Para-gliding looks like fun. Sort of.

Setting aside for the moment the fact that I am pretty scared of heights, I have recently found myself thinking that if I had my life to live over again, I might go ahead and get my high school degree because I might need something to fall back on, but then move to Switzerland and become a para-glider guide. From my vantage point, those dudes seem to lead a pretty good life.

Paragliding is that sport where you rely on updrafts to lift you (and a partner, for a tandem flight) up off the earth as you basically run off a cliff. Continue reading

The Swiss “Désalpes” Festival is a celebration of cows like no udder!

Every year in the early fall, festivals are held across Switzerland’s alpine villages that feature herds of cows wearing silly hats and large cowbells parading down village streets, marking the end of the cattle’s summer grazing in the high alpine pastures. This is a custom that has been taking place across Switzerland for generations, and we recently attended a festival in L’Étivaz to take in this iconic Swiss celebration. Continue reading

Watch me cross the Swiss / French Border 3 times in multi-modal fashion!

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it sort of fun to cross a national border? To me, its as close as most of us will ever get to the whole “that’s one small step for man…” thing that has the added benefit of not requiring one to leave the planet. Living here in Geneva, I get plenty of opportunities to cross many national borders, most frequently, from Switzerland into France, since Geneva is essentially bordered on all sides by France. (It’s weird I know, but get out a map and look at it, you’ll see what I mean.)

So I decided it’d be fun to share with you my experiences of crossing the Swiss/French border via three common transportation modes. Continue reading

My Geneva Pet Peeves

I generally consider myself to be a pretty easy-going guy. Most of the time, I’m not that easily annoyed. Live and let live, and all that. But like anyone else, there are a few things that for some reason get under my skin. Here is a photo montage of things I encounter too frequently in Geneva for me to just brush off. Yep, these things get on my nerves. Continue reading

There are some weird trees over here!

One of the things I’m always reminded of as I travel around Europe is the way that certain common, everyday things are very different here than they are in the U.S. Cars, for example, are all much smaller over here. Sidewalks and streets are often made of stone, not concrete or asphalt. And then there are the trees. There are some really odd trees over here. Continue reading

Dead animals for sale! Get’cher dead animals, right here!!

As I’ve documented in previous posts, we really enjoy wandering through European outdoor markets. Shopping for fresh produce and other foodstuffs for the week – whether here in Geneva, or nearby in France’s Ferney-Voltaire or Divonnes-les-Bains (thought by many to be the best of them all) – remains one of our favorite things to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

And speaking of remains, check out some of the only-very-recently deceased main course critters being offered for sale. Continue reading

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it only occasionally snows in Geneva

When I tell my American friends about life in Geneva, many assume the entire country is snowbound for much of the year. People think “Switzerland” in winter and they imagine the Alps, skiing, and powdered hot chocolate.

The truth is that snow in Geneva is a rarity. In fact, due to the tempering effects of Lake Léman, and surrounding mountains (the French Alps and the Jura Mountains) Geneva is pleasant almost year round.  And the city is not perched high in the mountains, its altitude is a mere 1,225 feet.  Its not a long trip in virtually any direction to get up into the mountains where there is plenty of snow, but you won’t find much in the city.

But on occasion, it does snow. And we just experienced our first “major” snowfall. Continue reading

Gym membership?? We don’t need no stinkin’ gym membership!!

One of the things I miss from back home in the states is our affordable YMCA membership. I think it was something like $90 per month for the whole family, so we felt pretty good about the value we were receiving. As an alternative, we have found an affordable swimming option nearby and we also get a lot of walking in, even during these short winter days.

But with the kids coming for the holidays, Patrick expressed an interest in being able to maintain his weight lifting routine, and so I assured him that I knew a gym close by where we could go get a lift in. So one day, we walked over to the gym, and I asked the staff member on duty how much would it cost for just a single workout, thinking that maybe it’d be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 Swiss francs. (Francs are roughly equivalent to a U.S. dollar. It varies from time to time, but that’s how I look at it.) He responded “25 Swiss francs”. I responded, “… you mean for both of us, right?” and he responded, “No, I mean 25 each, or 50 total”, and I responded by saying, “C’est trop cher!” (“That’s too expensive!”), and then turning and walking out the door.

So, being the persevering and flexible types that we are, Patrick and I went about finding a less expensive (moins cher, en francais) alternative. Here’s a video I took of our “plan B”. Continue reading

A Photographic Exhibit: Geneva’s Beautiful Fall Colors, Along with Something Kinda Ugly

For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you are certainly aware by now of my gift for fine photography, especially photos of the natural world. In this post, I exhibit a series of photos – and one video – that portray the stunning beauty of Geneva’s fall colors. But anyone with a cell phone can take a pretty picture of colorful leaves. In this exhibit, I aspire to take the art form to a whole ‘nuther level. As you will see, each picture contains beautiful fall colors, but the beauty is juxtaposed with a foreign object that is kinda ugly. And yet, the beauty of the natural colors prevail. In the art world, this is known as “art”. Continue reading

Christmas time in Geneva — Cool Christmas lights abound!

I’ve been busy with holiday activities, and so I’ve relegated my blogging obligations to the back burner, but I did manage to take some pictures of the city’s Christmas lights of a walk we took a week ago. Here they are. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year. If I missed anything, Happy That, too! Continue reading