Short Stay in Switzerland: From CERN to Zurich on a scientific weekend trip

“We are meeting here in Switzerland in order to explore the nuclear research facility CERN as a family”, I tell my friends discussing weekend plans. A smile spreads on my face while I watch most of them clearly at a loss. “You know, the huge subterranean ring underneath the city of Geneva … the largest particle accelerator in the world … a true sensation in the world of science!” – “AH. That one. Yeah right.”

Laughing, I realise that CERN with all its physical pearls of wisdom is rather for the technically inclined. The NERDS, I guess. “My brother IS a nerd”, Christine now laughs, Christine my brother’s girlfriend who proudly introduces us to her brother Bernhard as an aspiring, young physician having inspired all of us to travel here. “Thank you so much, Bernhard”, I silently add, happy in much the same way as Bernhard: After all, when do you get the chance to travel and learn so much about science at the same time – together as a family of like wisely open-minded, curious people?

😀

 

Our family meets at the airport of Geneva. Together, we travel for a weekend in Switzerland. Easy as.

On my way to Switzerland, I am still caught up thinking of all the beautiful impressions I gathered in Hamburg, especially the city’s #STSHamburg Social Travel Summit. What an exciting meet-up that was, filled with friendship & inspiration around the world’s leading professional travel bloggers, tourism marketers & PR people. After all of that, I now really look forward to the relaxed family weekend ahead. And as if the universe conspired for us, it fills the sky with billions & billions of beautiful particles …

... mit Bildern wie diesen: Landeanflug auf die Stadt Genf mit Blick bis in die Schweizer Alpen und nach Montreux, wo ich erst im Vorjahr an meiner ersten #DWCC14 Digital Wine Communications Conference teilgenommen habe ..!

… treating us to images like these: Looking out over lake Geneva and on to the city of Montreux, where only half a year ago I joined in the #DWCC14 Digital Wine Communications Conference at the foothills of the Swiss Alps ..!

 

Wunderschön: Das Wochenende sieht auf jeden Fall schon mal vielversprechend aus!

Just beautiful: Isn’t Switzerland a gorgeous place? Magic mountain air in the heart of Europe.

 

At Geneva Airport, my dear family welcomes me having travelled from Austria and already managed to organise some bus tickets into the city of Geneva, and to our Hotel Bel Esperance. Finally, I am able to relax once more into speaking my very own dialect (after all this Hochdeutsch in Hamburg and Portuguese in Portugal, a welcome break for a world citizen like myself!). It is only upon second glance that I am left without words again: Burgers sold at over € 10,- here? Standard hotel rooms at over a € 100,-?

Dear me. Travelling to Switzerland, make sure you’ve got that extra bit of money stashed away. Everything else of course, is impeccable: Swiss punctuality. Swiss order. A pretty city free of most traces of dirt. Even a huge flower clock is to be found here in Geneva, as well as the “largest water fountain in the world“, presumably telling everyone else (especially the British, we joke) who are the true leaders around here. Check this out.

Teure Burger in Genf ...

Expensive burgers in Geneva …

 

... lenken uns doch nicht vom Zauber der Uferpromenade des Genfer Sees ab ...

… are still not able to overshadow our beautiful experience of lake Geneva …

 

... dessen Wasserfontäne danke etwas mehr als 1.300 PS (!) eine Höhe von über 140 Metern erreicht (und damit höher als der Stephansdom in Wien ist!) ...

… whose water fountain is powered by an engine equivalent to 1.300 (!) horse power, shooting up almost 140 metres into the sky … That’s higher than the city’s cathedral buildings.!

 

Während mein Bruder Julian zur Essenszeit mahnt ...!

At the same time, my dear brother Julian reminds us of the time: Time for dinner, that is. View of the Geneva flower clock.

 

Ein Restaurant neben dem anderen ...

The city’s old town is full of excellent restaurants …

 

... unterstreicht den Zauber der Stadt an einem ruhigen Frühlingsabend ...

… underlining the magic of Geneva on a quiet spring evening …

 

... dank dem sogar die Schwäne "schöner als in echt" wirken, um meine liebe Mama zu zitieren - oder war's an meiner guten Olympus EPL7-Kamera gelegen?

… where even the swans appear “better than reality”, to quote my dear mum – or is it the power of my great little travel cam, the Olympus EPL7 model?

 

“My wife could not keep me in bed that night … I just had to know what happened.” Erik Brack, a retired technician at the international particle research centre & our tour guide for the day, shares from decades of his life spent at CERN.

Travelling, it is characters like Erik who you simply have to meet. No matter whether you are in love with chocolate, wine or particle physics (such as Erik): It is all relative. And truly entertaining: “Thanks to an enormous amount of energy, we managed to cool down this conductor here to 1.6 Kelvin .. That is very low, offering virtually no electrical resistance and being just above the absolute temperature minimum of – 273°C! Like this, we are able to send huge amounts of electricity through the inductors, creating a massive magnetic field. Those fields hold our protons on an exactly calculated course so that when they crash – they circulate our 27 kilometre subterranean ring millions of times per second, by the way! – we are able to take precise measurements of what might have happened to the universe right after the big bang.” Wow. I must say, it is impressive. What a steep learning curve during our hours spent at CERN.

Personally, I simply love Erik’s energy and have already decided to become fully absorbed in his passionate storytelling, particle physics or else. If like him you dedicate 38 years of your life to nuclear research (and their electro-technical base, assisting in the building of the unique research centre CERN), you just have to understand how a man of his statute jumps out of bed at four in the morning – wife & children being used to it I guess. Fascinating. Have a look here with me.

Blick auf das atomare Forschungs- bzw. Besucherzentrum CERN in Genf ...

A view of the visitor centre CERN here in Geneva …

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

"Die Welt gehört den Fleißigen", wie meine liebe Mama zu sagen pflegt. Erik hier ist definitiv einer von ihnen: So sehen wahre CERN-Anhänger aus !!!

“The world belongs to the ambitious people”, as mum likes to say – and here is one of them: Meet dear Erik, fully absorbed in his passion of living CERN even now being “retired”.

 

Die Leidenschaft, mit der uns Erik begrüßt, empfängt und in sämtliche Geheimnisse des physikalischen Forschungszentrums CERN einweist, ist einfach sagenhaft.

I just love the way Erik welcomes us to CERN, his “second home” I guess! Every question gets answered by him, his patience (and knowledge) are simply endless. “We wanted to build out to here”, he is quoted saying, “but the vineyards of Geneva stopped us from doing so.” Wine before particle physics, clearly – that is still the reality of this world!

 

Abgesehen vom CERN ist Genf natürlich auch für seine Geschichte rund um den Sitz vieler internationalen Organisationen, darunter die United Nations selbst bekannt.

Apart from CERN, Geneva is also well-known for being the headquarter city of many international organizations, among them the United Nations building here.

 

Finally Zurich, at only about three hours by train from Geneva, offers plenty of room to relax – Swiss foodie treats included.

The so-called “Wirtschaft Degenried” gourmet restaurant is a true gem for foodie travellers, being located in a pretty little forest high above the old town of Zurich. It is here where family of mine living in Zurich have decided we should go and eat together, taking us out as only locals would know. Part of the experience in reaching this restaurant is a gentle, 10-minutes stroll through the lush green forest surrounding it, connected to the city through the historic cog-wheel train Dolderbahn.

Wirtschaft Degenried ...

Wirtschaft Degenried restaurant …

 

... ist mein persönliches Highlight dieses Besuches von Zürich - nicht zuletzt aufgrund der genussvollen "Säuli" (!!!) Spezialitäten hier ...

… is my personal restaurant highlight here in Zurich, having us smile over the funny Swiss German food descriptions …

 

... auch das Schweizer Käsefondue mundet wirklich sehr ...

… but when it comes to tasting the actual food (cheese fondue & salads), we find it to be simply delightful!

 

Familienbild aus der Schweiz

Family portrait from Switzerland

 

Blick über Zürich ...

And a view over Zurich during the time of spring: Quite romantic don’t you think …

 

... und auch die Stadt selbst lädt zu ausgedehnten Spaziergängen, Bootsfahrten ...

… the city, too, invites us for lengthy walks around the old town and pretty lake …

 

... und Aperitifen wie diesen hier an der Uferpromenade ein: Prost, sag' ich da nur!

… or simply enjoying the laid-back atmosphere: Prost!

 

Zürich, wir kommen wieder! Danke für den schönen Besuch

Zurich, we’ll be back: Thanks for a wonderful weekend visit!

 

Check out even more travel stories inspiring photography of Switzerland on my dear Swiss friend’s travel blog “Travelita.ch!

I have also published further travel inspiration on this Flickr Photo Gallery …

 

See you next time in Switzerland! Do you, too, have a favourite corner in this country? 🙂

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