Weekend Catch-up

Due to the fact it rained most of May, and then Soph was gone through most of June, the summer has quickly descended upon us and is quietly slipping away. As I view every weekend at home to be a wasted opportunity, we've actually been doing quite a lot of late, but I haven't had much time to update the blog; that said, here are some of the until-now-unwritten highlights of the past month and a half...


Lausanne is a city about 40 minutes away by train; many guidebooks say it’s better than Geneva, and as we still hadn’t been there, I figured it was time to see what all the hype was about. A short ride later, I stepped out of the station platform prepared to be blown away, only to discover it was…well, ok. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still kind of a cool city – but I’m going to have to give props to Geneva, as there just seems to be more personality here.

That said, we had a good time walking around, and even better than that, shopping. While Geneva is a high-end shopper’s paradise, Lausanne is more of a middle-class shopper’s paradise. You’re not going to get anything original, but it won’t break the bank on you - so that was kind of fun, although it feels weird to go to another city and end up shopping when you’re there to sightsee. In our defense, we did sightsee first, so we fulfilled our travel obligations and didn’t have to feel guilty about it.


We used another one of our recent weekends to hit Chamonix, better known as "the town by Mt. Blanc". Mt. Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe, which is kind of cool when you think about all the places around here with mountains. Anyway – it was a cute town and all that, but what was more important, is that we got to go to a French grocery store afterwards, as we had rented a car for the afternoon! Sad, I know – but we don’t get to see cool things like "selection" and "name brands" in Switzerland, especially not for the low prices the French are asking. Our friend Ryan, who came with us, stated it best when he said "it’s the first time I’ve been at a supermarket here where I’ve actually been able to make a choice." We actually lost Soph at one point because she heard there was bacon, and disappeared into the melee of consumers who were also buying stuff to sneak into Switzerland. Good way to spend a weekend! (Note: thanks Heather for the Chamonix pic, as we didn’t take any of our own!)


Switzerland, for whatever reason, doesn’t get a lot of mainstream musicians touring through. My theory on this is one of simple demographics, as the population of all Switzerland like 10 million people, meaning even the biggest cities here are smaller than mid-level US cities. That said, what the Swiss do instead is they host massive musical festivals, the most famous being the Montreaux Jazz Festival. As that’s way over in Montreaux (a whole hour away!), and another festival (Paleo) is right outside of Geneva, we opted for the closer one, because we’re lazy.

The bands weren’t very good, but it was fun – it was hosted in a series of open fields with multiple stages. We met some friends, and probably spent more time just hanging out than actually listening to music; good stuff. I have to say it’s somewhat amusing to hear a Swedish band come to Switzerland and speak to the crowd in English; yet another reason to put off the ol’ French studies! The only other notable observation is that either I’m getting old at a more rapid pace than I expected, or kids here start smoking at a much younger age than they did in my day. I’m sure I saw 14-year olds with packs of cigarettes and cans of beer…although in Switzerland’s defense, they allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, which is awesome.

Fete de Musique

This was a little local thing that happened awhile back. It was random unknown bands playing in various parks throughout Geneva, all free. The idea is that for the entire weekend, anyone can go anywhere on the street and play music – there are stages set up to host bands, but you also get random people coming together and making noise. Great idea, and in a three-hour span, Sophia and I saw a Greek classical / folk ensemble, some electronic stuff, a French heavy metal band, a funk band, and an awesome Latin troupe who just set up in the middle of the street and worked the crowd like there was no tomorrow. Good weekend!

Next week: Family visiting!

Nice, France

Ahh, the French Riviera…sun-drenched coastline, easy breezes, middle-aged men in speedo’s…does it get any better than this?

At first impression, yes, it could get better. Being stuck in traffic on the road from GVA to Nice brought out the latent road-rage that had been festering in Sophia for the past year, and reminded us that our tram passes are about to expire and we really need to go renew those! However, once we got to Nice, I got to take my turn, as I circled the streets for about 45 minutes searching for parking. Not a good way to start the weekend…

However, as frustrating as that can be, Nice’s charms quickly caught us. The promenade along the Mediterranean is just about perfect, while the narrow alleys of the old town keep the walks interesting. It’s really a beautiful place, and while I was unimpressed at first, it only got nicer and nicer as the weekend went on. Or dare I say "Nice-er and Nice-er"? Ok, sorry, I’ll stop…

The first night we met up with Heather and Karen, fresh off their whirlwind trip of Europe. I always find it funny how girls will get invited to way more "local" parties when traveling, than couples do…go figure. So we went out to dinner, walked around, and did most of our exploring of the city. We knew we had to keep it simple, because we had a busy day of sitting at the beach ahead of us!

The next day we got up early, hit a bakery (French bakeries rule), walked through what Soph has claimed to be the best market in the developed world, and hit the beach. We actually reserved chairs, which was a great idea, as the Nice beaches are basically just large rocks, and as such are not very comfortable to sit on. However, they’re fun to look at, and you don’t get any sand on you, which is pretty cool. So we sat there all day – literally, for over eight hours – and then went back to get a bottle of wine, and bring it back to the beach to hang out some more! Hey – it was vacation, and it was a cool beach! I can’t think of too many reasons not to spend an entire day on the beach if the opportunity presents itself…so it was a good day.

Sunday, while we were sad to leave Nice, we decided to stop at Monaco, to A) add it to the list of countries we’d set foot in B) see the ridiculous amount of wealth there C) try to find the Prince so that we could pawn off one of the girls on him and then have a standing invite on his yacht. That last piece wasn’t my idea, but I was more than willing to go along with it, especially after seeing the yachts – they were absurd! Anyway, Monaco is a cool place – I believe it has the highest Ferrari-to-human ratio of anywhere on the planet. You could tell that this was real wealth – not this multi-millionaire stuff we normally see, or even star-athlete wealth. I’m talking real, serious, filthy, my ancestors-screwed-over-your-ancestors wealth. Therefore we decided that, for lack of meeting the Prince, any one of these guys would do as far as pawning one of the girls off. Hey – pimpin’ ain’t easy!

So that was Nice, and Monaco; well worth a weekend trip, and I’m kind of surprised we hadn’t done it before now. After that, we headed back on the road to Geneva, and then the next day we sadly had to say goodbye to our visitors. In the attached picture you can see just how sad Soph and I were to see them go…

Next week: Chamonix!

Heather & Karen's visit!

First off, we would like to extend a welcome and thank-you to Heather and Karen for coming out to Europe and paying us a visit. Smartly, they realized that an entire two weeks with us would probably be a bit too much, so they used Geneva as a launching point for what might be the greatest European vacation ever (they hit Gimmewald and Cinque Terre, two of the best places this continent has to offer). However, as that is their story, I’ll let them tell it in their own words. However, the part where they were in Geneva, is also my story – so I’m going to tell that before they blab it to everyone!

Geneva is a very unique place in some ways; it’s not a place I would ever tell someone to go visit for it’s own sake, yet it’s still a decent-sized city with a handful of things to see and do. It also has a great expat community, which makes it easy to meet tons of interesting people. That said, I thought it would be a great idea to take our visitors out for a quiet night on the lake at one of the many wine bars dotting the water’s edges. It just so happened that some of our friends were also there, so what was planned as a relaxing couple glasses of wine on a Tuesday night, quickly turned into a massive bar crawl that lasted well past 2 am! Along the way, Heather learned how to impersonate a leopard; Karen desecrated a lion statue; and I taught them the joys of Geneva’s $20 drink menus. Good times, good times…

But it isn’t all fun and games, for there was work to be done. As many of you know, Sophia doesn’t like chocolate, which means I don’t get to eat nearly as much of it as I would like. But, since Heather and Karen do like chocolate, I was able to convince them to go on a "chocolate crawl" with me. Now, it sounded like a great idea – and in truth, it was a great idea – but we quickly learned that you can’t just keep on eating chocolate. After a handful of pieces, it starts to taste…sickening. Which is too bad, because I wanted to eat it for like three hours straight. Maybe I just need to train for it.

Next weekend: Nice!