Posts Tagged ‘anne’

Tim and I planned a traditional Thanksgiving dinner to celebrate our first Canadian holiday as expats.  While most of you were enjoying turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie a week ago, the boys and I were still zombies recovering from the 9-hour time difference.  After a week of adjusting our sleeping patterns, visiting countless grocery stores, specialty food stores and ethnic grocers for the necessary ingredients and up until the wee hours preparing food, we sat down to overloaded plates on Sunday night.

 Tim had to resort to desparate measures for the onion cutting! I was five feet away and still weeping...oh wait, I was crying from laughing so hard!

Tim had to resort to desparate measures for the onion cutting! I was five feet away and still weeping...oh wait, I was crying from laughing so hard!

To join in the festivities, we invited a few friends (okay, we invited our only friends) and set out to provide them with a real Canadian experience.  In total, we had 3 English, 2 Germans, and 5 Canadians crammed in around our IKEA breakfast table jutted up against our friend’s matching IKEA breakfast table (so there is an upside to everyone having the same furniture as you…).

Other furniture coming soon!

Amidst the chaos of making a meal for 10 people, you don't get "before" pictures.

Thanksgiving is of course a holiday commemorating the pilgrims who discovered the Americas and gave thanks for the first harvest, so I knew that Europeans wouldn’t celebrate it. What I wasn’t expecting were the guests who had never tasted pumpkin pie! EVER!  The lack of interest in pumpkin pie means you don’t find the canned stuff in grocery stores here but Tim suggested we boil and puree our own pumpkins…what a great idea! It turned out fantastically and when you think about how easy it is to make pumpkin pie, it’s really not all that much work to make the puree yourself.

I had a chuckle at the English guests telling me that my Brussels Sprouts with Pecan Brown Butter were “simply brilliant”. It just sounded so praiseful with their sophisticated accents and all.  And speaking of brilliant, Tim did an incredible job of his first turkey!  I think the opening line of the recipe directions pretty much sums it up: “2 to 3 days before roasting:”. Say WHAT?! Yeah, you read that right…he started working on preparations for the bird 2 days before dinner!  In fact, it goes further back than that because he had to first find a butcher who could order him a turkey.  After a fair bit of charades and basic German communication, the butcher got on the phone and called a local farmer, secured a turkey of our size and ordered it right there! Now that’s local.

The only other cultural oddity was the comments about my gravy looking “real”. I was perplexed. I’ve never heard of “fake” gravy.  Everyone in my family knows that I take gravy very seriously. The gravy is MY deal. As it turns out, the Swiss don’t even know what gravy is (I mean, who needs gravy when you have melted cheese slathered over everything?) but they typically have what’s called “brown sauce”…an imitation gravy made from a…(GASP!)…package! My mom might be having a panic attack right this very minute.  But it begs the question, if we balk at the brown sauce, I wonder what types of horrific culinary crimes WE North Americans committ?

Tim: How about slices of processed “cheese”?!

Hmmm…good one hun. The Swiss would surely frown upon one-ingredient-from-plastic-American-cheese.  Geesh, there’s only one deli in all of Basel that even sells bonafide Cheddar Cheese!


Roast Turkey with Apple Cinnamon Aromatics

Hazelnut Bread Stuffing

Maple Ginger-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Brussels Sprouts with Pecan Brown Butter

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

“Real” Roast Turkey Gravy

Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

All in all, it was a hugely successful Thanksgiving Dinner with great food and fantastic company.  Once we retired for the evening (after hanging out with the English folks, I’m allowed to say words like “retired”, it’s great!), Tim and I reflected on what worked and what we can change for next year when we realized that we forgot to go around the table and share what we’re thankful for! Well, had we remembered, I would have announced that I am thankful for all the support these dear friends have given Tim and I as we make this huge life change. Thank you Martin & Anne, Joel & Sina, and our newest friends, Stephen & Ruth! We appreciate you all.


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Let me start off by saying that Anne, my German hostess, corrected my use of “sprechen Sie Deutsch” from the first post. So much for the Apple Translator Widget… piece of crap.

It was a rainy day in Basel. Kinda reminds me of home.


I went for a run this morning with a group whom I found online. They are mostly English, with a couple of Aussies and an Italiano. Two of these guys are elite-level Triathletes – they looked like simliar build to AK, only taller! One of them had just returned from an Ironman race in Monaco on the weekend, where he was stung in the face by a jellyfish while swimming! Holy crap!

I might sign up for a half-marathon in Luzerne at the end of October. The run this morning felt really strong – 10km along the Rhine. I wore my new running shoes that I picked up in Victoria before leaving. They have some shiny red stripes. Jack says that red is the fastest colour.


Cyclists here have right-of-way over cars. In fact, autos are the low-man on the totem pole.

It goes: trams > pedestriants > velos > autos

There are almost no pickup trucks and SUVs on the roads, and all of the drivers are very, very courteous towards cyclists. I absolutely love it! On many of the (ridiculously narrow) streets, there is still a dedicated bicycle lane, and velos are often allowed to go the opposite way on a one-way street!

But my poor bicycle is now being transformed back to its original pupose as a commuter. My lights are back on, and so is my rack on the back. I’ll be installing new fenders, and changing the tires to be more cobblestone-friendly. This means that if I want to get into triathlons again in the spring, I may need a new bike… ahem…


Check it out! Some great photos, and even some promotional videos!

Got Football?

Martin is a ‘uge footy fan. Buh eez English, see, so itz een eez blud.

So naturally, I’m getting sucked into it too. He’s a Manchester United fan, so that means that I am too.

He’s also going to start “training” me to play Fifa 2008 on the XBox.

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On the weekend, we (Martin, Anne, Michael the Irishman, and myself) went to Freiburg to visit Joel and his girlfriend Sina.

Joel is an old friend of mine from Victoria. He moved to Basel more than five years ago. He’s partly to blame for me being here now. When he heard I was moving to Basel, he promptly decided to leave the country. He now commutes in from Freiburg (Germany) every day. Not too shabby, considering that the cost of living in Deutchland is much more affordable than in Schweiz.

Anyways, so we went over on the weekend to go “scootering”. That’s all they told me. I had NO idea what it was (nor did Martin!), but I was up for an adventure.

Riding up the mountainside with Joel and Sina

Riding up the mountainside with Joel and Sina

Eh? Never know what you're going to see on a sign here...

Eh? Never know what you're going to see on a sign here...

Every good adventure begins with pints of beer and shots of honey liquor

Every good adventure begins with pints of beer and shots of honey liquor

View of Freiburg

View of Freiburg

Instructions in German? Pffft. How hard can it be?

Instructions in German? Pffft. How hard can it be?

Downhill scootering!

Downhill scootering!

Well, that was a treat! An 8km downhill trail on push-scooters with mountain-bike-sized wheels! Fricken awesome.

Foreign music?

In other news, I was grocery shopping the other night in Switzerland and I heard a song of questionable content playing on the speakers while I sifted through aisles of cheese. I think that I snort-laughed.

With English lyrics, I bet that most people in the store figure that it’s just a nice foreign dance song with a cool beat. The next time you are shopping and you hear foreign lyrics – beware!


So I viewed my first “flat” tonight. I think it’s a keeper! But I won’t make any decisions until I view at least a few more. This ground-floor flat (they start counting the first floor on what North Americans call the second floor!) is super sweet. I would show you pics… but the listing doesn’t have any, and I forgot my camera. FAIL!

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Been here almost one week. The flight was good, as was the train ride from Frankfurt to Basel, despite having a giant bicycle box and plenty of luggage.

Bye-bye shitty Canadian Coffee!

Bye-bye shitty Canadian Coffee!

Got luggage?

Got luggage?
Martin & Anne. Always nutty.

Martin & Anne. Always nutty. By the way, this is a bicycle parkade where we left our bikes when we took the train to Germany for a night!

In case you didn’t know, I’m in Basel, which is in the north-west of the small country, right at the border of France and Germany. I’m staying with some friends – an Englishman named Martin K, and his German girlfriend, Anne. They rock.

I’ve got a sweet room, a comfy bed, a dresser, entertainment, a kitchen, friends who speak English and German, and plenty of help.

Been flipping through listings for “flats” here, and been using my bicycle to check out the city neighbourhoods and scratch some of them off of my list.

I have viewings lined up this week! Thankfully, my French is coming back quickly, because many people don’t speak English, but French is one of the four national languages of Switzerland (the others are German, Italian, and Rommansh).

Had my first day at the new job today, too. Fantastic! Very great group of people, and a very culturally diverse group. One thing that doesn’t change is developers… nerds are pretty much the same all over the world. 😛 I have a crazy big office on the top floor of an old building downtown. I share a massive space (4m x 8m) with one other developer, a German guy named Martin G. Martin has a pony-tail, which instantly gives him street cred in the developer world.

Cycling around town, looking at flats. Stopped for a snack on the banks of the Rhine.

Cycling around town, looking at flats. Stopped for a snack on the banks of the Rhine.

On my bike ride home today, I decided that this place will feel like home. And I’m sure that Natasha will really enjoy it here.

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