Bellinzona and the Tibetan bridge

A daytrip to the Italian corner of Switzerland, with a hillside hike culminating in a tremendously long suspension bridge.

The weekend weather forecast for Zurich and all of northern Switzerland was looking rather wet, but I really wanted to squeeze in one more hike before the fall chill sets in. An officemate suggested Bellinzona, the capital of the Italian-speaking corner of Switzerland – the canton of Ticino.  This small city is often overlooked next to its glitzier lakeside neighbor, Lugano, but has a lot to offer.  UNESCO recognizes its three medieval castles as a world heritage site, and the surrounding hills include a web of well-organized hiking trails.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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Oxford University

I made a quick visit to Oxford University to give a research talk in the Computer Science department.  My schedule allowed a bit of extra time to explore, and (with the help of two generous graduate students) I was able to see some of the major colleges within the university, as well as some of the main shopping district.  The campus (and town) is impressively old, with elegant academic buildings at every turn.  A quick climb to the top of the tower on University Chapel gave me an excellent vantage point to see the overall layout, and one student’s tour included a stop in the Hogwarts dining hall – better known as Christchurch College dining hall.  Impressive place!  More photos in the gallery.

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Cambridge University

I made a quick visit to Cambridge University, to deliver a talk in the Computer Science department and to visit colleagues there and at the neighboring Nokia Labs.  The schedule allowed me a little time to wander the courtyards of Jesus College, where I had spent the night, and its beautiful chapel – the oldest building still in use at Cambridge.  (Astonishing, in this 250th year of Dartmouth College, to visit a university that was already five hundred and fifty years old when Dartmouth was founded.)

I decided to walk from there to the distant CS building, through the streets of Cambridge. (Sadly, most of the historic campus exists in walled compounds, like Jesus College, only open to members of the university.)

It was fascinating to walk along streets named after famous scientists, or for that matter, through the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematics.  (Not far from the Bill Gates CS building or the Gordon Moore library, actually.)  Lovely day!2019-09-30-72369.jpg

More photos in the gallery.

 

Bletchley Park

A visit to Bletchley Park, the fascinating location where the British cracked the Enigma cypher during WWII.

Every computer scientist must visit Bletchley Park!  And, for that matter, anyone interested in computing history, spycraft, or World War II.  While on a short trip to London, we spent Sunday afternoon on a brief visit to this fascinating museum at the once-secret site where the British cracked the cryptographic codes of the Germans, during the war, and where, in effect, the modern computing era had its beginnings.  The story was the subject of the recent movie, The Imitation Game,  starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.2019-09-29-72336.jpg

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Faulhorn

When hiking in the mountains one must occasionally have faith in the weather – starting out enmeshed in dense valley fog, only to climb into a spectacular day above the clouds.  This was one of those rare, magical days, when we topped a ridgeline and encountered a mountain view more spectacular than any I have seen in 45 years of hiking, with the major peaks of the Berneralps spread across the horizon above a sea of undercast clouds.  Breathtaking!   Read on for the full story, and be sure to check out the photo gallery.An ethereal landscape, above treeline but in the fog.

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Swimming in the Zürichsee

Zürich is located right at the tip of Lake Zürich, and there are several public swimming facilities easily accessible from the tramline along the shore.

The weather here in Zürich has been exceptionally warm and pleasant for September, or so the locals tell me.  This weekend had spectacular weather.  On Saturday I went hiking in the Glarus region. On Sunday, Andy and I decided to take a swim in the lake.  Zürich is located right at the tip of Lake Zürich, and there are several public swimming facilities easily accessible from the tramline along the shore.  For an entry fee of a few francs we joined throngs of happy Swiss folks who were sunning and swimming.  The Seebad Utoquai facility, not shown particularly well in this photo, was well-appointed with changing rooms, lockers, showers, and a snack bar. And (though crowded) there was space to lay out your towel and catch a few rays, to see and be seen.  Our quick dive into the lake was chilly – cooler than the Connecticut River at home right now – but very pleasant.  The water is deep and clear.  The swim floats were packed with young folks while the older long-distance swimmers arrived from their swim across the lake.  Nice spot!

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Gandstock hike

The weather thus far in Switzerland has been spectacular – blue skies, warm temps, low humidity.  And this day, for my first hike, the weather truly delivered in top form.  I joined a group organized by D-MTEC, the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, which is the ETH department where I sit during this year in Zürich.  The hike to circumnavigate a small peak named Gandstock was moderate in length and difficulty, covering 11.5 km (7.14 mi) in 4h55 at altitude ranging from 1610m (~5,280′) to 2167m (~7,110′), all of it above treeline.  Check out the photo gallery, and read on beyond the break.2019-09-14-71433.jpg Continue reading “Gandstock hike”