David Garret is a well-known German violinist. Even though he’s a bit of a big deal here and in Germany, I had never heard of him until a few months ago when a couple of my pals were headed off to see him in concert. They raved about the concert and made plans more recently to go and see a film (The Devil’s Violinist trailer) he was starring in about the life of Italian composer, Paganini. My pal mentioned recently that he had a new cd out, the music of Paganini, to accompany the film- Garret vs. Paganini. I bought myself a copy out of curiosity. I don’t know a lot of Paganini music and it’s always nice to learn something new as well as getting a bit of culture, innit?
I thought at first I’d made a mistake in buying this cd. I’m not a big fan of funked-up disco-style classical music and that’s basically the first track. Thankfully, the second track, on which Andrea Bocelli sings (Ma Dove Sei- see video below) is quite lovely and makes up for the first track. After Andrea Bocelli, I settled in and listened and now I love it. The cd is made up of fifteen various pieces of classical music some of which would be familiar, like the Caprice Number 24, an Andrew Lloyd Webber variation of which was used as the theme music to The South Bank Show for, like, a hundred years or something. It’s not all Paganini, there’s some of Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake, a bit of Rachmaninoff and a cheeky wee tune that you sing, “My hat it has three corners…” to (Carnival of Venice). I think my favourite on the album has to be the song, Lo ti Penso Amore (See also below). Annoyingly, that features Nicole Scherzinger who I can no longer write off as just another talentless pretty face.
After a shaky start, I’ve grown to enjoy this cd a lot. So anyway, that’s what I’ve been listening to lately. What about you?
Another day feeling a bit rubbish. Still the phlegm is breaking up a little when I cough now. What? Too much information?
Anyway. Nothing much to share today. We’re just about to sit down to one of the best Christmas movies made- Trading Places. There’s a video clip of a scene here which Mr Mac and I refer to all the time with Patrick. “What do you mean you can’t steal us a side of salmon? Just stuff it in your dirty Santa suit!” He won’t do it though. Pfft.
Patrick’s girlfriend had a driving lesson today, in a town called Winterthur about 40 mins or so away from the Village of the Damned. We all piled into Patrick’s car and she drove us to meet her driving instructor. While Patrick and I waited for her, we took a walk through the town centre where we were delighted to come across the town’s Christmas market.
We were very pleased to find, in amongst all the Gluhwein and Schoggi stalls, a van selling Öpfelchüechli (Apfelküchlein in High German or Little Apple Cakes in English) Öpfelchüechli are a traditional Swiss treat of deep fried apple rings served with cinnamon sugar over the top and vanilla sauce on the side. The contrast of the sweet sugar with the tartness of the apple, as well as the softness of the cooked apple with the crunchiness of the batter is a true delight. I treated both Patrick and myself to a portion.
I also treated myself to three new baubles for the Christmas tree and Mr Mac to some marinaded Frutti de Mare from an Italian stall. I could have spent and spent and spent on all sorts of little Christmas bits and pieces if I’d had the money. Christmas is going to be a very small, quiet affair this year. After buying our apartment earlier on in the year it has to be. But hey, it’ll be our first Christmas in our very own home and we’re going to love it.
Doing things the Swiss way- standing at the high table to enjoy his Öpfelchüechli and Heisse Schoggi.
Because I’m generally just a misery guts, the glut of emotionally manipulative, overly-saccharine and schmaltzy Christmas advertising at the moment is driving me around the bend right now. Yeah, I’m talking about you, bear & stupid hare.
There hasn’t been a Christmas ad as good as the Irn Bru snowman since forever anyway. And nobody I know has posted it on Twiiter or Facebook yet so here it is now.
Well, wonder no more! My Mum, cousin and I took a day trip out east of the Village of the Damned when they came for their visit in September. We started off going for a tour around a place I’ve told you about a couple of times before, Feldkirch, Austria. Then, we stopped in on the capital city of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, on the way home.
Liechtenstein is a tiny wee principality which lies in between Switzerland and Austria. The population is about 30-35K, so not even as many people who live in my home town, Dunfermline. Vaduz is so tiny we only needed a hour or so to have a wee look around but it was absolutely gorgeous. The main street, on which you can find the parliament house, the cathedral and the state museum also has lots of little restaurants and cafe which you can sit down in and enjoy the atmosphere for a while. We were only there late afternoon but I imagine it would be quite a lively little place of a weekend evening for a drink and something to eat. You know, for a city with a population of 5K people.
Anyway, on with some photos.
Looking towards the Cathedral of St Florin
The Landtag, parliament building.
An older style government building.
Memorial at the Music School, very close to the cathedral and government buildings.
A bride and groom, one of the two couples we saw getting married on that day. They didn’t get married in the cathedral, rather they had civil ceremonies (that we saw) in the government building near the cathedral.
View of the Vaduz Castle, where the royal family live, the Landtag and the older government building.
A cute wee tourist train to take you around the capital city. Gorgeous!
“Fill ‘er up!” Doesn’t take long to discover how much it costs to keep a car on the road.
I mentioned yesterday I’ve been spending time playing at driving instructor. I have. I’ve been teaching Patrick and his girlfriend to drive. The lovebirds decided they wanted to get their driving licences. Getting your licence in Switzerland involves jumping through a couple of hoops before you even get into the car. First of all you have to pass a first aid course which is then followed by a theory test. Then, it’s an expensive undertaking to actually learn out on the roads. Patrick’s girlfriend is currently paying close to 100CHFs (£67, £110US, $120AUD) per hour lesson (In comparison, I spoke very recently to a driving instructor friend in Melbourne who tell me lessons there cost $45AUD for 45 mins). Patrick, ever the miser (I don’t know where he gets it from), decided instead of shelling out a tonne of cash for driving lessons, he would buy himself a car and have his parents teach him. Because what else have we got to do, right?
I expected that we wouldn’t last very long, us teaching him to drive, with the air blue within 500m of leaving the house. After all, they say you should never teach your own family to drive and when Mr Mac tried once (once!) to give me a driving lesson it nearly ended in divorce. But, despite our misgivings, teaching the lovebirds has been a pleasure. Patrick has picked up the driving very quickly and is currently attending his Verkehrskundekurs, a mandatory eight hour course about which I have absolutely no idea. I’m hoping that he’ll soon book himself a few hours with a proper driving instructor to polish up everything I’ve taught him and get him through his test soon. Then I can stop taking his car out to pick him up after work at night and he can drive himself to the dentist.
The lovely girlfriend is also doing well. I’m kind of her extra-teacher. She is enrolled in a driving school for proper lessons and I take her out on her days off. She has a little way to go. I’m happy to help a long as she needs me; it feels good to be needed.
In an attempt to breathe some life back into this poor, ailing blog, I’m going to try my hardest to blog every day in December. Life has been… interesting… and yet not… since I last updated. I’ve had my mum and cousin for a visit (more on that later), I’ve been out and about playing driving instructor (more on that later) but mostly I’ve been incredibly boring, vegetating at home, doing nothing much.
Still, I’ll try to find something to tell you about every day this month.
It’s a tradition of mine, since about five years now, to do the Swiss Hausfrau thing and make an Adventskranz. Every year I have a clear picture in my head of how I want it to turn out and every year it’s just a bit of a disaster, really. Still, I try, don’t I? We’ll light the first candle for the first Sunday in Advent tonight while we eat dinner. Hopefully the candle won’t set the real pine needles, which I bought for the first time, on fire!