ma, retiree and a very close friend of mine. Not to mention that she's a fantastic photographer. Ginnie travels regularly between Atlanta and Amsterdam with Donica. She loves nothing more than to capture the moments on camera. Curious? Go see! She's incredible.

Kill the goat
Jay is a not only a fabulous writer, she’s also a lovely person AND she’s Canadian. She will make you look for tissues just as much as she can get you to roll on the floor laughing.

So there. It was a difficult choice to choose only five, but you can find my blogroll on my sidebar. It’s there for a reason, you know. ;)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It can only get better...

This morning,

  • Dale woke me up by licking my nose, then biting my thumb and not gently, mind you!

  • The weather's sad and grey

  • We ran out of coffee after one cup

  • The milk was sour

  • No creamer either

.... and all that before 9.00am o a Saturday morning!! Uhg!

Please tell me it can only get better!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wake up!

We just loved this and those of you who have (had) cats will understand :)

I hope it works (I've never uploaded videos directly from my hard disc)!

Enjoy and have a great week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy Purrr-day!

It’s me again: Dale. You know… The feline. This will just be a short post. So listen up…

Today’s CS’s birthday and Friday, the 26th, is Orange-X’s birthday! They’re both turning 6 ½ year old (cat age, that is). For you humans, that’s 42 years old! Man, I could be their father – if I were human, of course! I’m 15 ½, which makes me 78 in human age. Heck! I’m older than all of you bloggers!

So there you go. Happy Purrrr-day CS and Orange-X!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pssst... It's me... Dale, the cat!

Hey! Pssst! Over here…

scroll down….

Keep scrolling…


Almost there....

Yeah, here.

It’s me… Capt’n Dale, in disguise. Well, not really. Just call me Dale. I’ve hung up my Captain’s hat. I guess I’m just getting too old for this dress-up stuff. Not too mention that the parrot got on my nerves!

Do you know what’s coming up in the next few days?? Birthdays AND my favourite holiday, but I’ll get back to that in a post later this week.

First of all, I’m sorry I haven’t posted lately, but CS keeps closing the lid on her laptop, and I just can’t open the darn thing. I’ve broken too many nails already. Note to self: find tool to crack open CS’s laptop. Thank goodness, she forgot to close it this morning. It was about time! Today’s Sunday, by the way and I set up the time for posting.

So first, a bit about moi. I’ve been having slight health problems lately. Nothing really serious, but it started shortly after CS and OX came back from Austria :a slight bladder infection.

One evening, I felt feverish and when I came to bed, CS stroked my head and said: “OX, we have to keep an eye on Dale. His ears are really hot, he didn't eat that well - now THAT is a sign - and he seems to look for affection a lot more that usual. Something's wrong.” Well of course, I didn't feel well. I can’t talk! I have to show it in some way!

So, the next morning, I was really in pain and walked all the way up to their bedroom where CS was getting dressed and ready for work. I came up the stairs, step by step, meowed as loud as I could, and made it sound like a cry (actually, I was a crying! My belly hurt so much, and it burned like fire!) CS looked at me in shock and asked me what was wrong. All I could do was to look for a safe place (a yellow bag that had fallen to the floor), crouch and press out 3-4 drops of bloody urine.

CS and OX immediately called the Doc and drove there directly. I didn’t even fight against being put in my carry box! Can you believe it? I was afraid, but I managed. Once there, the Doc stuck the thermometer right up there (you know where!). I was in pain, darnit! Hisssss! Why didn’t he just feel my ears, like CS did?!!?! Anyway, I got away with a few shots (which I HATE!), but all went well. At least, I wasn’t alone when I got home. Ma and Pa were there for me – even though I slept all day. They’re so sweet! Must have been the meds, that made me so sleepy.

Once that problem was solved – as well as 3 more visits to the Vets AND 3 more series of shots - my bowel started acting up (darned Meds!!). I’m not going into details here, but it took me over 3 weeks of “on and off tout de suite” and a couple of “Ooops. I missed the litter box only by an inch or two”, to finally get over it with (more) meds and a bit of fasting. However, I must say that diarrhea can be quite creative. Look at what I did!

Well, yes. I know it’s kinda gross for you humans, but for me, it’s just nature. Bet you can’t do that! I hope I’m not offending anyone with my creative “crap”, but it was the best I could do, considering the circumstances. And I think it's pretty good. Even CS and OX were impressed! Otherwise, just call it Cat-Art. I like to call it: "The natural spoon".

Anyway, I'm back to my gluttony and no more "pudding" in the litter box, so all is well. Will you be back on Wednesday? I've prepared a post for my loved ones. Purrr....prrrrr.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Keyword searches

I love reading through keyword searches and here a few I recently found in my stats counter:

  • the value of salt and gold in 2007 - This one obviously lead the person to one of our Salzburg trips
  • musik orangex - Looking for a Dutch band, maybe?
  • counting sneezes - You have to look up the web for that?
  • had a white dental filling and its too high can this be fixed - Can a filling be too high??
  • fridge makes a buzzing sound and click - In that case, I'd suggest getting a new one.
  • sound guys tell me my guitar is buzzing blue light - What did these sound guys smoke?!
  • blue light bouncing sightings - Must be the sound guys from above
  • buzzing sound in my ovation guitar - Is there a blue light, too? I'm starting to wonder if this and the previous two searches were written by the same person
  • 101 things to do to annoy people at a theme park - Pull the plug out of one of the rides?
  • zurich airport christmas gifts - Much too expensive!
  • cat muscle spasms while purring - Maybe Dale can answer that one.
  • nicest montreal girls massage - Hey! This is a clean blog, buddy!

Did you have any interesting keyword searches lately?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And now, for something completely different... Austria

With all the visitors we've been having since we came back from Austria (Ma & Pa for 3 weeks and Jaap for 3 days), Markus and Paolo's post wedding party, a weekend in Holland, working on a translating a website, and normal work and house chores, I have been neglecting my blog a bit. I sometimes wonder what the real jet-setters do (or don't do... like eat and sleep)!

Anyway, I've been preparing this for a while, and I know that Pinki, Andrea and Chris are keeping a close eye on my blog to see when “their” post is up.

Well, (drum roll, please) here it is!

We arrived in Bad Fischau on Wednesday and after a warm welcome and a drink, we drove to Wiener Neustadt to meet up with Harry and Michaela for some dinner. We went to this really great Greek restaurant. The weather was lovely, the food was fabulous and the portions were huge! We had much too much fun to even think of taking pictures (except for Pinki playing around with our little camera and snapping this shot of OX, Michaela and Harry). After dinner, we went to an ice cream parlour for some desert: a big iced coffee! I thought I would burst after that, so we decided a walk would help the overly eager stomachs to digest the many calories we had just indulged in. Later on, we found a lovely wine bar where we enjoyed a nice glass of wine on a hot summer evening. After a drink or two, we retreated home and sat on the terrace.

The important thing to mention here is that we were there for a very special event. No, no. It wasn’t for Wiener Neustadt’s open air cinema; we wanted to see Chris play live at Pinki's backstage bar on Thursday! We even brought our video camera. We had a quick dinner, got there early to sit in the front row and set up our little video cam up in one of the alcoves in the wall opposite of where we sat. It was a very hot evening, and even hotter in the bar. The rain was pouring outside. Good thing, because the people who had been looking forward to an open air cinema, suddenly needed shelter. The doors opened and the people came rushing in. We also had our lettle camera with us, but darn... If that kid could only stop moving!! ;) Low lights, movement = blurr...rrrrrr!

The concert was absolutely fantastic. Both OX and I were totally absorbed in the music and Chris’ guitar playing skills. And let me mention another thing. I’ve heard this guy sing before, and he does have a good voice, but this time…. I was amazed! No, flabbergasted at the power he had that evening. Everybody was cheering him on and his humour kept entertaining us all evening.

Alas, the film did not turn out too well. We were too wrapped up in what was happening on stage to focus in/out, the little screen was just too small to see what we were filming from that distance, and the battery gave up after 30 minutes. Maybe I can try and put a short cut up for you. Would you like that? - Of course, only if Chris agrees. At least we took a few decent picts!

After the concert, we sat together with Michaela and Harry who were also present, Chris and his girlfriend, and a few other new faces for a nice chat, some finger food, good laughs and … well… quite a few drinks until the wee hours.

This stay was definitely too short. But aren't they always like that when you have such great friends around you? I always hate leaving them.

On Friday, we drove back to our idyllic Mondsee for an overnight stay before moving on to a small town in Bavaria to visit Andreas and Suse.

More to come... uhm... as soon as I'm ready :)

PS: Pinki - To answer the questions to your comment in the preious post:
a) Yes, we will definitely be back, but not before Jan/Feb '08 (Pa and Ma are coming over for X'mas/New Year).....
b)Too long ago??? We were just there 8 weeks back! ;) ....

c) *Sigh* You always have good concerts!


d) Just for the record: We miss you guys, too!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So now you all wanna know the outcome, right?

Before you read this, read this – if you haven’t, yet.

There. All informed now? Good.

Around noon yesterday, both Orange and I were scheduled for a haircut and wanted to get rid of some glass before our monthly appointment. On the way to the recycling containers, we saw the white Volvo coming our way. AHA!

When we came home from our haircut and groceries, O-X saw that the car was still there, so he decided to pay them a visit (they live a few houses away). O-X introduced himself and explained that there was a “little problem” with his car. The gentleman – I’ll call him Mr. AP - immediately followed Orange to the garage because he though WE had damaged HIS car. Once OX showed him the white scratches on my car, Mr. AP immediately went into defence, saying: “But, anyone could have done this!” and got a bit louder.

OX kept his calm and said: “Uhm. I don't think so. That car (meaning mine) has not moved in 3 weeks. My girfriend takes the tram to work. Could you open your rear door please? See, same height as the marks. And your door has been opened on many occasions, so it wasn’t a one time thing. Plus, I don’t see any other white cars here."

Mr. AP tried to get out of it again by saying that he never uses that rear door.

OX: “No, but your kids do. And tell me, why is there red paint on your door? ” (my car’s red, remember?)

Mr. AP: “But, I always let the kids out before I park the car.”

OX: “Funny. I just saw you today coming home and you let your wife and daughter out, but you still had your son in the back seat … right behind you.”

That was pretty much the end of the discussion and AP apologized. He was like a small kid that got caught doing something naughty. Anyway, OX told him that he had just wanted to inform him about this occurrence before taking any "drastic measures" and if we could get the marks out with polishing, it would be OK. If not, we would contact him again to discuss a suitable solution. Guess what? AP even offered to help polish my car, but OX told him that it wasn’t necessary.

I’m just happy that it didn’t end in a bad dispute. These things can become pretty nasty. You don’t have to be best friends with your neighbours – in this case, a direct parking neighbour -, but one should be decent towards each other and respectful, right? Obviously, he had noticed the marks before, but I'm still puzzled. What's so bad about coming over and apologizing before a situation like this breaks out?!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Tuesday was another beautiful, sunny and HOT day. We decided to visit the Hohensalzburg Festung, so “the bitch” – no, it’s not me. That’s what we call OX’s navigation system. – took us up a winding road up the Mönchsberg overlooking Salzburg. The road got smaller and smaller, and we ecountered quite a few hikers, some giving us dirty looks. Hmmm. We did see a few parking spots along that road, but how far could we go until we got into trouble. We had gotten used to walking the day before, so we turned around and parked the car in front of a big, classy hotel.

We followed the signs through the woods until we reached the Museum der Moderne, where we made a short halt. However, seeing the fortress just about 1 kilometre away, we decided to continue. We were both enjoying the walk through the cool woods.

It’s amazing how many residences and old, but restored houses you’ll see on the way.
It was also interesting to see the different walls surrounding the fortress and we weren’t even there, yet!

Finally, we reached the bottom of the fortress. Woah! That’s still very high up!

If you thought we had a steep climb up the Kapuzinerberg, let me tell you that the walk from the gate (where you pay the entrance fee) to the (Fortress Hohensalzburg) itself is much more work! We couldn’t believe that some people were going up there (and coming down) in their flip-flops. Now, THAT my friends, was a funny sight! Seeing them slipping and sliding out of their shoes and trying to reach the chicken ladder on the other side, or then holding on to the railing along the fortress wall. The road leading up there is not only very steep – OX suspected over 20% climb - , but it’s like a sandy, crushed stone. And let me remind you that it was again about 32° C (90°F)!

Once we made it to the top (the actual fortress), we looked at different buildings: the small chapel, the salt storage (salt was worth more than gold at that time), the blacksmith’s and stalls, the grain storage, etc. We walked across the main market place and then decided we needed some food. What a blessing! We found a lovely spot in one of the outdoor restaurants and ordered a light lunch, and an ice cold beer to wash it down.

Once we were done, we decided to take the guided tour where one is handed a phone and can listen to the explanations in different languages. In front of the entrance, there was a bull made out of steel, I think, and it caught O-X’s attention. After this photo, I had to remind him that the expression was to “take the bull by the horns” and not “by the ears”. Oh well, that looks pretty easy. Anyway, the tour was very interesting and we learned a lot about the many developments the fortress had undergone since it’s been built in 1077. Quite an achievement, I tell you.

Our favourite part of the tour was the walk all the way up to a big platform which offered a breathtaking view of Salzburg and the surrounding area in all of its glory. Absolutely stunning!

The Kapuzinerberg (where we were the day before)

The Mirabell Palace

The cathedral

The salt storage

After the tour, we decided to walk back to the car and drive back to our hotel in Mondsee. Later, we were to meet with Peter and Sonja for a relaxing dinner by the lake, followed by a visit to very nice local bar.

Many laughs and a lot of fun. Can you tell?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I am soooo pissed off!

I came home today after work, and because I was home early, I decided to take my car - which has been in the garage UNUSED since 3 weeks!!! – to get a few heavier things at the grocery store, since Orange-X was on his way back from the south of Switzerland and didn’t know if he’s make it before closing time.

So, I dropped a few things off at home and walked straight to the garage and hopped in the car, drove to the store, picked up what we needed, and walked by the passenger side of the car to get to the trunk to unload the heavy burden. As I passed the rear passenger door, I noticed small dents, scratches and white paint marks ranging from just before the door handle to the mid rear wheel. And not just 1, but about 7-8 of these scratches/dents!!! It is obvious that it was the rear door of a car that was opened and banged against my door. Damn! And it didn’t happen in the grocery store parking because I was parked beside the carts so there was no car beside me.

I immediately understood where it came from. For the past few months, O-X and I have noticed a white Volvo parking randomly in free spaces (I'm sure many others have, too), sometimes in the visitors’ parking, sometimes on free, but rented parking spots (like ours). Remember that I said “white paint marks”? That Volvo is the only white car in the lot and it’s often parked on the right of my car. What is it with people nowadays?!! Don’t they have any respect for other’s property or any sense of decency?? No note, no sorry, no nothin’! I’m fuming!!! I mean, you have insurance coverage for these type of things. I don’t know who the owner of that white Volvo is, but I’ll sure find out.

Look. My car is 13 years old (turning 14 next year) and I lived in the center of Basel for 3 years with nothing but public parkings on the street (we’re talking parallel parking here), close to bars and the red light district, so my car did suffer from a few scratches on front and rear bumpers from unknown, probably a bit drunk drivers, but come on! This is - I thought - a civilized neighbourhood and it’s a housing scheme where you'd expect people to be honest! It’s obvious that he’s/she’s from here, otherwise you don’t even get a key to the parking garage. So a) he’s damaged my (okay, old) car and b) he’s eventually not paying rent for his parking. I'll check on that.

OX and I will go back to the garage later this evening to see if the car is there again. Then, we’ll just leave a note asking to either call us or then come by. Tomorrow, we’ll call the agents to find out whether the license plate owners have a contract for a specific parking space or not. I’ll let Orange do the talking, because it’s safer that way. I just hope that the owner of that Volvo isn't a rude type of person. I don't want this to turn into a messy situation.

I’ll keep you in the loop. Next entry: the Salzburg Fortress (this weekend).

Update: OX found the Volvo parked next to my car again this morning. He checked his rear door and found red paint. We also found out who the owner of the Volvo is and will go by either this evening or tomorrow morning. BTW, the guy is paying rent for the parking, so that's one problem less.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Climbing Salzburg - Part 1

What? You thought Salzburg was flat?? Well, part of it is, but to see some of the sights, you can go the easy way, or not. And with all the calories we had eaten up since we got there, we though it wise to, well, you know, burn a few of those extra calories.

Here's a picture of a beautifully manicured alley leading to a restaurant (I think it's the Kongresshaus, but I'm not sure) in Bad Ischl, a small town where we made a stop before continuing our route towards Salzburg on the Monday morning. I just love this picture. Well done, OX!

On our firstvisit to Salzburg, we decided to just walk through the old town. The fun thing was that we were there during the Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburger Festival). No, we are NOT the kind to run after prominent people, but prefer to leave them their peace and quiet. Let me tell you, though, there were plenty of camera teams and paparazzi everywhere, so they had their share of attention.

Anyhow, once there, we bought a city map and made our way to the most famous and probably oldest streets in Salzburg, namely the Getreidegasse. It’s great for all you (and us) shoppers out there. Every shop has its own emblem made of cast iron and, as you walk along, you’ll find that the side streets, or what often looks like an arcade, will lead you to lovely courtyards with cafés and restaurants.

We picked a side street that led us straight to a cute restaurant where we enjoyed a nice, light lunch while sitting outdoors. At some point, I was telling Orange-X that this was the street where we could find Mozart’s birth house. He looked at me, smiled and said: “Uhm. Yes, I know, sweetheart. We’re sitting right opposite it.” Huh?? Since I had my back to the house, I had missed it completely! Duh! There it is! How could I have mised that?

As we were almost done with lunch and contemplating on visiting this small museum, about 3-4 tourist busses arrived hauling not only your day to day tourist, such as French, British, American, etc., but also a bus full of apprentice Chinese monks. At least, I think they were Chinese. Tibetan, maybe?? Anyway, they all had shaven heads and were wearing orange robes, and everyone – including the other nationalities - was headed straight for Mozart’s birth house. The line was stacking back far into the courtyard where we were sitting, so we decided to skip the museum. We fought our way to get through the “Mozart” fans and finally made it to a bit less crowded areas of the city.

At some point, we got to the Linzergasse and saw a sign directing to a Franciscan monastery up on the Kapuzinerberg, which apparently offered a magnificent view of Salzburg AND, most importantly, had a restaurant where we could enjoy a nice, cold beer! The weather was gorgeous (and very HOT! - about 32°C, or low 90°F), so we started our steep climb up the road and many stairs, then into the woods. There were two routes to choose from. One was 2.2km (road) and the other 1.6km (walking path). We opted for the shorter version, because we were getting thirsty and... Did I mention it was HOT?? We soon discovered that the so called walking path was mostly stairs… Very old stairs that are not fit for legs of a 6’2” O-X! I was fine, but poor Orange really suffered during the first 500 meters climb. How steep was it, you ask? Just have a look... And this was the easy part!

After 45 minutes of zigzagging the steep hills and stairs through the woods (I swear that had to be much more than 1.6km!!), we finally made it to our goal and were totally dehydrated! My first thought was: “It looks so… uhm...empty up here”. I turned around to find an O-X looking at a sign in total disbelief. It read: “Wirtschaft Montag und Dienstag geschlossen” (Restaurant closed Mondays and Tuesdays). You have two guesses… Right! That day was a Monday - those who though Tuesday, were wrong. LOL! So, we were the only idiots (Austrians hardly ever do a climb like that without a liquid rewrd awaiting them!) up there? Almost. The only other humans in sight were a) an art student sitting on a foldable seat - and obviously laughing at us stupid tourists -, drawing the small monastery and b) what we think was the caretaker of the monastery coming back from a walk with his dogs, opening the door to the monastery and closing it right behind him. Frustrated (and still very thirsty), we walked back down again, taking the longer, but much easier road back to the Linzengasse. By that time, our throats felt like sawdust and we went straight for a street café where we first gulped down half a litre of water, then an ice cold “radler” beer (also known as a shandy).

We were getting hungry, so we walked back through small streets and alleys to the old town and started to look out for a nice restaurant. We sat down at the Café Mozart, at the Residenzenplatz, with a direct vew of the fountain. Now this reminds me of one of Ginnie’s posts (sorry, I couldn't find it). Why? Well, she mentioned something about having desert before dinner, and during our stay in Austria, Orange-X totally fell for the classic Eis Kaffee (Ice coffee). No, it’s not a coffee flavoured ice cream, but a strong, hot coffee with 2-3 good scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream to top it off. Well, she mentioned something about having desert before dinner and O-X had not one, but two of these delicious ice coffees before dinner. So what’s wrong with that?! Want a spoonfull??

We had a very nice dinner there, and made our way back through the beautiful old town to our car, then to the hotel.

Do you think that’s it? No way! We had much more climbing to do. Wait until you hear about the climb up the Salzburger fortress, Hohensalzburg!
BTW, if you look at OX's photo as "captain of the ship" closely (click to enlarge) you'll see part of me in his sunglasses. Next weekend, we're in Holland! :D
PS: I'll be adding a link with all the picts of this trip (except the X-rated ones, of course;)) in my last entry.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The moment you've been waiting for... Mondsee, Austria

A promise is a promise – And I thought it would be a simple task to keep up with the blogging after our return from Austria… Well, at least keeping up with my blogroll, and not even that went as I had expected. Anyway, I’ll catch up, but you know how it is. Not even 24 hours after coming home from Austria, Orange –X picked up his parents from the Basel airport and spent a great deal of time talking the evenings away, enjoyed watching DVDs together, and a whole lot of delicious cooking… More about that in a later post.

So now, I have the pleasure of going back 4 weeks in time to tell you about our holiday in Austria. Let me rewind the clock and let's go back to August 8th, shall we?

We drove off around 9:30 on the Saturday morning when the skies were covered with grey clouds and a soft rain was coming down, and made our way towards Mondsee (Moon Lake), a small idyllic town about 25 km outside Salzburg.

We finally arrived at our lovely Gasthof short before 5pm and found out that there was the “Seefest” (festival of the Lake) that weekend. The weather was so beautiful that we decided to have a drink on the “main strip” of the village (200 feet long), relax from the drive and do some people watching before going down to the lake where the festivities would take place that evening and the next day. The village buildings are so colourful and well kept that you’d think you’re in a movie. By the way, the church from Mondsee was the setting for the wedding scene in "The Sound of Music". Who'd have thunk?!

Anyway, on our way through the parking arranged for the festivities at the lake, we walked by this car. Was that the band that was to play that evening? I have no clue. So we went our way, watching the small stands with all sorts of goodies being prepared, people testing the lights and making sound-checks for the live bands that would appear on stage that evening, etc. They had also put up a 120 meter (almost 400 feet) crane for bungee jumping and were testing the ropes with different weights. We were both quite impressed by the all organisation efforts of such a small community (approx. 3’000 inhabitants), but we were told later on that in July and August, there was some kind of event almost every weekend and most were very well frequented both by tourists and locals. After our first quick sightseeing tour, we met with Peter and Sonja (business partners of OX) for a quick drink before dinner and they gave us a fantastic restaurant tip for the next evening where we could watch the fireworks from a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake.

We walked back to the village to have dinner and decided to go back to the party afterwards. We got to the lake just in time for the band to start playing. I must say they were quite good and played a good range of styles. There were stands with food and drinks everywhere, the weather was getting a bit cool, but totally acceptable and the atmosphere was fantastic. The age group ranged from small kids, to teens to 85 plus, which we found was an excellent sign. You know what? So many of them were wearing the traditional clothing and not only the older generations, but also the younger were proud to show off their “Lederhosen” and “Dirndls”. At some point, the humidity of the cold grass was getting to my back and we walked back to our little Gasthof for a good night of rest.

The next day at breakfast, we discussed whether we should go for a boat tour on the lake, or then maybe just lazily lie on the beach and suck up some sun, or have a look at the range of events offered at the lake fair. Decisions, decisions! Once at the lake, we saw that the beach was already pretty crowded, but they also had a choice of boat tours – along with gazillions of other passengers - and small electric boats to rent. We opted for the latter. A perfect combination of romantic, peace and being on the water! Helga - that was the name of our boat – took us for a one and a half hour tour of the lake. Captains were Orange-X and yours truly. The surroundings are really beautiful and are worth seeing from another perspective (the lake), even more so considering the gorgeous, hot weather we had. But, hot sun makes one thirsty, so as soon as we docked back on shore, we headed straight to the festivities for a nice, cold beer. Aaah! Burp.... Ooops…. S’cuse us! :-)

Of course, nothing would be really Austrian without an Austrian band, right? Well, we had us some of that, too.

Later that evening, we had a taxi pick us up from the hotel to take us here. The food was excellent, the service very friendly and the view over the lake was breathtaking. Believe it or not, after entrees and main course, OX decided to have the cheese plate as desert. Does he look happy, or what? After the fireworks, we had a digestif and went to our hotel to get some rest.

Have you had enough? Just asking, because we still have 2 days of Salzburg, 2 days at Pinky's (incl. Chris alias "Kevin" live at Backstage) and another day in Bavaria with Andreas and Suze.

We'll be back... Maybe I can get OX to do the next post. We'll see.