Saturday, June 30, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I walked through an old castle....which was mid way down a mountain pass and was important for trade for hundreds of years ago....it was crumbled but beautiful and there were wildflowers spilling over from crevices in the walls and pathways....
it is very different to be traveling with so much beauty and in such ease.....here in Slovenia...the language is ancient...and only 2 million people (the size of the country) speak it so almost everyone again knows English and Italian or German as an alternative......there are grocery stores where you can buy Special K and Pepsi and Coke....and health store where a lady can fix you up for ailments or cosmetics and when I say cosmetics im talking about face creams.....I walked in one store and the woman handed me this glorious lotion...for my skin because I told her I forget to bring some moisturizer.....Im going to have to see if I can get this in the states because it is marvelous.....
my hotel is modest but very clean...they have doilies....under the ash trays and small flower vases.....lots of folks smoke in Europe.....so many folks.....that it is odd to see ash trays all over again...in restuarants....coffee shops etc.....in lobbies.....there is no air conditioning just like there wasnt in Zurich either....the rooms I have been in can get quite stuffy.....
I havent laughed a lot today....my group of grad students that <i am taking this course were seem a somber, intellectual somewhat dramatic group.....perhaps since they are here for credit and some actually here for this to be their last class...they have that weight on their shoulder.
tonight....im sneaking off from the group for awhile...so I can write and think.....we actuallz have writing assignments ....one of the most interesting questions...is Why are you here...I think my answer will have to do something with seeing if I can enjoy beauty and ease....or do I need the big risk to be happy while traveling.....
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I got up earlz and had a great sleep thanks to a gina made connoction of a muscle relaxant topped with nice red wine...actuallz slept....perhaps <ill patent the combo...lol
I hit the streets early....and thez are beautiful streets...cobblestone and winding off the main avenue....the streets here in this part of town are lined with old buildings, shuttered windows and flowers spilling from everz balconz window....Zurich is amazingly muffled and quiet even during the busiest of times....you hear bird chirps,,,,,you hear people talking and walking down the street....buses and trams whoooosh by quietly......its shocking compared to the roar of Manhatten.
the only trouble i have had is with ordering food....sometimes even with an english menu i get something different....yeterday i ordered sausage and vegetables and got pork cordon blue with fries and fresh steamed veggies...it was excellent so i canät complain....this morning for breakfast i braced myself since the waitress did not easilz switch into english as manz people do...I ordered birchermuesli and coffee
the bircher mueslie was verz interesting....a yogurt sliced apple and raison with heartz grain concoction along with warm fresh brown bread with such a thick crust that i felt a bit bovine chewing chewing chewing.....(i am quite sure the swiss never need a laxative cause of all the fresh grains and tough healthz bread thez have).....and then the coffee... geez....if this stuff doesnät wake you up nothing will....dynamite caffeine....along with a discrete cream and two packs of sugar all of which i used to cut the potency.....everyone in the cafe was reading a newspaper or talking in polite little groups.....manz of the older men wore soft old suit jackets....and the older women had fabulous thick gray hair....
after breakfast i hit the streets to find walkers, runners and manz folks on bikes....i walked a block and hit a flea market.....verz traditional just like in the states...except thez had manz international items...like things from africa and thailand and asia....of course....alll so much closer.....i was standing and looking at some pictures when i heard this screaching voice...and turned around....a woman....obviously from new jersey-new york ...was squawking...are you da artist of dese pictures ? she asked this man....so loud all the market could hear...i just laughed....americans are textured...thatäs for sure.
I wasnät verz far from Lake Zurich....and spent part of the morning just strolling around this huge turqoise colored lake...there were manz sail boats out alreadz....and the mountains which i didnät know where at the end of the lake starting appearing out of the gray ...it was a stunning site.....I decided to walk into some of the neighborhoods and could smell right awaz this verz sweet fragrance....i thought it was....honeysuckle but not quite....then i figured it out...hollyhocks....often 5 feet tall or more....were in every yard.....were we might have a little patch of grass were out cars park.....here thez make a minature flower garden and the hocks were in full bloom....and scenting the air.
I also went to the Rietberg museum....a wonderful old mansion that houses...their african and asian collection.....i spent a few happz hours among the buddhas....which made me feel very happz and calm.....I have been strolling back to my hotel...a little at a time.....stopped under a canopz of trees and had ice cream and people watched....had a cup of coffee...near the river and listened to a live small orchestra plaz waltzes as people danced among the diners.....sat on a bus park bench and admired the old buildings and green and purple and black and blue shutters on the windows and the red red geraniums in window boxes....now here at the computer cafe......and probably....ill head back to mz hotel for a bit.....its easy to find......i just look for the street with the huge Lindt chocolate picture and sign....and thats where i turn.....very very appropriate.....and yes...there are chocolate shops....lol...lol...just as you would imagine.....small, dainty, cute and happy.....
loving zurich.....cash in those miles folks....and come consider a hop over the ocean.....beautiful and calm and so far very easz (except for the german kezboard)
Friday, June 22, 2007
the airport was clean and efficient and so quiet and orderlz.....and i was mz cute little hotel in less than 15 minutes...which is as small as a shoe box but euro modern.....the mattress is like a board and the pillow is a soft puff of down and shrinks down to nothing....im sure sleeping should be interesting.....
mz hotel is right on the edge of the main part of the citz.....i couldnät have picked a better spot....i found a little grocerz storz across the street and let me tell zou these folks are serious about their yogurt and cheese.....but i certainlz wonät starve.
visited the train station and had mz first meal.....excellent ham and cheese and veggies and french fries,.,,,,then found this ultra cool internet cafe....as zou can see the kezboard is again a bit different and mz y^s are gone,,,,so zou have to put up with mz germanized blog.
not zet ready to fall on mz face with jet lag but i can feel it building. there are enough cafes and bakeries along the street to gain some serious poundage here LOL and it is only with much courage did i walk awaz from a chocolate shop.....i was afraid i would never come out.$
well mz meter is running.....so best go.....going to just walk around with no specific plan...its familiar here....guess what the first store <i saw was......yep a starbucks...lots of tourists....i hear german, french, italian, english....everzwhere....
oh and the place is full of mini coopers and smart cars....the mini coopers are pretty jazzie...
so off for a ice tea and more walkies
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I'm supposed to be packed....guess what's in my suitcase? My Spongebob flannel boxer shorts and a tshirt. That's it.....that's scary.
I had a long day problem-solving.... many unexpected things came up..... from car injuries to a long wait with my son at the doctor's office. Then a few phone calls....and stuff keeps heading my way....you know when a day goes off track...it just never straightens out.
I was headed for the bedroom to pack when I decided to check my email and discovered this distrubing thought from my friend Jason....
"Find a Swiss Miss outfit..." hmmmmm bringing home a Swiss Miss outfit...now that's an interesting thought.... so I googled the image.....and here's what came up:
Yes, I found this and several other pictures of this nice gentleman who seemed to have a fixation on wearing Swiss Miss outfits...you gotta admit he's got a great wig and great legs.
Yep....I like this one....and this summer I'm into thigh highs...in NYC....I noticed several women had them on and let them peek out from their skirts....I thought that was sexy....I wore some thighs highs with a dress to a theatre performance of the Full Monty...and could hardly stand how sexy they made me feel...LOL>>>....even though no one was looking up my skirt...LOL>>> and I could always get a few blond extensions to make pigtails.....hey I used to be a nurse...those white thigh highs would sort of be a homecoming....(let me get my old short tight uniform on and we can launch into a different fantasy)
Hmmm... a Swiss Miss outfit and some blue eyeshadow and look what Ken is up to....(besides putting mousse in his hair)
If I ever pack....and ever leave ....and ever get to Zurich.....I'll see what the Swiss Misses are wearing...and maybe bring something back.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
I fingered the German phrase book I bought this afternoon at the bookstore and could feel my heart beat harder.....on Thursday I'll be leaving for Zurich....
I feel disjointed .....how could my trip to Zurich and Slovenia be here already? I don't have a thing packed....I had no worries about packing till I called Swiss Airlines today. I'm flying over on American but my brief hour flight from Zurich to Slovenia will be with Swiss Air.
Talk about tough restrictions.....I'm allowed one bag not to exceed 44 lbs. That's it....except for a modest carry-on. I called Swiss and told them I was planning to travel with two small suitcases from the States. In a jaunty cheerful manner, the Swiss Airlines representative told me a second suitcase weighing...let's say 40lbs....would cost me an additional $245.00 to check!!!
"Excuse me....are you joking?"
"Oh no," she said in a chipper manner....that's how economy tickets are structured......but if I was a "privileged customer"....(i.e. first class or business) I would be allowed two suitcases.
Oh......the privileged customer syndrome again....well perhaps if I had known the restriction ahead of time.....I might have offered them more of my dollars so they would recognize my inherent worthiness as a passenger. But I'm stuck with an economy ticket...and a luggage/weight restriction....and for some reason ....my travel cleverness hasn't kicked in yet. I am quite ferklempted..
I have the jitters about Zurich. My pig French can get me a cup of coffee, a croissant with butter and directions to the bathroom in several countries. But outside of a "nien" and "yah"....I am German-clueless. Will I be able to navigate about town..... solo....without being able to read or speak German?
I did Google Earth Zurich and was happy to discover it was hilly....if you're lost all you have to do is head downwards.......and you will hit the river or lake and from there... then you can find yourself on the map...but still....Can I do this??????
I mentioned my anxiety to my co-workers today...and everyone dismisses my worries....."You've been to Africa!!! Switzerland is nothing!!!" Even hub said the same thing.
I guess after Africa I am a hardened world traveler ready for anything. But I have never faced Switzerland.....and the unknown is challenging....even if you have been successful at previous challenges.
I've studied the picture of my little bed and breakfast in Zurich. I've tried to sense if it feels safe and happy and homey. It used to be a theater and is close to the train station (a good thing) and also close to the old section of the city....(a very good thing)....the rooms are Euro-modern (one should always try something new).......but still.....will I be okay here?
Well....like I always tell people.... when they ask me how can you travel alone....how can you be so brave.......I say....you get out of the plane or the taxi or the bus....and you put one foot in front of the other and just go.....
I guess I need to heed my own advice....and just go.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
I resented the name....and I resented Eugene for dying and burdening me with a rough masculine gruff sounding title. Sometimes my resentment turned to guilt... I watched my mother and grandmother cry when they talked about him or anything having to do with him.....how could I be so cruel to them and this young teenage boy who had just died? In fact, he had died 8 years before I was born.......but grief in our household never waned for him and mourning him became a full time obsession for both my grandmother and mother.
Friday, June 08, 2007
5) Never visit Brookstone in the airport. In your fatigued state, you may actually think a 35.00 personal hair trimmer is a good idea for the men folks at home or a photo ball that lights up when you touch it.... will be a smashing Christmas gift.
6) Watch food combinations. If you've had bran flakes at the free breakfast bar in your hotel, it's not a good idea to eat M&M's in the airport...even though you're bored and the chocolate might help your psyche. You may discover another reason OJ jumped over those suitcases and ran through the airport in those old commercials...and it has nothing to do with car rentals and everything to do with getting to certain parts of the airport quickly.
7) Talk to everyone and listen to all the cell phone conversations around you. You might get a stock tip or stock idea, you'll relearn business speak if you've been away for it for a while.....you'll learn buzz words and positive slants...for example there are no problems in the corporate world... just "challenges" and " opportunities." You'll hear how other people talk to their mothers and husbands and kids and you can learn fascinating things....like there is an anatomy and physiology teacher's convention, there's a shuttle that leaves from Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois at 10:05PM sharp, there's an interesting movie out about bestiality based on a true story, and some people feel the best cure for jet lag is to go against the advice and actually sleep when you land instead of staying awake. Fascinating.
8) Volunteer to skip your flight....If you're two days late...what's a few more hours?....you can get a voucher.... at least you can get something out of this bad deal....unless of course.........they call your name and tell you...thanks but no thanks....You can board the plane there is room.....they'll open the cabin door just for you.....ah geez thanks.
At least my bag made it home...listing....and crooked and bent....but still intact.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
It was time to go home....time to leave NYC and return to my normal life. After a week in the city, I decided to leave Manhattan and meet the ocean......I rented a car at the airport and spent my last morning on Robert Moses Beach, a thin strip of sand off the south side of Long Island.
I arrived at 7am.....to find the beach almost empty except for a few folks fishing.... a few nudists (one with a sock on his penis....either to prevent sunburn or because it was cold...I'm not sure which and I didn't ask) and a few beach walkers....like myself. Pounding surf, isolation, fog....it was gorgeous. I reluctantly headed back to the airport for my afternoon flight.
I was supposed to arrive home Sunday evening.....I returned Monday afternoon. American Airlines had some type of meltdown in Chicago...flights across the US were affected.......I could regale you with minute by minute grisly details....but instead.....I thought I would share 20 things I had learned on my hellish journey and unanticipated stay in Chicago overnight. So when you fly......you can benefit from my experience.
Things I've learned on my hellish journey:
1) American Airlines prefers certain people....that's right...they value some people more than others......they like them and wish there were more of them....I am not a preferred person. I have no knowledge of offending anyone at American.....I pay taxes, I fly as much as I can...and often pay a hefty amount for a ticket....but they still don't like me. They prefer other people...and they're quite public about it...."Preferred Customers can begin boarding."
The people American Airlines likes stand up with smug little smiles and head towards the plane....the rest of us are left to look around....and realize we are the dredges....the filler on the plane.....they don't like us.....they let us on....because they have to.......and when they say there's a life vest under your seat or the oxygen mask will pop out....you have to wonder if one is really there....because if you don't value everyone....why go through the expense of putting expensive equipment near them to save them in case of an emergency??
2) Never stick your credit card in Internet kiosk at the airport. Bored and not able to hook up to the concourse Internet system.....I decided to use one of those Internet check-your-email kiosks where you pay 5.00 for 15 minutes of net time. I stuck my card in....I moved the cursor....I pressed enter...nothing happened....I pressed other buttons nothing happened....I hit a number and it send me to a weird page on line.....I pressed ....I hit....I even waved over a friendly teenage boy who looked amused and asked him if he had suggestions.....he gravely shook his head....and pronounced it hopeless.....but the timer was still running....I was now up to 6 minutes....10 minutes with no way to stop the charges.....I thought of walking away....but the meter kept running....I called Hub ..."Google this damn company and see if there's a customer assistance number".....12 minutes.....15 minutes......."it says the site is under construction"......16 minutes....so I called my credit card......"help! it won't stop charing me"...they cancelled my card. I will have to dispute the charges.
3) Be nice to your nipples. Airports can get very very cold after long periods of time. Your nipples weren't designed to be permanently "on".....carry a camisole or t-shirt in your purse......return those missiles to their normal resting state....besides you really look silly trying to hold your breasts for prolonged periods of time in public.
4) Always get a no fuss haircut before traveling. When you in-room hair dryer doesn't work and when the hairdryer housekeeping brings up.... is missing a button ......you'll be glad you can just shake and toss your wet hair into a style... knowing hours later in the subartic environment of the airport it will dry ....and no that's not hair gel....it's a little frost...which works just as well.
5) Always bring food with you on board. Airlines are tricky now. They tell you to get on....they lull you into thinking you're going to leave the area.....and then you sit on the runaway for an hour or more....it costs 3.00 for a bag of chips now....so travel like my grandmother used to on long car trips... she always kept a bag of goodies with her....cause you never know and you never know.
6) Never sit next to a businessman with a Blackberry. They are fucking annoying...reading their email.....making phone calls....punching little messages out with their big fat fingers on the tiny keyboard...and you have to listen to them call their secretary or "administrative assistant" and say things like...."Mary make arrangements for a taxi to meet me.....Mary change my meeting schedule....Mary pull all the internal memos on the new project out for me and have it on my desk....Mary do you have a suggestion on how I can wipe my own ass because no one will do it for me here."
7) Never wear fancy sandals when you're flying. Oh they look cute....they make you sweet little manicured toes stick out so sexy.......but they aren't really meant for walking....and when you have to hoof it to K18 from K1 and then they change your gate a couple times or perhaps you need to walk to ground transportation on the other side of the airport.....those blisters will remind you ....fancy sandals are for show not walking.
8) Use down time in the airport to promote oral health. When you check into a hotel unexpectedly because you're flight is delayed....you'll have some choices...razor and shaving cream? or toothbrush and paste?....take the toothbrush and paste and bring it with you to the airport....brush hourly......your teeth will whiten....you gums, though bleeding, will be fresh and germ free....and let's face it ...it's something to do....and easier than shaving your legs in the airport bathroom sink.
9) Save your energy....positive thinking does not work on thunderheads. They didn't tell you this in "The Secret" but positive thinking should be saved for more esoteric things...thunderheads and the resultant turbulence will not go away......no matter how long you visualize a clear sky.
10) Never fear a seat assignment in the last row of airplanes with rear engines. Yes, it's quite startling to look out the window and see nothing but the metal wall of the jet engine. But views are over rated.....and the hummmmmm and extra heavy vibrations you feel from sitting a foot away from a jet engine is rather special....bury those fears there's some kind of electromagnetic danger from sitting hours next to a whirrling engine .....consider the roar hypnotic and try and go to sleep ....remember to carry something along to make ear plugs for just such a situation.....Kleenex is a poor substitute for a proper ear plug and may not completely come out of your ear canal when you need it to.....remember the bright side....you'll be the first to know if the engine falls off.
More lessons on my next entry.
Friday, June 01, 2007
I stopped at the donut/coffee man stall across the street this morning....and after my purchase told the owner I wouldn't see him anymore....since the stand is not up on weekends...."See see I knew you were not from here....you smile so much..." which was a nice compliment.
It was a gorgeous walk to the bus and I love looking at all these handsome business men walking by in their dockers and ultra starched shirts.....sometimes if you get in back of a group of men.....their aftershave wafts after them....and hmmmm that always smells so nice and manly.....lol
If you can believe this.....A tourist stopped me to ask about the bus.....whoa.....I must look confident to be mistaken for a local....or very serious...since most folks here wear a very serious mask for daily life...lol
The convention started today with a children's session that was just a hoot.....I think they booked comedians instead of authors......then the convention itself opened.....the trade show of trade show in books....there was just a massive swell of women (the show caters to librarians) with huge bags....waiting to get their free books, merchandise or trinkets.....some of them were serious.....really serious.....grim-faced often with an accomplice and they were just scooping up the stuff.....wow....I was just picking a few things here and there....because I thought of the walk from the mid town bus to the hotel....and also thought about the 50 lb weight limit.
The Javits convention center lost their air con for a while...so there were thousands of people packed in the aisle sweating profusely....and carrying heavy bags of books. Not pretty....I finally gave up looking for a seat and found a hallway off to the side of the convention and just sat there on the floor for a while....cooling off....trying to cool down and calm down from the energy of the crowd.
As I was leaving the convention site...the last booth I saw had little Dr. Ruth there...the sex lady....she was signing some books about an the Druze....some pre Isreal pre Arab people that have lived in the Middle East? She was very cute and animated and very short....in a bright peach suit....so you couldn't miss her.
On the bus on the way back to the hotel...I looked up at the purse that was dangling at eye level in front of me (which belonged to a woman who was standing) and was shocked to find little brown eyes looking back at me....a tiny black poodle hunkered down in her purse. Good dog....it looks like it goes everywhere and knows how to behave.... it seemed happy to be gazing out over the rim of her bag and I'm sure if you weren't looking very hard....you wouldn't even have noticed it.
Have to jump into the shower because I'm both exhausted and stink....don't think I'll have Internet access till I get home on Sunday... I don't want to buy another round of access from the hotel...laptop addicts beware.......hotels list they are wireless but you have to pay at least 12.00 a day for the privilege.. New York is not cheap...lol....in fact the dollars have been flying out of my wallet...especially since all the service people at the hotel have their hands out.
Have only taken a few pictures.. I'll share those when I get home......