Picture of the Day

One of the most useful sites for moving to Zürich is www.englishforums.ch. This is a site primarily for expats living in Switzerland but there are also some Swiss folks who post. Mostly it is an exchange for information. Good stuff.

This morning after my bike ride I was reading a thread, “Picture of the Day”. This one just caught me and made me laugh out loud. There are just so many things going on here, the roadkill, having GI Joe characters handy, taking the time to pose them….

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Gosh I love British Airways

This is overall a marginal rant. Overall my flight was fine, the staff at BA was good, etc etc. But flying home yesterday…

The flight from Seattle to London went without a hitch. We landed and then the problems started. I ostensibly had 50 minutes from the time my flight landed to catch my connecting flight to Zurich. As we sat on the tarmac waiting for a gate, I got a little worried. I was now down to 30 minutes, then 20. Heathrow’s Terminal 4 is enormous so getting from one side to another is a challenge. And getting through airport security is always hit or miss. Do I remove shoes? What about belts? Laptops? The answers in Seattle are different than the answers in London or Zurich, fun fun fun.

The plan finally gets to the gate. I storm up the gangway and frantically look for my gate. Ah, the sign says “Flight will board at Gate 17”. I speed-walk towards 17, cursing at the people who wobble as they walk. You know the kind, they slowly amble along, meandering and suddenly careen into some duty free shop with never a signal or head-check. I get to gate 17 and it’s sort of quiet. Uh oh, did I miss my flight? There are no signs anywhere.

On the off chance there has been a gate change (with no announcement or signs by the way) I walk back out of the terminal arm to a monitor… yep “Go to Gate 5” flashing which means final boarding. Thanks BA!

I steamroll to the other side of Terminal 4. This time I think the steam coming from my ears helped people see and avoid me. I get to Gate 5 technically as the gate is closing. But hey, who knew, they aren’t really closing the gate, they are just opening it. Surprise! As I give my ticket to the agent I mention that of course my luggage will be lost. The agent replies, “no, the baggage guys know about gate changes before everyone else, plenty of time”.

You of course know the punch line. My bags of course did not arrive in Zurich. Oddly BA thought that one bag did and one bag didn’t. But nope, no bags. The last time we flew BA they let our bags sit outside in London for 4 days. We received sodden, soaking gear with no apologies. We’ll see how it goes this time.

People, myself included, complain about the enormous amounts of luggage people take on airplanes. There was one guy yesterday who flew into Zurich for a business meeting. He flies out today. BA is promising him his luggage “within the next few days”. How handy for him to know his luggage will arrive in Zurich by the time he is safely back in London. I assume that guy will never, ever trust his luggage to BA again.

Some thoughts on returning home

I am waiting at the airport to fly back to Zurich. I have been in Seattle for about a week on a business trip. I think it will take some time to digest this trip (literally and figuratively) since it is my first trip back home since we moved. Great to see my friends and family.

The good

The first thing I should mention is I really, really liked being able to speak the language. From the moment I boarded the British Airways flight I could just relax and not worry about German. There is a moral to this: work harder on German and maybe this relaxing feel can happen all the time.

The second thing worth noting is I really do miss hamburgers. I thought I missed steak and I did. But hamburgers… they have them in Europe but they are, all apologies, wrong. Maybe they don’t have enough added hormones, maybe the beef is cleaner or not, who knows. But I can assert that American hamburgers really are better. Fries are usually but not always better in Europe. There are exceptions. But some quick rules about burgers:

  1. I don’t know what the sauce is in Europe, but it’s not right. The only good sauce on a burger is barbeque sauce.
  2. Pickles are dill, not sweet.
  3. Lettuce, tomato, onion. Yogurt is right out.

Before going too far let me address the reply that will certainly come, “what about American cheese”. Well… it’s not cheese, it’s “cheese food” whatever that distinction means. It’s neither cheese nor food, discuss. Seriously, just ask and most restaurants will happily give you something better like cheddar, “Swiss” which causes me to chuckle anyway since how could one word wrap all the cheeses in Switzerland. It would be like asking for “French” dressing… oh wait.

I’ll move on to steak. I miss big, gigantic, marbled, grilled steak. My in-laws cooked up a doozy on Tuesday. We had a decent if disappointing steak at El Gaucho on Wednesday. And then another big steak on Saturday with the in-laws. Man…. I miss steak. On the other hand I ate half a kilo of beef for each steak and that is just not sustainable for someone of my advanced years.

What else…. really good Mexican food. Rare in Seattle too, but rarer in Zurich. Carta Oaxaca in Ballard is a treat.

Sliced bread is good too. Someday I will sell bread-slicing machines in Zurich and make a fortune. Imagine good, tasty, rich bread but sliced. It would be the best idea since, well, you know.

The bad

Traffic. It was everywhere. Tons and tons of cars. And no trains. I’m ready to be back in the land of trains and trams.

There was also a noticeable lack of bratwurst stands in Seattle, go figure. I miss bratwurst. And cervelat. I’d make a large wager one cannot find cervelat in Seattle.

I also couldn’t really walk anywhere. I wanted to go to the store — jump in the car. At one point today I caught myself driving 60 yards from one parking lot to another as I changed stores. What is that about? By the time I return to Zurich I will have lost my walking muscles.

It was also pretty damp. I always forget how damp Seattle is. Of course this year Seattle has trended colder than Zurich which is unusual. And they are having an amazing ski season.

Summary

Home is where you wear your hat, after all.