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Neuchâtel

Guess what? I am once again traveling! Is there any other reason to update this blog?

Anyways, I will be attending a conference in Basel next week, and decided to leave a few days earlier for a short vacation in Switzerland. 

Yestersday, I visited a town that was on my list of places to visit ever since I moved to France: Neuchâtel. It is located on the train line from Geneva to Zurich and you can get some awesome views of the town from the train. And yesterday, I finally had the time for a stopover. And yes, the town is gorgeous! From the town center, to the castle, the collegiate church and the sea promenade everything is just beautiful. The local yellow Ocker sand stone used for building most of the older building looks very nice, and yesterday’s sunny weather continued nicely, too. I had a very nice lunch at the market square (local sausage with lentils and gratin dauphinois), and then walles around the town for a few hours. You get wonderful views over the city and the lake from the castle hill. Should you ever have the chance,you should definitely without Neuchâtel!

Coffee club

While Nescafe seems set to conquer the world, my Italian colleagues decided to push back. Sometime last autumn they started campaigning for a “real” coffee machine in our kitchen. Given that we already had a capsule machine and that there are numerous coffee vending machines in the building, an additional machine clearly is a luxury item. But they quickly convinced most of us, and in early spring the new machine moved in. From my experience, I suspected that in the end two or three of us would do all the maintenance, while the rest would find ways to avoid it. But my colleagues were clever: They bought a small machine, which requires continuous maintenance. It is next to impossible to get a cup of coffee without having to either fill up the water or the beans or having to clean the waste. Nobody can avoid taking care of the machine.  The coffee buying duty is split between those who regularly go to Italy: We are directly importing our coffee. So every morning I get an excellent, freshly brewed Italian caffè with the latest news from my colleagues.

April has been a pretty crazy month for me. For this blog, this meant one thing: complete silence. But other get to read my writings: two weeks ago, we submitted a book chapter, a new paper and the revision of an accepted paper all on the same day. Hint: This is a sign of extremely bad planning.

The same week, I also gave  a presentation on an unrelated subject at a workshop. In french. Luckily for me, many French are easily impressed if a foreigner presents in french, and franglais is often forgiven.

So when all of this was done, I felt as if I had submitted my thesis once again: A bit ecstatic, and no mental resources left for writing.

Korean movies are rarely shown in french cinemas, and those few which are, are typically of the more artistic kind.  This is definitely the case for 지금은 맞고 그 때는 틀리다, which tells the same story twice. As the Korean and the English title suggest, the second version of the story is a bit more “happy ending” and less hurt feelings for the protagonist. As the actual storyline is not much more than “Man meets woman”, I won’t spoil it here by further elaborating.

What I still don’t really get, is the french title: “Un jour avec, un jour sans”. One of my classmates from Korean class claimed, that it was with and without alcohol, but, as to be expected for a Korean movie, there was plenty of drinking in both versions of the story.

I watched the movie on Friday afternoon, and there were like 8 people in total in the theater. Unlikely as it is, given that the movie is screened daily, I actually met one of my classmates. As I know that our teacher and two more of our classmates saw it last weekend, that means we will be able to discuss the movie in class tomorrow.  Perhaps somebody understood what the movie was trying to tell us, because I definitely did not.

Ferrara

And we are back to my trip to Italy. After two a bit rainy days, the weather got better again. So, instead of visiting another exhibition or museum, we went to Ferrarra. The main sight of this town is the Castello Estense, a medieval castle, that even still has moat (nowadays with fountains). The castle originates from the 15th century and survived a number of major earthquakes, the last one in 2012, and even more damaging, the 1570 series of earthquakes, which put an end to Ferrarra’s golden age.

During our visit, we also got to see several flocks of birds, stopping in Ferrara on their way further south. The way the occupied trees and buildings was truly impressive.

Beware of the ducks

Beware of the duck

I found this wonderful street sign in a small village in West Berkshire. The ducks, admittedly, were rather nice, and definitely worth stopping for😉

A good wine deal

This week, I got the chance to attend a small wine tasting organized by one of my colleagues. She had brought four red wines from her hometown, all made from syrah grapes. One of the wines came from the cave her parents contribute grapes to, one was bought at a supermarket, and the two others were considered “rather good”. Even the “cheap” supermarket wine was at 19 € a bottle. However, the 4 more euros to the wine from her family are really well invested money, it is much better then the supermarket wine and nearly indistinguishable from the most expensive one, at 35 €.

It was the first wine tasting I ever attended, and I had not expected to taste any difference between the wines, given how close they are to each other in origin. However, the differences were striking, and I am sure that I will try something like this again.

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