This was the view of Zurich that greeted us through the front windows of our apartment as we arrived in July of 1996. Actually, there was no writing in the sky. Irregular parallel computation was the subject of my research at ETH and this picture did double duty as an opening for a research talk. The roof of the Institute for Theoretical Computer Science, covered in grass, is visible at the bottom of the picture. If you look carefully, you can see the snow-covered peaks of the Glarnisch in the distance.
Jurg Nievergelt, director of the Institute for Theoretical Computer Science at the ETH, provided the opportunity to spend a year there. Frau Milos, the administrator of the institute, arranged our superb apartment right next door. Many thanks are due to both of them. Here Jurg is talking with Jane at the Institute. In the background is Uetliberg. A train runs up to the top and, in the winter, there are great sledding trails to take you back down quickly.
Switzerland is a paradise for wealthy vacationers. While we were neither wealthy nor vacationers, we had the advantage of being a short drive away from all these world-class vistas. And so we started the first of many day trips around the countryside. Here we are near Einsiedeln.
We also made some longer trips. We spent a week in a Chalet overlooking Klosters. The Silvretta range (actually in Austria) is in the background. This place was pure Heidi material.
The Swiss know how to make the most of their mountain resources. In the winter you ski, in the summer you hike or bike. Regardless of the season, there's always a nice restaurant at the end of every path or chairlift. A popular attraction (for all members of the family!) were the Schittelbahns: multi-kilometer long fiberglas channels down the side of a mountain that you careen down seated on a little cart on rubber wheels (and a big brake!). We have no pictures of these as excitement level was too high to think about the camera.
We had 11 sets of visitors over the course of the year, and each visitor brought an opportunity to explore a different destination. Here we are on top of the Schilthorn with Jane's niece Lynsey. The skiing season was already underway in the mountains.
During the winter months the view from our apartment was particularly spectacular as the mountains became clear and we could watch snow falling on the hills around Zurich while it was clear downtown.
| We couldn't let the winter pass without doing
some skiing. We went back to Klosters and
Willem and Emily got the hang of it after a while.|
Even in late March there were occasional snow storms in the mountains. Here is Emily constructing a snowgirl in Klosters.
In the spring, my mother came to visit and we made an outing to a small town called Brienzerwil. This was the view from the Brienzerwil schoolhouse. Our kids still fantasize about going to school in a town like this, with mountains all around.
Along with spring came the realization that our time in Switzerland was finite. So we embarked on a flurry of outings, staying in youth hostels which were still empty in May. They were empty because May is typically rainy. But we watched the weather carefully through cameras placed at mountain tops around Switzerland accessible through the internet, and would head out when the opportunity was right. As Willem recalls about this picture: "This is one of the youth hostels we went to, and had a lot of fun in. This youth hostel had very nice bunk beds". That wasn't the feature I remembered of this visit. This particular youth hostel was set high above the Walensee in the village of Filzbach. We had the place to ourselves and were minutes away from the longest Schittelbahn in Switzerland.
We also spent time around Lugano, where I went from time to time to work at the Swiss Supercomputing center that is located there. Here we are on a boat on Lugano Lake (actually called Lago Ceresio) by the town of Gandria.
We made a variety of outings to other countries, including Italy, France, Germany, Holland, England and the Czech Republic, but those trips are stories onto themselves. Here we are visiting Jana and her daughters in Prague.
All in all the year was a great time for family, friends, and work. There is much more to tell and show than you would have patience to download. To get a more complete story, you'll have to check out our multi-volume annotated photograph albums. And even they can't begin to do justice to this great year!