Over and Out
1:09 PM
My stint in Switzerland is now over. Many things that I liked and many things that drove me nutso.
I think in a few months I might make a list of the bests and worsts. For now I am just too tired to think about it.

Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
1:09 PM

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A night in Genova
1:24 AM
On my way to the French Riviera, I decided to stop over and spend the first night in Genova. Genova is fantastically connected for transportation, ala planes trains and automobiles....in this case including ferries as well. Unfortunately there were not any ferries going in the direction that I wanted to go, but sometime I would love to take one of the Genova to Barcelona ferries.
I did not have high expectations for Genova. It is, and always has been a major port town. I figured that the modern interpretation of this would be a busy, dirty harbor. This was not the case. Genova is not a wonderland, but it has a lot to offer. It is one of the few cities that I have been to in Italy that really has a modern Italian vibe the way that an outsider would expect to see it. The city seamlessly combines modern demands with old world charm and behavior.
Genova is mostly known to us westerners as the bithplace of Christopher Columbus and the place that Marco Polo was hung. There are some truly fantastic buildings in the old port section and walking around at night transports to another era as perhaps only Florence can compete to do. It is very charming.

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Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
1:24 AM

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Socializing
12:28 AM

Italy is relatively small, but just like the US, there are several different types of culture based upon region. Everyone knows that there is a difference between Sicilians and Lombardy, but there are so many other variants in between. As part of my program, I have the opportunity to talk to all these different people. One of the main things I have learned from that so far, is that there is no way I am ever going to remember all of the regional classifications. For example, Tuscany as the area in which Dante is from and therefore the foundations of the Italian language, is considered a highly cultured area and are supposedly very prideful… but as I have heard, not altogether unfounded. For the most part, my Italian peers are from Milan and the general Lombard area since that is just over the border.

Socializing with the people here is sort of half and half. The people within my age group are all very friendly and approachable. Then the older generations are also very gentile, but are less approachable because they do not know any English and whenever I try to communicate something in Italian they scrunch up their faces trying to understand me, with such agony that I give up quickly.

I am still surprised by how few people from the general populous know English. When in Germany, at least the northern/ middle parts, it seemed to me that more people knew English. More often than not, if I was speaking in poor German the other person would just speak to me in English. I suppose the upside to all of this is that I will be forced to learn Italian.


Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
12:28 AM

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Ready or Not
11:39 AM

As part of tying up the loose ends of Basel we went back to see the landlord one last time and collect the remaining belongings. Part of the moving out process is doing a once-over-cleaning…which makes perfect sense. The bigger surprise is that after our cleaning a hired cleaning person comes in to thoroughly clean the apartment so that it is ready of the next tenants…at our expense! That last bit is the part that threw me. In the states, it is the landlord's burden to make sure the apartment is up to par for the next tenants. Oh wait, wait, the shock doesn't end there. The cost of said cleaning is --- $500 CHF!!! Geeeez. I am hoping that this isn't usual and that maybe our case was not standard because we were leaving before the yearly contract had completed. Either way I'm still reeling at that whopper. So just be prepared fellow Expats, there is a chance that you may be seeing unsightly cleaning bills before your move is through.


Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
11:39 AM

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Yummy in the cucina
3:41 AM

Mushroom Eggplant Sauce for Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package rigatoni pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 or 2 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) package fresh mushrooms, chopped to varying degrees
  • 1 eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Splash red wine
  • 1 teaspoons basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil to a pan over medium low heat.

Sauté onions and garlic until translucent.

Increase heat to medium high and add mushrooms simmer for 5 minutes or until browned

Add Eggplant and also simmer for 5 minutes

Stir in tomatoes, basil and chicken broth

Bring to a boil

Remove from heat and add milk and wine


 

Serves 6


Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
3:41 AM

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Welcome to Locarno...
7:53 AM

...the sunniest city in Switzerland.
Things that I've learned about Locarno in the past two weeks: the official language is Italian (oooh yeah, new language to learn)
the city houses a castle that is thought to have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci,
although it is still much farther north of Washington DC while I've been here the average temp is 60 degrees,
they hold an international film festival here in August,
the area is also known for its fragrant foliage--oleander, camelias, and magnolias,
and a large music festival called Moon and Stars in held every July.

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7:53 AM

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The Move
10:48 AM
Finally made it to Lugano…or rather Locarno. Finding a place in Lugano that met our standards and allowed dogs was pretty much impossible. Instead we found a place in the nearby (about half an hour) Locarno. From what I have seen this past week it may be even better than Lugano. Lugano has a nice metropolitan feel, but Locarno has the cute feel of wide piazzas with cafes and shaded sidewalks. A bit more of a rustic feel. The weather here has been wonderful so far with days in the 60s. I can’t wait for the end of this coming month when the Camilia festival is held. Apparently the whole town explodes in blooms.

Sorry, that's all for now. Due to the move I have unreliable internet again!

Sweet Dreams and Goodnite
10:48 AM

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