Friday, January 25, 2008

Europe's Winter Playground

The winter season is here and I think you know what that's time grab a coat, skis or board and head for the hills! Considering Switzerland sits smack in the middle of the Alps, it isn't surprising that Switzerland is one of the world's skiing meccas. Geneva is usually gloomy during the winter months with a grey sky vaguely revealing a ray of sunshine. During the week, the common conversation around Geneva is "where are you going this weekend?" Every weekend for the past month has been a trip up above the clouds into the white peaks, blue skies of a nearby ski resort. To describe the experience, one would say- beautiful mountain villages, awesome scenery, rickety trains crawling up, cheese fondues, and people from all over europe. Switzerland boasts the first ever ski resort, the tradition of skiing goes back two centuries.

There is a group of us that share a chalet (aka cabin) for the 5 month ski season. Friday comes around and we meetup at the train station for a 2 and half hour trip up to Verbier. Geneva train station is packed with people ready to hit the slopes, finding a seat is sometimes difficult. The ride is enjoyable, whether you want to read a good book, listen to the zune, have a few beers, or joke about the various acts of immaturity that keep us laughing for hours.

Here is a little view from one of the lifts:

Verbier is justifiably famous as one of the most outstanding ski areas in Europe and lies high in a sunny, well-sheltered position in the heart of Switzerland's southern-most Alps. Awesome in skiable terrain, Verbier consists of spectacular mountains home to the "Four Valleys" with 410 total kms (or 255 miles!!!!) of groomed slopes, 96 different means of uphill transportation/ski lifts. Verbier relishes its reputation for big skiing, powder snow and vibrant nightlife. There are a huge number of really challenging runs in and around Verbier. Expert skiers know it far and wide, as one of the most difficult skiing resorts anywhere, that's a given. Even everyone I ski with that have been going for over 5 years here, still talk about new runs. I luckily made a great group of friends with all skill levels if you want to push the envelope a little or kick back with some easy runs.

See pics BELOW: (I'll be adding more pics here after every ski trip)

Friday, January 11, 2008

She ain't nothing but a gold digger

You can't live in Geneva without mentioning the banking that goes on here. A Swiss bank account has always been synonymous with fame and fortune. Secret "numbered accounts" are what have made Swiss banks famous. Favorites of deposed dictators and fictional spies, these accounts are coded with a number instead of a name.

Some Facts:
World's foremost financial center with more than 30% of the world’s wealth being held at bank accounts in Switzerland. Politically and economically stable country. Switzerland has not been at war with another country since 1505. The foreign policy of Switzerland is neutral and balanced. No perceived threats of war, escalating to political instability, violence, financial crisis and terrorist attacks on Switzerland. If you have read history, it even survived in two big world wars, World War I and World War II too.

Pic shows: To access my banking account online I have to use a keypad/card reader. A little pain to carry around, but it adds another level of security.

As a resident in Switzerland you too can have a Swiss bank account though not a check book, which is rarely used. Most people of Switzerland prefer using cash instead of the plastic. You can go into a grocerie store and buy a pack of gum with $100 and the teller won't even blink an eye. At the end of each month post offices will be full of people paying bills in cash. ATMs don't seem to have a daily limit, which can be very dangerous (if your wife is a shopper).

I thought this pic was funny because the bank was giving out free hot wine for the holidays. "I'll take 2 glasses and a Home Equity loan please." Too bad we can't blame the wine for the subprime loan problem in the States.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tyler update

My sister doesn't have much time to do a blog for little Tyler (My nephew), so I add it here for the relatives/family who are far away.

Here is a smile that he uses to charm the ladies.

The holiday time is for family and friends. Some of the most precious things in life is seeing a member grow and change right before your eyes. No person is the same and everyone grows at their own pace to their own liking. Witnessing Tyler change before our eyes is one of the simple pleasures in life I really enjoy experiencing. At 4 months old he really had no emotions, no smiles, and really doesn´t do much... kinda boring. Here he is at 8 months old and the little guy can´t walk or crawl yet, but he can sure throw a football. I think he even put a spiral on a couple of those tosses.