Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Sixty Days in Suisse - Part VII

Fun, Family and Feasts

The beginning of my seventh week here was a happy one for me as I was looking forward to the following weekend when my parents, Sandy and Bob, were popping over to visit me (and Chris).

I was also still on a high from my exam success the previous week, and from winning at the lotto, and had decided that I would take a break from studying this week (delaying the start of my MCITP or OCA studies) and have a look at what jobs were out there for a talented, hard-working guy like me.

...and some trainers in an old tree
I had already updated my CV with details of my new qualification, so proceeded to apply for several jobs posted on Swiss employment websites, and see what kind of responses I get.

Aside from that, not much else happened during the week, although I did see a pair of trainers in a tree – I guess Swiss Christmas decorations are a bit different to the ones we have in England... maybe the British Christmas from Globus really is different from Christmas here?

When the weekend finally arrived, I nipped out early on Saturday morning to get my haircut, as it was starting to look a bit scruffy. The guy who cut my hair was Italian, and I think that showed in the way that he gelled my hair after cutting it – very 50’s Italian, with a sort of quiff at the front. Needless to say, I washed my hair and re-did the gel in a more current style as soon as I got home. Then Chris and I drove the Peugeot over to Geneva airport to pick up my folks.

Mum and Dad arrive
...through the wrong door
I think you could safely say I was extremely happy to see my parents – it had only been about a month and a half, but that’s a long time when you are far from home.

As I hugged my mum I had to fight back the tears of joy, after all I am supposed to be a grown man now (I even resisted the urge to call her “mummy”). We loaded my parents and their suitcase into the car and drove in to Lausanne town centre.

My parents had never actually been out in Lausanne – they had been to Switzerland twice previously, but we had always driven out to other places, like mountains and spas, to show them a bit of the country. This time, however, we thought it best to take it easy, as I thought it was more important to just spend time together rather than to run around trying to show off my adopted homeland.

Going up!
So, we wandered around the town a bit, then had a nice beer and some food at Les Brasseurs, a bar and restaurant that we had also visited the day before my wedding in September. Very nice, I always enjoy eating there. We chatted and got all the gossip on what has been happening back in England, and then went back home to say hello to Nelly and Bernard.

In the evening we went out to the Auberge d’Etagnieres, a restaurant that has a reputation (amongst my Swiss family) for serving really good meat. True to its reputation, the food was fantastic – I had “entrecote de boeuf sur ardoise”, a beef steak that is brought to the table raw with a (very) hot stone slab so you cook it yourself. I ordered a 300g (10oz) steak that was incredibly filling, so much so that I could barely move when it came time to leave the restaurant, a sentiment that was echoed by the rest of our party (some of whom had to take Alka Seltzer afterwards to help digest their massive meals).

When Sunday morning came, so did the rain. Not particularly nice weather to go outside, which was just as well as we didn’t have any plans for activities – we thought that we would maybe go bowling or ice-skating in the afternoon, but that was about it. We had a nice continental breakfast (or “breakfast”, as it is known here) and then Chris suggested we could head over to the Vivarium, a reptile zoo that we had visited with my brother James and his fiancĂ©e, Kelly, back in September. My parents agreed, and we walked the short distance to the centre, which houses an impressive variety of snakes (venomous and non-venomous), including adders, anacondas, mambas and pythons. It also has frogs, spiders, lizards and some crocodiles.

After spending about an hour or so staring at the snakes and waiting for them to move (many of them didn’t – they may have been models, I can’t be sure) we left the centre and started the walk back home.

Snake!! ...wait, no it isn't...
With memories of the various serpents flitting through my mind, I spotted an odd-looking stick on the wall of a bridge we crossed over. “That’s odd,” I thought, “that looks like a snake”. So I prodded it with a twig, and sure enough it was a snake, albeit a fairly small, dead one.

Looks like a snake to me...
I whipped out my camera and took a few shots of the deceased beast, to help identify the species later (and to scare Nelly).

When we got back home, I first showed the photos to a reluctant Nelly (her response was something along the lines of “Yuk”) and then to Bernard, who shattered my illusions by informing me that my snake was actually not a snake – instead, it was an “orvet”, a species of lizard that has no legs.

Personally, if a lizard doesn’t have any legs and therefore looks like a snake, I would refer to him as a snake, but I guess zoologists don’t think the same as I do. Have a look at the photos below and let me know if you agree with me or not.

For lunch we sat down to a raclette meal courtesy of Nelly and Bernard – that’s a type of meal I really enjoy, as everyone gets to eat what they want and can serve themselves with the bits they like best. We all gorged ourselves on delicious cheese and nibbly bits, and retired to the living room as we attempted to digest the food.

Whilst there, my dad brought out some DVDs that he had made for me from old, undiscovered video footage of us when we were much younger (1989 – 1991), something that I was very happy to see as I had not seen these particular videos before. So, see them we did – we sat watching one of the DVDs that included welcome footage of my grandparents as well as my sister, my brothers and me in our formative years (complete with bad hairdos and “fashionable” clothes).

It was great to watch the 1.5 hour DVD, and my dad also gave me another one that has 8 hours on it – think that might take me a while to get through!

As 7pm rolled around, it came time to take my parents back to Geneva airport so they could catch their flight back to Blighty. We took a table at Starbucks and supped some coffees, before saying “au revoir” to my folks and heading home. We had to say goodbye quite quickly as Geneva airport appeared to have shuffled its hand baggage security check section around, meaning there was a big queue for my parents to negotiate before they arrived at their gate.

In a way, it was probably better that we said a quick goodbye as it meant we didn’t have time to get all emotional and teary-eyed, which was exactly what happened when I left England in October. The drive back to Lausanne was a quiet one, as I tried to focus on the positive thought that I would soon see my parents again for Christmas – in roughly 4 weeks we would be saying “bonjour” again, so that’s not too long.

More Swiss adventures in "Sixty Days in Suisse - Part VIII"!

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