Sunday, July 29, 2007

Endlich sind wir in hier!

(That's German for finally, we're here!)

Stacy started the day early, visiting the apartment at 0800 to greet the movers. The movers actually weren't moving in our stuff, per say, but rather, the stuff that we'll be renting for the next few weeks/months, until our air shipment, then the sea shipments arrive.

The furniture that we're leasing is actually very impressive, and we haven't been disappointed with the furniture at all. In fact, if our sea and air shipments never arrived, I think the only things we'd miss are my computer and associated stuff, the books, and more clothes. We're getting along fine so far.

As Stacy directed the furniture rental people to move in all the equipment into the apartment, I stayed back at the hotel with the kids. My mission was to:

  • Gather the children, awakening them at the appropriate time
  • Getting them to breakfast
  • Getting the luggage downstairs
  • Paying the bill and checking out
  • and at 11:00, our taxi service will show up with a bus (kind of like the rental car shuttle buses), and take our 26 bags to the new apartment.
All went pretty well, considering I didn't have a clock to work with. So that might explain why I had gotten all the luggage down to the main level at 9:45 instead of 10:45. (oops)

"Why do we have to wait so long in Switzerland?!" cried Joshie. We did do a lot of waiting. But I was glad to have the sitting down and not doing anything time, as I was in some pain. Especially my butt.

See, last night, Jake and I went to the swimming pool at the hotel's basement. One of the unique things about this pool is that the water comes right up to the same level of the pool's surroundings. So if you jump in, water is bound to splash out. If your 11 year old son wants to see the 210+ dad jump into to the pool, there is bound to be major Noachian spillage to be witnessed.

The tidal wave lapped over the wall and down the hall and down the stairs and nearly made it to the elevator. (that was quite an accomplishment, I have to say!). It was all fun and games until somebody got hurt. Me. But I'll get to that in a minute.

After seeing the locals swim in the river Aare, Jake was determined to pass any sort of test that Stacy constructed to allow him to swim in this river. (It's nice to see him excited about something other than video games, for once). Stacy made an off-hand remark that she would allow Jake to swim in the Aare with me if he could pass some sort of swimming test. Maybe swimming back and forth in the hotel pool without touching the bottom for 3 times (there and back equals one lap).

I had Jake tread water with me for 2 minutes at first, then for 5 minutes. After that, he swam 11 laps. Not wanting to have Stacy move the bar on him, he swam 31 times back and forth. He was in the pool so long, we had a Romanian couple on vacation come in, swim, get tired and leave, before Jake was done.

As we left, I was impressed by the deluge of my cannon-ball. I was so impressed that I didn't really notice that there no handrail, and no traction stickers on the steps. Before I knew it, I was on my butt, and my hand was bleeding. Thankfully the majority of my impact was to the padded area of my butt, and not so much anywhere else. Like a good macho guy I instantly got up and started running, cussing.

I keep asking Stacy to look at my butt for bruises, but there are none to be seen. And she's not to thrilled about me saying, "Look at my butt" (pulling down the pants just far enough to show the injured cheek) There has got to be a bruise there!

Now, each time I sit, I yell, "Ow, my butt!" Jake laughs every time. Stacy, as for all my other antics in life, simply rolls her eyes.

We got all of our luggage, and all of our rental furniture situated in our new apartment, and everything looks to be suitable for the time being. The pets show up on Monday, and we need a cage for them. I found a nice little pet store for the bunnies in Koniz, and we think that they will live a happy life outside on the deck.

It turns out there was a miscommunication during the signing the lease process, and we weren't sure that pets were allowed, after we signed the lease (oops). I had no recollection of the discussion of pets during the tour of the apartment, and there was no mention of pets on the lease. Just to make sure, we asked. It turns out our landlords were very upset about the prospect of us having dirty, pee-on-the floor rabbits, but agreed, after insisting some extra insurance be taken out for the apartment.

Well to make everybody's life easier, including the luxury of not witnessing rolling clumps of rabbit hair on the floor in the kitchen, we decided there would be plenty of room for the critters on the balcony, which is quite protected from the elements. In the summer, the temps don't get very hot, and in the winter, the balcony has direct exposure to the sunlight, and won't get snowed on directly. The type of hutch we chose has a nice little cozy room for the rabbits to take refuge, and they should be comfy (I hope). My mission was first to get a rental car, then to buy a bunny cage at the pet store we found in Köniz.

On Sunday, everything is closed in Switzerland. You can walk down the streets to find nothing but closed shops, closed stores, closed supermarkets. I think the only things that run on Sunday are the trains, the buses, and the shops directly in front of the shops. It's also presumable that the restaurants that are located in the hotels are open for dinner and lunch, but I have not personally confirmed this.

Because of this, our Saturday mission was to get to the grocery store, Migros, and stock up on some living supplies. Since we don't yet have a car, and all of the rental cars in the area are all exhausted of minivan-sized vehicles, we decided to shop Migros by bus.

We all got on the bus for a "kurzstrecke", which means short trip. This costs 1.90 CHF. In the supermarkets in Europe, one normally purchases the bags to carry the goods. So "paper or plastic" means "Do you want to pay for paper bags? Or did you bring your own?" Thankfully, all the kids brought their rolling back-packs for the ride home with the goods in-hand.

One more thing you pay for at the supermarket, is the shopping cart -- you have to chuck in your 1 CHF piece into the handle of the shopping cart, in order to release it from the chain of shopping carts. I'm not exactly sure what the reasoning is behind this business model... but "when in Rome..."

The experience in the supermarket was very similar to that in the US, with the exception of every label being in German. This was one of those shining moments when I was glad I could speak a common language with the locals. (Note I didn't say "speak the language of the locals", for they speak Swiss German, and I have no effing idea what they're saying to me when they speak it.) We purchased about as much as we thought we could safely take back on the bus, and carry away in shopping bags and back-packs.

One of the experiences we totally forgot about, is when purchasing fruit and vegetables, one must first weigh them, and print out a sticker, indicating the purchase price. First, look at the sign describing what the item is that you're buying, and it will generally have a 2 digit number associated with it. Then, take your produce, and put it on the scale. Then, hit the number of the item you're purchasing. Out comes a little sticker, which you affix to your bag of produce. If you do not do this, the cashier will not be able to ring up the item you've carelessly bagged without a sticker.

The picky eating kids are likely to starve on this trip. Jake has continually been a brave child, trying new things to eat. Cecilia and Josh are likely to wither away into dust, at this rate. I'm sure their stubbornness will override any hunger they may experience. One of the items we bought was chicken nuggets. Seems pretty harmless, but these connoisseurs would not accept these low-quality Swiss substitutes, and insisted on only the original, true nugget that they were familiar with in the US. See what I mean? Likely to wither to dust.

No Internets!

One of the things I've noticed, is that there aren't any free wireless networks around to leech off of. And the wireless networks that have you pay, make you pay out of the nose. In the Hotel, the wireless Internet was outrageously expensive. I think I paid 30 or 40 dollars for a day's worth of access (bought in 2 hour increments.) (Imagine how much that blog cost me to write 2 days ago). (Do you now see why I get grumpy when people ask me how it is over here, and they haven't read my Blog yet?) (Are there any more random thoughts I can put in parenthesis?)

Once we got to the apartment, there are no hook-ups to the local services, so we had to get Internet connectivity from somewhere. There are no wireless LANs around here that I could link in to, from the office we set up. Stacy and Jake were really starting to show signs of Internet withdrawal. (I was doing fine, thank you very much!) I opened my laptop bag to find an old USB LinkSys wireless connector, and hooked it up to my Linux laptop for grins.

Apparently, the long USB cable it connects to allows me to prop it up on the window shades, getting me that extra 1 db of signal that I need to dip into the Köniz City's wireless access network. It looks rather ridiculous, and I'm typing with the windows open, while it's raining, but I'm gettin' my access!

The first thing Stacy did was to take over my personal laptop to read her e-mail. Then she started shopping on-line. Apparently the adventure of getting all those groceries in Köniz was too stressful for her. She found an Swiss equivalent version of Peapod, and started ordering all the things she wanted.

The kludgey internet connection is going in and out. I better post before I lose all this work.

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