Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Basel Swiss Indoors Tennis Tournament!

Every year, Basel has a professional indoor tennis tournament and since Roger Federer is from Basel, people come from all over to see him play here. It is crazy to think that he was once a ball boy at this very tournament. I wonder if he ever thought to himself... I'm going to win this tournament one day... I'm sure he did.
Again, since Roger Federer is playing in his home town, it is very difficult to get seats and they are very expensive! So, I thought it was going to be impossible for me to go, but when the time of the tournament came, I decided to go to the arena and just see if I could still buy a ticket. Much to my surprise, there was a guy selling tickets right in front and I bought mine for cheaper than face value... I was ecstatic! I was going to be watching professional tennis ALL day!! The only unfortunate thing was that Nate could not join me because of work, but he was happy for me that I could go. He's so sweet. :)

You could watch from two different courts: The center court in the arena, or court 2, which was no bigger than a high school gym and you could sit wherever you wanted. I liked court 2 because I always meandered my way to the front row! Here, I'm watching Korolev. A Russian who's ranked top 50 in the world. And he's Ana Kornikova's cousin!
The guy you see in the picture is Korolev's coach and brother. I ended up talking to him and then he got Korolev to give me a signed tennis ball! He said I was good luck because he was losing and then I came in and he started to win, and ended up winning in a thrid-set tiebreak.
After Korolev's match, the Bryan Brothers (top American doubles team) came in to warm up. I was excited to see them, but I didn't watch their match because Federer's match was supposed to start any minute on the other court. Court 2 cleared out real fast when it was time for Federer's match... poor Bryan Brothers, but I'm sure they understood what was going on!
And there he is.... ROGER FEDERER. I was freaking out inside because he's been my favorite player for a long time and I never imagined being able to see him play!
In action...
More action... I loved seeing how effortless and eloquent he is... even more so in real life than on TV!
The Federer match seemed to go by way too fast, but once it was done, I quickly went to the other court to see Gonzales play.
Gonzales is a top ranked player and really entertaining to watch. Federer and Gonzales were also playing singles at this tournament. I only had the chance to see them play doubles, but I actually think it's more fun because they are less serious and their personality comes out a bit more. Gonzales and his partner were so nice. They came over and signed autographs after their match. :) And I got theirs right on their picture in the yearbook that you see at the top of the post. I was a little disappointed that Federer didn't come over and sign it when I tried to get his attention, but maybe next time. (haha)
DJOKOVIC! I also love to watch him play. His singles match was the last one of the night. He dominated in straight sets. He was on fire!
Look at that concentration...
The stadium is not very big, which was nice. I walked up to the top to take a picture of the whole court, and this is as high as I could go.
Then I went down close because a lot of seats opened up at the end of the match. Some girl asked me to take her picture, so she did the same for me! I was SO happy to have the privilege to see such amazing tennis... it is something I will NEVER forget!

Herbstmesse: Basel's Fall Fair

The Herbstmesse has been a Basel tradition for over 500 years! I'm not sure what it was like back then, but now, it is similar to the State Fair in NC... lots of rides, good food, and fun. It is spread out over the city in seven squares and it doesn't cost a dime to walk through. Nate and I took advantage of that and went several nights just to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. One of the squares is just a couple blocks from our apt. building, so it was very convenient. Here are some pictures of the different times we went:
The Ferris Wheel
The views of Basel from the Ferris Wheel (taken on two different nights)
Some of our friends who are living in Lausanne (the French part of Switzerland) came to visit one weekend to come to the Herbstmesse. Bottom left: Jonathan & Ashley... Ashley is scared of heights so she is closing her eyes. Next to them: Our friend, Adam. Jonathan and Adam are both from NC!
Adam and Jonathan rode some more rides while Nate and I stayed back with Ashley. I think she is still laughing at high how we just were!
I also went to the fair with some of the high school girls... that I've met from church. Noelle (pictured below) and I went on the Romania mission trip together... and I just love her to death now! We rode some rides and ate some good food, like chocolate covered strawberries.. yum!
I forgot that most high school kids have no fear when it comes to riding rides. Well, let's just say... I'm definitely not in high school anymore! I would not ride the following...
Noelle, Hannah, and Hannah's little brother Alex all tried to get me to go on this ride, but I refused.... waaay to scary for me! I know, I'm a wimp. :)
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and having an amazing fall fair makes it even better. I took this shot on the last night. The reflection over the Rhine was so beautiful!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day in the Alps with Teran & JJ

<span class=
When our friends, Teran & JJ returned back to Basel after being in Rome, they were a little tired, but we mustered up enough energy to "hike" in the Alps. Little did we know we would run into massive amounts of snow on our hiking trail! But it was okay because we ended up having a blast in the snow!
Instead of hiking, we decided to build a snowman! It was actually really hard to make because the snow was so fresh and powdery, but eventually, we did it! We named him Snowie or Alpie or something... we couldn't decide on one :)
<span class=
We also had snow ball fights! The boys disappeared for awhile and then, out of nowhere, they came running at us with ready-made snowballs and tried to hit us with them, but we were too fast. :) You can see the boys' attack in this picture (from left to right):
We also hid in trees... okay, that was just JJ. Click on the picture to see if you can find him! Teran's not really sure what he's doing...
We weren't the only ones having fun in the snow, Jake also loved it! He ran around so much that he was absolutely exhausted on the train ride home! (see the pics at the end)
After a great day of playing in the snow, we were cold and hungry, so we went to a great Swiss restaurant to warm up and eat some yummy food.
The plate on the right is a Swiss dish called rosti. It's hash browns, lots of cheese and an egg on top... it is delicious!
Our last group picture together. Teran is great at using self timers on cameras. :) Look at the snow line on the mountains!
The skies really cleared in the evening and it was simply beautiful. I love this picture of Teran & JJ...
As I said, Jake was wiped out after all the running around in the snow. Usually, he freaks out on train rides (ie. doesn't sleep), but this time he couldn't fight it any longer. The fact that he has to be in a "bag" on Swiss trains makes these photos just that much funnier!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teran & JJ Come to Basel!

The day after I returned from Romania, our good friends, Teran and JJ arrived! (are you starting to see a pattern as to why I didn't blog for awhile??) I have known Teran and JJ for several years now, but this was my first time to be with them as a married couple! It was great to have them and it was JJ's first time in Europe, so there were many things to do and see for him. Here are some pictures that we took on their first full day in Basel. Can't you tell that they're newlyweds? ;)
We walked around A LOT. So Nate and I took breaks to sit down every once in awhile, but Teran was still going strong! (it looks like she's trying to climb a gate in the picture below)
The next day, Nate had to work, so I showed Teran and JJ around other parts of Basel in the morning. Then I had to work in the afternoon, so I sent them out on their own to explore and fortunately the weather was great. Here are few pictures from their second day:
I think one of the things that JJ liked most about coming to Basel was making best friends with Jake. Jake has made a lot of new best friends since we moved. He is so loving and affectionate towards everyone who stays in our home. You know he loves you when he gives you his famous Jake hug! (see below)
He is also a very good snuggler. After all that walking around, JJ and Jake would get exhausted and then curl up on the couch and take a little nap together. :)
Jake tried to show equal love by snuggling with Teran too, but he doesn't look as comfortable... what do you think?
Well.... like everyone who comes to visit, Teran and JJ wanted to make the most of their time in Europe, so the next day they explored the city of Luzern and the day after that, they went to Rome for 3 days. We suggested that they see one of these 3 major cities of Europe (Rome, Paris, & London) because they are easily accesible from Basel, and it was JJ's first time in Europe! They had a awesome time in Rome and if you want to read more details about their trip, you can check out their blog:

"Stay tuned" for the next post: our snowy experience with Teran & JJ in the Alps!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Romania Mission Trip

The day after my sister and her family left, I picked up and went to Romania. I didn't have to work this week, because of Fall Break, so I was able to join the youth team from my church to go on the trip! This is a view from the Parliament building in Bucharest:
Since moving to Europe, I have felt very blessed to have time to do things that I am passionate about.... teaching tennis (even though I did this in Raleigh :)), traveling, and missions. Every time I take part in a mission trip, I always learn something new. Even though I might not think it is possible, God seems to reveal different things to me every time. On this particular trip, my eyes were opened to see how blessed we really are... when I saw "we", I mean Nate and I, as well as, America, or any other wealthy country. Growing up in one of the wealthiest countries in the world makes you take what you have for granted. We should be thankful to God everyday for every little thing he has given us, instead of complaining about how we want something bigger and better. And trust me, I am guilty of the latter. But I'm thankful for what I have experienced in traveling to less fortunate cultures, so that I will always be reminded to be generous and grateful.

While we were in Bucharest, we visited the people who are living on the streets. Some of them live in abandoned houses, near construction sites, and even in sewers. We brought them sandwiches & drinks and they were so thankful. We tried to talk them, through translators, and even played a little soccer. The missionaries there are building relationships with all of the homeless people we visited in order to gain their trust, so they can help them get off the streets and tell them about the hope in Christ.
Going down into the sewer...
People on the streets turn to the sewers, especially in the winter months because it is the only place to keep warm.
The Teen Challenge Center.
This is where the boys/young men come to live for one year to get back on their feet and learn the skills they need for when they start their new life. There are currently 19 at the TC Center and they are in desperate need for more space, so as you can see, they have built a 3rd floor, but it is unfinished due to not enough funds. They are praying that they can finish it soon!

We stayed at the center and the mornings & evenings were beautiful...
During the day, they put us to work! We refinished and repainted some benches and tables...
We took up the old and broken tiles of the front staircase... which was really fun!
Helped put soil down in the new greenhouse...
And even cooked! Cooking for 29 people is just a tad bit different then cooking for 2!
Even though we worked hard, we knew how to take breaks. :) And I learned how to play soccer!
We had such a great time getting to know the the Teen Challenge guys. If you were to meet them, you would never know that they were once on the streets or addicted to drugs or alcohol. That was one of the neatest things for me... just seeing how God had completely changed them and turned their lives around was an amazing thing to witness. Here is one last group picture of all of us before we left.
If you would like to read more about Teen Challenge or make a donation, click here.