All articles, tagged with “wanderlust”

Das Internetten ist nicht für das fingerpoken…

Several once-popular internet humor memes that are intermittently applicable to Zürich:

Actual content to follow once I’m guaranteed of network access for more than 10 minutes continuously.


bulletin: the internet service at Ema House Zürich is bad enough to make it worth your while to stay anywhere else. No long-winded update on the weekend’s festivities, unless maybe I manage to grab the time at one of the airports that I’m about to head into. In the meantime, look at the pretty pictures.

up up up up up up up


I hiked up a mountain today. A small mountain, but a mountain nonetheless. Probably doing this with my laptop in my backpack was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but there you go: along with several of my coworkers, I walked straight from Waffenplatzstrasse all the way to the summit of the Uetliberg, which has a rather nice restaurant and an observation tower from which (if you don’t mind climbing 15 flights of steps after having just walked up a mountain) you can see some amazing panoramas of the city and countryside. Sadly it was too hazy to see the alps in the distance, but I managed a few decent photos nonetheless.

the path up the mountain

…which went on for a while

looking back down the path

me looking like a gormless tourist
on the observation tower at the summit

sunset over Zürich

Then because I hadn’t abused my legs enough for one day, we walked down the mountain as well. This turned out to be substantially trickier than going up: we took a different, gravel-strewn path, and it was consistently steep enough to make staying upright both difficult and hard on the knees.

But we got back into town just in time for me to head into the river plaza area to see how insane things would be when an actual game was going on. And about 5 minutes after I got there… well, either Germany won the semifinal or they annexed Switzerland. Either way, a lot of German flags, shouting and honking going on. It was pretty pleasantly insane.

germany wins it

And now, your intrepid narrator falls over.

a few more notes, and a picture or two

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.

    the slide, entrancethe slide, exitthe firepolethe fishtank chillout room

  • 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.

    res ipsa loquitor

  • 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…

    big ballin’the lone holdout

  • 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.

    the old swimming hole

  • 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…

    tram at night

  • …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.

    zurich in the evening

what’s your price for flight?

A few scattered, highly jetlagged notes so far:

  • Unless I was hallucinating — and after 13 hours in the air I’m not entirely sure — I was checked in on the last leg of my flight (Copenhagen to Zürich) by a woman actually named Syter Kristiansen. No clue if she’s found Mister Right or not.

  • Business class travel lounges: holy god, the land of the white people. Actual overheard conversational snippet: “We’ve been to Thailand seven times now. It’s great, there’s McDonalds, 7-Eleven, everything you’re used to.” I have no words.

  • Speaking of white people: the air staff on Scandinavian Airlines? Very, very blonde. As blonde as you can get. Blondest. None more blonde.

  • There appears to be some sort of sporting event going on here in Zurich. People seem to be somewhat excited about it. Expressing one’s affection for the game seems to involve large bands of attractive young people wandering around wearing not-very-much, but not-very-much of coordinated colors and logos. (Actually there’s a lot more to it than that, but more on this later.)

  • …actually the general attractiveness level here is a little intimidating. I had thought that I had, over the last two years, done a little raising of my game with regard to my own personal hotness level (whatever that might be), but I really appear to have nothing on the average person wandering the streets here. It’s unclear if it’s just a temporary influx of pretty young sports fans or if the general cuteness status quo in Switzerland is just a sigma above what I’m used to. Obviously further investigation is necessary.

  • My hotel has the single dumbest internet connection system I have ever encountered. To begin with, no wireless. Okay, fine, they made their investment in the tech a little too early to catch that wave and don’t want to rebuild, and there’s an ethernet cable on the desk. But then it gets better: internet access is billed per hour. Better still: you cannot just punch in your credit card from your computer in your room, you have to go down to the reception desk and buy a “ticket” that gives you a username and password good for whatever amount of time you’re willing to pre-pay for. (n.b., this is allegedly a hotel catering to business travellers.) But the bsst part of all is this: while you can buy a “7 day unlimited” pass for the internet service, the system they use to do the billing cannot sell such a thing. So when you buy a ‘7-day unlimited’ pass, what actually happens is that the desk clerk prints up two 10-hour tickets and instructs you to come back and get more printed out when you run out of time. You really have to appreciate the amount of effort that’s gone into making sure that a shared DSL line operates like a long-distance phone line from 1977.

And now, I fall down.

maintaining neutrality

So next week I’m going on a somewhat last-minute business trip…

…to Zürich. Yike.

I’ll have a day or two at liberty. Suggestions?

planning the next great escape

It’s official: M and I will be in Japan between 7/2 and 7/18/08. Flying into Tokyo, flying out of Osaka, figure we’ll spend at least a few days each in Tokyo and Kyoto, with some day-trips elsewhere as warranted.

We’re doing the usual devouring of guidebooks now, but presumably my brilliant and well-travelled friends will have some opinions about stuff we shouldn’t miss. This is your open invitation: what should we see and do?

Recommendations for accommodations in Tokyo especially solicited. Introduction to local friends who would be fun to meet even moreso.

waiting for lemony napkins

Sitting on a plane… our second plane, in Charlotte, NC. Plane #1 had a stuck valve. This one is missing a seal on the wing leading edge. Presumably the clock is ticking on our flight crew’s shift, and then the real fun begins.

A woman a seat in front of me is trying to incite her coworkers to start chanting for drinks. I’m trying to figure an angle of approach for a quick garroting: judging by the expression on the flight attendent’s face the last time someone asked about drink tickets, chanting would bring a completely justified response involving shotguns, and I’d have a hard time getting out of the line of fire fast enough.

Pray for me.

new orleans in a nutshell


oh hai i ate all ur foodz

More (and more serious) later.

big? easy?

I am, apparently, going to be in New Orleans in mid-april this year, for about 4 days.

So, my lovely and well-travelled friends: If you’ve got a favorite restaurant, music club or other thing in N.O. that you think I should experience, now would be a great time to tell me about it.