This gate is at the north-east corner of the old city wall and was a comparatively late addition to the town. On the wall of the gate arch is a condensed history of the last 1000 years of the town, marking important years.
The Grossmünster Church sits on a hill above the surrounding buildings. Apparently this is a major tourist attraction - I wasn't the only one with a camera there.
The interior of the church is in a spartan Calvinist style with none of the almost overwhelming amount of decorations one can see in a catholic church. The church had a set of three stained glass windows at the back, though. To the right (but not visible in the picture) is the entrance to the silent meditation room, and a sign informs visitors that they should "listen to the silence" while being in this part of the church.
While the main street is packed with glass storefronts and a trendy appearance, there are small side streets where one can find the traditional old European architecture with tightly packed buildings and cobblestone streets.
Bahnhofstrasse is the major street going from the central train station right through Zürich. The shops lining the street is of the kind where you - provided you actually buy something - will end up spending very much money for very little amount of solid matter. Perfume, gold, expensive clothes - it is all here. Like the equivalent street in Los Angeles, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, this is the most expensive land in Zürich.
Swiss soda. Despite the cannabis leaves on the front, this drink (CICE[a]) has such low concentration of THC that getting high on it is a complete impossibility and you run a higher risk of drowning than bad trips due to the immense amounts of liquid you must drink. It wouldn't surprise me if people have tried, though.
Swiss people, too, can visit exotic places - even virtually. This poster is an ad for a panoramic, digital-projected movie about the northern part of Sweden, Norway and Finland where the Sami people live.
I found this in a subway magazine under the "what is new and great in town":
We take care of your balls
The "No-scalpel-vasectomy" is quickly and easily done by our experienced urologists. The safest insurance for fun without consequences.
Well, I guess the ol' nazi sterilization programs had to go somewhere. (Besides it is only without consequences if you ignore STDs...)
Come on man, it's just a plant! Laguna Beach, being a bit more relaxed than Irvine, of course has its share of weed smokers. The campaigners urged drivers to honk, and the number of honks was about what you'd expect if every pot smoker that drove by honked. Nothing surpising, in other words.
The bride throws a bouquet, but what does the groom throw? One of the bride's garters, after tearing it off with his teeth. The guy who catches it is next in line for marriage. Watch me disprove by counterexample.
At the end of the wedding, Rob handed out presents to the wedding functionaries. Somehow, I had managed to get on that list, although I can for the life of me not understand how.
As Rob collects knives the presents were just that - knives. As he was about to hand them out just after the bride had thrown the bouquet, and since a not frugal amount of alcohol had been consumed, some people wondered if he was about to throw knives blindly - whoever caught them got to keep them. Fortunately he didn't.
Left to right again: Chris Braman, Chloe (younger sister of Nicola and best maid), Nicola, Rob, Ron (Rob's childhood friend and best man). This picture was taken right after the ceremony in the abbey. The temperature isn't that high, and there were some nasty cold winds blowing when this picture was taken. Good thing though, there wasn't any problem making people hold their pose as most joints in their bodies froze solid in less than a minute.
From left to right is: Richard Monroe Sr., Robert's father. Nicola, the bride. Rob. Michele, Rob's mother. Michele, whose name is spelt with only one "l" has french ancestry. The family history documents handed out at the reception describe the connection between France and Scotland - for example, anyone born in either country would automatically receive citizenship in the other, up until 1903. In addition to the US branch of the Monroes, a sizable contingent of French arrived.
Good guys wear black - here exemplified by Leo of Clan Sutic. The kilt is made of heavy wool, and the socks worn are also the thick and warm variety. I later realized that the pouch can be very useful for storing cellphones, keys, etc. Not only do I wear something that resembles a skirt, I get something resembling a purse to go with it!
Clockwise from Rob we have Colleen, Stephanie and Kathryn, their mother Michelle and Nicola. Turns out that Stephanie's husband, Steven (Steven Wagner, cue Ride of the Valkyries here) is in the real estate business and know about Interchange (the US company that bought my company), and even knew the CEO's name (Heath Clarke). Apparently he had (unsuccessfully) tried to get business with them. It's a small world!
Colleen just finished college (nurse), and Kathryn works at the Westin chain of hotels. I've already secured an invitation to dinner at their place when I'm in Irvine, as well as a promise to go bar-hopping through LA, so I'm sure I won't be bored.
This is Staff Sergeant Chris Braman. His military history started as a cook, but with his physique he was quickly grabbed by special forces and made into an airborne special forces soldier. After being away from his family 218 days a year for a couple of years he went back to cook duty at the Pentagon. When the hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11, he rushed in and out of the still burning ruins, managing to carry three people out of the flames. Only one of them survived. Chris himself suffered chemical burns to his throat and lungs, as well as the mental scarring. He received the Purple Heart and the Soldier's Medal for his bravery. You can read his account here.[c]
Although the presence of a camera appears to extinguish every trace of a smile from his face, he smiles and laughs a lot. He is 33 years old and has a family consisting of his wife and three children.
Because just having chocolate cakes isn't gluttonous enough - oh no! Ten kilos of chocolate, a tower and a pump gets you a chocolate fountain. You then pick up marshmallows, candies, grapes etc. with sticks and coat them in chocolate. Like a fondue, but with candy and fruit instead of meat. And with chocolate instead of cheese, obviously.
All branches of Rob's family have big families. Rob himself have four brothers, and his cousins (Colleen, Kathryn and Stephanie) and their parents make up a family of mom, dad and three sisters. Nicola has two half-brothers and a sister.
On this picture we see the boys, from left to right: Sam Chisholm-Douglas (Nicola's brother), Michael Monroe, Mark Monroe, Robert Monroe, Ron (Rob's best friend), Rick Monroe, Jason Monroe and Sean Chisholm-Douglas.