Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Chalet?

Wow.  I am getting really slack with this blog.  It’s not that I have stopped doing stuff, I have just stopped doing funny stuff.  I’ve been here in Switzerland so long that everything just seems normal, unremarkable and certainly not blog-worthy.

Hopefully, after 14:00 today, that will all change.  We are meeting a realtor this afternoon to go look at a chalet.  I am incredibly excited about this.   The chalet is a WRECK, but a hot mess is the only kind of chalet we can afford in Switzerland.  For those of you who know me personally, you will know that buying a wreck doesn’t scare me one bit.  I love me some renovation.  Renovating a house while speaking French, however, is another matter entirely.

So, to that end, I have enrolled in yet another French course which starts a week from Monday.  This is an intensive course.  3.5 hours per day, five days a week, until the instructor gives you the greenlight to cut back to only 2 days per week.  The teacher at this institute swears that she will have me speaking understandable French in just two weeks.  We shall see.  I believe she has her work cut out for her.  I still sound like I am chewing on a bag of rocks when I speak French.  But, it is essential that I learn how to say things like “I want to buy a pressure washer, a pry bar and 82 liters of paint” in French.  Also, I will need to brush up on my swear words if I’m going to pass myself off as a contractor.  The only one I know now is “merde” and that is just not going to cover every situation.

Mr. Big and I discovered the chalet when we were looking for another one that we had seen on the internet.  I am deliberately withholding the name of the village because there are a number of Swiss people who read this blog and the competition for housing being what it is, I am just hedging my bets.  Although the Swiss probably aren’t interested in buying a wreck.  They are all rich and can buy one that’s properly renovated, so I’ve got that going for me.

This particular chalet is three floors high and, I fear, having only seen it from the outside, cut up into 3 separate apartments.  It looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 1960’s but it has great views and sits right on a high, alpine lake.  Of course, we will only be looking at the one house this afternoon, because the realtor for this house cannot show us any other houses, even if they are just down the road.

No lock-box system, remember?  So, for every chalet that you even want to look at, you must make an individual appointment with the proper listing agent to see each and every house.  Do you think that this highly inefficient system drives Mr. Big crazy?  Of course it does.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this entire buying process is going to be one giant gripe-fest for Mr. Big but at least it will give him something to talk about besides Swiss driving habits and the procurement of speeding tickets.

After we look at our wreck-of-a-chalet, we are driving directly across the Saint Bernard pass, (yes, where the monks train the dogs), into Italy.  We have a long weekend here in Switzerland.  It is some kind of holiday.  I have no idea what holiday.  I have stopped asking.  It seems that every other Monday or Friday is some kind of holiday.  As a matter of fact, if Mr. Big actually has to get up and go to work on a Monday, it is noteworthy.

ME:  What the hell is that sound?

MR. BIG:  It’s just the alarm.  Go back to sleep, Spouse.

ME:  Dude, it’s Monday.  Why are you going to work?

MR. BIG:  Today is not a holiday.  Europe has decided to work on this particular Monday.

ME:  You better recheck that.  Something doesn’t sound right.  You are going to look like a real tool if you are the only one in the office.

Since we have this nice, long weekend and since it happily coincides with our 24-year wedding anniversary, we are going to the famed Tuscany area of Italy.  It seems everyone on the planet has already been there, is there right now or is making plans to go to Tuscany and I want to go see what all the fuss is about.  We are doing our normal thing, i.e. no reservations, no plans, etc.  Wherever we find ourselves at dinner time, that is where we stay.  This modus operandi has never failed us and by that I mean, that we have never had to sleep in the car.  We have slept in some rather sketchy places but that is all part of the fun.  One night in the UK about ten years ago, the only room we could find was directly above a pub.  Unfortunately for us, it happened to be July 4th.  Mr. Big had to buy rounds all night for the Brits because his ancestors had the gall to declare independence over them some 200+ years earlier.

Anyway, subsequent blogs will have many pictures of chalets and Tuscany.  Since I haven’t shot these pictures yet, for today’s blog, you will just have to be satisfied with some that I have taken in the last couple of weeks. 

Most of them are of an antique fair that we went to in L’Isle Sur Morges in Switzerland. 

The ones of the valley are from a mountain excursion up to Veysonnaz and Nendaz.  The town you see down below is Sion.  The Alps you see on the other side of the valley are where you find the ski resort Crans-Montana.

Ciao, friends.

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