at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Look Closer, Learn More, #GetAtHome In This World

Category: Europe Page 1 of 2

Rome, In Different Views

When in Rome… You know what they say, but I’d actually recommend doing things a little differently.

One of the smallest of changes/challenges you can do to see things a little differently is avoiding the usual times for the must-see and must-do.

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#PrincelyMoments. Outdoors Activities in Liechtenstein

Ever thought of going there for hiking and other outdoors activities?

Or do I need to ask if you’ve ever even heard or thought of Liechtenstein for anything? ;)

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Liechtenstein Welcome

#GetAtHome Goes Liechtenstein. First Impressions, First Connections


As one of Europe’s micro-states, and a principality, it seems a holdover from a time when city-states and fiefdoms were the usual political structures.
At the same time, in these times of people looking for leadership figures to give them a sense of security and local structures to give them a clear sense of belonging, maybe Liechtenstein is a symbol of a possible future?

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Santa Maria del Fiore

Florence, Italy, Travel Advice: The Must-Sees and the Overlooked

You can’t go to Florence and not see the Duomo, but how and why should you see and do what?

Here are my recommendations for things to see and places to be in Florence, Italy, looking at the must-sees and the overlooked in the middle of it (beyond the street art I posted before):

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Art in Florence’s Urban Canvas

You go to Firenze (Florence), Italy, even to run in a marathon, one of the reasons you’ll go is the art (and the food, and perhaps the language).

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Sunset in Venice 2

An Afternoon in Venice

St. Peters from Castel St. Angelo

Rome During The Jubilee

Making yourself at-home isn’t always  a local pursuit. Places farther away have had their influence… none so more than Rome when it comes to the history of Europe.

So, its fascination remains – and I went there for the Rome Marathon and my review of the Suunto Kailash. A little adventuring and almost work, in other words.

The fascination remains, in the view from Castel Sant’Angelo…

… looking towards the Vatican…

St. Peters from Castel St. Angelo

… and following the Passetto di Borgo (the secret passageway connecting Castel St. Angelo with the Vatican)…

Passetto di Borgo

… to get on St. Peter’s Square…

… where, just a few hours before, I joined the lines…

In the line to St. Peter's Porta Sacra

… headed for the Porta Sancta, the Sacred Gate, only open during the Jubilee:

Roma San Pietro Porta Santa

The view inside was magnificent and awe-inspiring – even, if not more so, if you are not a believer, I find – as always…

Roma San Pietro Inside View

You could see that view in 360 degrees here; and I also took it in from above:

San Pietro View from Above

And then, of course, there was this:

Vatican - Swiss Guards

And this:

Selfie on St Peters Square

All of which reminds me: You are more than welcome to follow me on Instagram. Where things are often much more boring than even this here, just as the normal life at-home becomes – even as it also becomes more real and better ;)

Runs, Races, Trails: Rome Marathon RunSeeing

Home, and Rome…

I’m a bit farther away, but it is one of the capitals of one of the neighboring countries, so there are connections.

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Morning Sport on the Limmat, Zürich

A Weekend in Zürich, An Earth-Shaking Birthday

Travel makes you a better person, they say.

Traveling, in my opinion, should be something that makes you more at home in this world. Which, contrary to what many people love to argue, it will not automatically do.

Just a quick trip, just so you can say how much you “travel” and how many places you’ve been – as so many travel bloggers and vagabonds seem to take and do, in order to present themselves as knowledgeable and inspirational “world travelers” – won’t do it.

On that, I’m with Werner Herzog (paraphrased) saying that “Every idiot can go to [any place]”

That said, In the middle of a life getting more at home where it is located, side trips can be rather nice.

Aside from a family visit to China this summer, my wife and I will not get too many chances to travel, and so I decided to sweep her away to Switzerland for my birthday weekend.

Enough snow (and some snowfall) still...

Enough snow (and some snowfall) still…

Suunto Kailash in Innsbruck

Past Innsbruck, with the Suunto Kailash showing that we’d be there now

Worse things than having seen a bit of Zürich, and the Austrian railways’ “Sparschiene” (“savings track,” one could translate it) made getting there cheap and comfortable enough, expensive as the city itself turned out to really be.

With the Zürich Card for three days, another pile of money was gone, but we could take all the public transport and visit quite a few museums for free, which made it worth it.

What’s there to be found; what did we find? Well…

Of course, given the Bahnhofstrasse and its upscale boutiques, there was quite a bit of a window shopping opportunity to make one feel truly poor in comparison.

Window Shopping in Zürich's Bahnhofstrasse

Window Shopping in Zürich’s Bahnhofstrasse

That the very first quick meal of fried noodles at a mall cost some 26 bucks did not exactly do anything to change that perception.

The city itself, though, is pretty nice to just walk and have a look around, even if the first day turned progressively more rainy and uncomfortable.

In fact, while we were sitting in the café/restaurant Odeon (which is nice) for a hearty Swiss breakfast (which wasn’t too well made, actually), there was some pretty heavy snowfall. Funnily, the café looks a lot like any traditional Viennese coffee house, but the people outside in the snow seemed decidedly less fazed by the bad weather than Viennese.

Café Odeon, Zürich

Café Odeon, Zürich

Next stop, the Kunsthaus. A place where a ticket was to be bought separately, with only a rebate thanks to the Zurich Card, but also a place for the person with any interest in art at all to definitely visit.

First off, for the Rodin sculpture outside… Did you know that a (the?!) famous thinker is part of a bigger sculpture, which portrays the door to hell? Gives rise to interesting thoughts to see that, but should it? ;)

Rodin's Thinker as part of the Gate to Hell

Rodin’s Thinker as part of the Gate to Hell, Kunsthaus Zürich

Older (yeah, yeah, classical) art abounds inside, some of it showing that those artists of yore had almost as many issues with breasts and breast feeding than some modern Facebook readers, with less of a knowledge of or care for human anatomy…

Showing breastfeeding in public - and little knowledge of actual anatomy...

Showing breastfeeding in public – and little knowledge of actual anatomy…

… some of it a lot of fun if only you make it so.

Classical Sculptural Pose ;)

Classical Sculptural Pose ;)

And funniest of all, there was an exhibit on artist’s self-portraits across time. Interesting to see, and great food for thought, in this age of the selfie.

Food-wise, the greatest find was the Hiltl, Zürich’s oldest-in-Europe vegetarian restaurant.

Frankly, I was a bit dubious at first about going there. Good thing we did, for they also have a buffet with a great selection of foods. Much of it is Indian-inspired, all of it was tasty and great as example of all that can be done with “nothing but vegetables”.

Hiltl, Zürich

Hiltl, Zürich

And they are having fun with it, too, which is missing from so much of the food discussion…
We ended up going there three times during the two days.

(I also paid a visit to Beat Heuberger and his chilli and pepper and wine shop. More on that to come on ChiliCult!)

For my birthday, in the middle of the final lectures on geology and mineralogy I’ve been having to take for my current teacher training study program and which are pretty universally abhorred by students, we paid a visit to the FocusTerra exhibit.

ETH Zürich Focus Terra

ETH Zürich Focus Terra

The mass of information about geology and all the ways we encounter it in daily life was already interesting; the part that admittedly drew me most was that their Sunday tour includes a visit to the earthquake simulator.
It only traces the 2D movement of different actual earthquakes, but that alone is enough to get a little glimpse of what it would be like to be in an earthquake:

That exhibit/experience was also the perfect excuse to head to the ETH Zürich, on a second day that really turned into the “first day of spring in Zürich”, as Beat had told me it would during the rain of the day before.

My wife has a physics background, so the ETH is something of a pilgrimage site… and Google Photos turned the mass of photos I took into the full picture I wanted to make of it:

ETH Zürich

ETH Zürich

The view from the Polyterrasse was quite rewarding, as well:

Zürich View from Polyterrasse, ETH

Zürich View from Polyterrasse, ETH

And with a few more views, I’ll just bid you Goodbye from this post which, for once, will not try to encourage you, my dear readers, to do anything in particular ;)

Morning Sport on the Limmat, Zürich

Morning Sport on the Limmat, Zürich

Fun can be had anywhere... (not just) in Zürich, on the cheap

Fun can be had anywhere… (not just) in Zürich, on the cheap

Mediterranean-Alpine Flair, Zürich

Mediterranean-Alpine Flair, Zürich

Café Peclard, Zürich

Café Peclard, Zürich

Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich

Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich; the birthplace of Dada

View from the Uetliberg above Zürich, at sunset

View from the Uetliberg above Zürich, at sunset

Austria by Train

And back we went again…

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