Monday, June 25, 2012

June 19 - 20 Cailler Chocolate Branche Design Project

So I have been put on a design team to come up with a proposal for the Cailler company , a division of Nestle.  They have a chocolate bar called Branche that is an old tradition in Switzerland.  It has been around for a long time and the  store brands are encroaching on their market with generic branches.  It is a branch shaped hazelnut chocolate bar that traditionally has been eaten at snack times stuffed in a roll.  We have been doing tons of research since we got the assignment.  Frankly, I got really tired of talking about it.  I would be terrible on a team for a company.  I just wanted it to be done.  We had two graphic designers, 2 MBA students, and me.  We had some really good ideas, but we had so many restrictions from the company it was very difficult.  I did some chalk drawings for the presentations and came up with some story lines for the marketing campaign.  All in all, I thought our team presented well.  The executives from Cailler came to the hotel on the 20th and were very receptive to our team.If you want to see our proposal email me and I will send you a copy!! haha.

June 18 30th Anniversary and St. James Pilgrimage

Ugh.  Had to get up at 5:00, breakfast at 5:30. bus at 6:00.  We got to Swartzenberg, got some lunch supplies and started our journey.  The weather was perfect, not too hot and not raining.  The way of St. James has existed for over a thousand years.  It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times.  Legend holds that St. James' remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela.  Several legs of this journey pass through Switzerland.  We all carried scallop shells as the pilgrims did in ancient times.  There are small signs (with the shell)  and little chapels along the way.  We went for about 45 minutes and took a detour to visit the Grasburg Castle Ruins which are through a forest and up a steep hill.  Think holding onto branches and swinging over streams at a 45 degree angle.  I tried really hard not to embarrass myself.  My Keens came through even though I stepped in the stream.  I knew this day would be hard for me, as anyone that knows me I have suffered so much foot pain I didn't know if I could do this.  We had 21 km (or 13 miles) to cover.  NOT including the the castle ruins, that was about 1 hour off the path.  So after a while we really hadn't gone that far!!  Of course we got a little separated by different speeds.  The funny thing though is when people wait for you they wait until you catch up to them and then they start going not remembering that you didn't get a break!  We were right at the back of the group.  As we looked ahead we saw four or five people going so as we walked we talked and followed them.  BAD!  We made a wrong turn.  We figured it out after 25 minutes SO we had to backtrack another 25 minutes!!!  By this time we had been going for 7 hours.  They were super surprised that we caught up to them.  Yes, you guessed it, when we got to them, they stood up and started walking again (remember they have been resting for 1 hour we didn't even sit down)  Are you kidding?  We finally got to the city of Friberg and then the leader says this is where we take our shoes and socks off to walk through the old city on the cobblestones to the cathedral as penance.  HAHAHA.  I didnt take my shoes off mostly because I knew my feet would grow too big and I wouldn't get them back on, but the second reason was mostly due to broken glass and urine in the streets.  The cobblestone path was long and the last bit was straight up hill VERY STEEP for about 5 blocks.  I was sure my feet were bleeding but I wasn't going to check.  Konrad was looking faint.  We made it to the cathedral and we sat down.  The worst part was to come.   Get up and  walk uphill for 15 minutes to the train station.  I tried to hide on the train with Konrad but my team that I was team leader for a design project came and found me.  Rats.  So I had a meeting on the train home.  I had been sweating for 9 hours by this time.  Crazy, but very proud of myself and Konrad for finishing and EVEN doing MORE then most of the students.  Happy Anniversary.  I'm thinking something different next year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 17 Geneva with Lucas

Today Konrad had to get to some work that was piled up.  Kate Peterson, a student on the trip, asked me if I wanted to come with her to have a good friend of her older brother, take us around and show us the sites.  His name is Lucas and he was born in Austria, raised in South Africa and Sri Lanka. He picked us up at the Aigle station and we got in his awesome Audi and headed toward Geneva.  So fun!  I loved driving through the vineyards and above the lake.  So incredible.  As we went we learned so much about Switzerland and the Swiss people.  Lucas is a trained hotel manager who has worked in Bhutan, Turkey and Bali.  He is starting a job in Gstaad soon so had some time to entertain us.  We parked underground in Geneva and he showed us the hotels and waterfront.  There were lots of people out enjoying the lake and the nice weather.  We went for lunch at a restaurant that only serves one thing, steak, salad, fries and bread.  They cook the steak to your liking and bring you half of it, then when you are done they bring more fries and the second half.  It is swimming in a good sauce.  Guess how much  - $45 each.  Geneva prices.  Crazy.  It was really good though.  Too bad you had to work Konrad.  I loved it.  We walked around quite a bit and then stopped and had some swiss ice cream.  It was a pretty fun day.  I felt like the weird grandma in the back seat.  Lucas is pretty good looking so Kate and I kept looking for picture opportunities.  At the end of the day Lucas said goodbye and said "let me say it the swiss say" so I went in for the 3 kisses on the cheeks.  Kate was happy to get three kisses too.  We got back to the hotel and were met with an outdoor bar b que.  Konrad and I always come right when dinner starts so there is rarely a seat together.  I sat with 3 boys who I knew would eat my sausages that I am sure were made of horsemeat.  Sick.  I was pretty full from the day so when we had waffles and cream for dessert I got it and gave it to the piggie boys at my table.

June 16 - Vitrahaus - Well-am-Rhine GERMANY

Most of the students felt this was a wasted day, but I secretly loved it.  Yes,  we were on the trains and buses for almost 7 hours for only about 2 hours of visiting, but I thought it was worth it.  This past year I have taken a course on History of Architecture and Furniture.  We went to Vitrahaus.  Vitra is a furniture company and Vitrahaus is the home of the collection built by Herzog and de Meuron, architects.  I LOVED seeing so many of the chairs and furniture I have studied.  Can you see some of the chairs I sketched?  Check out the website .  I am sure you will recognize so many iconic designs.  We had to take so many crazy buses to get to Basel and the train station.  Everyone else ran off to explore Basel, but  Konrad and I just sat at a street side cafe and ordered a giant strawberry sundae and watched people.  Super fun day.  Long train rides.

June 15 - Frutigen and Spiez

Konrad worked today so I went with the students to a place called Frutigen.  We stopped in the town of      to buy lunch and enjoy the medieval castle and grounds.  We then got on another train and went over to Frutigen.  This was where we visited Tropenhaus.   Kind of hard to explain but a sturgeon caviar farm with a tropical greenhouse producing bananas and exotic fruits.  It is supposedly a model of sustainability but frankly I felt more like we were entering the Island of Dr. Moreau.  Very very crazy concept by someone that has lot of money, (or owes a lot of money)  We took the tour and saw the sturgeons.  Did you know the Beluga Sturgeon takes 13 years to grow to produce cavior?  The cavior costs about $1,275 for 250grams.  Check out the Oona website  .
We then had time to visit the town of Spiez.  So far this was my favorite and I hope to take Konrad back here next week.  It is on lake Thun and there is a castle with huge manicured grounds swarming with flowers and beautiful stone walls.  Benches everywhere to sit and medieval stone pathways.  Absolutely charming.  The lake is surrounded by mountains and there are sailboats dotting the lake.  I have never seen anything so picturesque.  Our swiss pass covers all trains and buses and ALSO boats.  We have gone on one boat on Lake Geneva but I would like to go on Lake Thun.  Wish us good weather.

June 14 - Zermatt - Matterhorn

This was an amazing day.  We left pretty early on the train to get to the town of Zermatt.  The last train up the hill was absolutely amazing.  For over an hour we climbed up the alps through tunnels and through valleys.  Tons of waterfalls and rivers.  I think some of the students have never seen mountains.  It is so much like Banff, except there are green pastures and little villages and cookie cutter houses on every hill.  When we got to Zermatt it was perfectly clear and the Matterhorn just showed itself completely without clouds for about 5 minutes.  It almost always has a small veil of clouds that kept circling around the summit.  Apparently it is VERY unusual to even see the summit!  Lucky!  We toured the church and were given the assignment of interpreting the story of the fresco on the ceiling.  Awkward painting of Noah in his ark with skiers and crazy unhappy people falling off the boat.  We then had to study the cemetery of the lost climbers.  It was pretty interesting.  Most people that died were young and trying to climb the face.
We then had time to get lunch.  Konrad and I saw the locals going into a little shop.   You could get a half a grilled chicken a hunk of bread and fries.  Why start eating vegetables now?  We don't get them at the hotel.  We sat down within view of the Matterhorn and ate our lunch.  We had the option of 2 hikes, one more water and bridges, one to a better view  of the Matterhorn, or pay $40 to go up a cable car.  Konrad opted for the cable car, I opted for the hike and view.  Are you surprised?
I should have realized as we began our hike that I was in for some intense steepness.  There were some ropes to hold on to.  The fact that only 6 people went on the hike should have tipped me off.  So 10 lbs of sweat later we reached a small village way up the alps.  Our leader turned his iPod speakers on and played sound of music.  At least that gave me a beat to walk to.  The view was out of this world and i was happy I went up.  Think Waterton Bear's hump on steroids.  For me the coming down is more difficult.
When we came down and I willed my leg to stop shaking we toured the museum, then took the train and got back to Leysin late. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 13 Bern

We went to Bern and I just loved it.  It was kind of sprinkling on and off all day.  Bern is the capital Switzerland.  We arrived in the huge train station that is literally a giant mall.  Our leader gave us one hour to eat lunch, then meet back to visit our sites.  Konrad and I walked around and he saw a McDonalds.  Just when we were going to give in a buy a sandwich we noticed that they started at $12 each.  Not worth it.  So we walked a bit and found an Italian take away that actually had a place to sit.  We shared a pasta bolognese salad and drink for $12.50.  Way better.  It was pretty good.  We met the group and then went off walking through the old town.  Bern is really amazing with lots of beautiful architecture.  We stopped at the clock tower that apparently prompted Albert Einstein  to come up with the theory of relativity.  We jumped on a bus to go to the Paul Klee museum.  I had interest in this mostly because of the architect that designed the museum, Renzo Piano.  It was amazing, but the weather was terrible - think sideways, wreck your umbrella wind and rain.  The art of Paul Klee, the Swiss' favorite artist is fairly marginal to me.  I was quietly looking at it trying not to exclaim that I did virtually all of his drawings when I was in kindergarten.  Apparently everyone of his drawings and paintings can call over $1 million.  Now that is crazy.  We had time after that to explore the city.  We saw the bears by the river - Bern is for "bear"..
Konrad and I walked around downtown and then went to the fine arts museum.  Now that is art, Manet, Cezanne, Guagin, Momet, Picasso, Chagill and all the other artists I remember from playing masterpiece.  HAHA.   Then we went over to the shopping area, which is long boulevards with covered loggias.  Really nice for rain.  We went in a shoe store and a really cool book and paper store.  I bought some black paper for my sketching assignment.  Getting nervous about that.  We got on the train at 5:00 and were home for dinner at 7:30.  The train rides are long but I don't mind them because I get my homework done and have time to discuss the day with Konrad.  A good day.