Switzerland, January '00

This was a combined business and pleasure trip. The first two days were spent near Zurich, where we visited a couple of companies and did a little sightseeing in the mornings and evenings. Here is a vew of Lake Zurich in the quaint little town of Rapperswil, where we had our hotel.

This is a typical old building we saw in Zurich -- I'm not sure of its function.

Here is my traveling companion, Avi Bleiweiss, shopping with me on the main drag in downtown Zurich. It was a nice pedestrian street, but the prices seemed a little on the high side.

It inspired a little patriotic pride to see Leatherman pocket tools sold side-by-side with Victorinox and other Swiss-made pocket knives. I thought our only exports were coke and cigarettes....

After finishing the business end of things, Avi headed home and I headed to Muerren, a small, car-free resort villiage in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps. There, I arrived just in time for a parade to celebrate the annual "Inferno" ski races, which include downhill and slolem.

The parade led to a little celebration at the ice rink, which concluded with the solemn burning of the devil in effigy.

I was so excited to be in the Alps on my first night in Muerren, that I couldn't wait for daybreak to take a picture. This was the moonlit view out my hotel room window.

After renting my equipment and getting my ski pass, I took the cable car up to the first run, which had a good view of the downhill race already underway.

From the ski slopes, I had a nice view of Muerren.

And here we see the main reason for skiing in Switzerland -- the views!

I think this may be Jungfrau -- I'm not sure.

After some initial nice weather, it began to snow in the afternoon and didn't let up all through the next day.

This is the view of Lauterbrunen as I came down the mountainside on the cable car from Muerren.

This is the cable car as seen from the station in Lauterbrunen. I am constantly amazed by the money the Swiss are willing to put into trains and transportation infrastructure. I wish the U.S. had a similar commitment to mass transit.

I don't get to see oak trees covered in snow in California.

Since I had some time, I decided to wander around Interlaken, a nice little town located between two long lakes. I tried to explain to these ducks that Italy awaited them just over the next mountain range, but they didn't want to listen.

Another example of Switzerland's marvellous train system -- a "family car" where kids can play while parents watch or catch a few much-needed Z's.

OK, so no system is perfect -- our train stopped unexpectedly just before the station in Fribourg, and most of us climbed out to walk the rest of the way into town.

By odd coincidence, the train stopped just in front of my friend Raphael's apartment, where we met later for dinner after I found a hotel. Here are his two boys, Leo (oldest) and Dimitri (middle). In the box is a radio they had "disassembled" earlier that day.

This is Raphael and Chantal's youngest daughter, Emilia.

Here is Raphael in his office at the nearby engineering college where he teaches and conducts research in building science.

Here is Raphael with his wife Chantal, holding Emilia. Raphael was counting out money for Emilia to hand to her baby-sitter.

Here I am with the kids (and cat) -- this was the only picture I got of myself on this trip, so I had to keep it.

Here, Leo was giving a "piggy-back" ride to Emilia. These kids got along better than any others I had met up to this point.

Chantal and Emilia at a nearby park.

After visiting Raphael and Chantal, I headed to Lausanne to revisit my old haunts and spend a little time with Jean-Louis and his family. This is some of the typical Swiss countryside as seen from the train.

Here are Jean-Louis and Armelle's two boys, Mael (left) and Killian (right), with bunny. These two also got along famously, which is making me wonder if it's there is something about the Swiss upbringing. Maybe it's the weather....

Here is Jean-Louis and Armelle in their living room with their very old dog, who needs help sometimes to get up off the floor. He's very sweet, though.

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