...I suspect I may be the luckiest kid in the world

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kissing BigFoot

So today I went skiing.

I know, I know. I dislike skiing and all that, but we had the most fabulous snowfall last night and the season is nearly finished, and the sun was so sunny when I woke up this morning, that I kind of got emotionally tricked into it.

I'd been wanting to try out a set of skis, called BigFoot. Let's just say they were created around '90 and, well, never really took off. But they're about half the size of normal skis, with toes on the end! and I thought perhaps I could pretend I was rollerblading down some Alps. You know, as you do.

I took regular skis up the gondola as well, to keep at the top, in case BigFoot and I didn't get on so well. And slowly, but surely, I made it down. I didn't love them, especially when I realized you can fall flat on your face with them (kind of impossible with normal skis).
But, we will remain acquaintances. At the very least, I made myself laugh all day with my BigFoots and my 80's ski jacket. Watch out people, here comes a blast from the past.

At 4:30PM I remembered about those skis I'd left up the top. And, as they weren't coming down by themselves, I headed toward the Gondola.
I was *um* using somebody else's ticket to go back up. Somebody else's with their photo ID, but, hey, I was just quickly going up and back and they never check the tickets.

I nervously got on the first gondola, wearing dark glasses and trying to act cool.
I got halfway, where you have to change gondolas, and the second gondola didn't seem to be running. I hung around the entrance, looking for another option besides walking all the way to the top and a man offered to let me in through another entrance (main one was closed) and I was very thankful.

I was the only passenger and feeling a little nervous (remember, NOT my photo on the ID) and so I made some conversation with the operators, a couple of young-ish guys. English with an Australian accent in Switzerland - always a plus. BUT they wanted to check my ticket. Thankful for my dark glasses, I cooly gave them the photo ID ticket with someone else's photo.

It was a long moment: look at me, look at the photo, back at me and back at the photo. But I think my Australian accent distracted well, and I was let aboard, the only passenger.

Up we went. Me and my private gondola operator. Knowing I spoke English, he chatted and asked to sit next to me. I couldn't say no, I was sitting on the only seat.

After a couple of minutes , he asked my name, and I introduced myself as Kylie.

I immediately wanted to stuff the name back into my mouth. Kylie? My ticket said Natalie!

I am NOT good at this someone else's ID thing. I've had too much practice introducing myself as Kylie.

He held out his hand to shake mine and introduce himself and then leaned in for the introductory kiss on the cheek. Uh, I thought to myself. This is the downside to living in Europe. So much kissing people you don't know.

I pulled away but he held tight to my hand and reminded me that this was Switzerland.

Damn you Switzerland. You with your THREE kisses. And YOU, sleazy operator guy. Learn the difference between cheek and almost my mouth. Ew.

After the third very deliberate kiss, I pulled away and slid along to the edge edge edge of my side of the seat. Who makes these things so small!? My nervousness about the ID kept me chatting (shut up, will you!) and I chatted my way out of the gondola to avoid further physical contact with Mr Sleaze.

Switzerland protocol or not, I was not kissing him goodbye three times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear Swiss, I Will Miss...

Dear Swiss,
I will miss you.

I will miss you sweeping the road with a dustpan and brush. Yessir, that would be cleaning your bitumen roads with a dustpan and brush.

I will miss your children going on and on in Swiss German to me as I smile and nod.

I will miss getting a foot of snow in about 3 hours [today], and you coming along in the minutes afterward with your snow plow.

I will miss your whole Kindergarten class coming to your house to pick you up on your birthday. All coming up the road with their stick horses and Pringle cans aka drums. Singing.

I will miss eating the most amazing Zopf breads in the world.

I will miss the wide and luxurious chocolate choices I have at my fingertips...in my mouth...right now. Ah.

Love Kylie, who had all these Swiss things happen today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gum Anyone? Fresh Yeast?

I'm on the train and I'm lugging around a giant handbag. Full of stuff.
At least I'm prepared...with:

3 books
4 blocks of chocolate
1 pair of gloves
2 bottles of deodorant (this does NOT mean anything)
1 hairbrush
1 comb
1 journal
1 phone book
2 wallets
1 new tube of toothpaste
1 pill bottle (good rhythm for when i walk)
1 cube of fresh yeast (yes, indeed. don't ask)
2 pens
1 million pieces of scrap paper
1 pair of sunglasses, broken (is it any wonder, being shaken and squashed in this thing!?)
1 packet of throat lozenges
1 iPod
1 bottle of moisturizer
2 packets of chewing gum
1 set of broadway tickets, used (unfortunately)
1 NYC map
55 cents

No joke, I am prepared to: walk NYC with music in my ears, sporting cracked sunglasses, chewing an awful lot of gum whilst simultaneously sucking throat lozenges and scoffing chocolate, brushing my hair and applying, yes, an awful lot of deodorant, and baking some fresh bread. I can also read a book, whilst journalling about this experience. I'll have to think about what to do with my 55cents...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I Would Do If I Had No Money

This Blog is Entitled: What I Would Do If I Had No Money.

Wait - I don't have any money.

In that case, I want to tell you what I've done with no money. A little over one year ago, I arrived in Switzerland with, well, about $500. I'd bought a plane ticket and signed up for a new family.

(Nothing wrong with the old one, by the way. Hey, guys!)

I've since spent that $500 - most likely all on Swiss chocolate (Hey, Lindt!) and a number of other monetary chunks that arrived in my bank account courtesy of the Swiss family (Hey, Swiss fam! - wait, I hope you are NOT reading this).

Now, I want to make it clear that I did work for the money. Some people have mistakenly assumed that I've been on holidays for the last year (Hey guys! Nope!)

But, one vacuum fades into the next and I can make beds in my sleep now (1.3 seconds) and I'm now at the end of a year that I only started with $500.

$500 + Bed-making + Vacuuming + a whole bunch of other work =

The most amazing year in Switzerland. And a whole lot of other places. Travel & Adventure & Having to step outside of myself to be able to see everything a bit clearer. New friends & the chance to be a part of this whole other world.

And 7,000 photos. I am NEVER going to be able to sort through all of that.

Pretty sweet deal eh? All of that on $500+...

Perhaps I should title this blog: How I survived in Switzerland (home of the most expensive Big Mac in the world) on $500.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Spring is taking it's time.

I know, I can't complain: I've only recently been swimming in the warm Caribbean...but I can dream.

Have been walking the most beautiful snowy tracks here the last few days. I'm staying far up in the mountains, there are very few people around. Everything is white and sparkling and fresh.
This white and sparkling and fresh snow is also still very deep.
I know.
I know because one walk involved sinking down every step to my waist.
This same walk also involved searching for lost shoes and feet and thus losing my hands somewhere deep beneath me in the snow.
It also involved frozen gloves, pants and hair. It's really fun walking with frozen pants.

But there was no other way home. Only way out is forward, kind of like a sinking-down forward, you get my point.

After losing my feet one time too many, I found a piece of cardboard in an Alphütte and thought perhaps I could slide through this deep snow on my behind. You know, spread some of the weight out so I didn't completely sink every single step.

Not the greatest idea I've ever had. I'm sure you don't much help picturing
somebody almost completely sunken in snow, technically still sitting on a stupid piece of cardboard.

We did make it out alive though.
And in the end the piece of cardboard was put to very good use for the end of the trek where the snow wasn't 4ft deep.
Sledding down a snowy track on pieces of cardboard towards the setting sun, watching deer run across our path, and with our pants frozen stiff?


[Other] Priceless [Moments]:

Making the best Snow Angel I have ever made. Throwing myself down onto assumed soft bouncy snow to find it's hard with no bounce. Ouch. I am, however, still very proud of my Angel.

Tobogganing again. (With the real deal, none of this cardboard stuff.)

Cheese Fondue. Glühwein. Access again to Swiss Chocolate.

(In case you didn't know:)
  • I'm back in Switzerland for the next 2+ months.
  • Am currently camping out (not literally) at some rather-nice-very-good friend's house up in the mountains. (They, somewhat ironically, have 3 girls the same age as MLF 1, 2 & 3.)
  • When they kick me out, I also am staying at some-other-rather-nice-very-good friend's house in Zurich.
  • Am currently thinking about and researching lots of options for uni when I get back to Australia.
  • I'm trying to plan trips to Spain & Portugal (& Morocco?) & the UK. If anybody has any free houses we can stay in, Priceless!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

100 Places To Visit Before You Die

Dear Mum, this is not me.
Love Kylie

Now, the following list is merely a guide. It is not all-inclusive, nor does it take into account sinking cities.

For example it does not mention my current view whilst writing this blog. But it does mention Venice: Folks, it's sinking an inch every decade! Hurry!

A friend sent this list to me this week, and I'm enjoying dreaming about all these places. It does however, give me itchy feet. I already had itchy feet so now I think I've got a bad case of the hives.

The List:

Pyramids of Egypt
Chichen Itza
Mont St Michel*
Great Wall of China
Kashmir Valley
Topkapi Palace
Taj Mahal
Nile River Cruise
Prague Old Town*
Carnival in Rio
Serengeti Migration
Easter Island
Golden Temple
Galapagos Islands
Amalfi Drive
Angel Falls
Grand Canyon
Colosseum of Rome*
Yellowstone NP
Machu Picchu
Fjords of Norway
Chartres Cathedral
Antarctica Cruise
St Peter's Basilica*
Mezquita Cordoba
Iguazu Falls
Egyptian Museum
Damascus Old City
New York Skyline*
Amazon Rain Forest
Valley of the Kings
Uffizi Gallery
Eiffel Tower*
Ngorongoro Crater
Hong Kong
Rio Panoramic View
Great Barrier Reef
Sistine Chapel*
Golden Pavilion
Niagara Falls
Angkor Wat
Burj Khalifa
British Museum
Victoria Falls
St. Basils Cathedral
Burj al Arab
Forbidden City
Louvre Museum*
Abu Simbel
Yangtze Riv. Cruise
Canals of Venice*
St Mark's Basilica*
Florence Cityscape*
Ayers Rock*
Carlsbad Caverns
Hermitage Museum
Banaue Rice Terr.
Chambord Chateau
Bora Bora
Kathmandu Valley
Li River Cruise
Lijiang/Shangri La
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Shwedagon Stupa
Potala Palace
Mt Everest
Sahara Desert
Banff NP
Jerusalem Old City
Temple Em. Buddha
Leaning Tower Pisa*
San Francisco
TerraCotta Warriors
Hagia Sofia

* = Kylie Waz 'Ere

Better get moving. Places to go, people to meet. Swiss winters to hide from.
Would love to know what places YOU think should be on the list??

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seinfeld on Swiss

"The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever seen that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews. Bottle openers. ‘Come on, buddy, let’s go. You get past me, the guy in the back of me, he’s got a spoon. Back off, I’ve got the toe clippers right here."

-Jerry Seinfeld

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Do You Like That BIG Apple?!

I stepped out of the bus and arrived a few blocks from our Hotel Hostel. Stepped out with my giant bag into mountains of slushy snow.
The bus driver greeted me with a humourless 'Welcome to New York.' I think he was glad to see me. Probably. The city had been shut down the past few days due to to humongous amounts of snow.
And have now spent the last several days traipsing around the Big Apple. I think I've worn an inch of my height. It's huge.

Memorable bites of the Big Apple in no particular order:

Broadway: Was VERY lucky to see The Phantom of the Opera AND Billy Elliot. I love musicals so much. I could watch them all day. Sometimes I even randomly break into song and dance to be in my own musical. LG Life's Good.

Times Square: This place has so many lit and electric advertisements that it looks like day even at midnight. No kidding. It's amazing. After standing with my mouth open for a good few minutes, I realized this made me look too much like a tourist and tried to keep the mouth closed.

Hailing a Cab: I hailed a yellow NYC cab (very proud - although it did take a few tries....they'll speed right past you unless you throw yourself in front of them. I'm a bit bruised.)

Being sat on: Yes indeed. It's official. I'm invisible.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. And then being able to use my awesome Brooklyn accent once I reached the other side. They're from another country over there.

Visiting JAO Schwartz: Remember the Giant Toy Store from Home Alone? It was based on this store. So.Many.Toys.

Chinatown!: Coming up out of the Subway, having boarded in New York and then arriving in China Town? It's bizarre. Like arriving in another country....like China!

Mulberry St: Dr Suess, eat your heart out!

Lady Liberty: Alas, I only saw her from afar. She acted kind of distant.

Seinfeld: Remember the Restaurant from Sienfield? I met the gang there for breakfast this week. Well, actually they couldn't make it, but I sure enjoyed their food and restaurant.

Walking on Thin Ice: Central Park. Yeah Baby!

Zurich Friends: Who would have thought I'd be able to meet up with 5 of my Zurich au pair friends in New York?! Against all weather odds, we all managed to get there for the same long weekend. So crazy and it couldn't have been any better! Thanks guys for making the trip! See you next time! Wherever that is!