Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Packing... Again!

Since we last spoke, we went with a group of friends via private shuttle bus to a wine tasting about 30 minutes from here. It was a great evening, but... I unfortunately forgot to bring my camera. Sorry 'bout that. Then, last weekend, we went to Paris. No, I did NOT forget my camera this time. You can view some of the pictures by clicking... right... HERE.

Paris, as usual was great. We relaxed well, ate well, and shopped well. I came home with some new shirts and bathing suits, and Mrs. TBF came home with a new handbag, a new pair of sunglasses, and probably other things that I just can't remember at this time. We had such a good time, in fact, that we booked another trip to Paris for February while we were online in the lounge at our hotel.

Right now, I'm taking a break from packing for our next trip: Chicago. The main reason for the trip is to attend my 25th college reunion. However, I'm sure that I'll have time for family and friends too. Mrs. TBF will fly over with me, head off on a business trip next week, come back to Chicago for my reunion, and then head off on business again the following week. If all goes according to plan, she will depart for London from the East Coast around the same time I am departing for London from Chicago, and then we'll meet up in London for the flight back to Basel. But enough about that...

I still can't believe that I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE MORE THAN 25 YEARS AGO!!! Sheesh!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rest In Peace...

...and style.

We received a package from Italy today containing assorted pottery we purchased while we were in Amalfi: a few plates, a vase, a couple of other odds and ends, AND...

A proper resting place for Dominique and King's ashes. Finally!

Up until now, they've been in the little white boxes in which we received their ashes from the vet. Also, they've been on a shelf right above our TV.

Not very appropriate.

Now they'll be in this beautiful "urn" we purchased last month in Amalfi. And, they'll have a new place of honor in our bedroom so they can sleep with us every night we're at home just like they did for so many years.

It was a bit of a trick getting the bag containing Dominique's ashes through the opening, but I managed. Also, I'm sure King would complain about having to spend all of eternity in the same urn as Dominique, but...

...he'll get used to it.

Wednesday Wife

I went to IKEA yesterday with my "Wednesday Wife" - Dr. Di.

On most Wednesdays, I walk our friends' two dogs, and then I walk over to my "WW's" home. We talk for a couple of hours, I drink coffee, insist on her NOT putting out any snacks, watch as she pretty much ignores me by putting out a bunch of snacks on a lazy Susan, and then proceed to happily spin the lazy Susan and... systematically devour every last crumb.

Yesterday, we mixed things up a bit.

Dr. Di picked me up at home, and we went furniture shopping. Of course, I had to wear a pair of Mephisto walking shoes I have because the leather perfectly matches the leather furniture in their living room, and Dr. Di wanted to buy some throw pillows. That was a bit weird, but... whatever.

Our first stop was IKEA. I bought a pair of scissors, and Dr. Di proceeded to buy a couple of gigantic bags of stuff - neither of which contained even one throw pillow. After going through the checkout (with my pair of scissors, and Dr. Di's two gigantic blue bags) I decided I "needed" a couple of hot dogs, as I normally do on one of my 3-4 visits to IKEA per year.

Let me just say: I don't know what you're up to, IKEA, but... I DON'T LIKE IT!! IKEA has obviously changed their hot dog recipe. The hot dogs don't look the same, they don't taste the same, and they do NOT have that nice snap when you bite into them like they always have in the past. Plus, when I bit into the wiener, the inside poked out of the casing on the back end, and it pretty much reminded me of when a male dog sits down and shows himself off in all his glory.

Um... I finished the hot dogs anyway, but... I'M ON TO YOU, IKEA!!! I'm boycotting those wieners from now on!!!

After IKEA, Dr. Di and I went to Möbel Pfister (nothing purchased other than coffee and coffee cake in the café) and then OBI (nothing purchased). Finally, at Micasa, Dr. Di found some pillows. Of course, she had to have me stand in the aisle where she repeatedly put different arrangements of throw pillows around my shoes until she found a combination she approved of.

Thankfully, there were no witnesses!

Finally, we ended up at Office World.

Let me just preface this by saying that Dr. Di's husband, Dr. Andy, often calls Dr. Di on her mobile phone on Wednesdays while he's half-way around the world on some business trip. Usually, when he finds out that I'm sitting in his dining room, talking with his wife, drinking his coffee, and eating his snacks off of his lazy Susan, I end up hearing a loud "Neeeeeesht guet!!!" (not good!) coming from Dr. Di's phone. I can pretty much predict what he'll say when he reads the following:

At one point, while at Office World, I actually accidentally called Dr. Di "hon'" (short for honey) like I call Mrs. TBF.

"Neeeeeeeeeeeeeesht guet!!!!!!!!!"

Everybody Makes Misteaks!

We paid some of our Swiss taxes this week. Unfortunately, it happens every year around this time.

There's a reason why I said "some" of our Swiss taxes. You see, for the first time ever, I actually read the footnote on the tax statement from our accountant. Here's what it says:

Cantonal taxes are payable by 30.09.2009
Community taxes are payable by 30.09.2009
Federal taxes are payable by 01.03.2010

Wait a second!

Federal taxes aren't payable until March 1, 2010?????

You mean to tell me??? Doh!!!!

I came to find out that I've been paying our federal taxes (31% of our tax liability) FIVE MONTHS EARLY EVERY YEAR FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS!!!!!

According to our accountant, the federal tax authority pays us interest on early payments. But when I asked him how I could verify that they had actually done so, he pretty much just shrugged his shoulders. Oh well...

I won't make that mistake again.

71Nyhavn Hotel

Just a few words about our hotel in Copenhagen - 71Nyhavn.

First of all, I misread my confirmation when I booked the hotel on their website. I read CHF600/USD 582 per night, and that turned out to be the cost for our entire stay - two nights. So, while still expensive for what it was, the hotel ended up costing half the price I had originally thought it would cost. So, that was good news.

The hotel is decent, but it's not fancy by any means. I guess the best thing about it is that it's in a great location right in Nyhavn. However, if you ever plan on staying at this hotel, I have one big tip: REQUEST A ROOM IN THE NEWER PART OF THE HOTEL!!!

The old part (pictured here), is the part that faces the canal. While the view is much better, the rooms absolutely suck. They are small, and the bathrooms are tiny. In fact, the shower is just a shower head coming out of the corner with a shower curtain that hangs from the ceiling. The shower floor is pretty much the bathroom floor with a drain. If I had had to shower in there, I would have been standing there with a shower curtain stuck to my body with water pouring down on my head. Not good!

Mrs. TBF took one look at the room, said "NO WAY!", and then went down to the front desk to POLITELY voice her complaints. We ended up being switched to a room in the newer wing. Although it had a view of the street instead of the canal, the room was much better. Also, the bathroom was a real bathroom with a bathtub shower combo.

What I find interesting is that the man at the front desk told Mrs. TBF that a lot of people complain about the old wing, however "....we are not allowed to make any changes because the building is protected," which I take to mean that it has protected landmark status.

That would be fine except for the fact that the restaurant we ate at on Saturday night is in the oldest building in Copenhagen, which I'm assuming must also be protected, AND... THEY HAVE A GLEAMING, MODERN KITCHEN.

What's up with that?!?!?

Copenhagen 2009 Recap

Last weekend's visit to Copenhagen, our first in eight years, was a triumphant success!

Our friend, Dr. Andy, who lives here in Basel, actually works for a Danish company and has a studio apartment in Copenhagen where he occasionally sleeps when he's not living here in Basel OR circumnavigating the globe on one of his many business trips.

Got that? Good!

Here are a few bullet points from the trip:

Copenhagen is a really nice city, and I could definitely live there. The locals seem happy and worry-free, they probably speak the best English of any non-native English speaking country in Europe, the shopping is good, the restaurants are good, and the quality of life seems exceptional. Zürich and Geneva usually rank higher than Copenhagen on the "most livable cities" list, but I personally would probably choose Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is very expensive. We stayed at a place called 71Nyhavn Hotel which was a five minute walk from Dr. Andy's apartment. It was nice, but it wasn't fancy or luxurious, AND it cost about CHF 300/USD 290 per night - NO breakfast included. The VAT is something like 25%.

Liquor is expensive. A 50 cl/16 oz beer costs about CHF 10/USD 9.70. A glass of wine at dinner cost something like CHF 30/USD 29 PER GLASS!!

We went to Christiania (you can read about it here) on what just happened to be its 38th birthday. Lots of hippies, flea markets, people openly smoking pot, dogs roaming around without collars - cool place!

The World Cup of Archery just happened to be taking place right by our hotel. A Venezuelan woman won, and a Danish woman came in second (awwww!). We sat and watched the exciting competition, mesmerized for hours with tens of thousands of archery fans. Ok... there were only a few hundred people watching... we watched for a few minutes, and... well... archery pretty much sucks as a spectator sport.

Tuborg is better than Carlsberg!

We had a great dinner at Kong Hans Kælder. Top-notch/friendly service, the food was great (other than the minor issue of Dr. Andy biting down on buckshot while eating his wild mallard course), and we happily wined and dined for 4+ hours in the oldest building in Copenhagen!

Click HERE if you'd like to see all of the pictures from Copenhagen.