The little things…

Some of the little things I’ve noticed during my first week living in Switzerland.

Some of the little things I’ve noticed during my first week living in Switzerland, in no particular order:

  • Efficient.  The public transportation system is fantastic – trams, trains, buses, and ships are pervasive, efficient, integrated, clean, timely, and understandable.  I sold my car before we left the US, and don’t miss it!
  • Clean and walkable. The city streets and sidewalks are spotless, and the air unpolluted.  Genuinely pleasant place to walk.  but:
  • Smokers.  Lots of smokers.  Living in Hanover and the Upper Valley I forget how prevalent cigarettes are in Europe.  I enjoy sitting in an outdoor café or biergarten, but have now learned to check the wind direction and the location of smokers before I choose a seat.
  • Friendly.  Everyone here has been super kind and helpful.
  • Expensive.  And just try keeping an 18-year-old growing boy fed in this place!  (We will need to double our budget.)
  • Beautiful.  Zurich is a beautiful city on a beautiful lake.  It helps that the weather this week has been downright perfect – sunny, warm, not too hot, not humid; perfect for an evening glass of bier at the sidewalk café below our flat.
  • Historic. Everywhere I turn, as I stroll the old streets between our flat and the university office, are centuries-old buildings just dripping with history. Seven chemists received Nobel prizes from their work in this building.  Brahms played music in that house. Einstein was a student here at ETH around 1900.
  • Bread. Fresh croissants every morning!  Enough said.
  • Delectable food: so far I’ve had Thai, Japanese, and Indian food.  I suppose one of these days I need to find some Swiss food.
  • Green.  Many tree-lined streets and microparks make for a pleasant walk through the back streets to my office.  Still need to explore the many larger parks.
  • Sundays.  All shops close on Sundays.  It leads to a very relaxed feeling in town.
  • No bugs.  With all this warm weather, we leave open the windows (really skylights, because our temporary flat is at the attic level).   No screens!  because there are, amazingly, no bugs.  I note all windows in the neighborhood are the same.
Bakery in Zurich.
Le Pain Quotidien, bakery in Zurich.
Zurich Hautbahnhof, with connections to ... everywhere.
Zurich Hautbahnhof, with rail connections to … everywhere.

 

Rapperswil

Today we took the boat from Zurich a couple of hours up-lake to the quaint town of Rapperswil.  It was a beautiful sunny day, warm and dry with a cool breeze; perfect for sitting on a passenger ferry and enjoying the scenery roll by.  It’s cool that the ZSG boats are part of the same Zurich transportation system as the trains, so our all-zone passes allowed us to take the boat up the lake and just jump on a train back to Zurich later.

The other people on the boat seemed out for the same purpose – a pleasant Saturday morning on the lake, with tea and croissants in the on-board restaurant.  The boat stopped every 10-20 minutes at one of the small villages along the lake, eventually reaching the old town Rapperswil at the foot of its 13th-century castle.  We and the other tourists spilled off the boat to stroll the cobblestone streets of old-town Rapperswil, passing the many cafes and swanky shops that lure tourists.

Unlike those tourists, though, we picked a quiet Indian restaurant in the modern section of town.  The only customers – the Sri Lankan owner explained to us that most of his customers are locals who come for dinner or on weekdays, not like us odd American tourists with a hankering for Indian food.

A delightful outing.   More photos in the gallery.

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Dolderbahn

This evening at sunset we walked a couple of blocks and hopped on the Dolderbahn, a cute electric cog railcar that takes passengers on a 5-minute ride up to the hilltop on the east side of Zurich.  It lets you off adjacent the Dolder Grand hotel, an immensely posh and beautiful place.  All I could afford was this photo from the driveway.

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Switzerland sabbatical

We’ve arrived in Zürich, where I have the good fortune to spend a year-long sabbatical at the Center for Digital Health Interventions at ETH Zürich.   Andy is attending the Zürich International School and Pam is planning many explorations.

I arrived a few days ago, to splendid late-summer weather.  Although I’ve not yet had time to explore the city, I have thoroughly enjoyed my daily walk to the office from our temporary flat.  It follows quiet streets at the edge of the old center of Zürich, passing schools and childcare centers bubbling with children in the morning, and sidewalk cafes burbling with adults enjoying an evening Bier in the late-afternoon sunlight.  It passes by a home where Johannes Brahms once made music, and the university hospital.  It passes homes dating to the 17th century, far older than Dartmouth or Hanover.   It passes buildings where a student named Einstein once took classes and a chemistry building that wrought seven Nobel Laureates before it was repurposed for the department of Computer Science.  It passes busy students bicycling to class and aromatic bakeries tempting me with their wares.  It passes an overlook where the university cafeteria looks out across the church spires of the city center to the lake and hills beyond.  [Gallery]

I can tell I’m going to really like this place…

End of summer

Summer is winding down here in New Hampshire, with a spell of beautiful weather and fantastic river conditions.  The swimming is better than I can ever remember, and the morning mists make my morning row a luscious and mysterious experience.  I haven’t has as much time for hiking this summer as I’d hoped, because we are moving to Switzerland for the coming year.  Pam and Andy moved there two weeks ago, and I depart tomorrow!   I look forward to blogging about our experiences and travels in that beautiful country.

I’ve posted a small gallery of selected photos from the summer, plus a gallery highlighting the many bald eagles I’ve had the joy to see in the area (one highlight below).  And, a gallery of raptors from a brief visit to the nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science during their “falconry” demonstration.

Bald eagle on the Connecticut River, NH.

Paris

Less than 24h in Paris – but still a photographic opportunity.

After a few days in Provence, I needed to travel to Paris for my flight home.  The timing did not work to connect from train to plane, so I was forced to overnight in central Paris (darn!).  On Saturday evening I took the opportunity to enjoy a full French meal in a delightful brasserie, then ambled back to the hotel among the throngs of summer tourists and Saturday-night revelers.  I woke at sunrise on Sunday morning to stroll around the city while it was cooler and quieter.  Read on and check out the photo gallery.Early morning light at Le Louvre. Continue reading “Paris”

Provence

A short week in Provence during a record-setting heat wave.

I joined the family for a three-day visit to Provence, outside Avignon.  We rented a villa in a tiny village surrounded by pastoral beauty, giving us a good base for exploring the area and plentiful opportunities for early-morning bike rides through the countryside.  It  quickly became my habit to hop on a bike shortly before sunrise, cruise randomly along narrow lanes through ancient fields of lavender, sunflowers, wheat, apricots, and more.  I concluded each of my outings with a stop at the Boulangerie in the village, arriving home with fresh-baked pastries and bread.  Not a bad way to start the day.  Read on for more – and don’t miss the photo gallery.Church in the center of Maillane, Provence. Continue reading “Provence”