euro slideshow

quite a bit late, but here is the first (of 3 if i ever get around to it..) batch of photos documenting my zigzag across a part of western europe + scotland.. many many thanks again to Yvette + D and M (in Zürich) for hosting me. This trip is more on visiting friends than music so i left quite a few people-photos in. Most of them i met during our time in Boston more than 10 years ago so it was super nice and warm to catch up again.. we always wind up settling around listening to 2 of them playing music then capping with a big pot of vietnamese soup and lots of bbq :-). Freshly made is also a new (yet also old) friend in Paris whose conversation on music + arts i really enjoyed (though i looking clueless most of the time..). Now some comments in point-bullet format:

* music: i wanted to use Marie-Nicole Lemieux’ radio recording but apparently there’s way too many photos with no time to sort.. so a favorite Händel’s finale instead which some of you might be already familiar with.
* Marie-Nicole Lemieux is great as Tancredi, super like her commitment to musical expression. I bought tix to originally hear Patrizia Ciofi but must say there was always a little bit of too much embellishment that snaps you out of the moment to remind it is her who is singing and not Amenaïde.. MNL on the other hand was truly committed.
* was nice to catch up with a friend i had known via 2 independent friends (in fact last i saw her were at each of their weddings..) This time, everyone has their little kids, and i having been playing with tons of little nephews and nieces, apparently we can share quite deeper conversation ranging all from life, research, family, kids, etc.. was a bit short but very warm. Also manage to drag her to the opera for the first time since her move there..
* Marseille is very ethically diverse, me like!
* Mediterranean Sea is niiiiice, though i did end up showing Yvette and D how i closed it in my model ;-), all we need to know is salt goes into atlantic ocean and freshwater goes into the sea across the narrow Gibraltar (30km, 265m deep) strait!
* Pertuis fish market!!!! yum!
* rope: aside from rubik cube, D and I also shared a common interest for tying knots… and we independently searched the haus for appropriate rope.. and independently agreed Yvette’s favorite trashcan-lid-rope was perfect… it was also cut in 1/2 so we could put in use our newly lovely rotational-symmetrical zeppelin knot.. everything almost went well until she dropped the lid thinking the rope was still there, “CHOOOANNNNGGGG” ;-).
* met up with 2 more friends (including former officemate) in Grenoble, many discussions on research, sea-ice, advancement in science. also first hike of the year, officially recovered from my nasty spring allergy.
* hike up the hills in Zürich is veeery nice, me like! also super like is the picnic. It’s confirmed, td is super happy in the presence of a baroque orchestra in small haus/hall.. spent alllll evening raving about them!! and i thought Ulysses was a woman.. Sarah Mingardo’s voice is really nice, though methinks in this piece she couldn’t really do much, always dressing in depressive veil crying… BUT!! the opening duet between her and Lliana Nichiteanu is fantastically white-shirt pleasing! M and I unanimously agreed!
* Tonhalle Zürich: if you go there for concert, i’ll tell you where NOT to buy tickets! simply put, i don’t like that hall. for the record, also think that orchestra is not at the same level as Mitsuko Uchida’s playing…
* i need to rearrange my planning next time in Munich coz everyone is away on Whitsun holiday :-). ended up roaming around town by myself shopping for gas carnister and camping stove..
* Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle: i have mixed feeling… mainly coz i was expecting a mass… and for the record, i also thought the pianos were more loud than voices… the last bit was goosebump inducing… super descriptive singing from VK, then s.o.f.t pianos.. then blending in with chorus, quite amazing. one only needs to listen to such short excerpts to conclude she m.u.s.t sing muuuuuch more sacred and baroque music!! m.u.s.t.
* was also very nice to catch up again with new friend from Paris in Salzburg, must have given her the impression i always late for my appointment while totally getting lost everywhere :-). They don’t label street names in Salzburg! only signs telling you where important buildings are… but i only have street names on map…
* West Highland Way: we bought just about every thing to kill bugs.. them midges, they get in your head.. not sure if i’d return.. think next time i go up the Alps where there’s less bugs :-). We did learn though by accident that that collection of chemicals + skin-so-soft lotion actually did deter them from biting… coz only on last day we didn’t apply while on the run that i ended up with some 20 bites that took nearly 3 weeks to stop being itchy.. Unlike mosquitos, them midges won’t bite unless you stop! perfect “motivation” to keep in shape..
* Scottish weather is quite something..
* lovely visit to friends again after running from the bugs.. back when i first came out to my parents, had such a hard time making friends.. and she really showed me how to do it actually: simply get together, have fun time chatting, cooking, playing music, hiking, keep inviting, and friendship grew :-). the beginning of the entire group of friends i made while in boston first time.
* saw the North Sea for the first time! and i have it in my model!
* bowl of noodle soup: lost all my weight, first in very long time i swallowed a whole sandvich and felt like haven’t eaten! that was the first of many bowls i downed after getting back to boston.

Altogether, was a very nice and warm trip seeing old friends and making new ones. I spent a bit of time explaining what i do and sometimes encountered questions of relevancy of our research to humanity.. I supposed on a very basic level we’re guided by our curiosity as to how the world functions and try to explain it with physics.. but beyond that basic curiosity, advancement in understanding of how nature works can surely benefit (wo)mankind, even in the most basic form of “knowing” and “predicting” a system. The analogy to the human body is one i often use (perhaps naïvely coz i terrible in biology): research is needed to understand how blood flows or how chemical signals travel so that if someone comes in with a symptom we can diagnose based on our current (limited) knowledge. And like planets and other complex systems, the body is non-linear, you could inject something and it might not respond until chaotically at some point.. so a basic understanding is needed and is what’s driving our continuous research, all in the hope to advance mankind. there, my hand-waving big-picture explanation :-).

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

3 Responses to euro slideshow

  1. Eyesometric says:

    Wow, fabulous trip and you packed in so much!
    Can you expand on “Scottish weather is quite something”? Was that haggis I spotted and did you partake?

    • thả diều says:

      oh, within 15 min we get sun shining to totally covered in fog to down pouring back to sun shining :-). we had only 1 evening of gorgeous weather, rest of the time lots of clouds. only on last day we were really chased by the bugs in down pouring rain.. there’s 1 photo of my friends sitting on 2 chairs in heavy rain: we thought if it rains hard midges wouldn’t come.. but nope, they still come in herds, so after 30sec sitting we were all up running in circle :-).
      yes, that’s the haggis! both guys were really into it but it’s way too rich for me after 2 spoons.. my friend bought about 10 at the local butcher to bring back to germany!

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