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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Swiss stories

Doreen and I saw an awful lot this past weekend. It would be a very long story to tell it chronologically, so here's a stab at it thematically:

Swiss watches: The Swiss, of course, are famous for their watches (and their yodelling). This fascination with timekeeping appears to be ancient -- we found a clock tower in Fribourg that had a sundial. In Bern, we we went looking for the famous clock tower. Unfortunately, since we were traveling without any maps or guidebooks for Switzerland, we wandered aimlessly for several hours, photographing every clock tower we saw. There were many. For your convenience, we have only posted the photo of the clock tower.

Swiss bugs: The Swiss are also famous for their chocolates, and we found a bunch of chocolate shops in Bern. They all had bugs in them. Huge bugs, some almost a foot long, made of chocolate. I tried looking up what it all meant, but I could only find one Website about it, written by a Japanese woman who grew up in New York but now lives in Zurich. I report, you decide.

Culinary misadventures: I was hoping to have some great food this trip, but it didn't pan out. Lyon is apparently quite famous for their cuisine, but I think we struck out at the Restaurant St. Paul. I ordered veal with "forest sauce," but it seemed to be a pork chop with alfredo sauce, sans the parmesan cheese. The chicken salad entree did indeed have chicken; chicken livers, that is. Doreen ordered a plain omelette nature, but it came with a sauce and lots of curry powder. We imagined the poor chef storming off in tears after we only half ate the food.

That's not the worst, though. We stopped for dinner in Lausanne, home of the famous hospitality school. I imagined we'd find the kitchen where the students prepared haute cuisine that you could eat for 5 euros. Instead, we ended up at the Shanghai Restaurant. Doreen ordered sweet and sour chicken, which turned out to be undercooked chicken breasts with a side of ketchup. I ordered the Thai curry chicken, which turned out to be undercooked chicken breasts with a side of saffron-tinged cream. (Rather like the alfredo sauce, come to think of it.) It was so bland, I poured some pepper on it to liven it up. Unfortunately, the pepper was very potent, and I ended up sneezing while I had the undercooked chicken breasts in my mouth. I spewed the undercooked chicken breasts and rice all over my glasses. Doreen said she didn't think anyone noticed. She lies.

The worst part was when we were picking up our coats, and I saw a rather large cockroach. This one, however, was not made of chocolate, as it scurried away when I reached for my coat.

Roman ruins: Ok, technically all the ruins we saw were in France, but I'm on a theme theme. Lyon was once the capital of Roman Gaul, and there are lots of Roman ruins. We visited the ampitheaters -- one of which is still used today for concerts -- and visited the excellent Gallo-Roman Museum. We also stopped in a town called Vienne that had more ruins, including a temple that's still standing. Doreen was disappointed in the pyramid, which turned out to be more like a small obelisk than a pyramid. Vienne was an interesting town, rather blue collar.
It reminded me a lot of Baltimore, but with Roman ruins.

Women on street corners: The hotel I booked in Lyon turned out to be near an old jail that still appears to be in use. As we were walking towards the hotel, we saw three girls in fishnet stockings and micro-miniskirts and spike heels standing on the corner. A car stopped by, and one of the girls leaned into the window to talk to the driver. The car left. We walked on, wondering whether we'd just seen some French girls -- since a lot of them do dress that way -- or something else. The debate was settled (perhaps) when we saw the girls walk into a Portguese restaurant for lunch. In Fribourg, our hotel turned out to be near a small, sad little casino. (Memo to self: Better double check the addresses of these budget hotels!) There were no girls on the corner, however. In Vienne, there were also girls standing around, staring at us. We did not speak to them, so we still have no idea whether they were just hanging out or not.