Catch-up, Bern & Interlaken

Sunday, 31 Jul, train Interlaken-Zurich, 7 pm

I know. I didnt write much. barely, actually. Doesnt mean i didnt think of, but never took enough time – ‘cause it takes quite a bit of time to sit down and do it.

So what i want is give both my conscience and my laziness justice, as follows: I’ll post this longer report I started yesterday, with two goals in mind: give whoever is interested a “sign of life”, AND proactively answer the question “so what have you been doing this summer”. So when we meet in Sept you will already know what I’ve done, and I’ll take the pleasure of listening to you rather than the exhaustment of talking :).

Sat, 30 Jul, 12:55
Glattbrugg station & train

Where to start…

Internship
Cant tell u much here. Confidentiality is very strict, it has been one of the things that have helped the firm get and …stay where it is now.
What i can tell you – I like it :); intense, but satisfying work. Oviously, long work hours (around till midnight every night) – but were to be expected, and after all, thats why im here, so it doesn’t bother me. Am based in Zurich, actually in a suburb called Glattbrugg, 12 km away from the centre (to be reached by train), walk 7 mins to the office, which proved convenient when I forgot my entry badge and / or phone… yet I am rarely in Zurich, I work Mon-Thu in Germany – Dusseldorf & Hamburg. This ensures diversity of schedule, makes time management very tight and… almost kills free time :). Because in weekends I am not resting (like i used to in old Decatur 🙂 but am traveling all the time, trying to discover this country as much as i can.
Another thing I can tell you is that stuff I learned in school proved much more helpful than I thought :D. Finance and GMSC at the top of the list. Really.

Switzerland
Has a new Romanian fan. Me, of course. I like the country a lot, it weirdly reminds me both of home, with its spectacular landscapes, and of the states, sometimes in the atmosphere. Country with diversity of culture at its core, it manages to have the same swiss spirit everywhere… very interesting.

This is a paradise for a language/culture fan. 3+1 countries in one. Majority German speaking, but significant French and Italian areas (plus my little charming Raeto-roman enclave :).
Swiss German… Grammar & vocabulary identical with German, but pronounciation modifies words till ununderstandability! At least at the beginning i didnt understand much more than dutch… reminds me of the ancient German dialect spoken by saxons in Transylvania… so I became sort of fond of it J. People speak it proudly and to anyone, its like an independent language – only “upon request” they switch to “normal” German.
(right now theres an old man sitting in front of me in the train Interlaken – Zurich. He just said smthn to me. I nodded, without understanding a single word).
The lingvistic paradise is completed by tourists. In the States I found very interesting to find so many nationalities – if you want to hear Korean you go to the Korean neighborhood, Italian to Italian, and so on with most others. The difference here is that you hear everything everywhere on the streets, a cool general mix of languages and cultures.

Geography
Country of the Alps, clearly. You can see “some Alp” from anywhere in the country. Surface quite small, but very, very beautiful and diverse landscape. A joy to travel and discover.

History
The Helvetic Confederation was founded in 1291. No, its not a mistake, its not 1921. It’s 1291. From there …let your imagination compose a Millennium of stability at the core of a convulsive European history. The silent witness…

Zurich
Very nice town, charming and colorful. The Teddy summer exhibition adds an extra fun touch to the old city. The lake adds a lot of beauty.
Night life… are u kidding me? During the week I am not here, and in weekends… I am not here, traveling J. Which makes me so tired, when I reach a place at night I usually fall like shot. So nightlife, cant tell… have been to some very cool places with the company, but that’s it.
At night, anyway, the country is empty… probably except clubs and bars, you don’t see anyone… shops close very early, and people go… I don’t know where they go. That as a contrast to mediterranean countries (spain, greece), where things start to “move” in the evening.

Weather
Warmer than expected, with showers of chilly rain alternating with hot days. Zurich is not in the mountains, so climate is very pleasant.

People
Hiking and biking nation. I am amazed. From youngest to oldest, they take their ski sticks n boots, and up we go! The country has amazingly many hiking and biking treks, fantastic landscape, so – respekt!
Characterwise… they seem to unify two notions that for me are excluding each other: relaxed and orderly ;). That is aspirational for me, I like it :). While Swiss precision stays mostly Swiss precision, they seem relaxed, friendly, positively-minded people. Who speak at least two languages by default..

Ma’ boys might ask about LLadies… Hmm… The main difference between Atlanta and Zurich is that you can actually… see them. Walking. On the streets. Not just in the car. I don’t know how Atlanta would look if it was a “walking city”… so a comparison is impossible. Here, ladies of various ages (un)dress quite nicely apparently for any odd occasion, be it …walking on the street, which is not bad for soothing a visitors eye…

Fashion.
Piercings are especially “in”. Piercings everyone, and everywhere – i mean EVERYWHERE, much more than I’ve ever seen before, both with (very) young and (quite) old.
Quite a lot of funny dressed ppl too – the Javamnky type. Right now, in the train to Berne, a fairly goodlooking lady sat down, with a small dog, no piercings, but the weirdest looking hair – like a messy nest of yellow n black rasta snakes sticking up and out of a shawl surrounding her head. she just took out the cutest small Mac Laptop and is typin ahead…
In general, I see people dressed more diversely than what I got used to in ATL. And certain i-have-been-told-US-tabus seem to be unheard of here, or even widely spread (so I guess they’re “in” J), like “wifebeaters” and the like :). Yet all this leaves me unimpressed – during the week the suit is clear, and in the weekends I cant wait to get into jeans or shorts + tea-shirt, and get going :).

Travel
The most interesting part of the summer i can …talk about is travel. Ive spent prbbly less than 24 hours in total in Zurich. I explored it at the beginning and that was it. Every weekend i went to some other place, every one with different personalities.

Started with one-day blitz visits to “objectives” close to Zurich. Baden is a small chic medieval town which reminded me of native Sighisoara; Basel has a Dome full of gargouilles and a breathtaking view on old town & the Rhein from the tower top (like all other domes – i climbed all l could, Geneve, Berne), Luzern is some say the most charming city in Switzerland, very cute indeed, by the Vierwaldstadter Lake. I strongly recommend a boat trip + top of the Pilatus or Riggi mountain – whichever is not in clouds.
Then there was of course the area closest to my heart – Engadin (see previous post), and the “Marbella episode”, where my childhood dream of playing in a real football team materilalized, playing striker for the Swiss National Team at the company’s “Olympics”. Unforgettable.
I’ve had some portions of tourist luck too – in Geneve landing in the middle of the Lake Parade, a crazy house music festival, in Interlaken I bumped into the once-a-year latino night, with a small open air concert; the whole Engadin experience as a whole was as well fortunate.

This trip… Ill give more details about it both because its fresh, and as a “representative sample”. Most of my trips followed a similar “pattern”, and most didn’t have so many events, so this should be fairly illustrative on the upper end of excitement. Its Sunday afternoon, I am in the train back to Zurich, writing on a palm :):

Left around noon yesterday, having in mind to “do” just Bern, the capital.
Train takes about an hour from Zurich. Reached Bern at 2:30 pm, traditional visit to the tourist office, asking the cute blonde “what is there to see in your city”, getting advice, a map, and here we go. Zytglogge is a medieval tower with figurines that move at every hour – snapshot. Einsteins house, where he developed the “special relativity theory” published in 1905 (100 yrs ago), visit, Gothic Dome – visit, climb tower, snapshot(s). Bear ditch – bears are the symbol of Berne, they keep a few alive bears in a ditch – quite sad, if u ask me, it is an old tradition for them. Snapshot. Rose garden – a nice green recreational facility with a very beautiful panorama view on the old town – climb steep path, snapshot, back. Walk along the Aare river, at the bottom of medieval walls, to the History Museum featuring a grand Einstein exhibition and a… Physics theme park (!). Quite cool. I enjoyed the Einstein exhibition – about life and work, some of his theories explained visually, animation. Good fun. Unfortunately the 1.5 hours i had assigned for it werent enough – i had to run thru the last part. Got out, 7pm, raining grey, all stores long closed (weekdays 6pm, Sat 4pm, Sun CLOSED), only one objective left: the parliament. That got snapshot quickly… now what. On the way to Berne i had already thought to do smthn else this wknd, if time. I was planning to spend the night in Bern, but accomodation perspectives didnt appeal too much – scarce, expensive and… not much of anything …special. Shd i go back to Zurich for the night?… Around 8, decision was made: take next train down to Interlaken, 1 hr away.

Interlaken (=btween 2 lakes) proved to be a somewhat crazy-er place than the avg swiss resort: shops open at 10pm (shock!), people on streets in spite of… darkness :). Finding accomodation proved difficult… i “refused” the first hotel next to the station, counting on finding something more central… and i walked, and walked… all hotels full… my football-injured knee started to announce its existence, drops of rain were doing the same… when i found a small blackboard saying “zimmer frei”. The elderly lady at the reception had a very cute accent when speaking german (scottish, i asked :), so i said “this is it”. Left stuff, went out, ate crepes at latino night, snapshots, then went to find the Interlaken castle in the dark – found, snapshot, back to latino party, back to bed. Because the Sunday plan had already been made, and i needed to be an early bird for the Virgin…

It was the Sunday of the Virgin (“Jungfrau”). She is very good looking, and very, very tall. 4180m (for you, ~11800ft :). One of the highest mountains in Europe. I could only reach to her… neck, the Jungfraujoch (3571m on the Sphinx top, 11333ft), but was very pleased.

Changed 3 Alp trains on steep railways to the highest railway station in Europe – 3474m. Maybe thats why they call it “top of europe” – I guess the highest point any non-climber can reach… sitting.
Two of the panorama points of the 7km tunnel were unfortunately fully dressed in a cloud – can’t have everything. but at the top visibility was ok on one side, blank white cloud on the other. The one where you could see down to Germany, Italy and France on a sunny day…
The highlights were the… height itself, my highest point reached so far, the view, the skiing episode – an expensive, minuscular slope on the glacier, but – i skied in July :).

Just as i was thinking “boy am i lucky”, after a few descends on the snow disc, another kiddy fun thing, i noticed a weird, ugly swollen blue bulge on my hand… must have hurt myself somehow, but i dont remember. it looked very weird… was afraid its not a blood vessel that popped… fear of the unknown already projected very unpleasant images to my head… what to do… some ice maybe wd help… but from where… i looked around… SNOW everywhere! applied immediately, and hurry to the first aid… Got a blue bandage and the recommendation to go to a hospital in Interlaken… Before going down, I quickly “executed” the Ice Palace (cool), a last visit up to the Sphinx top, to catch the sun for the lat pictures, and down we go… The way back was loong… I reached Interlaken late, so I didn’t go to the hospital any more – directly to Zurich.

Where I am now, Monday, August 01, 2005, 01:41. My hand seems to be better, since I can… type, but it feels like it says “don’t force me”…
I will, only to make luggage ready, and then hop in bed. Tomorrow my plane leaves at 7:35 in the morning… uaah!

That was about it… You can follow the images of the story here:
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=jml3aap.cmn6hpa5&x=0&y=-s8vhla

That should do for a while, or actually… to the end, there isn’t much time left!! am going to be back in ATL around Sept 5th. Till then, enjoy August!!

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One thought on “Catch-up, Bern & Interlaken

  1. Hey Calin,Nice to hear you are giving yourself time to do what you love!Hope you’re doing great, it seems you are from your posts. See you in ATL.Un abrazo,amk

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