Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday's crafts

This morning I made a Santa and an Elf. I made the brown and skin tone colors on the elf. I'm rather proud of that. ;-)

We will be doing these projects in class next week since St. Nick visits Hungarian children on December 6th.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T'is the Season

As part of teaching kindergartners, I get to indulge my creative side. Here are a few of my creations. :-)

The roses are my favorite. They're made out of folded leaves.

This one I made while still at school, so I had access to some of the raffia there. Eszter (one of the girls I occasionally work with) and I made them with the students.

I made this one while waiting to meet up with Keith and Eszti for coffee. I had some extra green yarn in my bag, so I wrapped the stems of the together to create a rose stem.

This week (and part of last week), I've been sick. The tough part is...at the moment, I'm feeling a bit better...but about two hours after taking my antibiotics, I regurgitate them (vomacillin). So, I decided today was a good day to start decorating the flat for Christmas.
Living room light fixture

This is the window to our porch...if I took a head on photo, you would #1. see the reflection of the flash, #2. see me in my pjs and #3. see our laundry drying on the porch.

Family Fun magazine/website has some great homemade ideas too. In between naps, I was brainstorming crafts to do with my students. I think they could handle this one.
We made one of those "helping hands" wreaths when I was there for .5 seconds (aka a full day yesterday)

We will NOT be making this star. It wasn't easy...or fun...or family friendly

I'm also trying to figure out what to give my students for Christmas. I'm thinking an ornament like this would be good...but I think I need a bigger ornament. Since the school is called, Ladybird, I thought it would be cute to draw a ladybird (aka ladybug for American-English speakers--people speak British-English here) and write the year or something.

Any craft suggestions??

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Photos of Mount Pilatus

So my students ever-so-kindly gave me their germs, and I haven't left the flat since Thursday due to this gross stomach bug and a sinus infection and a lymph node so swollen, I thought it was the world's largest zit (gross, I know). Anyways, my options at the moment include: A. working on my thesis, B. updating my blog, or C. going back to sleep.

I choose option B:

Mount Pilatus is one of the northern most mountains of the Alps. The view was breathtaking--this picture does not do it any justice.

When we returned to the bottom of the mountain, we poked about the town while we awaited our train to return to Luzern.

There was nothing in the town, except a cyclist,
some granny-panties blowing in the wind

and beautiful fall foliage
Really, the fall foliage was as beautiful as the snowy mountains. Everywhere I looked in Switzerland was ridiculously beautiful. Again--I was kind of expecting random animals to come up to us and sit on our shoulders while we sang. Switzerland is a fairy tale setting.

Keith waiting for the train to return to Luzern

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mount Pilatus

The highlight of the Swiss trip (aside from feeling like a Disney princess and not helping small children blow their noses...) was the excursion atop Mount Pilatus.

Mount Pilatus from the train

Legends & Myths
The rugged cliffs above Luzern have been enveloped in mysterious myths and legends for eternity. In the Middle Ages, people believed that dragons with healing powers and spirits inhabited the rocky crevices. It was also believed that the restless ghost the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, found his lasting peace in Lake Pilatus. And so for a long time it was forbidden to climb the mountain - for woe betide any one who disturbed Pontius Pilate!

So basically, a flying dragon with healing powers and the ghost of Pontius Pilate live atop the mountain. Unfortunately, Keith and I didn't see either of these creatures, but we did get to ride on the world's steepest cog wheel train and see some pretty fabulous views of the Alps.

Keith's blog will probably talk about the dragons and other legends...so you can read about it there...

The cogwheel train that carries passengers up and down the mountain first opened on June 4th, 1889 as a steam operation, and became an electric operation on May 15th, 1937. The max gradient is 48% and the average is 38%, making it the world's steepest cogwheel train.
View from the train

I didn't take any video of the ride up because I was too busy trying to pop my ears so I could hear Keith's commentary.

Also, perhaps because I was a bit scared.

On the way down, I stopped caring. The view was incredible. Because of the grade of the decent, it seems like we're going much faster than the 9km/hour the train travels

Once we got the to top, the view was breathtaking. And obviously, one of the first things Keith did atop the mountain was throw a snowball...(please forgive me, I still don't know how to rotate video clips)

Other ways Keith enjoyed the snow--ensuring he gets hypothermia.

On a clear day, supposedly you can see Zurich from here.

The view is best captured with the video we took.

Keith tried to do a Vlog entry atop the mountain, but I was too busy trying to eat my sandwich to really want to participate...you can see my mouth full of food, then a "friend" tried to join in on the fun.

Two things:
#1: When the bird landed on my head, it felt like it lasted a LOT longer than what it looks like in the video clip--it was traumatic
#2: I like the confusion with the camera at the beginning, so I didn't edit it out.

After some running around, we discovered the cave/tunnels with various lookouts. It was awesome.

oooo....a cave!

The non-alps side of the mountain

and I need to include one mushy picture...

awww...we're so cute!

Anyways, post cave exploration, marveling at mountains, and having my lunch threatened by a stupid bird, Keith and I went to the restaurant atop the the mountain for a drink. Shortly after sitting down, this group of people who were probably in their 70s sat down with their spoons and accordions and jammed out. It was too cute! Shortly after we started recording, the batteries died, so we didn't get the best parts of the jam session...but I think you get the feel for it.

And that t'was our day atop Mount Pilatus!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glassblowing in Hergiswil, Switzerland

I haven't been too good about keeping up with my blog, especially about my trip to Switzerland. Anyways, Keith and I went to this glassblowing factory and museum in a town 10 min outside of Luzern. We got to make our own glass spheres. It was ridiculously cool...also, we watched guys doing glassworks. Check out the videos:

Glassworks Factory

Keith's Glass Orb Creating Process

Meg's Glass Sphere Creating Process

Monday, November 15, 2010


I miss my high maintenance cat, Kalliope. She is currently living with Keith's parents and their other cat. Sometimes when I half wake up in the middle of the night, I think I feel her creeping up the bed to either snuggle or maul my face.

Baby Kalliope

snuggle bug/bed hog

She enjoys rubber bands, sponges, belly rubs, and puzzle pieces

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


On Friday, Keith and I met up with our friend Steffi from Germany. Steffi and I met last year when we both worked in the Modern Language Department at CCSU..she lives a 45 min train ride from Basel (where we met). T'was wonderful to see her!!!

Fact: Steffi's two favorite things from CT are Cheesecake Factory and squirrels.

She greeted us with a gift of our combined body weight in different types of German chocolate. One of these chocolate delights was a Kinder Surprise Egg

As if I haven't had enough chocolate to eat in the past week...I decided to crack open my Kinder Surprise this evening. Obviously the chocolate was delicious...but the surprise was equally as awesome:

T'was a squirrel from my Squirrel Loving German, Steffi!!! Clearly I need to mail it to her (or go visit her in Freiburg, Germany so I can personally deliver it to her.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Freakin' Coot.

My favorite bird is the common Loon....at first because my dad had a shirt with a loon on it, and then I learned that they are actually pretty cool too. This awesome fowl is rather similar (although smaller) and is named "Fulica atra" (Latin name) and a.k.a. a Common Coot.

Not going to lie, they were definitely a highlight of Lucerne...which might sound lame to some of you, but really I like birds that dive under water.

Keith was very popular with the aquatic fowl.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bears of Bern

Photo of some random open window in Bern.
Day 3 of Adventures

House of Parliament
The Federal Assembly consists of two chambers: the National Council and the Council of States. Switzerland's political system is interesting--it is defined as a form of federalism. The country has 26 cantons (states) and the governments/parliaments/courts are organized on three levels: federal, cantonal, and communal. Switzerland uses a "direct democracy" which is considered the key to its political stability.

Popular Initiative: 100,000 citizens (roughly 2.5% of the electorate) may demand for a change of the constitution by signing a form. The federal parliament is obliged to discuss the initiative, it may decide to recommend or to reject the initiative or it may propose an alternative. Whatever they choose to do, all citizens will finally decide in a referendum whether to accept the initiative, the alternate proposal or stay without change.

To read more about Switzerland's interesting political system, go here (<-that is a link)

One of the highlights of Bern...touring Albert Einstein's flat.

"The Special Theory of Relativity was developed at 49 Kramgasse in Bern; work on the General Theory of Relativity also began in Bern," Albert Einstein

"I shall mention only one of the scientific experiences which those happy years in Bern brought: the Theory of Relativity," Albert Einstein

Einstein's living room

Einstein and his newly wed, Mileva, lived in this flat with their newborn baby, Hans Albert. Mileva and Einstein met while studying at Zurich Polytechnic. The museum had their grades posted...early on, Mileva was clearly a better student, especially in the subject of physics--although she failed the exit exam, thus only receiving a certificate, not a diploma. In 1901, her academic career was interrupted with a pregnancy by Albert. She gave birth to a daughter in Hungary, but the child either died shortly there after or was given up for adoption. Albert and Mileva married in 1903 in Bern, Switzerland, where they lived until 1910, when they moved to Zurich. The couple divorced in 1919.

There is much debate surrounding if any/how much Mileva contributed to Albert's early work on the Annus Mirabillis Papers. More information can be found here (<-also, a link)

Wicked cool 2nd hand shop under the sidewalk....
...and inside....

Bern's famous medieval clock, the Zytglogge

Keith checking out old maps
(we did buy one--a map of Switzerland from 1910)

Bern really utilizes its space...having stores on and below street level. This is the entrance to a candy shop below the sidewalk.
...inside the magical subterranean candy shop.

According to one legend, Berthold V of Zähringen named the Bern after the first animal killed during a hunt when the city was founded in 1191. (If the story is true, the Duke must have decided to honor the victim's entire species, since "Bären" is the German plural form of "bear.")

Due to this legend, Bern has what it deems "the bear pits." Thankfully, the bears no longer live in "pits" but instead a lovely grass slope next to the river.

Glacier Garden Lucerne

The glacier garden was uncovered by chance on November 2nd, 1872, by Josef Wilhelm Amrien-Troller while building a wine cellar on the site. The natural monument was opened to the public on May 1st, 1873, while excavation work continued until 1876.
The glaciers that polished the rocks and created these potholes covered Switzerland about 20,000 years ago. The parallel grooves running from north to south indicate the direction the glacier was flowing. The glacial striation marks were scoured by the rocks trapped inside the ice, which flowed several centimeters per day.

The rocks either fell onto the glacier surface in the Alps or where scooped up from the ground by the ice and transported down into the valley. The boulders provide evidence that the alpine foreland was once almost entirely covered by glaciers. The ice covering Lucerne was almost 1,000 meters thick.

This pothole is 9.5 meters deep and is 8 meters in diameter.

The potholes were formed at the bottom of the glacier by the sheer force of water. Pictured above is the largest of the potholes in the glacier garden. To provide some perspective:
Keith standing by the glacier pothole.

Meg standing near the largest pothole in the glacier garden.

How these potholes are made:
The melted water initially flows on the surface of the ice before seeping into the glacier through fissures. At the bottom of the glacier the water is under tremendous pressure. As the flow of water gathers speed, vortexes with speeds up to 200 km/hour begin to form. Within a few years, potholes are eroded out of the rock. Most of the erosion is created by sand and gravey that was transported with the water.

Below is a video of a model of how the potholes were formed: