Thursday, November 6, 2008
Armada Cup, Hoellgrotten, Liechtenstein, Rheinfalls
Time is flying by here- I just realized it's been about a month since my last post...there's too much going on all the time! Although Joseph might have seen snow in the mountains, as he mentioned in his previous post, last week we saw snow in Zurich! It was only October 29th, but yes, it did indeed snow- ok, maybe only for 2 hours, and it didn't stick, but still- it was enough to get everyone excited and starting to talk about ski season. Although I don't really know how to ski or snowboard, I think I might just have to try it before I go home. At the very least, then I can say, "Yes, I have been skiing on the world-famous Swiss Alps."
So, there are so many adventures to talk about, I'm not sure where to begin! I'll try to back-track for you...
Last weekend I had a rowing race on Saturday called Armada Cup. The race is not a typical rowing race, where the standard distance is either 6000 meters or 2000 meters, and boats are either raced side by side or one after another. No, this race was 9000 meters and over 300 boats all started at the same time!! The start was absolute Chaos- you'd think the rowers were trying to escape a giant sea monster at the other end of the lake! But the race was super fun and an experience. Only in Switzerland could there be a race like this... Some of the worlds best rowers came to this regatta though, which was really great to see. On Sunday I decided I hadn't gotten enough physical activity the day before, so I went for a walk/hike along the "Planetenweg", which runs from Uetliberg to the south along the mountain on the west side of the Zürisee. It was beautiful fall weather and the foliage was breathtaking! That's one of the best things about Zurich- if you want city life, you've got it, but if you want nature and mountains, it's just a tram ride away. :)
Two weeks ago I went to Höllgrotten, which is a cave close by to Zug, and toured around Zug for a bit. I think Switzerland has something for everyone- I mean, if you don't like mountains, there are lakes, if you don't like lakes, they have caves! Saw some interesting stalactites and stalagmites in the shapes of turtles and beehives... the walk/hike surrounding the cave was also very beautiful.
The weekend before that I went to Liechtenstein, the smallest German speaking country! I have interned at the Embassy for the Principality of Liechtenstein in Washington, DC before, so I was more than excited to finally get to see the country. Charlotte came along too, along with a new friend of ours, Alison, who is in Zurich on a Fulbright grant. We thought we would do a nice little hike to take advantage of the great weather...well, this little hike turned into a death march by the end! We hiked for over 7 hours!! We took a bus up to Gaflei, which was great, since it appeared the bus took us 3/4 of the way up the mountain...but we were fooled. There was still much more to climb and hike. We didn't mind though, since the views were absolutely stunning and incredible! We made it to the Fürstensteig, then over to the 3 Schwestern, then continued around the 3 Schwestern to Planken, (crossing into Austria while we were descending), and finally back down to Vaduz. The hike took so long that we didn't have time to see much else, and we were too tired anyways. But at the top, ohhh it's all worth it!! Mountains as far as the eye can see!! It was so stunning that it almost seemed fake. The next day we were all pretty sore, but I would hike those mountains again any day!
I've also been to the largest waterfall in Europe, the Rheinfalls, located close to Schaffhausen. Switzerland has many positive points, but I will say that the Rheinfalls just couldn't compare with our own Niagara Falls. Future trips are planned to Germany, possibly Italy...and another mountain...and skiing...and another rowing race...
And now, yes, the real reason I'm here: the research! I've collected enough data now to be able to look and make some connections about which additional data I might need, or which other process was missing. For example, after meeting with the professor and a PhD student, I realized I needed to go more into detail in the production process using biomass to produce hydrogen, as well as the partial oxidation process and the autothermal process. This all just takes some time understanding the actual process and how the efficiencies of these processes are actually calculated. But, I am making progress, slow but steady, and I'm confident that at the end of my time here I will have contributed to the overall project in a positive way. (And perhaps have published something...)
Everyone here is extremely interested in the US election- more so than some Americans, I think! It seems to be one of the biggest topics of conversation- many people have asked me my opinion as soon as they learn I'm an American. The main train station even broadcasted the election results at 4am or so...