Thursday, April 18th, 2002



Today I woke up to the noise of street workers.  It was a little after seven o’clock in the morning.    I was sleeping in the guest room right up against the window that faces the street.  The sun was shining and the noise indicated it was time to start another day.   I pulled back the curtain to check out all the commotion.   Sure enough they were getting ready to do more work on Diana’s street.  There have been street workers here everyday.  Effinger Street is a very short street.  You can easily throw a football from one end to the other.    Each day comes and goes, however, and nothing seems to really change.   The street has been closed off to traffic for the past six months.  As I am looking out the window I notice one of the street workers signal for my attention.  It appears my rental car is parked in their way.  I quickly jump out of bed, throw on my sweats and a baseball cap, and head out to move my car.   On my way to the car, I apologized for parking in their way.   The workers returned my apology with puzzled expressions.  They obviously didn’t speak English.   Ironically, they did not speak German either.  After a few hand gestures, however, we discovered we could both speak Spanish.  They explained their circumstances.   I apologized and returned back to the apartment.   It was an interesting start for the day -- speaking Spanish with some Portuguese workers in the middle of Switzerland.

Back in the apartment, everyone was still sleeping.  We had no specific travel plans for today.  We had been in the car for several hours yesterday.  We knew we needed something lower key today.   The girls were all tired from having arrived home late last night.  We eventually had to pry them out of bed around eleven o'clock.  We wanted to make a morning stop at the bakery before it closed for the day.  The bakery came highly recommended by mom.   Kacie was still in her pajamas yet we were soon on our way to the baeckerei (bakery in German).  We bought five different breakfast pastries and brought them back to the apartment.  We all took turns tasting the different items. They were especially appetizing with cold milk.  Jamie was so excited about her pastry that she ended up knocking a huge glass jar of jam out of the refrigerator on to the floor. It crashed loud and hard! Glass and jam went everywhere.   It was a Costco size jar of jam.  Diana and I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to clean up all the glass splinters on the kitchen floor.

            This morning we discovered Jason’s football game this Saturday would be cancelled.  Jason plays for the Zurich Renegades.  They play other teams throughout Switzerland and Europe.  Jason returns punts and plays safety.  We were looking forward to seeing him fully dressed in pads and entertaining us on the football field.  The girls were all very disappointed.

            Shortly after our pastry brunch we decided to visit Lake Zurich and take a stroll along the waterfront.  The lake is only a few minutes from Diana’s apartment.   Once there, we decided to rent a five person motor boat for thirty minutes.  The girls all wanted to take a quick spin around the lake.  The boat only traveled ten or fifteen miles per hour.  You did not need much skill to navigate.  We all took turns driving and taking pictures.  The sun was out and the lake was beautiful.   Diana and I both commented that we should have packed a lunch.  A picnic on the boat would have been perfect.    After the boat ride we strolled up and down the waterfront.  We bought a few bratwursts for afternoon snacks.   The girls then insisted on popsicles for desert.   We then made our way to Citibank to meet Jason.   Diana had more structured plans for us this evening.  She wanted to take us to a waterpark and then return home and prepare her German dinner specialty -- “raclette”.

            On the way to the water park we made our first gas station stop of the week.  Gas prices are usually pretty outrageous in Europe.  It took sixty liters of gasoline to fill the van back up.   Sixty liters is about sixteen gallons.  The cost was fifty dollars.   This means gas is over three dollars a gallon.  No wonder you don’t see many sport utility vehicles around here.  We arrived at the water park just after seven o’clock.   It was an indoor water park by the name of Alpa Mare.  It was fifteen or twenty minutes outside of Zurich.  Diana stayed with Madison while the rest of us enjoyed the slides and the water.   There were at least ten different water slides and we tried them all.  The consensus favorite was the Thriller.  Kacie was right in the middle of all the action.   She had no fear.  She is very fun to have along.  She is willing to try almost anything.   She really surprised me at the end of the day when all of us were jumping in and out of this icy pool of water.  The icy pool of water was the size of a big Jacuzzi.  It was directly adjacent to a large warm outdoor pool of water.  We were all swimming in the warm pool when Jason noticed the icy water.   He jumped in and out and back into the warm water letting out a big sigh. One by one, Lindsi, Jamie, Kacie, and I all followed.  The water was stream river cold.  It was a unique sensation to go from the hot to the cold and back.   I believe Kacie even ended up doing it two or three times.  She didn’t want to be left out of the strange and bizarre fun.  The most interesting and humorous part of the water park, however, was the diverse bathing attire.  Jamie whispered in my ear more than once that she was disgusted by all the tight speedo’s.   Lindsi and Kacie were also especially startled by the lower half of an older woman’s bathing suit or rather the lack thereof.   It was really quite horrendous.   Jason told them to focus on the next exciting water slide – “The cobra”.   For the rest of the evening, they would shout “cobra” in unison whenever they spotted a sickening bathing suit.  They all thought it was quite funny.

            We left the water park just before ten at night.   We now needed to travel to the other side of Zurich to get all the dinner accessories for preparing raclette.   Diana was borrowing all the needed equipment from her friend Sybil.   Sybil is a little younger than Diana and works at Citibank with Jason.  She was baptized into their Swiss branch just a couple of months previous.  The traffic was an absolute mess and it ended up being a longer ride than any of us had anticipated.  Jason commented that we must really want raclette in a bad way.  Oddly enough, I really did.  Jamie and Lindsi were in the back of the van making friendly faces and waving at all the cars around us.    Kacie happened to notice one of the strangest looking cars I had ever seen.  It was extremely miniature in size and in the shape of a triangle.  It had two wheels in front and only one wheel in back.    This curiously looking car was right beside us for several minutes during the traffic jam.  The girls repeatedly waved and smiled and the driver reciprocated.   It was a little after eleven before we were finally arrived at Sybil’s apartment.  The girls all went in and brought back the needed items.  They had fun talking with Sybil as well. 

            It was midnight and the raclette was finally in process.  It is an interactive Swiss meal.   Diana placed a large cooking skillet in the middle of the table.   Cooking on top of the skillet were little bratwurst sausages.  Below the skillet were six little slots for trays to melt raclette cheese.   She had also cooked a pan full of red potatoes.  You melt some cheese on your individual trays, combine it with a few bratwursts and red potatoes and enjoy.   It was a little late at night but we all enjoyed our German dining experience.  During dinner mom called from Portland.   She was calling Diana everyday to find out about our travels.  She could hardly stand missing out on all the action.  As Diana and mom were talking they decided that Diana needed to change her flight back to Portland.  It was scheduled to leave on Saturday and we were not leaving until Monday.   Diana was having too much fun with us!  She did not want to leave early.  The girls were all thrilled with this slight modification to the itinerary.  They wanted to go to Germany on Saturday and Italy on Sunday and they wanted Diana and Madison with them.  Nice suggestion mom!