Did you miss me?

We’re back from Japan! Check out the results of our Japanese makeovers:

OK, we actually came back looking about the same as we did when we left (except for approximately an extra 5 pounds each). Japan was a blast, although completely exhausting. Can too many temple visits and too much sushi cause a hangover? Anyway, many posts about our Japanese adventures will be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Oh wait, I almost forgot… I brought back a present for you, Dear Readers (gift-giving is very big in Japan). Please accept this (picture of a) $100 melon as a small token of my esteem.

Music in Tokyo

As of today, my new favorite band is Bump of Chicken. My love of this group is 100% based on its name alone.
Coming in a close second is Japanese Rap Sta.
Ever wonder what black sounds like?

Journey into the flowery chocolate jungle

How is it possible that I’ve gone this long without ever writing a post about Swiss chocolate? As we all know, Switzerland is The Land of Chocolate. Its claim to fame amongst the other Lands of Chocolate (Belgium, Germany, Holland, etc.) is that milk chocolate was invented here. Makes sense, given all the milk-producing they do.

But luckily for us the Swiss didn’t just rest on their laurels after that great invention. Instead they also managed to bang out a wide array of delicious dark chocolates, too. You can get bars made from up to 99% pure cocoa, but I tend to prefer the ones around 70-80%. But really, I’ll eat almost anything dark – even dark chocolate Toblerone does it for me.

For our every-day chocolate (and chocolate gift-giving) needs, the chocolate section at a Coop department store does just nicely (in Zurich, try the one on Bahnhofstrasse). They carry a wide variety of brands and types, and so much selection that I can usually find something new to try each time I go. I’m savoring the Dolfin dark chocolate with fresh ginger we picked up last week when we took my parents there (they picked up enough Swiss chocolate to fill an entire suitcase, I think).

Given our upcoming trip to Japan, I needed to stock up on Swiss chocolates to bring to our friends we will be visiting there. In addition to a visit to Coop, I decided to use this opportunity as an excuse to go to that great Mecca of Swiss chocolate boutiques, Teuscher. I usually stay far away from these stores because (1) it seems like a waste of money to eat this stuff on a regular basis and (2) quite frankly, their decoration scheme frightens me. Look at these pictures! Now I love kitsch, but I have nightmares about getting strangled by one of the long colorful vines of crepe paper flowers that dangle from Teuscher’s ceiling. It’s just that scary in there.

But sometimes one has to be brave, so today I mustered up all my courage and ventured into a Teuscher shop. At the end of the day, their chocolate is pretty darn good, so I figured the trip would be worth it. Although I usually stick to the dark stuff, our Japanese friends have indicated a preference for milk chocolate, so milk it was. I got an array of interesting-sounding flavors: chocolate bars with with lemon, mint, pink pepper (anyone ever seen a pink pepper?), and my personal favorite, jalapeño (it’s entirely possible that this bar will mysteriously disappear before we arrive in Japan). I also got a box of Teuscher’s signature champagne truffles. Luckily those are well-wrapped, or they might have trouble making it to Japan, too.

All over the shop, labels reminded me that Teuscher also has a store in Tokyo, but I’m sure it will taste even better because I’m bringing it fresh from its birth country, right?

Merry Christmas!

Without Halloween and Thanksgiving to hold it back, Christmas merchandise apparently starts running wild as soon as the leaves on the trees start to turn. Are there really people out there who stock up on chocolate santas two and a half months in advance?

While completely immune to the charm of chocolate santas (especially milk chocolate ones), I’m quite lucky they haven’t broken out the Zimtsternen yet (I looked all over for them just to make sure). I am powerless against them.

Japan Japan Japan Japan Japan!

OK so we’re still in Switzerland, but all I can think about is our upcoming trip to Japan. I’m so exciting my head is about to explode. I’ve never been to Japan before, but I suspect it will be something like this (turn your speakers on – you’ll want to sing along).

I don’t want to make any cultural faux pas while I’m there, so could someone please explain to me what is going on in the video? It made perfect sense until the cat hung himself. I didn’t see that one coming at all…

Eternal thanks to Jack for this link.

Has it been a year already?

Time flies when you’re unemployed for the first time ever and trying to get used to a new country. The newlywed thing was the easy part.

A year ago today we celebrated our wedding in Stresa, Italy, in a beautiful setting surrounded by more friends and family than we usually see in a year (thanks to our country-hopping habits). The next week we packed up our apartment in Milan and set off to conquer Switzerland.

This also means I have been unemployed for a full year now, since I quit my job right before the wedding and move (and Scott started his around the same time). These major life events were certainly not planned to crash down on us all at once, but that’s just how things happened. It was a stressful, fun, surreal transition period to be sure.

OK, I’m going to stop here before I start to wax philosophical. Happy first anniversary to us! Too bad we don’t have any of that dark chocolate Italian wedding cake to celebrate with…

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

From yesterday’s Heute (one of the free newspapers in Zurich):

“Welcome to London. As soon as the other passengers have left the aircraft, we will start coming around to pry the remaining Americans out of their seats.”

Mystery Park schlieβt!

If you’ve ever been to Interlaken, you have probably noticed the bizarre-looking complex of buildings that you pass on the train on your way out of the city that houses Mystery Park. Founded by an eccentric Swiss millionaire, the park consists of seven pavilions which explore great mysteries of the world such as Stonehenge and alien invasions.

I have always secretly wanted to go to Mystery Park – just think how much kitschy fun there must be inside! But alas, I’ve never been able to justify it (or convince my husband it was a good idea), because how can you choose a campy indoor amusement park over the breathtaking Alps of the Bernese Oberland which stand right outside the park’s door?

Well luckily you may never personally be faced with this conundrum again, as Mystery Park will be closing its doors November 19th. The financial problems of the park have been in the news for quite a while, but up until recently it looked like there might be a chance for its salvation. Alas, now it’s too late. Oh Mystery Park, I never got a chance to know you…

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