Monday, 19 November 2007

Public-transport heaven

A visit to the Verkehrshaus der Schweis in Luzern was my first big outing to Switzerland. Went with the school, which meant about 40 pre-teens, three wonderful teachers (including the lovely M), and me.

We made use of the highly efficient Swiss transport system - appropriately so given our destination - catching three trains, a bus, and a boat. Needless to say, they were all on time.

The kids were sweet and I liked the group instantly, for no better reason than that a significant proportion of them were shorter than me. However, during of the course of the day, my eardrums became more and more sensitive (when boys are shorter than me, it usually means their voices haven´t broken yet), and by the end of it I was glad that I usually teach the older kids, for all their teenage misdemeanours.

At the museum itself, I found myself entranced by the trains, and barely gave the automobile, aeroplane and space-travel sections any attention. Cars and planes are merely a means to an end; trains however, are full of suggestive possibilities...

After lunch, saw my first Imax film: Deep Sea, which promised narration by the delectable Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. But their German counterparts were incomprehensible to me, so I switched off my ears and looked at all the pretty fishies.

There was just enough time to go and check out the massive 2D map of Switzerland. Well, there would have been more time, except it took me at least half an hour to find the wing where it was located. (Sometimes it´s hard to believe I´m Pim´s daughter.)

It was fun being a giant walking over the landscape - I was able to find Liechtenstein, after much searching - although in the end it all felt a little flat. (Okay, sometimes it´s not that hard to believe I´m related to Pim!)

A boat took us across Lake Luzern back to the station, and I managed to take a lot of random pictures of water and houses; lose the school group - and I thought I was supposed to be helping to look after them!; find them again; hop on the train with seconds to spare; and then collapse into a fitful sleep for the home journey.

New interactive feature

I´ve been slack in updating this blog. So I thought I should give my readers a reason to visit more often. Vote now in my first "German-English" poll... Results will be posted in one month!

Monday, 05 November 2007

Second visit

3 September 2007

I hadn´t even been here a fortnight when I received my second visitor, Rude Larry, who arrived from Dubai via Zurich. I was still a Liech newbie at the time, so we explored together, which meant we headed to The Castle Inn to drink some beer.

Then we wandered around Vaduz; looked at the princely castle from afar - it seemed too much of an effort to walk up to it; and went for a stroll by the Rhein - my default entertainment for visitors. Hardly a big day out, but I suspect Rude Larry was happy as his namesake that the Kunstmuseum is closed on Mondays.

To liven things up a bit I booked us a ride on the Citytrain (actually a bus, go figure!). So we spent half an hour driving around to all the places which we had already seen by foot, accompanied by commentary that was hilarious in German, amusing in French, and rather less entertaining by the time we listened to the English version. Not 10 Francs I´ll be spending again in a hurry.

Time to sup and suip. We ate at a sedate local "pub" and then ventured off to another one down the road, that F-X had informed me was a little more "rough". It was, if possible, even more sedate than the first one. "Sedate" as in the other clientele seemed more likely to be mistaken for our grandparents than our parents. So we gave up the hunt for a party; drank some wodka (actually it was rum & coke, I just wanted to use the word "wodka"); and reminisced about the good old bad old days at the House of Earthly Delights.

Whenever I see the Citytrain, I think of Rude Larry... Don´t forget about the prize on offer for my 20th visitor. And why would you want to visit? Keep reading my blog for future posts about wild student parties: featuring Hungarian wine, Italian cheese and hot Czech girls.

Visitor count: Mim, Pim, Rude Larry (3)

Sunday, 04 November 2007

Random fact of the week

At Zurich Hauptbahnhof you have to pay to use the toilets. They´re maintained by a company called McClean.

The facilities are indeed sparkling clean. But it costs CHF1 to use them if you´re a guy, and a whole CHF2 if you´re a woman. This didn´t make me feel clean, even when I was sitting on the cute little chair in front of the pristine mirror and powdering my nose to get my money´s worth; it made me feel that it´s a pretty dirty thing to be female.

Wherefore art thou, Megageth?

Little over a month ago, I finally bought myself a laptop - long overdue, as anyone who knew my prehistoric desktop with its manky keyboard can attest to. I made this purchase in Chur at the Media Markt, which made me feel as if I were an extra in The Simpsons.

Buying a computer in a foreign language isn´t easy. And if you´re a Luddite like me, buying a computer is never easy, even in your mother tongue. Oh, why did I not follow through with my original plan of asking Megageth to help me before I left SA?

Somehow managed to choose a model that didn´t break the bank, although I think it might break my back carrying it around. Creditcard cameras are so 20th century - what I really want is a creditcard computer. But you can´t quite get those yet, at least not within my price range... So am now the proud owner of a shiny new Toshiba Satellite L40-12X.

As the sales assistant quickly discovered, my decision was primarily based upon the fact that the laptop was "cheap". But 20 minutes of negotiation wasn´t enough for him to grasp the contradictions of my personality, even though his English was decent.

When it came to choosing a laptop bag, he had his priorities all wrong. "This one is very cheap!" he beamed, pointing at a particularly nasty speciman. I defiantly chose a Samsonite case, which was far from cheap. Style over substance, baby!

When I got home, I managed to switch on computer; install Windows Vista ("Are you sure you want the English version?" Bill Gates asked me. "Yes!" I clicked, with some irritation); connect to the Internet; download Firefox; download Adobe; download iTunes ("Will you sell your soul to Apple?" Steve Job asked me. "Yes!" I clicked, "Now where is my free MacBook Pro?); and download AVG - all by myself. Sorted, and not such a Luddite after all. I still have to buy a copy of Word though - it sucks not being a student.