Sunday, November 27

Snow in Geneva

Jess walks to work in the snowWell, the first snow of winter hit Geneva on Thursday night - about 10cms of it. This was most unexpected as we were told it doesn't usually snow here before Xmas. It seems that there's been a pattern of freak weather ever since we arrived!

It was so nice to step outside and find this carpet of clean white snow. We still walked to work, all rugged up in coats and gloves. It was cold, but very still and the fresh snow hardly even made our shoes wet. I'll have to get some decent walking boots so I can get some grip up killer hill.

Killer HillClick here for more of our 'snow' photos on Flickr.


Old Skopje Railway StationLast week it was off one plane and onto the next, this time to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. I was going for work and Peter came along as well. We were there for 4 days - just enough time to look around the city. Macedonia is a small country with a population of about 3 million people. It has a troubled economy with unemployment currently around 37%. Skopje is the most populated area and the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1963. The partially remaining railway station bears monument to the event, with its clock still frozen at 5.17pm.

View of Skopje from the FortThe people I worked with were lovely, very welcoming and committed to their work. The country has applied to join the European Union, so agencies are busying themselves with bringing work practices in line with EU standards.

A day or two after we got there it started to snow, the first snow we've seen since arriving in Geneva last March. Peter trudged around in it and took lots of photos.

View from Skopje HotelSkopje has quite a few modern shops, bars and restaurants, but its problems were evident in the crumbling footpaths, unfinished buildings and the number of old cars on the road. The prices of food and clothing were about 25% of Geneva prices and we enjoyed trying the local food - stroganoff style casseroles with rice and vegies. The Macedonian red wine was pretty good too.

Saturday, November 26

New York

I spent the last week at head-quarters in New York, attending an orientation course for 'junior' professionals. The picture on the left shows the view from the ladies' bathroom!

The course was a great opportunity to meet other people and learn a bit more about the organisation. New York is as exciting and huge as I remember from my first visit last March. The main differences this time were the autumn colours in Central Park and the slightly warmer weather.

I used the trip as a chance to catch up on some shopping (slightly cheaper than Geveva) and go to a Broadway show. The show was called Movin' Out - a dance musical set to 24 of Billy Joel's songs. It was different to what I expected, in that there was no dialogue (just dancing and the band), but it was excellent.

Since my last visit the cost of rooms seems to have doubled so I decided to stay in the West Side YMCA. It was a great location (adjacent Central Park), but with a shared bathroom 2 kms down the hall and paint peeling from the walls, it was almost comfortable! At US$70 a night it was cheap for New York. See the photo on the right for my mini-view of Central Park.

Saturday, November 12


FortificationsI (Peter) visited Luxembourg to attend a meeting at Eurostat as part of my work for the UN and Jess has given me a rare opportunity to post this blog entry.

Luxembourg is a seriously small country - its entire population is less than half that of Adelaide. It borders Belgium (don't dare call Luxembourgeans, Belgian!!) and it couldn't think of a name for its capital - so it called the city Luxembourg.

Place Guillame IIIt oozes wealth and cleanliness and is beautifully European. Luckily I had time to walk around the city, including its old town in its late autumn splendor and with hardly a tourist in sight.

I visited the history museum where I saw a rather confronting exhibition "the Grand Pillage" about the stealing of art and other artifacts by the Nazis in World War 2 (Luxembourg was annexed by Germany in 1940 and liberated in 1944).

Excuses, Excuses

It's been very busy here and I'm afraid I've been neglecting to update this blog! No one's been complaining though, so perhaps our loyal readers have been busy too!?

Chateau de ChillonRecent news is the visit we had from Sandy and Peter (friends from Port Elliot) last weekend. They had been touring around Greece, Italy and Switzerland before they arrived in Geneva for a 3 day visit.

On the Friday it was a public holiday. We left Peter home working (he is busy with a couple of UN contracts) and headed off on the famous chocolate factory tour. I was the first opportunity I've had to go as I'm usually the one working! Unfortunately, the factory tours were closed for the winter season, so I still haven't seen it. Good news for my waistline though!

Peter and SandyAfter the failed visit to Cailler, we went to see the chateau at Gruyeres and that was very nice. On the way home we also stopped at the Chateau de Chillon and the Olympic Museum - it was a jam-packed day! Sandy and Peter went off the Paris on the TGV the next morning, where they were spending 6 days before heading home via Singapore.