einen blog

Monday, July 31, 2006


I finally moved into a permanent place and no longer live in a pension with 40 women. I have my own kitchen, bathroom and balcony. I'm exhausted from moving in > 38C heat. the day I bought furniture and put it in my house it was the hottest day in 146 years. not as hot as Arizona, but still.....

anyway, I love my apartment. it is right on the border between two city districts known as "kreise 3 and kreise 4" (kreise translates to circle). So I live officially in kreise 3 which is kind of posh and quiet (top picture), but I'm on the edge of kreise 4 which is roudy, filled with italians, the red light district and lots of yummy cheap eats (bottom picture). these pictures are from my balcony -

some other apartment pluses are large rooms and a dishwasher:

the building is narrow and tall, so there is only 3 apartments. it turns out this may be the best part about the place....some co-workers were telling me that in their buildings they have a laundry schedule to accomodate the large number of apartments (and small number of washng machines) and are only allowed to launder every 2 weeks!!! sometimes they go on vacation and miss their laundry day and can't do laundry for almost a month.

anyway, back to narrow and tall, here's my beautiful building -

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

oh babel fish, you have failed us

a little pre-explanation: my new friend C. is french but speaks english and doesn't speak any german. C and I have been looking at couches at ikea and trying to figure out costs in the US, France, Germany, and Switzerland because some things are differently priced in each country. I'm pretty set on the regular Ektorp (~$700), while Caroline was set on the Ektorp 2+2 corner couch (~$1200).

Anyway, she was convinced she could find it cheaper in germany and while surfing came across this:

Bezug Ikea Ektorp 2+2 Eck- o. Eckbettsofa blau NEU 55 Euros

which Babel Fish translated to

In English:
Purchase Ikea Ektorp 2+2 hitting a corner o. hitting a corner bed sofa blue NEW

and while she thought it was too good to be true, she went ahead and made her first ebay purchase ever, signed up for Paypal (also a first) then came and told me about it. I thought it was strangely low and she would surely end up getting scammed in some way. Nope, just Babel Fish leading people astray with the two meaning words...

Bezug = purchase
Bezug = cover

so now C. owns an expensive couch cover but no couch.....

couch surfing

I finally found an apartment and I get to move in another 1.5 weeks. And by move, I mean myself, a suitcase and a bicycle because I have nothing else. None of my boxes have arrived yet (still?). I'm starting to get worried that the slow boat from San Francisco sank taking my books, pillows, and shoes with it....anyway, I also have no furniture so the other new post-doc, Caroline, and I have been furniture shopping. At first we went to real furniture stores - mmm leather sofas, scandinavian designed chairs and artistic light fixtures. Here's one sofa we looked at. it only costs $10,000, and while I now have a real job, it doesn't pay that well!

So we went the opposite direction, to the flea market

Unfortunately, they didn't have much in the way of furniture. So while I can decorate with cowbells and swiss kisch, I will have to buy my furniture from ikea....

some things are the same

Berkeley vs Zurich

so most of the things I want to talk about are the things that are different here, but in reality many things the same as in berkeley. There are crazy people (er, nomads) that hang out at the train station and try to talk to you. Food and drink can be expensive, or inexpensive if you know where to look. Everyone likes Indian food and the Chinese food is cheap and filled with MSG. There are bicycles everywhere. And then I saw this, and I couldn't believe I was in europe. however, it may be a better design than the hot diggity dogger......

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I need to learn to read, write and speak german! There are some practical reasons (making friends, filling out paperwork, ordering in a restaurant), but right now I am most concerned with understanding this billboard. It is everywhere and I see it about 50 times a day - anorexic cow, fat child.....

Monday, July 03, 2006

Knitting train

Because I was so ill last week, I am still without any friends to have weekend fun with. So instead of sitting around the women's boarding house feeling sorry for myself, I decided to get out of town. I wanted to see some mountains, some glaciers and some castles. So, without looking anything up in the lonely planet or using Kurt's list of places, I went to the train station and got on the train that was leaving 2 minutes later. Ah, Bellinzona, I've never heard of you, but you are sure to be wonderful.....anyway, a photo for the knitters aboard the train

the little old lady sitting across from me was absolutely fascinated by the knitting and didn't speak any english so chattered away at me in german, alternately touching the yarn, petting the scarf and attempting to decipher the pattern.

this train was about a mile long and filled with minis, but I didn't manage to get a shot until the end

and Bellinzona, a city with 3 castles in the Ticino region, renowned for its merlot (very good) and food specialty consisting of thin sliced veal topped with tuna fish salad (gross). I ordered the latter after an exchange in broken italian that went something like, me: "insalata mista...", waiter: "especiale??", me :"insalata mista...", waiter: "especiale??", me: "okay, especiale....y vino"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My new bank

Yes, I do have a swiss bank account now. But, which Swiss bank did I choose?

The main branches of all the banks are on this street called the Bahnestrasse, which is also the main super-posh shopping street (Cartier, Tiffany, etc). I hadn't quite figured out the tram system here yet, so I'm tooling along down the street on the tram looking out the windows at the banks: UBS, Credite Swiss, Bank Leu, when I realize the road is about to end so I get off at the next stop and see this:

I love the Rhino! I must bank here!

I couldn't take pictures inside, but it was fancy (reflection pool, all leather furniture). My favorite thing about my new bank is that when you walk in an attendant comes up to you and asks you what kind of business you will be doing today and then hands you a number. Then instead of waiting in line, you lounge on leather furniture by the reflection pool with some schmancy people with dogs not even in their purses, some of them smoking cuban cigars, until your number is called. Which was only a couple of minutes and they apologized for the delay.