Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today's adventure - I called the police!

It's been gray and rainy (a solid 3 days of rain - reminds me of Seattle, except the rain is heavier and colder here) the past few days, so instead of walking along the lake, I walked to the shopping area to find some jeans for Kenny.  On my way back, there's a pedestrian underpass that goes under the Mont Blanc bridge.  And I saw what looked like a group of 8 or so teenage boys, huddled around and trying to block passers-by from seeing the kid in the middle, who from the buzzing noise I heard was using a mechanized tool of some sort, maybe a drill, to try to damage the plexiglass windows that allow you to look out on the river.

I was going to call the police on my cell, but then I realized - I don't know the number!  It's not simple like in the US, where you can just call 911.  Here, there are multiple different numbers for police, fire, and ambulance.  There happened to be a phone booth just as I left the pedestrian tunnel, so I stepped in and dialed 117 for the police after I looked up the number.  I wimped out and asked for someone who spoke English, but there was a long wait, so somebody came back on the line and said, in French, "Do you speak just a little bit of French?".  And I do, I'm just a little embarrassed of my pidgen French.  In any case, I spoke with them, made myself understood, and they thanked me for my call.

I should have stuck around and watched the police come, but it was darn cold, and I was eager to get back to the office.  Next time I walk by, I'll check and see if the teenagers really did drill a hole in the window.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving in Paris

We spent the Thanksgiving holidays in Paris, leaving Wednesday evening on an Easyjet flight. That's a major bonus of living in Geneva - cheap, convenient flights to all the major cities of Europe on Easyjet. We arrived around 10:30 PM, only to find nobody waiting for us at the apartment I'd rented at  It wasn't too worrying, though, because we'd arrived about 20 minutes before schedule, and the guy with the keys came pretty quickly. The apartment (here's the link on was quite central, and had a very spacious living room with very high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows, plus a MONSTER beam all the way across the ceiling. So, lots of character, and the beds were comfortable. Overall it was pretty reasonable. It was all very last minute - I actually only made the final arrangements on Wednesday, the day we were flying. I would have been a little more concerned had it been the high season, but in November it's not that busy, there were many options.

Peter in front of the Louvre
The first day we spent the whole day at the Louvre. I thought the kids would hate it - they definitely didn't enjoy the Prado in Madrid at all. But the Louvre is a lot friendlier, has more than just paintings, plus it has tons of benches everywhere. I don't think the Prado had any. At the Louvre, as well as benches they had lots of little window alcoves where you could hang out, very cozy and private. We took lots of breaks, and also plenty of candy. The kids really enjoyed our candy contests, which consisted of everyone taking a gummy bear, and then competing to see who could make it last the longest.

On Thanksgiving Day we were having dinner at a little cafe, and started talking to an American woman spending the week with her 10 year old daughter in London/Paris. She asked if we did anything special for Thanksgiving, and that was the first I'd thought of it during the trip! It's amazing how things can slip your mind if you're not constantly reminded by advertising in stores and things. Anyway, Thanksgiving dinner for us was an omelette for Kenny, hamburger for Peter, daily special for me (some meat with a sauce) and a big salad for Eric.

Some other things we did in Paris were the tower at Notre Dame, one of the vendettes (tourist boats that go along the Seine - foggy windows so we didn't see anything!), the Champs-Élysées, and the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, which was beautiful and sunny but freezing cold. When Eric and I went to Paris many years ago, before kids, we did things that were a lot more unique (a fashion show, a huge cemetary, flea market). This time we just did the main tourist attractions, but that seemed to work best for the kids. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kenny went on a week-long camp with his school class

We picked Kenny up this past Friday from a week long camp with his school class.  Basically, his whole class except for one kid with a broken arm took a bus to the train station, then a train to Versoix (very close, but a pain to get there during rush hour) to stay in an old mansion owned by the school district for the week.  I was worried about him when he was gone, but thank goodness he came back happy and would have stayed longer if he could have.

The old mansion where the camp was held
The kids were given a choice between different activities.  Kenny chose theater (wouldn't have guessed that!) and pottery.  Some of the other choices were mask making, drumming and making string figures.   They also played a lot of soccer on the little soccer field there.  The mansion was on Lake Geneva - I'm sure if they sold the property, it would be worth many millions.

And the whole thing was only 150 CHF!  Which is now just a little over 150 USD - a bargain for the whole week.  I'm sure it's heavily subsidized.