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!
This morning’s view from our Zürich flat was a real treat, as the rising sun illuminated the Alps beyond the lakeside hills, before it reached the spires of the city center. I look forward to watching how this view shifts with season and light over the next 10 months.
In a fascinating NYT article this weekend, Even Physicists Don’t Understand Quantum Mechanics, the writer expounds on the importance of research into the fundamentals of quantum mechanics. In the process he mentions two famous Zürich scientists: Einstein did his PhD work here at ETH and Schrödinger was (later) a professor next door at the University of Zürich. As a former physics major (who once thought he understood quantum mechanics), it’s pretty cool to be surrounded by such history.
Last week I visited the Computer Science department, housed in the old chemistry building. That building is even more historic, home to seven Nobel prizes in chemistry. (ETH has a total of 21 Nobel prizes to its credit, including 10 in Chemistry.)
Zürich sits at the end of a beautiful lake, aptly named Lake Zürich (Zürichsee). On this pleasant sunny Saturday evening, the lakeshore promenade is full of strolling families, wandering tourists, and romantic couples sharing a bottle of wine. Ducks and white swans paddle the clear water to see whom might toss in a breadcrumb or two. Cafés serve wurst to those who want to linger over a beer. All in all, a lovely scene. More photos at the top of the Zürich album.
Zürich is home to dozens of churches and its skyline is full of steeples. Some of them chime on the hour, or even on the quarter-hour, but what I find most curious is that some steeple bells peal at unexpected times and for extended periods. I do not yet understand when or why, but I always imagine it is celebrating something cheerful like a wedding or birth of a new baby. The bell tower prominent in the view from our open windows belongs to Liebfrauenkirche, and has a particularly large set of bells. They ring through loud and clear despite the ETH office building in the foreground.
During this year in Zurich, Andy is attending the Zurich International School, a lovely school spread over three campuses providing pre-K through 12th-grade education to hundreds of children from around the world. Last night we attended a parent-teacher night, rotating through each of Andy’s classrooms to meet his teachers and to hear from the guidance counselors about their work supporting the college-admissions process. Three things were particularly striking:
The families come from all over the world. Fascinating mix!
Most of the teachers had ten or twenty years of experience, each having spent 3-5 years in a variety of countries and continents. There seems to be a particular sort of person who thrives on the multi-cultural experience and international lifestyle, migrating every few years (like most of their pupils) to a new place and a new experience.
The guidance counselors work with children who apply to a wide range of colleges and universities across the US, UK, Europe, and beyond. The range of application requirements and procedures seems enormously complex, yet they seem cheerfully ready to engage with any student’s destination.
The school has beautiful facilities on the outskirts of Zurich. The drab industrial exterior belies a more inviting interior.
We’ve moved into our new flat, which is a quiet four-story, 3-apartment building nestled within the old ETH campus, and just two blocks from my office. It is spacious and reasonably comfortable, and looks out over some ETH buildings across central Zürich to the lake and hills beyond. On this clear late-summer evening, we can see the peaks of the Alps glimmering in the sunset glow beyond the hills.