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Published: August 9th 2009
It is officially the last day of my first weekend in Zurich. After overcoming my airsickness that lasted through Copenhagen and jet lag, which lasted until today, I feel completely aware of my surroundings. The first two days in Switzerland where spent unpacking in my new apartment, location bottom floor of a guesthouse situated next to Lake Zurich. Not at all a bad place to be. The village that I live in is small, only 1,100 residents but does have everything you could need close at hand. For example should I wish to have chicken for dinner, the local butcher is only a 3 minute walk away, does fresh baked bread strike your fancy well go across the street to the bakery and pick up a loaf. Don't need to buy any food but have to mail a letter, turn left at the main road and walk 10 minutes until you see a building with Post on the side. However if after mailing you package you decide you do need toothpaste and wine there is a small grocery store across the street.
Getting around here has turned out to be even easier than in Italy. The Swiss are world famous
There is a small mooring area for the neighborhood boats.
for their punctuality and are rarely if ever late when it comes to mass transport. Even driving here is much easier, the roads are taken care of, unlike in the States where avoiding potholes has become a normal occurrence. Instead one finds much narrower roads, but said roads are well paved and clean. On the drive from the airport I don't believe I saw any trash on the side of the road. My employers tell me its because the Swiss love to write tickets for just about everything, and there is always a police officer handy to give them. Always. So I guess I won't chance it when it comes to speeding because that too is heavily fined, anything over 5km over the limit and you get a ticket. In the States it is the same except here the country is smaller and patrolled much more diligently because of the radar and cameras that are placed every few km.
My first trip into the city was Saturday, to celebrate the Street Parade in Zurich. I sort of knew what to expect from it before getting there, but nothing could have fully prepared me for the actual event. Before leaving
the States I had joined the Meetup.com group "Zurich Meet-Up" in order to have a group of people to hang out with as soon as I landed. This turned out to be the best idea ever, not only did I not feel completely out of place, but I was able to talk to other expats and locals around my age (20-35). The group met in the main train station and after wandering aimlessly for some time I actually found them.
Let me first say that the Street Parade is not for the faint hearted. I definitely saw more naked women and almost naked men then I have ever seen, most of them wearing things that didn't fit properly and should have covered up more. Nearly everyone was dressed in costume, not unlike Halloween myself included. The group I was meeting chose angels and demons as their theme, so to get into the spirit I wore the same red lame spandex that I wore to Oktoberfest!!!
, along with a red tank and jacket to complete the look. In our group most of the men came as Angels while the women came in devil costumes, although it did go both ways.
As my first official group meeting everything went as planned except for the down pouring of rain that started as soon as we all left the HB. Putting a damper on the event as everyone wanted to dance without getting drenched. Again I should mention what the Street Parade would entail.
Picture this: a techno club + gay pride weekend + Seattle Summer Solace festival + 500,000 people + Halloween = Zurich Street Parade.
The whole group kept telling me that there was nothing like this elsewhere. The whole of downtown was blocked off in order for the techno music floats to travel down the street blaring house music to the thousands of people along the streets. Everyone is packed together under many umbrellas holding drinks in their hands and swaying along to the beats (with so many people it was rather hard to dance other than by swinging your hips back and forth while raising your hands). Actually watching people listen to the music and attempt to dance became more entertainment to me than anything else. Most of the time people on the floats would be yelling at the crowd in English to "get their hands up"
My new home
The guest house from the side. I live on the bottom floor in an apartment.
and after a brief pause they would, however it would then continue into some form of English which I don't believe anyone understood. I mixture of German, English and Swiss-German (which is not at all like German). It became some garbled mess that I stopped trying to understand. The parade lasted throughout the night, but I left early at 7ish after getting there at 1. My lack of normal sleeping hours and slight starvation was starting to get to me by that point, plus I did not want to spend my first weekend drunk trying to navigate my way back to the apartment on the train. No way Jose.
So I left my new friends Lucia (a girl from the Czech Republic) and Koen (a guy from Holland), and headed home. Out of the group these were the two that I spent the most time talking to. Koen and I actually have quite a bit in common as we both just graduated from the University recently and are now working in Switzerland for a year. Lucia has lived here for 5 years already and happens to speak German very well, so she became a great translator for me. The
small amount of German that I know became out entertainment because it was so absurd that I would say it to anyone (Thanks Matt), not appropriate for polite conversation at all.
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