Friday, July 30, 2010

Oh the bags are packed....

10 pieces of luggage, 2 strollers, 2 carseats, 4 carryons, 2 kids, and 2 brave grandparents.

The little ones leave tomorrow. :(

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last Dance

I had big big plans for this week for this blog. Finally, I'm back in Zurich and so I was going to spend my week catching up! Yippee, lots of posts about all our latest travels! That was the plan at least.

Then I realized, it's Marion and Betti's last week here. And, even worse, my friend Claire and her family are leaving this week too.

Ahhh, so goes the life of an expat. This is the hardest part. :(

Our friends threw us a lovely going away party yesterday. Here are some shots from the party.

Some of the best girlfriends I could ask for. I have been truly blessed here.

Marion got first crack at the cake.

Trying on crowns and striking a pose.

Tom didn't want to be left out.

Then he ditched his pink hat, put the dragon hat on, and enjoyed scaring the girls.

And, finally, big hugs.

The only way I'll get through this is to repeat my new mantra: "This isn't goodbye, this is see you later."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The big family trip, part two.

Part one was about getting to and on our cruise ship. Here's part two: our first port day, Copenhagen!

Brian and I didn't do a ton of research on this port. Our "research" consisted of a quick Google search the night before we left. However, we found some good info during that Google search. One, there was a hop on/hop off bus service that would pick you up from the pier and take you around the city. Two, the little mermaid is vacationing in China for the summer.

So, using that information, we decided to take advantage of the bus service and got on one at the pier. From there, we hopped off at the Nyhavn stop, because it looked pretty.

Don't you agree?

There was a huge anchor in this area that Marion decided to pose with.

Girlfriend likes to pretend she is shy sometimes but don't let her fool you, she doesn't have a shy bone in that body of hers!

Next we wondered over to and up the Strøget (pronounced stroyet). It's the main shopping road in Copenhagen.

The first thing we saw was a Guinness World Records museum. Had to get a picture of Marion there.

There was a pretty fountain about halfway up...

...and a cute cafe that Marion found while on an "adventure" behind the Royal Copenhagen store.

We saw a lady stroller-pooling...

...and an invisible man.

And we saw this little guy outside of a shop.

Not sure what he is. Troll? Either way, Marion was not a fan.

We finally made our way over to Tivoli Gardens. Since we had Marion with us on this port day, we decided to let her have some fun at the second oldest amusement park in Europe.

Sadly, everyone else had the same idea so while Brian waited in line...

...I took Marion to the Build-a-Bear store directly next to the entrance of Tivoli. Well played BaB.

While I was following Marion around in the store, I noticed an interesting word in the Danish language.

See it? To the right of Start?

According to an online translator, it means "quit, finished, end, at an end, over" in Danish. Hahahaha. I love when you find weird little things like this amongst different languages.

But back to my family friendly trip post...

We got in to Tivoli and had a blast. There are some gorgeous buildings inside.

There are also some random peacocks running around.

And last but not least, rides. There were lots of rides.

This one was the big hit with the kids. It was a kidsize free fall ride. They rode it over,

and over,

and over again.

But then we dragged them away to do one ride on the carousel,

say hi to the little mermaid's twin since the real one was on holiday in China,

and go to the kick ass playground at Tivoli. Really, it was awesome.

After a little bit it was time to head back to the ship. Betti passed out in our borrowed backpack.

Marion was hyper as always while waiting for our bus.

But we found the bus and made it back to our ship in time. Not before I captured a moment between Brian and Betti.


Anyway, Copenhagen. I really liked it. I didn't get the sense that there was a ton to see and do for tourists but I'm glad we went.

Next stop aka part three: Warnemunde and Wismar, Germany!

Monday, July 19, 2010

What we did today.

Or, why I haven't finished part two of our cruise series yet.

I am in Provence, France with the girls and my mom having a wonderful time.

But I haven't forgotten about my blog to do list. It's on my mind while I smell lavender, take pictures of Marion posing throughout Provence,

shop, eat baguettes and sample fresh goat cheese, I promise. :)

Vive la France!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The permit renewal situation

Before we get to part two of our trip, I'd like to discuss Swiss working permits. We are here under a B permit and it is sponsored by Brian's company. It is good for a year and the Swiss government sends you the renewal paperwork every year in order to renew and have your new permit before your old one expires.


It sounds good in theory but it never happens like that, at least not in our experience. This year was especially painful.

We received the paperwork, took our new passport pictures for them, and took everything we needed to our Gemeinde house to be processed. And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Turns out our permits ended up on someone's desk waiting for approval. Problem was, that person was out on burnout.

What is burnout you ask? Burnout is something that is diagnosed in Switzerland for people who have worked too much. A doctor will write out the diagnosis and then person gets a long vacation from work to rest up and recover.

Can you imagine something like this in the US? Nope, me neither.

Anyway, we didn't have the new permits by the time they expired on June 1. Brian didn't have them for his multiple business trips outside the country and we didn't have them when we left for our family trip on June 28. However, we did know that we had been approved when we left so at least we left with the knowledge that we should be receiving the new permits soon.

Fast forward to our arrival back into Switzerland last weekend. We hand over our passports to border control when the officer asks, "Do you live here?" and we know what is coming.

"Yes", we replied, "but we don't have our new residence permits yet."

"When did you apply for them?" he asked.

"Months ago" was our answer.

"Hpmh" grunted the officer, "That tells me that something is wrong."

"No, we know it has been approved, we just haven't received the new ones yet since we were on vacation" I replied, trying to be as polite. Meanwhile, Brian was muttering under his breath behind me, "WE didn't do anything wrong! The person was on burnout! YOU guys are the ones that took forever!"

The officer swiped our passports, confirmed that we were legal, and then we were sent on our way. Interesting to say the least- we did everything right and still got a scolding!

Turns out the timing was beyond comical. We picked up our permits at the post office the very next day and then Brian went directly to the Gemeinde to deregister.

Go figure.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The big family trip, part one.

We returned from our vacation last weekend and are busier than ever. There are more pieces to this move than I ever imagined. Every time I think of one thing to add to the list it ends up leading to three more items being added.

But screw all of that, I don't want to talk about it right now. Right now I want to tell you all about our trip! We spent almost two weeks on a cruise ship visiting the Baltic capitals. It was a great trip and this post is part one about it all!

Brian and I had never been on a cruise before but had heard great things about this one. So when friends of ours who are experienced cruisers mentioned that they were taking this cruise, we jumped at the opportunity to go too.

Since we didn't really know what to expect, we hedged our bets against all four of us sleeping in the same room and my tendency to get motion sickness and booked a mini suite with balcony. The room ended up being bigger than some hotel rooms I've had in Europe. Very nice.

Betti enjoyed playing behind the curtains and on the balcony.

We left from Dover, England. We could see the white cliffs and Dover Castle from the ship.

After finding our room on the ship, we explored and ended up in the main dining room for dinner.

Here's beautiful Betti.

And Marion. I was able to get this picture of her eyes, which I am forever trying to explain to people. Usually her eyes look brown but actually they are a bluish-greenish-gray with a brown sunburst in the middle. When her eyes dilate all you see is the brown. Other times, they look blue, or gray, or green. Very interesting. I've been debating for awhile what to call them for her new passport when it needs to get renewed. I think I will call them hazel.

During dinner, the exhaustion began to get to my three traveling partners.

We quickly bolted from dinner before making a scene and crashed back in our room.

The next day was an at sea day. We spent the day exploring the ship some more and shivering on the pool deck.

Betti enjoyed pushing the tables around.

Marion enjoyed dancing after they cleared the pool chairs off the deck later in the day.

Mommy enjoyed getting her nails done with Marion and watching Marion fall asleep because she was so tired.


Stay tuned for part two- Copenhagen!