Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The excitement continues...

We made it

So on Saturday we decided to see if it was possible to get to IKEA without a car - it is. It is not, however, easy to get to IKEA without a car - oh no. Mr K figured out our route online and we printed off our itinerary of train, regional train, bus and set out for Bern. Before leaving, we grabbed sandwiches and cokes - this was to prove to be very smart move as we were going to be needing those calories later.

Our on-train entertainment was listening to a couple American students chatting - and this was the first time in at least 6 months I've heard someone use the phrase, "And so I was like, whatever, you know."

We got to Bern in good time and, after a couple minutes' worth of confused wandering, we found the track for the little regional train - which would be leaving in 25 minutes. Rather than standing around, we went off to find the hot pretzel counter where we bought and rapidly consumed a giant buttered pretzel. Just like it sounds, this was a big salted pretzel that was sliced in half and spread with mounds of fresh, cool butter - it was heaven! Our tanks full once again, we headed back to the gate just as our tiny train pulled up. We took our seats and, in ten minutes, were on our way back out of Bern.

The fun started when we got to the little village where we were supposed to catch the bus to IKEA only to discover the next bus wouldn't arrive for another two hours. We checked the little map and saw IKEA was only four bus stops away. Mr K and his coworker popped into the grocery for cold drinks and directions and then we set out.

The girl at the grocery said something like "Go right, go left, go through the forest and you're there - you do have a car, don't you?"

We walked and walked, passing cows and green fields on both sides. We were pretty convinced we were going the wrong way, but it was a beautiful day and we had nothing else planned, so we just enjoyed the walk. This was the first place we've walked here without sidewalks, so we stuck to the side of the road.
Here you can see our route from the regional train station...

We finally arrived at the forest and, just a matter of minutes later, at IKEA. We arrived at 3:45 only to find they close at 5:00 on Saturday. No matter - at least we made it! We rushed madly through IKEA, and while Mr K and his buddy stood in line, I made the obligatory hot dog run since the hot dogs were easily 50% of our desire to go in the first place... I don't know why, but they just taste better after the stress of IKEA-shopping. We headed back out and caught the bus back to the regional train station, then caught the regional train four minutes later. Upon arriving in Fribourg, we picked up Chinese for dinner (ugh too much food) and swore to never eat again as we munch and sorted through our loot.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable day and the walk was probably the best part.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another exciting day

Originally uploaded by hellomizk
So last night we're on our way to jiu jitsu on our trusty 7:30 bus. As always, it was crowded with people heading home for the day, but we were lucky enough to snag a couple seats right in the front. A rumpled-looking guy with a beer got on and took a seat near ours. Holding a beer in one hand, he gestured wildly with the other, pausing occasionally to talk to the empty space next to him. As the bus started moving, he continued chatting with himself while flipping off the nothing outside the bus window.

But that wasn't the really exciting part.

Out the right-hand window, we saw a car approaching the bus and signaling his intention to make a left turn.

But that wasn't the really exciting part, either.

The car's driver was looking to the right and, in his looking, managed to completely not see the huge bus directly in front of him, which he promptly drove right into the side of. This was the first auto accident of any kind we've witnessed since we moved here a year ago. As the driver realized what had happened, his jaw dropped and he covered his mouth with one hand - a poignant expression of "oh meeeeerde".

But that was only the semi-exciting part.

As we all looked out the window, flames started shooting up from the hood and wheelwells of the car.

Now, that was the exciting part.

Everyone started gasping and, as one body, all the passengers stood up and rapidly headed for one of the three exits of the bus. Our exit out the front door was only mildly hampered by the bus driver trying to pull a fire extinguisher from some hidden spot near his seat. The bus emptied in about 30 seconds, at which point all the passengers stopped, opened their umbrellas, and stood in the rain to watch the burning car. (We did, too) Of course, neither Mr K nor I had a camera with us, so all I have for you is the poorly-made dramatic re-enactment to the right.

Two police happened to be right there, so one started directing traffic while the other talked to the drivers and kicked random exploded pieces of bumper and headlight out of the road and under the bus. The driver of the car was unharmed and the bus was barely dented, so there were no injuries to anything other than vehicles. We watched for a few more minutes before catching the next bus to class.

Ta da!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is Music

Wandering through the Youtubes tonight, I hunted down a bunch of my favorite old songs and something struck me - this stuff is OLD! I was amazed that several of my favorites were 8, 10, 12+ years old. I remember when these things came out and, despite my terminally poor memory, I actually remember them pretty vividly.

The whole video-adventure started with Spiritualized "Do It All Over Again." In my brain, the album that song came from is still 'the new Spiritualized' (to differentiate it from Ladies and Gentlemen We're Floating in Space, Pure Phase, etc I guess). As I'm murmuring along with the lyrics, I notice the video is from 2001. If asked, I probably would have guessed I got this no more than three years ago. In some ways, it seems like my time in Virginia didn't ever register on my mental timeline.

I also found video of a show I was at way back when I lived in Atlanta (the video isn't dated, but I'm almost 100% sure this was the show I went to. I think I've seen them three times, but I forget.) I remember Acetone was the opening band and it was one of the best shows I ever saw.

A few more of the favorites I found:

Verve "Gravity Grave" (Seen live once)
Lush "Hypocrite" (Never saw live)
Slowdive "Ballad of Sister Sue" (Never saw live; saw Mojave 3 live)
The Cure "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea (Live from 1992)" (Seen live seven or so times)
Placebo "The Bitter End" and also "Song to Say Goodbye" (possibly the saddest video I've ever seen)
Radiohead "Karma Police" (seen live twice - one small show, one huge show)
Catherine Wheel "Judy Staring at the Sun" (Seen just once live, at the old Cotton Club)

I miss going to concerts. If you're reading this, did we ever go to a show together? If so, what did we see? All my ticket stubs have gone black with age...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Part the Third: Scotland

Edinburg Rain
Originally uploaded by Arsmor
We're now approaching one of the highlights of the trip - the ferry ride to Scotland! I've never been on a big boat before (at least not that I can remember) so this was a new one for me. The boat had a couple little restaurants, a shop, and most importantly a video-game arcade! I tried to talk Mr K into a game of Dance Dance Revolution but, upon further reflection, we decided jumping up and down on a raised platform on a moving boat on some choppy water might not be our smartest move. We walked around, looked off the back of the boat, had some snacks, walked around some more, and did a little bit of reading to pass the 2.5 hour trip.

We arrived in Scotland and drove three to four hours (can't remember) to the crappiest bed and breakfast I've ever seen in my life. The house had a lot of potential from the outside, but all that fell apart when we got in. Mr K spent most of the night removing tiny spiders from his bed - they were obviously as cold as we were, which comes as no surprise when you hear that the heat in our room didn't work at all. The windows were frosted over on the inside! I spent the night sleeping in jeans, socks, and a sweater and trying not to roll out of my steeply-tilted bed and onto the ice-cold floor.

We got up in the morning and quickly took our hot, but entirely pressureless showers before heading down to breakfast. The hostess made a nice breakfast but the sense we were inconveniencing her that she exuded made it a bit harder to enjoy - as did the mild burns we sustained while trying to remove the blazing hot plates she left in a plate heater for us, while she took the oven mitt with her.

We spent the next day exploring Edinburgh Castle, which was really really amazing. We had a great day and were all dreading the return to the B&B.

We decided to leave extra early the following morning to get Mr K and I to the airport and Mom and Dad to the rental car return followed by the train station. We opted to settle our bill that night since we were leaving at six the following morning. The hostess gave us the total, which we were surprised to hear was double what we had expected (and 30 pounds PER room PER night over what local hotels charged...). There was really nothing we could do, so we paid up, packed up, and left the next day, the four of us swearing off bed and breakfasts for all future vacations. Despite the poorly run and dilapidated B&B, we still had a nice time and I think we would definitely go back to Scotland (to a hotel, of course).

After a pleasantly uneventful flight back, Mr K and I were happy to once again be in Switzerland. Seeing snow on the mountains from the window of our train coming home was a nice added treat!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Part Two: Northern Ireland

Why yes, I am a slacker when it comes to updating sometimes. My parents are still here visiting, and between cooking and walking and visiting, I've been having too much fun to keep up with my little bloggie like I should.

So from Ireland, we headed to Northern Ireland for two days. We stayed at another bed and breakfast. There was nothing hugely wrong with this one, but it was just really blah. The house was completely uninteresting as was the breakfast. It seemed like every radiator in the house was topped by a sachet of potpourri and I found the smell overpowering but no one else noticed, so I might just have an overly sensitive nose. It wasn't an unpleasant place to stay, rather it was just unremarkable.

Our first big touristy goal was a tour of the Bushmills Distillery which was really interesting. The inside of the building smelled phenomenal - like whiskey and wood and fresh air - Yankee Candles needs to take a trip our there and work on a candle because it would be a great scent for at home.

We had a little lunch and headed out to see the Giant's Causeway. The weather was crisp and clear and the mist from the water made rainbows in every direction. Mr K took a ton of pictures. At one point, in order to get a better view, Mr K and my dad went scurrying up the rock, which went fine until my dad managed to descend a bit quicker than he had originally planned, sustaining some interesting scrapes and bruises in the process. We got him on the bus and back up the hill and into the car and headed back to the B&B to relax and get band-aids and aspirin. On the way back, we stopped to take a break since it was a pretty long drive and Mr K and I stumbled on some really cool old ruins. We walked around for about 20 minutes and then piled back into the car.

We were all hungry, but dad wasn't feeling so hot, so we skipped finding a restaurant for dinner - which worked for me as we got KFC to go instead! I haven't had KFC in over a year and it was a pleasantly unhealthy treat. Back at the B&B we had a little KFC picnic, spreading our wealth of chicken fingers, popcorn chicken, french fries, coleslaw, baked beans, beer, and cookies all out on a fluffy white towel. After eating everyone got some sleep in preparation for our trip to Scotland the following morning...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

First in a series : Ireland

Well, hello!

We're back from our vacation after many adventures - some good and some bad, but all exciting! I'll be breaking this up into a number of smaller posts for ease of reading for you and typing for me.

We started our vacation in Trim, outside of Dublin, at a beautiful B&B called Highland House. This was to be the beginning of a downward-slope of B&B quality, but we'll get to more on that later.

Mom and dad met us at the airport in Dublin, where we all piled in the car and marveled at the mis-placed steering wheel and pedals - crazy stuff! At first the GPS unit the car came with wasn't working, but a couple changes to the wires set everything right and we were soon on our way.

The B&B was just perfect! Mr K managed to contract my cold while at the airport in Geneva and was feeling pretty bad by the time we arrived in Dublin. The beautifully-accented owner of the B&B welcomed us inside and, when she heard Mr K was ill, gave him a pat on the arm and said she would be right back with a warm whiskey - it was delicious. Thus fortified, we headed out to walk into town and see what there was to eat. We found a promising-looking Indian restaurant and, since Mr K and I have been craving good Indian for months, mom and dad went along with it despite an unfamiliarity with Indian cuisine. The restaurant was beautiful and the food really, really tasty. We had butter chicken, chicken korma, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori chicken washed down with Cobra beers. The woman working the door seemed to be new (maybe to this restaurant, possibly to the whole concept of restaurants and food in general). This led to one of the funnier experiences of our trip. Mr K ordered a second beer from her and, looking confused, she went off to find one. When she came back to our table, she set down a glass, poured half the beer - and then, taking the still half-full bottle with her, wandered off. That beer didn't end up on our check, so no harm done I suppose.

The next morning we woke up and had a tasty Irish Breakfast before crossing the street to explore Trim Castle. The weather was perfect and we were all happily full from breakfast. We walked around for about an hour and a half before catching the bus into Dublin.

We walked around Dublin for a few hours, doing a little shopping and a lot of people watching. I was beyond overjoyed to find whole stores of books in English, but I was good and only picked up a couple. We had a nice lunch and walked some more, before heading back. All told, we walked just about six miles on our first day - not too bad! For dinner, we had sandwiches and soups before heading back to go to sleep before 10 PM - a trend we continued for the duration of the trip.

From here we headed to Northern Ireland - come back soon for more stories!