Wednesday, December 28, 2016

[Graven Images] Landesmuseum, Zürich

The Landesmuseum in Zürich has a lot of great engraved images.  It has knights, shells, people, gargoyles, and lots of flourishes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

[Graven Images] Freieck 1894

On an apartment building near me.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Green things

I bought a plant this week.  It was one of the first times I asked a clerk "is English okay?" and had them say no.  As a result, I learned two things: Japanese Peace Lilies are not called that in German (not even a translated version), and Google's image search is very useful in these cases.

I continuously discover minor differences to life here, even though many of the big differences I have encountered now.  One of the silly but awesome ones is how they package frozen spinach: it comes in pre-sized, single serving blocks.  It is so much more convenient than one big slab of spinach when making dinner.

Finally, not really a green thing.  I always liked Dippy the Diplodocus, the statue outside the Carnegie Natural History museum in Pittsburgh.  In winter, he sometimes wears a colorful scarf.  We brought a model Dippy with us, so I made a scarf for him.

Fountain Friday and Building Engravings posts

I enjoy collecting the images of fountains and building engravings.  I like showing them off.  But scheduling separate posts for them takes a fair amount of time.

Starting in the new year, I will just add new photos to shared Google Photos albums.  You can turn on notifications on those albums to see new photos, if you want.

Fountains Album

Building Engravings Album

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

[Graven Images] Lady and date

This is on an apartment building near mine that was under construction for a long time.  The finished and the lady looks nicely restored.  Anno 1897.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] A weekend in Basel

This weekend we went to Basel, a smaller town in northwestern Switzerland on the Rhine river. On Saturday, we visited one of the lively Christmas markets. My favorite decoration was a cherub holding a sausage aloft. The Glühwein was also very tasty.
The Rhine river at sunset

An elaborate display at the Christmas market

Sunday, many stores were closed, as usual in Switzerland, but museums were open. I went to the Paper Mill museum. I hadn't heard about it, but one of the Google travel guides listed it and I like paper. It was very interesting, including a working water mill driven rag mashing machine. The museum included the history of paper making, writing and printing, so there was a lot more than just paper. They had some cool alternate typewriters. Definitely worth a visit.

Later in the day, we took a longer tram ride up to see a Kandinsky exhibit. We got the English docent tour and I'm really glad we did. There was a lot of interesting information about Kandinsky, Marc, and Der Blaue Reiter. I didn't get any pictures, but I'm glad we made it up here for the exhibit.
So, more fun in Switzerland. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

[Graven Images] Water imp

The ears imply a mythical creature, and the shell background makes me think of a water imp or god.  Taken in Luzern.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Turkey Day and other fine traditions

This was my first Thanksgiving in Zürich.  Thanksgiving is hard to miss online.  Some local stores had "Black Friday" deals, even though Thursday wasn't a holiday.  It was surreal.

On Thursday after work, we went out to a new place for dinner, a hot dog shop.  Then we wandered down to Bahnhofstrasse to see the lights.  About one month before Christmas, Zürich lights up the Christmas lights over the road and the Christmas markets start.  It was very busy and we didn't stay long.  The lights made me happy, even though they're for Christmas and not Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so it kind of surprised me that I didn't miss it.  I expected to be pining for the family together time and American football on TV.  But I didn't.  I think because I get a mini-Thanksgiving every Sunday.

The best part of Thanksgiving to me is a whole day dedicated to food, family, being grateful for what you have, and relaxing.  It's like the ultimate meditation or revelry in contentedness.  Since moving to Switzerland, I have that almost every Sunday.  While the time is not as dedicated to thankfulness, the frequency has a lot to recommend it.

So, I managed to avoid the frenzy that follows Thanksgiving and still have the best parts every week.  That's a fine tradition.

Friday, November 25, 2016

[Fountain Friday] Elaborate with a fish

This elaborate fountain is near to work.  I also found the same backdrop that no longer had a fountain attached in a park near my apartment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

[Graven Images] Owl and snakes

Possibly a caduceus, an owl and snakes in Luzern.

Friday, November 18, 2016

[Fountain Friday] A third brass fountain

I found a third fountain of this style.  Two are near my apartment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

[Fountain Friday] Two identical stone basins

There is a third like these near my apartment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

[Graven Images] Gods? lounging and a lion

This was taken in Luzern, Switzerland.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] Welcome event

When we moved to Zürich and registered with the authorities (die Kreisbüro) they gave us a big packet of information.  It had flyers from local shops and for services like haircuts and maid service.  It also had information about a welcome event that included information, a guided tour of the old city (der Altstadt), and an Apero (small get-together with drinks).

We finally registered for the welcome event and went.  There were more people than we expected.  We guessed there were about 200 people there from every continent (except Antarctica).  The information presentation was in an interesting format, being given in 5 languages: German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish, in a mix of written and spoken information so they could move quickly through the material, but that everyone could understand.  The first three are official languages of Switzerland, and English and Spanish are very popular.  My German is still so limited that I understood more of the Spanish than I did of the German.  Still, it was fascinating.

The welcome event is given by an office of the city government - an entire office devoted to helping people get settled and integrated into Zürich.  It seemed like a very Swiss thing to do: recognize that there are lots of foreigners moving to your city, making newbie mistakes, and not fitting in.  Solution: create an office where people can get help, because it makes everyone's life better.

The tour groups were language-based, so we got a tour in English.  We saw a few historic sites including Lindhof, the site of the original Roman fortress in Zürich and many castles.  Now it's a plaza/park and the city passed a law that it can never be a building again because they will never be ruled by a king or emperor again.

We also saw St. Peter's church which has the largest church clock face in Europe.  Our tour guide said the face was so big because, as Zürich grew, it had to be seen from further and further away.  The tower was also used as a fire watch post.

Finally, the coolest historic thing we saw was in a random alleyway.  When expanding the basement of a toy shop, the builders found the remains of an ancient Roman spa.  It had a space under the floor of the spa where hot air and steam was pumped in to heat the rooms from below and it boiled water for baths.  All that was left was the pillars the used to hold up the floor of the spa, but it was still very cool

All in all, it was definitely a worthwhile event.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

[Graven Images] Family faces?

These seem like distinct faces, but similar, maybe a family?  These were on a building in Luzern.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

[Sunday in Switzerland] The hard part

I've been lax in writing here anything but pictures.  We're in the really hard part about moving: making new friends and making a life.  So weekends are not noteworthy by most standards, being meeting up with people for food and drinks, running errands, etc.

The only truly new experience is kind of lame.  I had real Turkish Delight!  The intern on our team brought some from home.  It's not as sweet as the Cadbury kind, which is all I had before last week.  I first heard about it in the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  The kind I had tasted like dates and nuts all smooshed up until smooth and gummy.  It had unsweetened coconut on the outside.  It was very tasty.

My German class is still going okay.  I now know enough German to make simple past (perfect) statements like "Gester bin ich zur Ikea gefahren" (yesterday I went to Ikea).  So, I can write "what I did on my summer vacation", but I still get flustered and forget how to respond when the clerk at a store wishes me a nice day.  (It's "Danke, gleichfalls" (thanks, likewise) but I always forget that when I'm standing there.

One of the couples we met with for food has been here for 8 years.  She said the first 6 months are the hardest, the first year the next hardest, and the first two years the third hardest.  After that, it's easy.  So, with luck, we're through the really hard part.

Finally, here is some random art for you to look at.

Friday, September 30, 2016

[Fountain Friday] Minimalist silver fountain

This one is in Luzern, Switzerland.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016