Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Sixty Days in Suisse - Part V

Revision, Rain and Raclette

In all honesty, week five of my new Swiss life was probably the most boring yet, mainly because I spent the vast majority of it trying to absorb various the various functions and details involved in SQL databases, some of which had begun to make sense but that didn't make them any less boring.

I managed to advance far enough through my course that I felt it was time to book the exam and give myself a deadline for learning as much as I possibly could - and so, I scheduled my MCTS exam for Thursday 12th November.

The view without rain...
It was also the week when I really noticed how different rain in Switzerland is compared to rain in England – the latter tends to fall on you from a long way above, while the former seems to engulf you in clouds of rain.

I think it would be best explained by imagining that rain is speech: in England, the clouds are shouting at you from afar, whereas in Switzerland they stand next to you and shout at you, sometimes even cupping your ear while they shout to emphasize the effect.

...and the view when it's raining

When it rains in Switzerland, it really rains.

It generally rains for the whole day, while in England we are more used to rain coming in the form of showers, instead of the relentless barrage of wet bullets that we get here.

Probably best to just look at the pictures and see if any of what I have written makes sense. Actually, pictures probably don't tell the full story either... the only way to fully appreciate it would be to experience it for yourself. If you decide to do that, don't forget to bring your umbrella!

Our chalet (with me on the balcony)
After a long week of studying, Chris and I took a break from life in Lausanne by heading up to Château-D'Oex with Chris' cousins Joelle and Jerome, and Jerome's boyfriend Patrick.
Patrick's parents have a little chalet in the town so we stayed there, a quaint wooden place with a real wood burning stove.
It didn't take that long to drive there, although as a precaution we had purchased snow chains for our tyres the day before in case we encountered snow on the way (it is at a fairly high altitude so snow was a possibility). We made it, snow-free, in around an hour and a half, and then had a quick look around the chalet before heading into the town.

Strolling through Gstaad
There wasn't much to see in the town itself, as it is quite a small place, but we found a shop and bought some cheese and nibbly-bits to have a raclette meal for dinner. Back at the chalet, we prepared the meal and promptly gorged ourselves on delicious raclette cheese, potatoes, bacon, mushrooms, onions, and several other foods. It was a very nice meal, hats off to the cheesemaker for that one!

Once we had cleared everything away, we got in the car and drove over to nearby Gstaad, a town famous for it's expensive ski resorts and luxury hotels, with celebrity residents including Julie Andrews, Elizabeth Taylor and Bernie Ecclestone.

Ride 'em cowgirl!
It is also a German-speaking town, once again demonstrating the cultural diversity of Switzerland as French-speaking Château-D'Oex is only a 15 minute drive away.

In truth, there wasn't much to see in Gstaad, possibly because it was a Sunday and during the off-season. Gstaad is, after all, a ski town. We stayed long enough to drink a coffee and then headed back to the chalet, where we played a hilarious game of Taboo before getting ready to go out to the local dance club, La Bamba.

We set about drinking Desperados (beer with tequila in it), and managed to get the DJ to play a few songs for us - including ABBA and Britney Spears - before having a bit of a boogie on the dancefloor.
That night Chris and I slept on an airbed, but the alcohol ensured we got a good night's sleep regardless. The next day, we drove back home to Lausanne and had a day of doing... not much at all, really.
There's plenty more to read about as the story continues in "Sixty Days in Suisse - Part VI"!

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