Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lausanne, Montreux, CERN, and Italy vs. France!

Last weekend was quite busy. After a pretty long but successful day of research on Friday (we got something to work for once!), I left late at night for Lausanne, where I stayed the night with another ThinkSwiss scholar. Didn't get to see much of the city, as I left very early the next morning, but I did get a nice view of Mt. Blanc and the rest of the Alps across the lake. I left early to get to Geneva, where my friend at CERN was waiting to take my friend from London and I on an exclusive tour of the main detector facility on the new particle accelerator. It was amazing to see. Not only was it of an incredible size for such a complex machine, but it was all put together far underground. They also have so much integrated hardware that you'd think they'd have to be making blind misses every time to not get any useful data at all, but it's supposedly going to once in a blue moon that they get anything. I hope they find something interesting when they start running in July (or August now, I believe, due to delays as usual).

After CERN we spent the night on the French-Swiss border near the airport, then headed off in the morning for Montreux, a nice town on the foot of a cliff/mountain on the lake. There we walked along the lakeside and toured Chateau Chillon. That night we returned to Zurich for a good long night's sleep.

The next day I showed my London friend around Zurich whenever I had a break from work, and then the excitement really began the next day. My friend somehow got two free tickets about a month ago to the France vs. Italy soccer game at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich, and they were amazing seats as well at the corner of the field, just 6 rows back. So that Tuesday evening we were seated among a crowd of rowdy, spirited Frenchmen, all craving revenge for the infamous World Cup final loss to the Italians two years ago. It literally felt like I was in Delacroix's "Liberty Guiding the People" painting of the French Revolution. Unfortunately for the French, an injured Ribery and red card in the early game pretty much ended it for them. The red card was especially insulting, since that also brought Zidane out of the '06 Cup. But the rest of the night was still exciting, and the experience is very different watching the actual game than on TV.

So that's my latest news; I hope this weekend I'll get a chance to unwind a bit and just relax..

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