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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Downside


I love the heat. Even high humidity. But I am so not loving this train at the moment. Why you ask? Cuz it is hot. Smokin’ hot. The weather outside has to be at least 32 degrees and in this train it has to be 45. I dunno if I am exaggerating or not to be honest.

Part of the problem is the train is full. Packed. So take whatever it is outside, throw in a whack of humidity and then multiple that by a train full of people. Add in an air-conditioning system that doesn’t work, windows that do not open and you might just hit 50 degrees.

My recent move to Zurich resulted in me giving up my car. I still have some; two in fact, but alas having a vehicle or two in Canada does not help me much here. When all is said and done, I would have to say that I have adapted rather well to my first month of being car-less. I tram it to work, train it to meetings. Lug my shopping on and off the first conveniently located public transport. For a Canadian, that is a pretty big thing. We love our cars. But like I said I have been getting into this train/tram thing. I mean if there is one city to give this whole car-less thing a go, it is Zurich. Its public transit system is virtually flawless. I have never had to wait more than five minutes for anything, and I never plan ahead. The convenience of not searching for and paying for parking, getting gas, and that jazz was even a bit welcome. I didn’t even mind taking the little over an hour train ride for a visit back to Dornbirn

That was until today. Now. I have to tell you, this is one hot and sweaty (yeah, I know but it is the truth) Canadian who would give just about anything to have their car back right now…

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Sluggish Sort of Run

Well, I discovered the downside of a late evening run. These snake size slimy suckers are ALL over my fav trails. Yuck.

Defying Convention

As I waited for the tram, my eyes settled upon a very petite elderly woman. She had just left her flat in downtown Zurich and was pulling a suitcase, one small enough for a couple of days travel. My heart warmed a little as I watched this woman. A large brimmed hat sat on her perfectly coiffed hair. Impeccably dressed, she had selected a tailored white suit. For colour a baby blue scarf was tied around her neck and matching cotton gloves were on her hands.
What also struck me was the confidence with which she carried herself. I simply could not help but smile as she made her way through the crowd. I was sure she had known a life filled with sophistication and glamour and I quietly pondered the exciting stories this woman might be able to share. I wanted to know her.
I saw a lot of people as I made my way around today – but it is this lady I will remember. By defying convention she had made a stamp on my day. Imagine what one could do with a life lived like that?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Love. Again.

I thought for the longest time that a passion that existed once inside me had long curled up and died. It was a little sad, because at one point and time it had been a rather active passion. However I continued to go through the motions. I have to admit it was tough. Some days were better than others, but alas, there was not even a flicker of the passion I once felt.

Today all that changed.

My new home happens to be situated in what I think is one of the most scenic parts of Zurich. Although in the middle of city, I am surrounded by green space. No matter what time of day I can see people walking and running along one of the many trails right outside my back door.

So I did too. But not before spending many a day making excuses for not lacing up and hitting one of the many trails. Finally I did. Intrigued, once day I took a trail along the stream. Narrow, it wound its way along the twists and turns of the stream. Sometimes the trail would lead to a small meadow with soccer field; another with a BBQ and fire pit, but it was all so beautifully isolated. I still cannot believe the gem I have right in my back yard.

A favourite trail of mine at the moment takes me alongside a steam, to the bottom of a mountain with so many wonderful forks; I still haven’t had to do the same trail twice. Some have cobble stone staircases in the midst of trees. Others with narrow tunnels and running fountains. In moments I cannot help but think minus the occasional sighting of cobblestones and the absence of mosquitos I could even be running through northern Ontario backcountry.

But I am not.

Years ago I loved to run. It was not a hobby – it was my passion. It was where I would ponder things. The longer I ran the more sense the world would start to make. I didn’t do it to be fit, or to win a race – although those were nice benefits – but it was for me.

Somewhere along the way, I lost it. The passion slipped away and I never found anything that really did the trick after. But alas, I found it again, nestled inside the green of Zurich city. I suppose sometimes you just have to keep at something, and sometimes something that you thought you had lost can one day be found again. But what awakens that passion is not the same thing. Before it was about distance and speed – but now not so much. It’s the diversity I have come to love, the sound of water, the tiny size of the trail, its isolation and the painful grade of the mountain that is determined to challenge and exhaust me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sound of Canada

Now all I need is a poutine and I will be having a real Canadian moment. Hedley started up in Abbotsford, British Columbia and although a little top 40, I find in many ways that they kinda capture the essence of being Canadian. It is not so much the sound but rather the words. We tend to be hopeless romantics while at the same time not taking ourselves too seriously - which you will understand more when you listen to the tunes I included. The link following the posted video will take you to one about "cougars" - a term that is known throughout the world, but for some reason started in Canada. (Perhaps inspired after an evening at the Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things Must be Straight

Hoi! It is a heat wave in Zurich. And that means tons of hotness and no air conditioning.
I have to say, people seem relatively okay with that here. They dress for it. Sorta. I am used to dressing light, but still more comfortable in long sleeves at the office. Well we can put that preference to bed right here and now. I am so done with long sleeves. In a meeting today, I couldn’t help but start removing as many layers as was socially acceptable. Being the new one in the office, I kinda didn’t want to undress – but it was either that or pass out.

I love Zurich. It’s a rather proper city. Green initiatives are common place. I feel safe here. Heck I even left my briefcase on a tram with computer, iPad, house keys, and various personal papers to make certain that any would be thief would know where I lived – and I’ll be darned if the bag wasn't still on the tram 45 minutes and a bunch of stops later.

However, what was most cool about the briefcase incident is that I was told to hop on a tram at a certain spot at exactly 10:14. So I waited anxiously, watching my watch and the various trams. One pulled up at 10:14 but I was not hopeful. What kind of city tram would actually be on time to the minute?

Turns out a Zurich one.

I’m not Swiss. And that is pretty apparent. Swiss people dress appropriately for hot weather thereby avoiding the need to later remove garments in the office, they do not forget briefcases in the tram, and they expect (and deliver) precision timing.

I suppose a recent interaction with my landlord could best summarize my recent experiences. He was explaining to me that someone would be coming to repair something in my bathroom. “It just isn’t straight,” he said. When he saw my eyes searching for something that didn’t look straight he laughed. “This is Switzerland he said – things must be straight.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pretty in Pink

If you want your Ferrari to stand out in Zurich - best you get one in hot pink.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Sometimes things work out exactly the way you never imagined they would. As difficult as it was to say goodbye to Austria and the beautiful towns of Vorarlberg, I did. After a whirlwind of a few weeks and a difficult few months, I made the move the Zurich. And in true to (my) life fashion, it was a move filled with adventure. With movers only being available for the day following my call, and only one landlord in city of Zurich who would return a call - I finally had a window, all cards were seemingly in my favour - it was time to react. My movers ended up seeing my new home before I did. As I sat in the building office with contracts in front of me, I watched the movers lug load after load up to my new flat. Not an easy task with it being on a top floor of a building with an elevator too small to be used for furniture. And it was hot. But my new landlord was chatty - seems a Canadian with poor German moving in was not an every day occurrence. He spoke to me rapidly in German, actually make that Swiss German - and believe me, there is a difference - a huge difference. After some time had passed and the final load of furniture had made its way to my new home I asked "mind if I run up and look at the flat?"

So there we have it. Sight unseen I moved in.

A few years ago I stopped being spontaneous on "big things." I let my analytical me take over. If I was honest about if I had the time to reflect on whether or not it was a good idea or not, I would have opted for the latter or let enough time pass so that the decision would ultimately have been made for me. However, now, as I spend an evening relaxed and finally at peace in my new home, I find myself rethinking this whole analytical thing. I have given so much of my life to making decisions, sometimes heart breaking ones, and in the end there really isn't a right or wrong answer. Actually that is not true. To make a decision that goes against your heart or "gut" is bound to be the wrong one. I have worried, fretted and agonized and analyzed. And in the end, you will never have enough information to make you feel 100% at peace with the decision you may or may not make.

For two nights I pondered if I had made the right decision being so spontaneous when selecting my new flat. But tonight, as I watched a spectacular lightening storm in the hills that surround me, I knew immediately that I had.

That was my lesson in all of this. Sometimes you can plan, think, rethink, analyze and consider and things still may not work the way they should. And sometimes, if we listen and trust our "gut" or heart, we might just end up making better, and ultimately faster decisions. But who really knows? Time will tell. But then no matter what - it always does...