aka: Shannon's Shananigan's (Since there seems to be less & less knitting and more Shananigan-ing going on as of late and well, let's face it, she's just going to always be a techygeekgirl!!)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Fever - Basel Style

I'm back in Switzerland for 5 weeks. Well actually, for 4 more weeks...the first week has been a whirlwind!

The flight over was not good. It was full - absolutely no empty seats on the long flight. I did have 2 colleagues flying with me, so that was fun, but we all sat in different areas. The woman sitting next to me spoke German and had a cold. Since it was the night flight, I thought - no problem, I'll get to sleep it will be a great flight. Yeah, not so much. She took the armrest and then proceeded to drape her arm over into my seat, so I was left leaning over into the aisle. And she proceeded to hit me all night! And when I told her to please stop, she called me a "rude, impolite American". So I only got about 2 hours of sleep on the flight, which did NOT make me a happy camper for the start of the week. By Thursday, I had finally gotten so tired, that I crashed early. 7:30pm, to be exact and slept 11 hours!! (love the shutters on my windows - midday it's still dark in my apartment!)

Friday night, I went out with the group that was left and not going skiing on Saturday. We actually ran into a bunch of the guys from the other engineering company we are working with that are from the UK. It's the guys we usually hang out with, so it was fun. I may have a fleece from Ireland being shipped directly home, for the purchase of a Columbia jacket and some Peanut Butter Oreos for one of the guys. I find that to be a fair trade! So we drank Unzer blonde biers and then headed off to find the rest of our group that was supposed to be at another club dancing. Instead, we ended up in another bar and drinking Mojitos with Swiss doctors and businessmen. It was crazy and I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of the night...though I did make it home. And I ended up sleeping all day Saturday, as I had just a little too much fun....

Sunday I felt much better and met the group for lunch and then a couple of us went over to the Munster church in Basel.

It is an absolutely spectacular church and the architecture and stained glass windows.
I took almost 100 pictures during the visit. We climbed up to the top of the bell tower too, which involved climbing up about 300 steps - metal, wooden, thin stone spiral was pretty dicey towards the top, but I was pretty proud of myself for making it to the top. The view was SPECTACULAR!!!
We could see the mountains in Germany and France, with the snow still on them, while it was 65 and sunny in Basel. Absolutely gorgeous day.

After the Munster, we wandered over through the botanical garden. Most of the flowers are not yet in bloom, though the daffodils and some of the tulips were up.

We are definitely planning a return trip back.

After this weekend, I have the worst case of Spring Fever and it's not going to be getting any better as we get into April!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm All A-"Twitter"

A friend of mine who is much more tech-geeky than I introduced me to this weekend. I didn't think I would like it, but I'm really digging it now!

It's not really user friendly at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's acutally pretty cool.

It's a cross between IM and Blogging and I have been able to link it to my blog. (see right)

I will be updating my blog as I'm gone over the next couple of weeks, but will probably be "Twittering" as I go too for short updates.

Keep an eye out for it and join if you want to.... All the cool kids are doing it.

(ok, maybe just the geekiest...but they are still cool!)

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The term "home" has been relative to me lately. Though I've spent the last two weeks at home, in Missouri, in the house that I actually pay a mortgage for, I've found myself referring to "going home" as in to Switzerland.

It's been strange. I almost feel like I'm back in college. You go away from home, spend your time living and working somewhere else temporarily with a bunch of people you see all the time. Then you come home every so often to get your haircut, catch up with friends, see Mom & Dad, do laundry, eat greasy hamburgers and Taco Bell, and ship off again in a week or so. Since I've been back it the US for 2 weeks, it's almost been like Spring Break. (ok, except for actually having to get up and work every day....)

This has been a good trip back. And it's gone fast. But then it has not been long enough. I landed on a Friday night and it was freezing. Spent time with Mom & Dad, crashed, then got up early to go with MA, Mom & MA's future MIL to go look at wedding dresses. It was fun and I actually stayed awake....with some caffeinated help! I am genuinely happy for MA and I'm thrilled to be able to be a part of this event. (Not that I shouldn't be, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past where this would upset me - see previous posts from 05-06...) Now I'm getting ready to pack up and it's sunny and 65 here - welcome to MO!

I have been able to catch up with lots of old friends and neighbors that I feel like I neglect when I'm gone. (I promise I'm not - call, e-mail, chat, etc....I miss you all!) I also found out some things about some people that I thought were friends, but not so much. It's been hard and a tough process, but looking forward to moving on. Time and space will help through that.

I met some new friends that I hope will continue to be friends through trips and distances. (Hey J - Had a blast and loved the "beer tour". Next up - baseball games!) I saw new baby lambs and caught up with some friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I got to celebrate St Pat's in a traditional Irish way with good friends, good music and great beer! I caught up with church friends and even able to "torture" (but in a good way) my swimming kids who I also miss. I even got to do some project work in the field I love....boy do I miss that a lot!

I've been learning a lot about myself while I've been over there. I'm not sure if I'm looking at stuff from a new perspective, or I'm maturing as I'm there or if it's just hitting me all of a sudden. I find myself being quieter and thinking more before I speak. And listening more - not just hearing, but listening...and not thinking too far ahead of the conversation. Plus I've been working on being OK by myself. When I first got over there, I was paranoid of being left out or forgotten or getting lost, etc. As I've been there, I guess my confidence has increased or I'm getting used to my surroundings, or something, but I'm getting to be Ok with spending time alone - in fact there are some days that I really crave it. (Though I do call back to the US many nights to talk to poeple here though!) I'm starting to not let the little things bother me and just focus on the important stuff.

And the job has been really cool, as I've been learning so much about our industry and how the company works. We have such a great team of people over there, that it's amazing to be around some of the smartest, top engineers in the field and they are ready to impart their knowledge on you AND make sure you understand it - how cool is that? (yeah, I'm a geek - no's in the title)

Now I have mixed feelings about going back to my Swiss home. I'm looking forward to going back and experiencing spring there as I have a feeling that it's going to be a blast eating outside, spending time on the river and seeing all the great sites. And I'm looking forward to learning more about me and getting to be really comfortable with me, which is a challenge I'm really trying to focus on as of late.

Yet there is a part of me that's ready to be at my MO home. I want to plant flowers and golf and hang out on the deck and visit my girlies in Chicago and watch the NCAA BB tourney and hang out with friends for lunch. But I know that time will come - soon. Five weeks will go quick and I'll be home - maybe for good, or at least awhile. And I have stuff planned for the time I'm home, so I'm excited. And the weather should be better by then. (And hopefully no tornados by then!)

So until then. Home will be where I am - with good thoughts going out to all the people/places/pups that are not with me. They will be missed, but never too far away!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No Place Like.....GNOMES?

I'm home from spending 3 weeks in Switzerland. It didn't feel like 3 weeks at all, in fact, I almost forgot that I was going home there towards the end!

One of the coolest things that I think has made the trips better is getting an apartment. I got a studio apartment that really feels like a 1 bedroom. The "living/sleeping" part is about as big as my living room here, so I have a ton of space. And I love having a kitchen and can't wait to make cookies. Oh, and we outfitted it at IKEA too! Gotta love that...

And the best part of my apartment is the fact that it's on the Rhein. Like walk out my front door, turn right, walk 20 steps, get wet, close to the Rhine. And with the weather getting warmer, it will be great to sit out along there. (I don't have a river view though, but it doesn't really matter...) Here's what I see in the morning:

After a trip to IKEA and just wandering around Basel, the group went to MUBA which was down the street from the hotel we were all staying in. This was the home show and it was HUGE. In one upstairs section was the wine and cheese tasting area. Imagine 50 booths for wine tasting from all over Europe, but the atmosphere reminds you of a Used Car lot (so, you want the leather interior AND the free undercoating...). The wine was fabulous and I decided that I like the Italian reds and German whites the best. And we were there on the last day and were by the booth that a colleague had bought cases from earlier in the week, so we got a bunch of samples AND 13 bottles to "take home", as they were opened. So that night we enjoyed wine and pizza on the patio (it was 65 that night!!). How European is that!!

Wine, arranged by country:

And there was some US Country band playing there. They had no European accents, so we figured they were legit.

The next weekend I got to move in and went back to IKEA for more stuff! (love that place...) And went grocery shopping, as nothing is open past 6 during the week!

On Sunday, a group of us went to Davos-Klosters to ski. Apparently the Royal Family skis here on a regular basis and the consensus from the group was that this was the best skiing they've done since being over there. Since I don't ski, nor have any desire to ski, a colleague of mine - Chris and I went sledding instead. (Or Sledging, as they call it!) It was a BLAST. A 2 mile run down the side of a mountain on a sled. Wooden sled using your feet to steer and stop. And there are bumps and moguls and no fencing along those 15 ft drops. It was so much fun. I would flip off the sled and end up laughing so hard. At the end of the day and 5 runs later, I felt like I had been chewed up by a shredder and my legs looked like someone had taken an aluminum bat to them - thank God for Celebrex! I did end up hitting Chris once - he wiped out and I couldn't stop in time. And I wiped out good and proper and my sled took me out, leaving a bruise the size of a softball right above my knee. It was so worth it though and I would totally do it again. I sledded the Alps. Oh and I got a video of part of the run here. (I dropped the camera about half way - I didn't wipe out)

Picture from the top of the Mountain. We did not sled from that high up. We were only half way up. And yes, those are clouds DOWN there.

Another picture from the top of the mountain. The sky color was amazing that day.

Here is a picture of the sled run about half-way down.

My next trip is in another week or so and I'll be gone for 5 weeks this time. It seems like a long time, but I know it will fly by. And I would rather spend this part of the year over there than here with all the severe storms and tornados! Oh, and it's been warmer there than here, so I cannot complain about that either!

By the way...I found Gnomes off of the #2 Tram: