The time has come, school is over and it is summer time. Something I would usually be ecstatic about, but in this case it means leaving sunny Spain, saying see ya later to my new friends and beginning a new chapter of life. As most of my friends were boarding planes back to Florida I was trading sangria, paella and the beach for chocolate, cheese and the alps; off to Schweiz, known to most of you as Switzerland. I was lucky enough to find a job as an au-pair for the summer. I didn’t know much about the country except there were big mountains, which is enough to draw me in. I have now learned there are 3 main languages here German, Italian and French; depending on what side of the country you are in. I live in Gais, in the canton of Appenzell and everyone speaks German. Unlike most au-pairs I do not live with the family. I actually live in “The Falcon” with 3 of the families interns for their company. So it is pretty awesome that I have fellow 20-something’s to hang out with here. A normal weekday in Gais consist of waking up around 7:45 (big change from Spain) and hopping on the 8:20 train for a 9 minute ride to the house of the family I am working with. The interns work at the house as well because the office is upstairs, the house is actually a restored factory. It is surrounded by goats, sheep and lots of mountains in sight. The baby is only 6 weeks so there isn`t much action coming from her except for feeding, sleeping, pooping and the occasional smile, but she is an amazing baby and so cute! After work if the weather is nice we walk and sometimes end up on top of a small mountain looking out over the whole town. It is amazing, within 15 minutes we can be in the clouds looking at the snowy alps that surround us. My first post-work run we ran up a mountain and then had a snow ball fight, because up high there is still snow! Come dinner time, we take turns cooking and since meat is super expensive and one of the guys is vegetarian we don’t cook any meat. Most of the food at the grocery stores are farm fresh. After that we usually watch a movie, which is nice because the amount of movies I have seen is very low. In the past 2 weeks I have watched more movies than I have all year. Having down time and going to bed at 12am rather than 4am on a daily basis is quite refreshing. Switzerland is very different from Spain; the people, the food, the land. The things that stands out most to me so far is the punctuallity of the trains and people in Switzerland. Something that is completely different from Spain, and myself. I have always lived on what is known as Cuban time and being in Switzerland is going to really help me become more punctual (I hope ha-ha). A half-tax card was included in my au-pair gig which means that I get half off on all transportation in Switzerland. There is an additonal add on (glais 7) that is available for people 25 and under that allows us to travel for free from 7pm – 5am. I was advised to buy it so I did and it makes traveling around the country very convinent. Friday after work I hoped on a train and headed to Zurich, since it was after 7pm it didn’t cost me one Franc! I arrived in Zurich at about 8pm and met my couch surfing host, Hana and her friend Manu at the train station. We went to a cafe where a different band plays every Friday and had a beer when another girl who was staying at her house, Kristi, joined us. Hanna suggested we make our way to another place for music, Musikklub Mehrspur. Before even walking in the bar I could tell this place was right up my alley. We arrived during the set break and on stage I saw a few shiny, brass instruments, a bass guitar, a piano and drums. We had arrived at a jazz club and I was happy as ever to finally here some excellent music! A 6 piece band from Hungary hopped on stage and played for about an hour. They were pretty good, and jammed at the end and I finally got a drop of phunk, but not nearly enough to satisy my craving for the funk, haha.
The next day Kristi and I explored Switzerland`s biggest city (still small by other countries standards) and wow I totally understand why it is ranked one of the top cities to live in in the world. Running through the city is a huge lake that is surrounded by endless mountains. There are docks, sail boats, kayakers and in the summer time swimmers occupying the waters. There are Sauna`s on docks surrounding the lake, as well as resturants and benches for picnics (which is how we spent a bit of our afternoon).
We stumbled upon a flea market where I found post cards from the 1920`s! There were all sorts of trinkets from pins, to jewlery, strange boxes and dolls. Think of a yard sale on some serious steroids. We had some lunch we brought by the lake and than ran into some really funny men that were having a day time bachelor party. They were collecting money for the groom and his brides honeymoon. Giving out beer and the groom was to perform tricks for tips. It was a pretty creative way to make a buc for the post wedding festivites. Surrounding Lake Zurich is tons of grass and parks, the city is bursting with spring time.
Flowers of every color hung in the trees, blossomed from the ground and borded the picture perfect green grass. My friend Simson told me about free bike rentals in Zurich, so we made our way to the train station near glais 18 and rented bikes (20 franc deposit that you get back). We rode along side the lake and made our way to get another park. Kristi was headed to meet her friend in Lucerne, so I went with her to the train station, where a dance festival was going on… in the station, Zurch tanzt. It was pretty interesting and was the night got later the music got crazier. I headed back to Hana’s and had dinner with some of her friends. I decided to go home that night since it would be free with the glais 7.
So I headed back and Sunday went on a hike to the Seealpsee. A lake about 4,000 feet high in the middle of the Alps. The water was pretty cold still so only one brave soul was in there, but come summer I am excited to finally swim, my inner fish is craving the water. Since the snow is melting right now, there were several water falls on the way up and surrounding the mountains that circuled the Seealpsee. The water was a breathetaking blue that held the reflection of the mountain perfectly.
After exploring, I pulled out some sandwiches and had lunch next to the lake. Day 1, lunch next to a lake in the middle of the city. Day 2, lunch next to a lake in the middle of the alps; this is something I can certainly get used to. A few feet away from the lake was a tiny village that was built around rocks. The houses had rocks on the outside of them but were built in an extremely beautiful way that allowed the rocks to compliment the houses. So far, I am in love with this country and the ability to be in the mountains and city in the same weekend, same day if I really wanted.