Just a touch from the last blog entry, the very harsh man was the Chief Economist that was giving our group the nice, drawn-out presentation on risk analysis. During the presentation, he had a special mouse that was also a pointer that “Tom” gave to him. Well, this mouse didn’t quite function like he had hoped…. him dropping it on the floor and having it fall apart may have had something to do with it. I don’t know.
Anyways, once he figured out how the projector and his laptop worked, maybe around 30 minutes to get that going (yes, he is the real Chief Economist) he continued on, mouse or no mouse. During his spiel, his crew kept trying to help by bringing in new mice and fancier pointers, but he needed “Tom’s” mouse to work, and unfortunately Tom wasn’t there to get the hard end of his temper. Every time a new solution came up or someone tried to help, he would stop the presentation, start going off in German, and yell for them to get out. It was a very friendly impression for some American tourists.
Once the evening was free, it was back out to the city we went. There’s nothing like wandering around Switzerland to make you stick out and feel very American. One of the first things you’ll notice is all the very fit and well styled Europeans. Unless you’re wearing skinny jean pants, a blazer, shined up boots, and a scarf, you’re going to most likely stick right out. So to combat this, a group of us decided to hit the local streets and visit the shops. One of the places we first walked into was an H & M. There we browsed around and two of the group members, Josh and Nick, decided to try their part to blend in. So they jumped into the dressing room and donned their best v-necks and suction jeans and have never looked better. Now, I by no means have any disrespect to the European fashion, which by the way, happens to be much better than our American one. It’s just a new change from our very relaxed and comfortable ways to put it in the nicest form.
After the skinny jeans episode, we continued our journey trying to find a nice place to eat. By nice, I mean cheap: preferably anything under 30 franks (for a small sandwich) which a frank is roughly 1 to 1 to the U.S. dollar. We finally came to a small place on a side street where it looked to have a younger crowd and invited ourselves in. First thing was to order food; this is fun to do when you don’t speak German. There were English descriptions for some of the food, but I thought I’d do this right and order something appearing to be authentically Swiss. And so, I ordered Albino. As it turns out, I basically traveled all the way to Zurich for pizza. It had a light crust with bacon onions and various cheeses, but also something similar to scalloped potatoes, and it was actually quite delicious. To drink, one of the few German words I know, “Beir.” Again, we wanted to try something local. The restaurant’s waitress told us they only had two kinds, dark and light. I went dark. Two around me ordered some Swiss beer as well. Somehow though, when the waitress brought us our drinks, the kind with only two options, she placed three different flavors in front of us. The funny thing about this is she basically picked for us and so proceeded to give the light beer to my white friend, I got the medium beer, and a Black man got the darkest beer. She was basically matching our faces to our drinks light, dark, and darker. Despite the drinks’ bigot ways, we finished very good pizza dinner.
Once done, we had a nice surprise. The place we were at was going to have live music that night. First up was a group of three guys that basically sang U.K. cover songs. It’s amazing how although they speak with their native accents, once they begin singing, the English comes our clearly American. After them was a young singer named Christina Maria. She was absolutely amazing. We kept waiting for her to bellow out a mediocre song, but that just didn’t happen. All of her music was original, she played the guitar like a pro, and had an engaging stage presence. She has been traveling around Europe performing, and that was only one of her stops after being in Asian, Mexico, and originating back in Canada. Now, I’m not one to usually buy someone’s CD, but none of us could resist a chance to get hers.
At the end of the night, we hopped back on the public train. The train system is really unique and the rails are actually built into the street where they share the roadways with the cars, taxis, and coaches. It actually was quite enjoyable too. The trains are a lot like the Eco-Via that I remember from Quito, Ecuador, minus the sardine can feeling and pick-pocketers. We even met a couple from Chicago on there and a nice man from England who coached us on the dos and don’ts of living around the area. He has been living in Switzerland for about a year now after pursuing a different job in a teaching program.
Now its about 8:30 in the morning on the 5th of May (not sure yet when this entry will be posted) and we hopped onto a coach again at about 7:30. Our next stop is Munic, Germany for a little sightseeing and lunch at apparently one of the best restaurants in Europe. We’ll see how that goes. After Munich, its back to traveling over to Austria for some more technical visits. Until then, I hope we don’t run into anymore Chief Economists.