The downside of a working trip is that I don’t really get to do much. Wake up painfully early due to jetlag, head into the office, work, go out for an evening drink and/or dinner, crash into a jetlagged heap at the hotel, rinse and repeat. I’ll be at liberty over the weekend; hopefully I’ll have more entertaining things to report on then. Until then, more disconnected notes, and maybe a picture or two if I can summon the energy.
- Speaking of work: Google’s Zürich office has two inter-floor fire poles, one inter-floor slide (which terminates in the cafeteria), and a chill-out room with fishtanks. I am, frankly, mortified.
- On a brighter note… this is going to sound weird, but the toilets at Google Zürich make me inordinately happy. The reason is the flush button: it’s one of those little triumphs of design that brings a warm glow to my stomach: you look at it, there’s a space of a second, and then you realize exactly what the two buttons do and why. Neither icons nor words necessary: the thing speaks for itself. And in its small way, it’s beautiful. There should be more things like this.
- This city has gone nuts for the Euro 2008 cup in a way that’s difficult for an American to fathom. Imagine if, for the Super Bowl or the World Series, the host city(ies) didn’t just hang a few banners, but turned their entire downtown into a festival area with open-air bars, restaurants, band stages and dance clubs for a horde of people who include not just ticket-holders but thousands of sports fans who are just in town for the party, even though the team they’re supporting isn’t even here. Now imagine that this goes on for a month. Zürich’s riverfront is one long party, less of it on the weekday nights, more of it on the weekends. It’s really berzerk. Oh, and then there’s the 30-foot-high footballers in the train station…
- And on a related note, having now had the occasion to see pedestrian traffic not entirely composed of young underdressed football fans, I am relieved to report that there are people here of average attractiveness levels. Just not many of them.
- …but then this evening, one of my coworkers took me down to a river-side area where Zurichers tend to congregate on sunny days to swim in the river and sunbathe. Dear god. I almost swallowed my tongue. There’s some horrible secret supermodel breeding program going on in the bowels of this city, I’m sure. And now I’ll shut up about the hot Swiss people. Until next time.
- Zürich’s public transit system makes me want to cry with joy. No subways, but the city is blanketed with streetcars: they run everywhere, and they run on time. Then on the rare occasion that a tram doesn’t take you to within a few blocks of your destination, there’s an equally extensive network of busses and commuter trains filling in the gaps. It’s like the parallel-universe version of San Francisco where MUNI, BART and CalTrain all work. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it isn’t 24 hours…
- …but the city is small enough, safe enough and pedestrian-friendly enough that it almost doesn’t matter. Getting caught out after the trams stop seems like in most cases it would mean at worst an hour’s walk home, usually by some lovely scenery.