Where the streets have no name

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Flag of Switzerland  , Zürich,
Sunday, September 12, 2010

I have a new understanding for the U2 song, Where The Streets Have No Name.   When I am driving around Switzerland, where every sign is written in a language I do not understand, I get it; it might as well be that the streets have no name. 

 I love having a GPS here; in fact I am sure there are a lot of things that I never ever would have attempted in the last 12 days without "the lady" (as our friends Binit and Angie call it).  We just exchanged for a larger car (by law, we needed one that would accommodate car seats for all 3 kids) and by some accident we now have GPS built in and a hand held Tom-Tom that I have learned to trust a little more.  When I am feeling particularly lost I can ask both ladies to bark out directions to me.  So it went yesterday. 

Yesterday, the girls and I attempted a little outing while Brian stayed home with a sleeping Alex.  Unfortunately the construction in the city is so thick, that after a hour of trying to avoid it, we gave up and headed home.   We got so turned around I could not tell up from down.  The frustration of not knowing your way through the winding, hilly, one- way, narrow, nameless streets in our area of Zurich known as Hongg was enough to move me to tears.  My goal was to stop off and get milch and a few other groceries at the only market we have not tried yet.  That way I could choose a favorite market, and get what we needed for the next couple of dinners (people eat out here only for special occasions, and rarely with kids.  Where is my Chipotle??  There is a Domino's Pizza within walking distance, of all things, but we have not reached that low yet, I can only imagine the price for a delivered slice of Ann Arbor).

We got lost finding where underground entrance to the CoOp Store.  We got lost making sense of the parking garage and the insane number of quirky Swiss rules when it comes to parking. So lost in fact, that we did not even make it into the store!  We gave up to go home.   We got lost going around the triangular shaped one way block that leads to our farmhouse.   I knew we were close to home, but the ladies were both telling me it was another 20 minutes in the opposite direction.  I finally called Brian in tears, as the girls encouraged me from the back seat.  We turned off the GPS helpers and wandered blind, making it home in 3 minutes, but still feeling very unaccomplished and frustrated.

“I will not be defeated by a trip to get milk!”  I said to Brian.  Take me back up there and drive around while I shop so we don’t have to park.  Alexander was still napping, and I already felt perfectly comfortable leaving the girls home to work on the computer while he and I left for a hour.  Kids much younger walk  a mile to and from school on their own everyday.  It’s a beautiful feeling,  safety.

He obliged, found parking, and $125 later we had our milk and 4 days worth of food as well.  Won’t need to think about grocery shopping for almost a week!  WooHoo!  (We already have our dorm fridge packed like only an American housefrau can!  My kitchen looks like a Costco warehouse compared to others.  Mostly because we shipped cereal and ricearoni and BBQ sauce and such from home.)  

After our shopping and a quick late lunch, we decided to go downtown to indulge Serena on my promise that we would try to rent bikes within our first two weeks here.  To find a bike seat and kid bikes we were advised to go down to the lakeside area called Burkliplatz, though free bike rentals happen at train stations throughout the city.  Brian navigated us down there by bus and by tram (we were so done with driving!), and we wandered around on what was turning out to be a gorgeous sunny day.  We intuitively found the rental place, only to find out that their computer system was down, and that they were closing up rentals for the day.  After wandering around some shopping districts, we got home hungry and tired at almost 7pm.

Getting lost all day takes a lot out of you.  Brian had Alexander and himself asleep by 9pm, and the girls and I stayed up doing a little school work.  I could hear what I thought was the neighbor’s music from downstairs, and opened the terrace to get a listen to what they had on.

“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Amen to that, brother Bono.

That is when it hit me… wait that sounds live…  I read on the expat board that people have been selling U2 tickets all week.  Could it be???  It is!!  It is!!  Holy cow, I can hear U2 live in concert form my terrace!!!  I have to tell someone!  I need to put this on facebook (Serena insisted on doing it instead)!  I need to wake up Brian (not happening, he was out cold)!

Mom is a Party.  That is what Serena wrote during our first mother daughter concert experience last night.  I closed up the school work, and convinced her and Kayley to come out on the terrace and light some candles and enjoy our good luck, which we were so due.  We looked up U2 on you tube (say that 3 times) so the girls could see who they were listening to.  I was so excited I even tried to convince them to wander a bit closer so we could see beyond the trees on our property (Serena came along, Kayley stood guard from the terrace trying to mind us as we walked no farther than 100m from her, by her orders).

As the concert ended we noticed the carnival lights from the fair in town (Should we go tomorrow?  Why; it’s something we would avoid at all costs back home), and enjoyed a light snack before heading off to bed. 

Today we will head off to Lucerne to show the kids Mt Pilatus –the excursion that I insisted Brian take me to when we came to Europe in 2006.  It is truly marvelous.  This will be our first big expedition as a family.  We are all looking forward to it!   Earlier in the week my navigation skills were scoring much higher.  On Friday, I wanted to give the girls something worth writing about, and with little more than a name and a description that included waterfall and castle we made it to the city of Schaffhausen.  We hiked around the largest waterfall in Europe, played at the kid’s new all time favorite playground, that we found when I came to terms with my first pay toilet (gotta remember to keep more coin on me!).  And took in our first medieval castle, the breath taking Castle Munot.  We also made it to Germany without even realizing it (why are they waving me through these zoll booths without paying?).

Our view of the world is getting bigger!

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pano.mamalou on

Angela, you need to publish this! It is really exciting to read and hear about your adventures! Good and bad. Your determination is amazing! Love the pictures! Wish I was there with you! Eric said that he was in Germany when he was loading equipment for a rock band in his early twenties, and the water is different there and made his skin condition.break out. Maybe that's something you could ask a doctor there if its the water, and if there is anything that can help relieve Kayley. So a different lifestyle, Keep up your spirits, I am praying for you. At least it is safe. What is the crime ratio? Why do you think it's safer? What is the typical income of a family? I am ordering that pillow for Kayley. Love you all, Mom.

Mary Gillis on

I'll bet in a few short weeks you'll be amazed at how much more ABLE you are to do the ordinary things of life, like get groceries where you want them, and wonder what all the fuss you made was about. Then you'll be the true world travelers you hoped to be. I really admire your efforts. I was anxious just reading this entry, I can't imagine actually trying to get around in a foreign country myself.

Amanda on

How did those people get up on than thin part of mountain with all of the water spask\hing around them? Is Rhine Falls similar to Niagra? Seth is plugging his nose "Serena Style" for you guys and the pay toilet. Evan wonders why you don't just pee on the grass!

We were going to send some DVD's but wouldn't netflicks be better? I know when our TV was surged, we were told we can access Uverse online, I'll check into a password for you so you can watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or whatever one night in English!

Denise and Family on

Wow Bono!!! Very cool. I know you will be ruling those roads in a short time. You guys seem to really be taking these "speed bumps" in style. Your trips sound wonderful!! Your story sent Randy into epileptic flashbacks of walking in circles for ever in Venice.:) (I would have cried too!!) Way to rebound.
Do you guys have an address if we want to send cards etc. to the girls and you?
Miss you guys!!
(Randy said he would burn games for Bubba and send them if you could watch.)

Sandra on

Congratualtions for being so courageous!!!! It takes guts to do what you did. Do not ever give up, those are the best times. U2 rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Walked by your house this morning, saw a blue SUV parked in front, assuming is your ninja guards. All looks good, where you are looks even better. Enjoy! We miss you in the hood!!!!!!!!!!

Aunt Dee on

What an adventure you all are having. What is the time difference between here and there. I know when we wnt to Spain when it was dark here it was dayllight there. Tell Brian that Emory Smith died Thursday. That is his Uncle Willie's son I thank. It's Ford's brother. I can only imagine what I'd be like trying to find my way around some place new like that. I would get so stressed that I'd probably have a heart attack.
I've got to work today the first Sunday in about a year. I've had to miss church but God understands. I love you all. Take care and keep sending the updates and adventures. Love,Aunt Dee

Beth Laird on

U2 from the terrace! How awesome! Your pictures are beautiful. I hope you all enjoy Lucerne. I was there in 1992 after law school and it was so beautiful. Thanks for the awesome pictures and updates!

Harriet on

This is so amazing. Keep us posted. It's like were there with you. h

Rebecca on

Sounds like you are having quite an adventure! Keep your chin up -- it will be easier. Soon you will figure out where everything is and feel like an expert navigating the nameless streets. Waiting to hear about how your liked Lucerne -- I loved it when I visited Europre.

pano.mamalou on

I just LOVE reading your BLOGS!! They are SOOOO interesting!

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