Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27, 2010

For the moment the exciting parts of the relocation are on hold and the more tedious/stressful things are starting to pile up.

Today the shipping companies came by to do a survey and put together a quote for packing and shipping our stuff. I have to say that I find it a wee bit creepy that they are going to pack EVERYTHING including our clothes. I was told that oversea’s shipping does not allow any PBO’s. Yes I had to ask what a PBO was… “Packed by Owner.” So if we packed our own clothes they would unpack them and re-pack them. Someone please explain to me the logic in that? Maybe I just don’t want total strangers going through my unmentionables. I girl has to have some secrets.

I also brought the crate up from the basement that Jesse was shipped to Bermuda in (she’s already a traveler) so that the beastly boy could start getting used to the feel of it. I don’t think he was very happy when I folded up his crate and slid it under the bed. Although I think he liked the cookie bribe to get him to go into the crate. Keep your fingers crossed that he sleeps in it on his own tonight. I’d like not to have to force him to sleep in it.

We’ve also started a walking regime. Dogs are amazing it only takes one walk for them to anticipate another one the very next day. I’m trying to get in the habit of walking them every day so that (a) they listen to me and stay calm-ish when I am trying to leash them (b) don’t try to drag me down the stairs as we head out the door.

Housing update, still waiting but things are looking like they might work out with the new place but neither of us are willing to count on it until a contract is signed.

I think that’s it for now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23, 2010

So where did I leave off? Wednesday we made a decision on which apartment we wanted to live in and were anticipating signing a contract with the owner on Friday. Which means; we told the owner Wednesday afternoon that we wanted the apartment and the guy helping us said we should be able to sign the contract on Friday.

Friday morning I get an email that the apartment owner is trying to up-sell us into another apartment that is MUCH more expensive. Turns out he signed a contract for the apartment with another couple and gambled that “the Americans” would be able to afford the more expensive apartment AND that we wouldn’t have a choice. I suspect that he (and the relocation guy) didn’t anticipate two women who would rather start the entire process over, even if it means living in temporary housing, than give some underhanded apartment owner any money.

So Friday started on a sour note and continued to be a bit stressful throughout the afternoon. Then L pulled a rabbit out of a hat and one of her co-workers who is moving to a different apartment, took us to see the one he rents. It’s beautiful and meets all of our needs/requirements. The remaining issue/question is if the landlady will want to rent/lease to us and if the dogs really truly are allowed. L has to meet the landlady Feb 8 so she can get a feel of who we are and if she thinks it will work. So at least we have a prospect again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21, 2010

After several days of running around and viewing a variety of apartments: in the city, outside of the city,... really really outside of the city.  We narrowed our selection to two options and this morning I revisted both places with Heir Mueller. (imagine two little dots over the "u" of Heir Muellers name). 

He was kind enough to walk me through each of the neighborhoods pointing out restaurants, shops, grocery stores, public transportation, dog walking places etc.  The goal was to give me a sense of the "feel" of each neighborhood to help with the decision process.  Kudos to Heir Mueller.  It's the 1st time in the last two days where I felt relaxed and was able to take in more of the overall atmosphere in the area and it gave me another critical point to weigh in on the decision making process.  That and he bought me a hot chocolate.  It's doesn't get much better than that. 

So the result is, we've (I've) decided that the best place for us to live is just outside of the city, in an apartment that is literally right next to a park where I can quickly take the beasts in the morning and evening to do their business.  Then there is a "subway" which is really a short tunnel that goes under the main road and is used by people to walk under the street to get to the other side.  It brings you to the train station (L's commute) and to a little shopping center that has a Deli, Pharmacy, Small Grocery Store, Coffee Shop etc.  (Human contact for me).  Plus its close enough to the city proper that we could drive in or take the train in for an evening out.  I can ride my bike there as well. Oh and another bonus, the Train goes directly to the airport so we can pick up family and friends via the train and skip all the traffic.  Very Nice.

Tomorrow we meet in the afternoon, sign a lease/contract and take some measurements so we know what things of ours to bring and can have an idea re: placement.  I'll try and take some better picture of the place and post them so you can all see.  One thing down... to many more items on the list to count.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010 - Zurich

This morning we got up at 4:30 am so we could catch our 5am taxi and head to the airport.  Now 4:30 am might sound like a horrendous time of day, but apparently I am still a bit off schedule with the whole european time zone thingy and except for a couple hours inbetween I was pretty much awake until then anyway.  Needless to say it's 11:00 am EST and 5 pm Zurich time.  I need a nap.  Oh and if I am going to be this far ahead of you don't you think I should be able to tell you the winning lottery numbers?  Me too.

There was quite a bit of fog aound both Paris and Zurich today which made for an interesting flight.  (not a bad one - the pilot was great - but visually interesting.

The Sunrise over Zurich from the Plane

Some of what you see is snow but the majority are clouds

Another view of the cloud and snow covered mountains

This doesn't do what I saw justice, it looked like the clouds were flowing over and around the mountain peaks

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18, 2010 - Paris Continued

Yesterday we spent wandering around Paris, at least until we were too tired to wander.  We went to the Arch de Triomphe, the Stained Glass Chapel, Notre Dame, A war memorial (whose name I can't pronounce or spell) and "La Sans".  We skipped the Effile Tower because I was exhausted.

The Arch de Triomphe

A random giant ferris wheel.

Notre Dame

The flying buttresses

The Birdman of Notre Dame

I know many of you are just dying to see a pic of L and I in Paris.....  I'm the one on the left.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 16 – Security Breaches, The Great Equalizer

Like the title? That was L’s contribution. Yesterday was a day of many 1st’for me. We arrived at JFK airport in 4:00 (if you read the news you know what’s coming..) the “security breach” was just getting underway. L flies so much and this is a business trip so we were in the Business Class check in line. Which as many of you know is much faster and less of a hassle. Usually. We’re second in line, and as we get to the counter a security guard walks up to one of the other ticket takers (what are those people behind the counter called?). He starts whispering something about a security breach. (Let’s just say that if he was trying to be discrete it wasn’t working). Then our ticket lady says “There MIGHT be some delays because of a potential security breach.” Might is the key word here and incredibly inaccurate. We turn around and head towards the security screening line. This is a 1st indication that there is a serious problem. Well that and the blinking flashing lights and the siren. The line looks like it goes around the corner. Well that’s a bit unusual, considering we are two hours early for our flight. So we wander around the corner to find the end of the line. And we keep looking… and looking… once we got back to about 500 yards and could not distinguish the people checking in line from the security line we just found a nice man who was flying to Helsinki and latched onto him. Shortly after that we notice that the “line” and I use that term loosely, was past the American Airlines check in counters, and looped back to where we started. Oh and no exaggeration, in spots the line was 10 people wide. It was more like an attempt to be an orderly mob. Then if you looked out to the other side, there WAS a mob who I guess assumed that if they had enough mass they could somehow push through the gates by sheer will. Here’s the equalizer part. Now there is no 1st class, or business class security lines. You’re all just cattle being herded towards the gates and you don’t have the pressurized pads squeezing your sides to help calm you down like they do when leading cows to slaughter.

The news reports I’ve seen thus far have made this event seem like it was pretty minor. I’m here to tell you it was not minor. Don’t get me wrong it certainly could have been much worse but the lack of communication and the incredible lack of a contingency plan on the part of American Airlines was dumbfounding. Did I mention the guy heading to Helsinki? He got a surprise when he received a call from his daughter who was in the airport. It seems her plane was actually about to take off when they were told to turn back and deplane. Yes, the turned every plan back, even those that had been boarded and pulled away from the gates prior to the security breach. Now I am sure this is necessary from a better safe than sorry standpoint, but I want to debunk the idea that there were only 100’s of passengers affected. American Airlines didn’t even get their employees rescreened and back through security until 6:00 and then it took them another hour and a ½ to figure out that maybe they should screen people by flight number rather than just willy nilly letting people through in whatever order they made it to the front of the line. What I found impressive was that the passengers (at least the several 100 or so I saw/encountered) were all taking this in stride. Myself included. We all recognized that there was nothing we could do except wait it out. The other impressive thing was that the TSA staff and American Airlines staff – who were obviously stressed – seemed to be able to screw smiles on their faces and manage to be professional and polite. Again at least they were to me, but I also went out of my way to be polite to them.

Now it’s 7:45 pm, our flight was originally supposed to leave at 5:50 pm and we still haven’t made it through security. Suddenly like a call from heaven, they call our flight to get us to the front of the line for security screening. Literally a guy escorted us to the front opening a path through the crowd. We make it through security in a record 10mins, and look at the gate listing to find out where out flight is, and what time it’s taking off. Holy crap… yes that was our reaction, it’s on the FINAL BOARDING … and we have to get across the damn terminal. We get to the gate, they rush us on, and close the door. Here’s what I don’t understand. How did all these people get on the plane when we were still trying to get through security? Was there some magic transporter that we didn’t know about? We’re we just too busy being polite? Whatever, we made the plane.

However, I will say I was VERY distressed by this last issue. We had to run to catch the plane. Prior to all of this we were trying to get through security. This is a transcontinental flight, I KNOW I have to use the ladies room. I have prided myself on never having seen the inside of an airplane bathroom. Yes, its all been ruined now. My perfect record destroyed. Although at least I used it before the flight started. I’ll admit it was not as bad as I imagined, but still some small part of my world died yesterday. Really, what’s next? Camping and going in the great outdoors? I don’t think so!

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

Well I’m trying to work and get ready for the trip. We leave tomorrow which leaves me with a bunch of things to do: Get an adaptor for the computer. I’ve been instructed that it would not be a good idea to force the US plug into a European outlet. Something about, electrical fires, shorting out the computer, loss of data.. yada yada.

I also need to get a gift card for the grocery store so S who is house sitting can fill in the gaps that qualifies as our refrigerator. Personally I would think she could survive a week on bagel bites, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (product), and fruit loops. All of which are specific requests by/for S. Although, after the last time she house sat I refuse to buy Ragu for her. I realize some people enjoy Ragu, but it tastes like watered down, sugary ketchup. As a result, we’ve decided to introduce her to the world of homemade sauce and left her some in the freezer she can heat up.

Tonight will be spent packing, checking batteries in the camera and generally making sure we’re all set.  Tomorrow we're off and running.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

I've started this blog as a way of sharing updates and photos of our relocation to Switzerland and the subsequent adventures. For which I hope there are many ;)

Some background for those of you who are not up to date; L, I and the dogs are heading to Switzerland (Zurich) for a temporary 3 year stint. We're working on getting everything together: working papers, house hunting, veterinary papers (for teh dogs not us). This weekend we head to Paris and Zurich. Once in Zurich we hook up with the gentleman who is supposed to help us find a place to live.
Key Components:
  • Dogs must be allowed
  • Safety First - no stairs near bedrooms that I can plummet down during a night terror
  • Close to work for L

I realize that this move will not be easy for either L or me. We're going to have to find ways to connect with new groups of people/friends and I'll miss the proximity of my family and the routine of Sunday dinner and cards. Fortunately the plan is that we will be back in the US fairly frequently.

Anyway, I've set a personal goal to document the trip and our experiences over the next three years and try to post a blog or picture every day. Al tall order but U'm going to give it a whirl.

Right now we're prepping for the 1st trip to Switzerand to find a place to live. Finding a place to live... very important!