Sunday, August 14, 2011

Great Escapes

I was walking back from the grocery store and heard an inordinate amount of howling coming from our apartment building.  As I got right beneath our apartment I realized that it was not coming from OUR apartment (phew) but from the apartment building next door.  I walked into our apartment, put the groceries down and when I looked in the living room, Pongo was "absent".  Panic immediately set in and when I looked on the back patio, this is what I saw. . . . the remnants of our tomato plant and NO DOG. 

I immediately called Kirt as I was racing out the door as I was still hearing the howling.  As soon as I got out the front door, I located Pongo inside the fenced area where he landed after jumping off the back deck.  He launched about 10 feet off of the deck but didn't try to get out of the fenced in area.  Although anxious, whining and clearly aware that he had done the wrong thing, he is still with us and seemingly uninjured.  Let's just say we don't offer him unsupervised access to the back deck at this point.  This happened the day before we officially "registered" him as a Swiss dog which is supposed to be done within 10 days of entering the country.

Kirt and I managed to escape to Annecy France for a weekend getaway.  Annecy is a quaint little town located in the foothills of the Alps on a beautiful Lake. We took the train to Geneva where we were to transfer to a bus for the final leg of the trip.  Things weren't so clear when we got to Geneva and began searching for our bus.  Luckily I spotted these teenagers whose job it was to steer us in the right direction!! How perfect is that?

Once in Annecy I realized that I had left my rain jacket on the bus (oops) and I stayed with our suitcases while Kirt made a valiant attempt to get my jacket back, unfortunately to no avail.

In Annecy we toured a very old prison, enjoyed the old town area and I loved all of the beautiful flower boxes.

Saturday morning we took a 9:00 bus up into the Alps and got out at Semnoz, a ski area.  We had no map and no real plans other than to take a nice hike so off we went.  We had hoped to get a view of Mont Blanc but that never happened as it was quite foggy and cloud ridden most of the day.

 We entertained ourselves by ending up in a field of bulls with no real clear escape.  But we were drawn there by this spectacular view of the valley below.

PHEW, Safely on the other side of THAT fence!!
We had a quiet lunch in a farmers field (no we weren't trespassing) and I climbed a lift tower.  You know what they say, "do something that scares you every day!"
Look Closely, I'm waving from the top :)

The hiking was a lot of fun as we just meandered on work roads at the ski areas, followed signs into farmers fields and took in the vastness of the trail system.  There were hundreds of cows grazing, each numbered and wearing a noisy bell on an elaborate leather collar.  Meet 8920.

We had a little snack at the restaurant at the top while waiting for the bus back to Annecy.  Soon after  boarding we made a stop at what we all know as the alpine slide.  And look at what we have here. . .  a bachelor party!! The groom to be is in the "swiss casket painted like a cow".  We saw the party in Annecy later in the evening. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.  

Groom boards the bus in casket!

So to finish the Annecy story.. . .  I had our hotel in Annecy call the lost and found at the bus company to see if someone had turned in my jacket (yea right) but they weren't able to get through.  We went a few minutes early on Monday to the bus station so that I could check in at lost and found just to satisfy myself, no jacket.  We boarded our bus to go back to Geneva and guess what?  My jacket was exactly where I'd left it in the overhead rack.  YAY!! 

So back at home in Basel, Kirt has been commuting by bicycle to work, it takes him about 30 minutes.
 We have a private blackberry patch that we've discovered where we pick berries regularly.

We were invited to a Sunday brunch by some people we met while walking Pongo.  The story goes that this man hated dogs.  He walked everyday along the Birs river which is where we walk Pongo.  After 15 years he finally decided that dogs were not going away so he started to be friends with the dogs and the owners.  He created a club (seriously) and they socialize a couple of times a year.

Kirt walking Pongo along the Birs River.

Dog Brunch on a rainy Sunday under the bridge along the Birs!

We usually go into Basel on the weekends and last time really enjoyed this German musician playing a Didgeridoo (Australian) and a Hang (Swiss).  The Hang we had never heard of before and it appeared like a pod made out of symbols with dimples in it.  We really enjoyed his music and we purchased a CD.

I must give an honorable mention to my brave nephew Max.  He was walloped in the cranium by his cousin with a golf club.  Clearly an accident.  But it did manage to fracture his skull and require emergency reconstruction at his local trauma unit.  He has over 100 stitches (and proud of that number I might add) and is doing very well.  This picture was taken Friday, one week after the incident.

Looking forward to September 1 when we will move into our "permanent" apartment.  Our new address is: 
Eichgasse 2A
4105 Biel-Benken