Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sailing the Zurichsee

When we first got here, I purchased a month-long public transit card and an inexpensive Junior Card for Thomas. Little kids are free. We have used these passes almost constantly. On Tuesday, we took a two hour trip around the top of Lake Zurich on this shuttle boat.

Here is a bit of the shoreline at one of the stops.

 There are tables to sit at inside, but the boys had more fun on the breezy, chilly deck. 

I was very glad no one fell overboard!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Swiss Grocery Quiz

Grocery shopping in a foreign country is always an adventure, especially when you don't know much of the language. Fortunately, most packaging includes some French, and so I have a pretty good idea what I am buying. It also helps that German and English are related. As I was practicing the word for baking powder (backpulver) I suddenly realized where the word pulverize comes from.

Jogurt anyone?

For the first half of today's quiz, take a look at the items in the photo. I picked these up at the local grocery store last week. Which do you think costs more, a four-pack of yogurt, a single garbage bag from a roll of 10, or four-pack of baking powder? Answer: they are about the same. I think the yogurt cost a few cents more, and the baking powder a few cents less.

After I purchased the  garbage bags I was a bit sticker-shocked. These official Zurich bags--the ones you must use--cost more than two dollars each. The ones I use at home cost two cents. Then, I realized this was a smart way to fund garbage removal. You pay for exactly the amount of garbage you produce.

Here is the second half of your quiz. Look closely at this receipt and see how many items you can recognize. And please don't judge my extravagant fish purchase!

From Thomas:What we did on the boat ride.

 this is when we were eating bread,and apples. We also ate some bread at the dock,well we were waiting.

 this is when we finished the bread.

 this is when we were outside,on the boat.
(mommy took this puture,when me,and my brothers where next to her)

 this is one of the Moutains  we saw on the boat ride.

this is another puture of when we were outside.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Public Transit Theater

Sometimes, we are the entertainment. I can't really help that. I just have to hope that people are enjoying it. 

I got distracted on the tram ride home yesterday. My mind was wandering, and then George pointed out that we were at our stop. I thought we would probably have to miss it and walk back, but I hurried to get the brake off the stroller and get the boys over to the door. Somehow, we made it out. That was when I realized this was not our stop. Our stop was next. 

But the tram hadn't moved yet, and so I shuffled the boys back on. We rode to the next stop and switched trams.

When we got off at our stop, I suggested to the boys that we take a slightly different route home. I told them it would only be a little longer and we would get to explore a little bit. Their reaction was quite negative. As the mom, I decided this meant they needed more experience with variety, and so I insisted. 

I started walking. They froze. I told them "see you later!" And the whining became yells of agony. We could not take a different route home. I was so, so mean!!! The people sitting at the tram stop were enjoying this. I continued walking. Finally, George came, and then Thomas. 

Thomas was furious. He came fast and loud, and then he threw his plastic water bottle at me as hard as he could. It bounced off, landing on the tracks in front of the tram. Thomas was ready to lunge for it...

No!!! I yelled. Stay there! Stay there! Stay there! The water bottle settled on a rail. I was ready to see it flattened. At least Thomas was safe. I looked up at the tram. 

The driver looked amused. He waved me over to get the bottle. I retrieved it, the tram went by, and the scene ended. 

We continued on our way and the whining eventually subsided. It helped when George found a new drinking fountain.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Google Zurich

Last Friday we had lunch with Jeremy at his office here. Beforehand he gave us a tour. This place is over-the-top! The central offices in Mountain View hardly compare. 

We got to visit some of the themed rooms and go down a twisty slide between floors (It was fun and fast! Unfortunately, Theodore was slightly traumatized...), and Jeremy showed me the nap room where he took a snooze in a generously padded bathtub. I couldn't take pictures inside, but if you're curious, here are some published photos inside Google's Zurich office. Be warned, it is awesome.

Near the end of our visit, Jeremy made sure to remind me that his job really is hard. 


Journey to Lenzburg Castle

On Saturday we took a couple of trams and a train to Lenzburg so we could see the castle there. 

We made it on the train just in time. Here is Jeremy, looking relieved. 

Because the castle was nearly a whole mile from the train station, we had to stop for refreshment. We had Apples, cheese, and butter braid bread, as well as water from the drinking fountain (hint: if you can't see it, look for the huge thing with flowers on top).

Here we are, hiking through the scenic part of the town.

Here is the castle. It is on an impressively steep hill. I motivated George for the climb by telling him they built it there to keep out the invading army...and we were there to invade. We would succeed because we were mighty.

There are a lot of things to see inside, but the most fun for the kids was the children's museum. There were clothes for dress up...

an ornate, wonky mirror...

a play castle, suit of armor, and more.

After playing, we crossed this walkway to the dungeon.

We did not leave anyone there.

Here is a view of Lenzburg from the battlements.

And then we headed out across the drawbridge.


As George is pointing out in this photo, there are actually two drawbridges.

On our way out, we took a different route, right around the base of the castle. It's kind of amazing to see it balancing there. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ice Cream

The other day we brought home some cheap grocery store ice cream. When I was unimpressed, Jeremy said "Well, the Swiss aren't exactly known for their ice cream." So, a couple of days later we picked up some gelato to share. It was amazing. Hurray for Italy.

According to Jeremy's poll of one of his co-workers. Switzerland does produce some good ice cream. His preferred brand is Movenpick (cost at the local grocer: approximately $12 a quart), but he actually likes Ben and Jerry's better. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

George's Favorite Things to Do in Zurich

George is really enjoying our trip so far. Some days this is easier on his parents than others. Here are some of George's favorite things to do in Zurich:

Ride the tram.

Ring all of our neighbors' doorbells at once.

Touch every item in the grocery store.

Eat yogurt.

Eat yogurt.

Eat ice cream.


Find a roll someone has left outside and take a bite.

Get a drink out of every drinking fountain he sees. (Yes! This is a drinking fountain. In Switzerland they are also decorative, and each one is different.)

Find new things, like "a sidewalk for mouses."

Check out the local scene from his scooter.

Take pictures.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Zurich Zooh!

(I have been trying to figure out why there is an 'h' in Zurich Zooh! The German word for zoo is "zoo.")

 This is a shoebill. They are huge! And very serious-looking. This one was about as tall as Thomas.

Henry watched the action from the bottom level of the stroller while his brothers went down the big zoo slide.

Here is a fun German word. Actually, most German words are extra-fun somehow.

These brothers are cute.

This bird was not huge. Nor was it a resident of the zoo. It came to visit with us.

Thomas's monkey skills are surprisingly good.

According to the sign. Orangutan means "wild man."

 This woman was extremely nice and very patient with our boys. They got to play some games and learn about gorilla food at her station.

This is an awesome little gravel and water play area. Just around the corner, the boys got to ride a zip line!

Um, this is a grate.

Everybody had a good time. I think we tired them out, though.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

From Thomas: What we already did Switzerlind.

In Switzerlind,I stayed in a two floor apartment! we also rode two difrent number trams:10 & 6.  we also got to go to a zoo.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Commuting in Zurich

I managed to borrow a bicycle from one of my coworkers for the three weeks that we're here in Zurich. Public transit is good in the area, but it's still faster to bike.

The routes aren't great though, there are lots of distractions:

And a few roads were way too skinny to fit cars, bicycles and trains going both ways:

Fortunately, the drivers of both trains and automobiles are very polite to cyclists and pedestrians.


The boys were unimpressed by the large display of Pennsylvania beer over the decades at the airport in Philadelphia.

The children's play area was rather more appreciated... was the airport pizza when Dad finally brought it to the table.

Two airplanes

Flying on airplanes for 15 hours went surprisingly well. We didn't even have to pull out any electronics until about 6 hours in.