Thursday, July 16, 2009

First 3 weeks in Lausanne (and its surrounding)

I realized this is seriously overdue, but living without consistent internet access after work apparently has not been that convenient after all!
Anyway, I arrived in Lausanne about 3 weeks ago on June 22nd, only to realize that the 3 weeks to follow are simply amazing, at times breathtaking, and certainly enjoyable. Thus I'm going to fast forward the past 3 weeks in this post!

Academically, without prior arrangement I arrived right on time for Cecam, an European-based computational modeling workshop/mini-conference. Funny but true, I learned more about computational modeling (my field of work here at EPFL) in those 3 -4 days than I did for the past 3 months working on my research project in the same field at Northwestern. The environment here is extremely conducive to research and academics. Being able to learn from, and work alongside leading world experts in science really reminded me a lot of the basic reasons and motivation why I went into science in the first place - something that I nearly forgotten in the midst of the hustle and busstle of the business-based Chicago.

And then every weekend just seemed to be the "life" part of the "work-life balance" aspect of (I guess) an European lifestyle. It's a trivializing statement to only say that Lausanne has the benefit of Lac Leman and the Alps - being able to stand in the hilltops and mountains overlooking the lake truly brings out the best in this amazing landscape.
The first weekend was basically a trip around Lausanne city, it's neighboring outskirts, to get myself accustomed to the people, language and certainly directions. I think it's a bliss for the Swiss, living in a city in and around which nature and development co-exist. Simply, the view for the Palais du Justice not far from Lausanne old town is breathtaking enough to end one's day
from work (below).

I'd highly recommend going to the nearby Lac de Sauvabelin, for those who are just maneuvering yourself around the city. A path through the forest and the Sauvabelin tower gives not only a 360° view of the city but also the peace a small forest can give (below).

Then on my first Sunday (it was a very warm... day) I went to the Lutry vineyards. Breathtaking likewise, but amazing scenery aside it was actually a bad choice otherwise since nothing is open on Sunday. Including wine tasting and everything else. But the view was certainly worth the walk up the hilltop!

And then it's Monday. I finally got my project this week, working rather independently first on data mining and then on statistical regression of the data, to find heats of formation of biochemical compounds.

And time flies ...... it's the weekend again! (I'm just trying to back track all 3 weeks thus the rush LOL). This weekend I rest in on Saturday (woke up at 3pm..), but finally put on the courage to hike the not-too-hard-to-do peak behind Montreux - the Rocher de Naye. What they say about mountain hiking is absolutely true - the view at the top is always, and absolutely worth the effort to get up there. Though I didn't really try that hard (since I'm really tired this weekend I hiked the first 200 m, and took the train to almost the peak haha), it still was an amazing experience. Rocher de Naye oversees Montreux, Lac Leman, and Lausanne at far. The view from up there is simply spectacular, only describable with pictures and perhaps an analogy to the Sound of Music:

Again without prior knowledge, I went down the Rocher de Naye right in time for the 8pm concert at the Montreux Jazz festival - and the best part is, one of my favorite Chinese pianists
Lang Lang had his world premier performance with Herbie Hancock at the concert! Though I didn't like Jazz that much (still), the fusion of classical pieces by the orchestra and jazz on piano wrapped up the Sunday well for yet another week of work to come the next day.

Fast forwarding to the previous weekend (July 11th), I probably had my best and real hiking experience ever. With Jason Qian and 4 of his friends, we went up the Vallorcine, a mountain by the Fraco-Swiss border at South-East Lac Leman, all the way up the Col de la Terasse (@2648m), and then through the valleys of Le Beut etc, and down [refer to Jason's post for more details of the route/location. My complete ignorance of the French language render me susceptible to not knowing where I am... ;) ]. The experience of actually hiking up more than 1000 m, and then down the same altitude was, although painful and scary at times, one of the best outdoor experiences I've ever had. Again, the view at the top is breathtaking. The best part? We saw snow and actually hike through them!

Plans for this weekend? I'm not sure at all! There's lots of options, including exploring nightlife in Lausanne.... etc. But there's one thing I'm absolutely certain about - Switzerland will absolutely quench my thirst for nature this summer!

1 comment:

Amy said...

These captures are fantastic!! I'm jealous I am not a better photographer . . . well done.