Thursday, June 25, 2009

Money in the Bank

Since the last post, not a whole lot has happened. I jumped off a bridge into the river in Baden last week. The water was surprisingly warm for being glacier water! On a side note, I can still swim which was a rather pleasant surprise.

There was also a Kareoke bar in Zürich that we hit up for some good times Thursday night. I tried to sing a song in German because I thought I knew the lyrics. I didn't. The lady told me the song I knew was a remake of the original, which she had. Lies! Turns out everyone loves Yellow Submarine and I can do a half-assed rendition of Sweet Child O'Mine.

The weekend was rather mellow, as many interns went away for the wekeend either for a hike or to Stonehenge for the summer solstice festival. Having insufficient funds is not an enjoyable time... In the end, a few of us just got together for a couple of beer.

On Saturday Pat and I were awoken from our laziness by Luke, who had managed to lock himself out of his house. His roommate had gone hiking for the weekend and the landlady was out of town for the weekend as well. Being the expert B'n'E guy that I am, I attempted to find a route of entry into the house. Then proceeded to ask a random lady if she had a very large ladder I could use. She asked which I'd prefer, a pork or chicken sandwhich. Apparently my understanding of Swiss-German still surpasses my ability to speak it. The sandwich costed 8CHF in case you were wondering. So still having no way in, we decided to go back to my place and attempt to call a locksmith. We got a new number from the person we called (twice) and wound up having no one on the other end of the line. It has yet to stop amusing me that I have never come across someone in Switzerland that I couldn't talk English to (at least a little) and yet that day I couldn't find one. The upside? I know that key is Schlüssel now...

In the end we gave up and decided to go to Migro's for some food. We tried the place one last time on our way and by some miracle, the landlady's daughter had come home and left the window at the main door open. Luke hopped in and we were gold once again.

At this point, I cannot remember what happened on Saturday night or Sunday, but I'm sure it wasn't anything too crazy. Oh I just remembered what happened Saturday night (I just finished writing the last of the blog haha). We went to the biergarten with someone Luke knows who has an intern 3 years ago, then we went to another bar and wound up at an open-air concert to celebrate the fixing of the clock tower. The concert sucked, but the night was good.

Monday on the other hand, we had an intern meeting and apéro. We organized into 6 groups to essentially tell Alstom the same thing. Go to career fair if you want to hire more interns, and make sure you bring free stuff.. I neglected to mention the ABB has its own sunscreen AND energy drinks. The apéro immediately followed with sandwiches and beer. We then decided to go to a schisha bar followed by a party at our house. Brandon, one of the interns from 4 years ago had come to Baden that day and was crashing at my place for a couple of nights, so naturally he was there too. It was a wicked time, and needless to say, a late one. After chatting with Brandon for some time about life over here and getting some awesome suggestions for La Tomatina, the Zürich Street Parade, and things to do in Egypt etc, it was 2:30. Tuesday at work was awful, but worth it.

Today was payday, so we went out for lunch to celebrate. It was the best meal I've had in a long time. And cheap, by Swiss standards. I turned down a shindig tonight so I can go to bed early. Sounds lame, but there is a good reason. We are going to a go kart track tomorrow afternoon for work and I need to be on the top of my game to destroy worlds.

And yes, I do work. For those of you that are actually curious, I have been spending a lot of time preparing data on Excel. Or doing anything else the guys need done that is relatively simple and quick.

And I learnt that all combustion takes place between vapors. That's right. When you burn wood, nothing solid is burning.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Luzerne and whats this? I have work to do?



Yah, I didn't sit at my desk the entire day doing nothing! But the weekend first.

On Friday, I had a couple of beer in the coffee room with my colleagues in the afternoon before heading out to a BBQ in a town just south of Baden. I met up with a friend of mine, Mike, and headed to a grocery store to pick up some bratwurst, buns, and beer. I came out with 4 brats to be split between the two of us and an entire loaf of bread. We got lost trying to find a bridge across the river and I found myself face to face with a very sleep embankment above me and a river below me. I didn't feel like swimming. Eventually we found the bridge and the party. It was a great time. I met a girl from Oslo and learnt that you can legally camp almost anywhere in Sweden. Or was it Norway? I should get the fact straight before I head up there and pitch a tent in someones backyard forest. But I'm pretty sure it's Sweden. I also met some guys from Toronto who were praktikants at Alstom. Btw, the übersandwich was amazing. Although everyone was staring at me like I was somehow insane...

Luzerne! Pretty city with some pretty cool stuff like the world's saddest rock. An amusing fact: apparently Luzerne is full of pyros because it seems like half the city has burnt down in the last couple of centuries. It is also situated next to a massive lake, the Vierwaldstattersee. I checked out the oldest glassworks in Switzerland on Saturday and went out with a few Swiss guys in the evening for beer. I had been planning all day on going back to the hostel and going to bed nice and early so I'd be fully functional for Sunday. Huge surprise, it didn't happen.

Sunday was a day trip via boat and the worlds steepest cogwheel train to the top of Mount Pilatus (by legend, the resting place of Pontius Pilate). The view was amazing. Then I went down a cablecar to a toboggan/luge track and ripped down the track at mach one. I almost went too fast and launched off the track. Luckily, I tapped the brakes in time.

The weekend rolled to an end with a hike down the rest of the mountain back to Luzerne, and sitting by the lake with a loaf of bread and block of cheese. Am I Swiss yet?

Work. I've actually had people asking me about how work is going. And to put it plainly, I have come to the realization that this year, work is essentially something that gets in the way of a year-long vacation. Ok I'm kidding. It is definitely the main reason I'm here. I wish that I had more to do, because it is a tad slow at the moment, although I know that my predecessor had one of the heaviest workloads of all the interns; so I'm sure it'll turn around once I know the ropes well enough, which is happening quite quickly. I reviewed an entire fifth-year gas turbine course my supervisor did. We went over it together as "training", and it took 3 hours. Talk about a mind-bender. At least we skipped the equations or I'd have passed out. I go to as many meetings as I can, so basically every single one I am invited to. Its good for background information and getting myself used to the various concepts used around the office. And understanding the workload distribution.

As for this week, I rode my bike 3km to get to Aldi (a cheap grocery store chain originating in Germany and relatively new to Switzerland) just to see where it was and see if it was actually cheap. I had a nice conversation with a random Swiss lady when I asked her if the milk I was going to buy was UHT. Amazingly, I actually understood what she said. On the downside, she wasn't sure. I got it anyway. Yesterday, Chris and I went to Germany for a REAL grocery trip where we got 500g of hackfleisch for only 1.50 EUR. We'd have paid 10CHF in Switzerland for that. Oh, and I got a haircut yesterday via Celia. Free is so much better than paying a barber.

La Tomatina! If that means anything to you, Kudos. And for all you guessers out there, its not "the tomatos".

Monday, June 8, 2009

Its just one of those days!

For those of you out there who were into the music scene half a decade ago, you should know who sings this song. Its Limp Bizkit, and yes, I went to their concert last Thursday.

Yah, yah, it sounds pretty weak but hear me out. I was chatting with a German buddy of mine, looking for something to do this weekend. He told me there was an open-air concert in Neuchatel - called Festi'neuch - on the Thursday. I figured I didn't have anything to do on the weekend so I'd go out on Thursday night instead. Why not. And yah, I knew LB was playing and I didn't care. I don't have any regrets either. It was actually a really good concert. There is so much more energy out here. The crowds back home kill the energy of the performance. Over here, the energy is magnified. There weren't any walls of death or anything crazy, but the entire floor was jumping and there was a massive mosh pit for the floor size and number of people. No regrets.

Friday night we went to the Schwimmbad and played soccer and volleyball as usual. We also headed over to Kehl and had a nice gathering of anglophones. With beer of course.

Saturday was chill, the first day I've slept in since I got here (apart from my jetlagged first day). A whole bunch of people went to Zurich for a Europride parade (aka gay pride parade). I opted out due to an unrelenting leg pain that I've had since Milan. I watched Entourage on my pc instead. The relaxation was enjoyable, as was a little time to myself.

On Sunday, we cleaned the apartment of the old intern crap that got left behind so we had room to accumulate our own junk over the year. Haha... Chris and I discovered that eggs with a little curry powder are amazing after we decided we were sick of adding cayenne pepper powder to every meal and went for the curry instead. Chris and I went to the Schwimmbad again and played some more soccer and volleyball. I took the water slide a couple of times and managed to ass-plant my sunglasses. Thanks to my epic engineering repair skills, they will last until my trip to Eastern Europe where I plan on finding a pair of even more stylish Euro-shades.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Voudriez-vous danser?

So yet another long weekend has come to an end, and it was yet another weekend with little time to relax or catch up on sleep.

Destination: Lyon, France
Purpose: Eating crepes and baguettes

Leaving early Saturday morning and arriving in Lyon mid afternoon, we immediately went to the nearest Creperie. Did you know they sell ham and cheese crepes? I sure didn't... Then onward we went on our usual excessive walking. We ran into the main church of the city as well as an ancient Roman amphitheater. There were people on the stage practicing for a concert, which was pretty cool. A little bit of old meets new. After that point, we had essentially seen everything the city had to offer in the way of sights.

Supper was awesome on Saturday night, the best meal I have yet to enjoy in Europe. Although I am regretting not getting frog legs... Three course meal, and I chose to order the things hardest to pronounce and had no idea what I was ordering (apart from desert which was creme brule).

On the walk back to the hostel we came across a crowd watching a bunch of street performers, so we joined in. We also hit up a convenient store for some beer so we could pregame before heading out to the clubs. Pat and I each bought 2 cans of 11.9% beer, which tasted absolutely terrible, but only cost 2-Eu apiece so it was worth it. We wound up on a club boat which played house music on the top deck and an American punk/modern rock style on the bottom desk. Because we go there before 1:00, there was no cover. A night on the town in Lyon only cost 4-Eu. Score!

Sunday in Lyon was a little more layed-back, with a nice long mid-day nap, more walking and a run through a fountain. The locals probably thought I was mentally challenged. Oh well... We also came across a huge Boccie tournament with stands and referees. The French must ta
ke their Boccie seriously!

Luckily for us, our hostel on Sunday night had a kitchen, so we made supper and watched le Simsons to even out the cash splurge of the night before.

On Monday, we headed back to Switzerland but stayed in Geneva for a few hours until we could take the train back to Baden for free. Geneva is a Ritz-y city to say the least, but at least I got the joy of seeing a Royce. We were hoping to see the huge Water-Jet they have in the lake, but they turned it off because it was windy and the jet would soak half the city. We found a pleasant little park out of the way of the shopping district where we played giant's chess. We also scoped out an amusing little cafe called Central Perk. I sincerely hope that someone reads this and actually gets it...

Bis später,
Steve