My Life - So Far

"Unbounded ambition makes an obscure existence simply impossible for me"
Lucien de Rubempré

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Master thesis X

I just realized recently that in today’s world with the omnipresence of Facebook blogging has become obsolete. There is no interaction (apart of the possibility to leave a comment), there is no access control, and there is no large public; just to name a few flaws. So I might consider stopping this experiment after 5 years, especially as it covered my studies and this chapter of my life will as well come to an end. A few years ago, blogging was a means to give friends in other countries the possibility to see what I was up to, where I was travelling and a way to share my pictures. Today, these things are exchanged at Facebook. It’s easier, faster and without time delay. With the success of the iPhone I can stay connected all the time with over 500 people in my network. Now, I don't carry my camera all the time, because the iPhone has also a camera, and I can upload these pictures in real-time to Facebook. Besides, most of my international friends, which were the main readers here, joined Facebook as well. So I'm sorry for those that still were reading my contributions. The last 5 years were a great time! I made many friends for life, travelled to many places, did a lot of sport and besides I tried to get good grades at university. I would not want to miss a single moment of the last 5 years, as even the bad moments make you stronger and most of all, these are moments you learn a lot from. As I read through my blog, I sometimes have to smile, because of the things I wrote.. And that's good. Because it shows that I have grown and have gotten wiser. And that's it all about: Life is dynamic - So Far!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Master thesis IX

It's now September already and my internship at Givaudan is over. Which means at the same time that my studies at ETH are over. I finalized my master thesis in the last days and sent it to my professor for review. However, I'm still waiting for some results that I will get from the University of Trondheim in Norway. My work should not change too much though and as soon as I have the results and the OK from both the ETH and Givaudan, I will print the thesis and hand it in at the secretary. One could figure that this is the end. It's not! I have to hold a presentation in November which also will be graded and be part of the mark I will get for the thesis. So far, I only got positive critics, so I hope to get also a good grade for the work.
The last weeks at Givaudan I mainly spent writing, besides working on a possible publication. But unfortunately I had no time to do further experiments, so my work will not be published due to the confidentiality agreement I signed. In retrospect, it was a great time at Givaudan. I learned a lot and could gain much experience in the flavor industry and even had the opportunity to see the brand new site in Shanghai. Actually, on my last day, Givaudan announced to build a new factory in Hungary for 170 million swiss francs. However, that means that 120 people working at a site in Zurich will no longer be needed. This is sad for those employees, but Givaudan's strategy is absolutely right. There is no market growth in central Europe, the emerging markets will be in the East. That's why it's wiser to build the factory where the growth takes place instead of investing money in the old site in Kemptthal. In my opinion, Givaudan will grow further and further!
The last day I was invited by the global head of flavor delivery for lunch and we talked about my work and my career goals. They appreciated my work but were sorry they could not offer me a fulltime job position. However, they will keep me in mind for future openings.

That brings me to a new topic: What brings the future? I finished my studies and will need a job, do a PhD or even an MBA. I do not reveal what I'm gonna do, that's my secret. However, my life will change!
Back to normal life. On Monday I went to see the movie "Oscar Niemeyer - A vida é um sopro" at Arthouse Commercio in Zurich. It's a documentary about the brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, that was involved in the planing of Brazil's capital Brasilia. The movie was pretty impressing and the buildings he designed were just great! Made me want to go to Brazil some day. After that we went to eat sushi at Yooji's (St. Urbangasse 8) just around the corner at Bellevue. We talked about other architects, such as Frank L. Wright that had built the Guggenheim Museum we saw last year in New York or the fantastic Falling water house he built over a waterfall. Yesterday I've had my first day off since ages and met Thomas at ETH Hönggerberg for coffee and lunch. Right now I enjoy the morning sun after a pretty exhausting bike trip. I will enjoy the next days as much as I can because who knows what I'm doing afterwards. The next appointment is meeting Lea in Lucerne and Philip, whom I met at several consulting workshops (Monitor Group and McKinsey) at the café/lounge at Haus Konstruktiv, built by Fuhrimann/Haechler. Whatch out for more to come!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Master thesis VIII

I got the sad feeling that summer is already over. Most of the days it was pretty cold in August and it rained a lot. However, that didn't prevent me from having a great time! It started when we went to see Inception in cinema. I frankly have to admit that I was positively surprised! It was thrilling right till the end! The next day we celebrated the Swiss national holiday at Sommerlust where we had brunch and later enjoyed the day on the terrace of Kai's place right above the Rhine. The next week I was on my way home after a good workout in the gym, when my iPhone rang. I spontanously decided to join Peter and Marie for dinner and a drink first at Güterhof and then at Haberhaus. It was a pretty funny evening! The next days the weather turned bad and I used the time to write on my thesis, but as soon as the sun came out again I was too! I met Thomas at 0815, where we decided to get some sushi at Globus, so we walked all the way up to Bellevue where we enjoyed the last sunrays at the edge of Lake Zurich. As we were deeply absorbed in talks about architecture, we decided to have a drink at Rimini Bar, which is a cozy spot in an open air pool with a great atmosphere! The next day was rainy again, and Sophie, Sophia, Silvan and I were going to the open air Orange Cinema to watch Same Same But Different. As it was cold and rainy all night, we had some warm Asian food from Nagasui, a perfect fit with the movie! After the film was over, we walked back to Bellevue where Paul Kalkbrenner was performing his tracks from the Berlin Calling album! I completely forgot to mention all the delicious dinners and cooking sessions with Lea, Lara and Livia. It's always a pleasure!
Besides I got an email from my former supervisor of my high school final thesis. He wanted to inform me, that my work was cited in a recent publication and my research results are now more or less public in the scientific world. After a short email conversation I decided to write a manuscript that will allow me to publish my work in a scientific journal, so that the results become completely public. Hope to finish that during September and October.
Then, I went to see the athletics meeting Weltklasse Zurich at the new Letzigrund stadium in Zurich. It was a great night with big stars! However, I had to head home soon after as I had to catch the 6AM train to Zurich and then to Milano the next day! And in Milano summer was back! It was about 30°C warm and the sun was shining all day! The only problem was that most Italians were in vacation, so many small shops and restaurants were closed. We thus had to be satisfied with Abercrombie & Fitch and Diesel. Besides we went to see some architecture highlights, such as the Università Bocconi, designed by Grafton Architects in 2008. For dinner and drinks we can recommend the streets around Alzaia Naviglio Grande! We've been at Officina 12 (Alzaia Naviglio Grande 12), which was superb, but there are many more! I was literally living a life on the road these days, working on my notebook in the train, eating in between and traveling from meeting to meeting and from appointment to appointment! But it was well worth it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Master thesis VII

The weather in July was just superb and made up the cold and rainy weather in May and middle of June. One evening I went swimming with Sophie and Marcus in the Limmat and afterwards we went to eat Indian at a small place called Bombay Bar. Last week I was at Utoquai again with Sophie and we went swimming in the Lake of Zurich. It was just great, the scenery with the old majestic buildings at the lakefront, the old French-style bath and the warm lake. It almost felt as having holidays. This weekend I went to see Brothers at the Orange Openair Cinema right at the lake in Zurich. The ambiance was stunning, having the lake just in front of you, and all the glimming lights on the shores. I really enjoyed that evening and actually I wanted to see Same, same but different in August, but all tickets were already sold out. Before going to see the movie, Thomas, Sandra, Simone and I went to eat Libanese at Palme de Beirut (Bertastrasse 76), which was very delicious, even though we were quite full in no time. A propos dining: I went to eat pizza at Pizzeria Romana in Schaffhausen with Michael another evening. It was bloody hot that day, around 35°C and as we had our table outside, but with rain protection, we were pretty happy that a thunderstorm came up and the heat receded a bit.
At the beginning of July, I had a one week quality management course at ETH with a final exam at the end. The exam went well and after a workout at the gym I went to Tobias and Säde’s new place in Zürich, where we had apéro on the rooftop. All in all we were 9 people and before it was getting dark we walked to the lake to watch the firework of the Züri Fäscht. The rest of the night we spent walking around, talking to people we met (I met Karin who was with me in Rome for the McKinsey workshop). Besides, I was several times at the Rentenwiese, a cosy place in a botanical park with direct access to the lake. Sometimes it’s hard to find a free spot, but if you succeed it’s certainly gonna be a nice evening with your friends. Then I’ve been at the new Gran Café Motta (Limmatquai 66) together with Lea after she finished her studies (a moment that will come for me as well pretty soon). And I once met the infamous Carl Hirschmann in front of the Corso cinema at Bellevue in Zurich. Seems that he's not allowed to leave Switzerland.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Master thesis VI

For all frequent readers I'm very sorry that I didn't updated you on what I did recently. I was up to so many things upon my return from Asia. I will write bit by bit about that amazing trip as soon as I have more time. But let's start chronologically. When I arrived back in Switzerland, the weather was sweet and spring showed off its full beauty for some days. I went to Konstanz to meet Lea's sister Claudia for breakfast and some ice cream at Aran. As my birthday was arriving at that time, I invited some friends to a little apéro (which was bigger than I thought) at my place. I pretty much enjoyed that evening and would like to thank everyone that contributed to its success.
The rest of the days I worked on my thesis at Givaudan, had interesting talks to experts from the USA and a few days ago my professor came for a visit and I'm convinced the whole project will eventually come to a good end. My supervisors already talk about a possible publication which would be great, for me at least. I did quite a bit of sports, went to the gym three times a week, went jogging and cycling and I think I'm getting slowly but surely in shape for the summer. To do something for the intellect, I read "Tender Is The Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and after finishing once again his classic "The Great Gatsby".
This week I went to Hiltl in Zurich for an afterwork dinner with Kai. It was a warm and sunny evening and after dinner we enjoyed a drink at James Joyce before we, a bit tired already, took the train back to town. The day after, I had another appointment at Yooji's at Bellevue to eat sushi. Actually I would say that my culinary pleasures were pretty much satisfied as I also went to eat at Il Boccone and at Deli in Konstanz. As the weather was still good on the weekends, we had BBQs at Kai's new place and once Thomas and I had a nice evening at his place. At Livia's place, to be more precise on her balcony, we enjoyed a great farfalle with tiger prawns dinner. And I almost forgot to mention that I already took a swim in Lake Constance a week ago, when we went to the spa in Konstanz.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Master thesis V

The pictures I posted are still the ones I made in Rome as I don't have any newer ones. Though, soon I will be able to post new exciting pictures: Kai and I fixed the dates for the trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong. Exactly in one week we will be on a non-stop Swiss flight to the Pu Dong Airport in Shanghai. The Expo 2010 opened today with a spectacular opening ceremony and 350'000 visitors. I'm pretty much interested what the Swiss Pavillon has to offer. Besides, I have the opportunity to visit Givaudan in Shanghai! My supervisor made the suggestion that he could ask our team members in Shanghai for a meeting at their site. I can now spend half a day at their location, get an insight in ongoing projects and see the modern facilities which are one of the most modern in the flavor industry globally!
On May 16th Shanghai Airline will bring us to HK, were I am supposed to meet Nozomi, a girl I once met at Starbucks in Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan. The last day we will spend in Macau, which was once a Portuguese colony and is now one of the richest cities in China and in the world. Can't wait to see these cities!

Besides, as spring definitely came, I went running, cycling and to the gym almost on a daily basis. I feel in good shape and a few hours prior to my departure to Shanghai I will run my stretch for the SOLA race in Zurich. Again I will run all the way up to the Uetliberg, which equates to 420m height difference. Last weekend I already did a test run from Schaffhausen to Merishausen, a village outside in the green hills. I run that distance once every year, but I was never as fast as this time!
Talking about sports, I read Dwain Chambers' autobiography called Race Against Me. It's pretty impressive and Dwain confesses everything of his past life with enhancing drugs.

As we already had temperatures of more than 25°C, Thomas and Sandra invited for a short BBQ last Thursday. A week before I was invited to a birthday dinner at Lea's place in Zurich, where we also had BBQ and a very delicious dinner! Yesterday I went to a small restaurant in Schaffhausen, called Wii am Rii. It's just a few steps from the edge of the Rhine. The atmosphere was great and the food very delicious. If you want to know more ask me or read the critics by clicking on the link.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Master thesis IV

Time flies. The last post was about my trip to Rome, but until now already three weeks have passed. The Easter weekend was not so spectacular, we had brunch on Sunday morning and on friday Livia invited me and Urs for dinner at her place. I watched some movies, City of God for example and Up In The Air with George Clooney. This movie was actually one of the best movies that I've seen recently and that is obviously not only my opinion as it also won a Golden Globe.

Yesterday evening I was in Zurich together with Sophie and Marcus, a student from Stuttgart. We met pretty early as we wanted to go to the Future is Now festival but hadn't bought any tickets in advance. So we waited in front of Exil, where we later would see Richard Dorfmeister spin his discs. Some acts didn't even made it to the festival because all the airspace over europe was closed due to the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. But they were not the only one that were affected. I knew so many people that either could not leave for their holidays and meetings and conferences or they could not return back. I even heard the story, that a plane from Venice left 50 minutes earlier than scheduled, so that it could land in Zurich just before the airspace was completely closed. This is an event nobody would ever have imagined could happen. But it shows how vulnerable we as a society are, if things we take for granted don't work anymore.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Master thesis III

Last weekend I was in Rome with McKinsey. They welcomed us at their office at Zurich Airport on Friday morning. We first got breakfast and had the opportunity to get to know each other. Actually I spotted some familiar faces, people I already met at consulting workshops at Roland Berger or Monitor. We spent the morning in Zurich, had a delicious sushi and sashimi buffet and started with the case study, which was actually about the food business. We then had a short flight to Rome and were picked up by a bus that headed towards the city center, to the Hotel Ripa (Via degli Orti di Trastevere 3). Regretably, the website gives a better impression of the hotel than what we found in reality. However, we didn't spend much time in our rooms anyway. After checking in, we already left soon after for a good italian restaurant somewhere in Trastevere. I actually tried to see Thomas, who also was in Rome with his architecture class that week. Unfortunately, it was a matter of impossibility, as we both were together with a large group which makes it pretty difficult to get yourself separated.
Anyway, the next morning we had to get up early and work on our case. The team spirit in my team was just awesome and we worked together as if we knew each other for much longer. Every team had also some kind of supervisor, which was a real McKinsey consultant, and here again, we were lucky to have someone with a lot of experience and, even more important, someone that was open-minded and funny. After lunch at the hotel we had an excellent city guide, that showed us around and I might say that we got to know many beautiful places, which an ordinary tourist would never have seen. For dinner we went to eat at Gaetano Costa (Via Sicilia 45), which was just excellent. So far, I never saw people applauding for a dinner. That night though, this changed. And indeed, the menu was wonderful. After a coffee we walked to the Club La Maison (Vicolo dei Granari 3), where we had reserved tables. Again we all had a lot of fun together!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Master thesis II

Last Monday I officially started my internship at Givaudan in Dübendorf, Zurich. Givaudan is the world's largest company in the flavor and fragrance industry with headquarters in Vernier, Geneva. The company has more than 8500 employees worldwide and generates a revenue of CHF 4 billion, whereas the fragrance sales make up 46% and the flavor sales 54% of the total. I write my master thesis in the R&D department, the Flavor Delivery Science. The atmosphere is very international, as my team consists of people sitting in Cincinnati, OH, USA and in Naarden, Netherlands. All teams work in close collaboration and therefore I could attend a telephone conference right on my first day. No need to say that everything is in English, even the conversations at lunch. I'm really glad that finally everything went well, after all the problems with the contract.
By the way, next Friday I'll be in Arosa, as we have a team building event the whole day, including skiing, apero and dinner. That's what I call a good start into an internship!

Besides, I was talking to Kai this week about our planed trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong this year. As I will be in community service from September till the end of November, we might go somewhen in May, as the World Expo opens right then. But we will discuss that in the next days and then hopefully come up with a decision.
Yesterday I was in Zurich at Lara's place for her farewell apero. She is going to Dublin for three months and thus invited some friends to say goodbye. The rest of the week I worked late, had coffee at Starbucks with Lea, went to the gym and went running once, when the sun was out and the snow partly gone.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Master thesis I

I'm already back from Asia. I will update you step by step in the next few weeks, so that you get a clue of what we experienced in Vietnam, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. To make it short: It was exciting!
Now, it seems that winter has gone and spring is slowly but surely coming, already bringing some warm and sunny days. Besides, I got some good news concerning my master thesis. While I was traveling, Givaudan and my professor came up with an agreement for the contract we all had to sign. I'm now even better off as before, because I will also get a recompense for my work. The only problem is that I will not be able to publish all my results because of confidential reasons.
As I wrote in a previous post I applied for a strategy conference in Venice, Italy which is organized by Booz&Company. As the conference is open for master and PhD students from Germany, Austria and Switzerland it was quite difficult to be accepted. Thus I was not disappointed when I was announced that I do not belong to the lucky few participants. However, I also applied for a workshop with McKinsey&Company in Rome from March 26-28. This time I had more luck and I was accepted. To get to know each other we'll first meet at their office at Zurich Airport, before boarding a Swiss machine to get to the italian capital. The hotel we'll stay could actually not be better: It's the Ripa Hotel (Via degli Orti di Trastevere 3), a nice boutique and design hotel.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kuala Lumpur II

After I finished my coffee, I went to the biggest shopping mall of Malaysia, the Suria KLCC, which is located just behind the Petronas Towers. I strolled around the huge building and bought the novel "Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I walked out of the mall to make some pictures of the towers, I was approached by some girls that wanted to know here I'm from. Soon I was involved in a lively conversation about traveling the world and I couldn't turn down the offer of joining them for dinner. Actually they invited me to their place somewhere in the suburbs of KL. They cooked fish, rice and different kinds of vegetables, some of whom I've never seen before. When I now think of that experience I feel like being a little adventurer, because in Switzerland at least, I would never join some strangers for dinner.

Actually I wanted to go to the restaurant Frangipani (25 Changkat Bukit Bintang) for dinner, but that was obsolete now. At the hotel I slept a little bit because I spent the night before at the airport and sleeping there is not so recreative. Then I took a taxi to one of the best rooftop bars I've ever been: the Skybar at the Traders Hotel, which is run by the famous Shangri-La group. There is a huge swimming pool in the center of the bar and at the large window front you have cozy lounge chairs to enjoy the stunning views at the bright Petronas Towers. That was just fantastic! After that I checked out the Zouk Club (113 Jalan Ampang), the pendant to the one we were at Singapore. But as it was a Monday there was not a lot going on, so I went back to the hotel. The next morning I already had to go back to Singapore which meant: Good-bye Malaysia, good-bye Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kuala Lumpur I

When we came back from Vietnam we landed in Singapore at around 1AM. Sophie didn't feel well and Silvan never intended to go to Kuala Lumpur, so I was the only one who had to wait for the flight with Tiger Airways at 6AM. There was no use going to the city, so I waited at the airport, which was rather boring, as I was not at the main terminal but at the budget which doesn't house a lot of stores. However, I found a boostore and looked through the Lonely Planet for KL and wrote down some places to visit. Among these, the Luna Bar seemed very promising, but also the Sultan Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental. At least I had some ideas where to go in the evening. The flight was short and I arrived pretty early at the airport in KL. However, it takes some time to get into the city. There is a free bus run by Asia Airlines that brings you to the center, but it takes almost an hour (which is about the time you need by plane from Singapore to KL). Fortunately, I could already check in at the hotel in the Indian district which is called Masjid Jamek. As I only had one day to spend in KL, I immediately took a taxi to the Menara KL, a 421m tall TV tower. It's the worlds fifth tallest TV tower and one had some stunning views from its top.

Then I went right to the Petronas Towers, which were the highest buidlings in the world from 1998-2004. Actually I wanted to go up to the Skybridge that connects the two towers. However, I wasn't so lucky this time, because it was closed that day.
I then decided to walk to the Hotel Maya, which is included in the Wallpaper* guide and famous for its interior design. As it was pretty hot outside, I had a coffee at the bar and enjoyed the atmosphere in the hotel lobby. If I ever return to KL this is the hotel of choice!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vietnam V

In Hanoi a young driver waited for us at the airport and we started for a 45 minute ride to the city center, where our hotel was located. However, we only stayed one night in the city, as we were about to leave early in the morning to get to the world famous Halong Bay. The large bay consists of more than 1900 small islands. The Halong Bay was first listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, in recognition of its outstanding, universal aesthetic value. In 2009 it was included on a list of nominations as one the World's 7 Natural Wonders.

Again, we had a private driver for the 3.5 hours journey. Before we boarded our cruise, we eat the best croissants ever! Unbelievable, as we all had been in France before. Anyway, the Paradise Cruise was pure luxury! The rooms were quite spacious, the bathroom very modern, so was the whole cruise, and the details also contributed to the perfect impression. The welcome buffet was great and offered a wide variety of vietnamese specialities. The cruise had a sun deck with nice sun loungers and so we could soak up the majestic panorama of the bay! It's really a wonderful piece of the Earth! The night we spent on the boat, which also had a bar with drinks. We had nice talks during dinner and enjoyed our time on the cruise. The next morning we returned back to the dock where our driver already waited to bring us back to the hotel in Hanoi. We spent another two days in the capital, strolling around, eating street food, and checking out some nice bars. As Sophie didn't feel too good one evening, Silvan and I went to a Jazz Club were we watched the band perform for less than 30 minutes, before they closed. As we had to leave, we went to a bar called Funky Buddha with a nice DJ and nice folks. The next day was, sadly, the last one we could spend in Vietnam, before returning to Singapore with Tiger Airways.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vietnam IV

In Hue it was markedly chillier than in Hoi An. We also had some rain showers during the car ride. The hotel we had booked in advance was cheap but still of good quality. That day I didn't feel so good, or better, my stomach didn't feel so good. However, it was not severe and the next day I already felt better. Unfortunately Sophie got also sick later, when we were in Hanoi. That night we walked to a small hidden Café called Café On Thu Wheels. We ordered fresh spring rolls and some more dishes, and actually spent half the evening there. Eventually, we even booked an individual city tour for the next day. It was supposed to be on motorbikes, but as it was cold and rainy, we opted for a private car. Silvan even managed to include an airport transfer in the price. Well done.

The next day we got up at 10AM, and actually breakfast time was already over. But the old lady at the reception felt sorry for us and we still got our breakfast. Then the driver picked us up at the hotel and we went to see the Thien Mu Pagoda which lies directly at the bank of the parfume river. We strolled around the vast park and made some pictures. The next stop was a hill where we had a beautiful view of the river. At the same place we could gaze at some bunker remnants of the Vietnam War. The next sightseeing spot was the tomb of Tu Duc, which belongs to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It consists of a pretty large park with old buildings all over. I really liked that place, as it was a bit frowning and obscure, with moss on all stone walls. After this visit we were hungry and stopped for a pho soup. We then drove along rice fields to a Japanese bridge, which was very old, but not soo impressive. The very last stop was already the small airport of Hue, where we got on a Vietnam Airline flight to Hanoi.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vietnam III

After a delicious breakfast at the hotel Silvan got a motorbike and Sophie and I hired two bicycles. So we were much faster in town and were able to discover the beach further down. One resort is located a bit north towards Da Nang, called The Nam Hai. Click on the link to see some pictures, it's just an awesome place. For most readers Vietnam most sound rather poor, but there you have pure luxury. The infinity pool is just a masterpiece!
Soon we were a bit tired of the beach at our hotel, so we made a little beach walk to the Golden Sand Resort & Spa. There we enjoyed the whirl pool, relaxed at the infinity pool and had a club sandwich for lunch. Actually we spent the rest of the day there, until the sun disappeared and left the sky in a beautiful afterglow. Then we had a short ride back to our resort and enjoyed a good book on the patio right at the river. Just brilliant!

The next day we again took the bikes and drove along the sea, which was pretty rough that day. We stoped at a little spot for a coffee and soon later we had to return as we had organized a driver that should bring us to Hue in the north. We payed him 50 US-Dollar for the five hours ride in a private car. On the way north we had to go over the Hai Van Pass. The twisting road on the pass has long been a challenge for many Vietnamese drivers. However, since the completion of Hai Van Tunnel, traffic flow and safety have improved. We could have used the tunnel as well, but we went for the beautiful views you was supposed to have. Unfortunately we had slight rain und the visibility was not that good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vietnam II

The next day we took a taxi to the airport in fromer Saigon. We booked our flight to Da Nang with Vietnam Airlines and got into the Business Class. This was great, as we didn't had to queue for Check-In and could use the wireless internet in the Business Class Lounge. Besides, we got coffee and food for free, and could enjoy the flight as much as possible, even though it took not much more than one hour. In Da Nang we again had a driver that brought us to our hotel, the Hoi An Beach Resort. The resort was right at the beach, we had a spacious room, the weather could not have been better, everything was perfect!
Hoi An is a rather small city, however, in 1999, the old town was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO as a well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port of the 15th to 19th centuries, with buildings that display a unique blend of local and foreign influences.

We walked across the old town and found a very nice lounge just at the edge of the river, no wonder it's called River Lounge (35 Nguyen Phuc Chu). The owners, two young Austrian brothers, created a marvellous mix of european and asian elements in their menu card, which was done in collaboration with Michael Schwarzmann, an Austrian star chef. We had some fresh spring rolls as starter. I then chose a crab salad and a tuna filet with teriyaki sauce. Everything was delicious and bloody cheap!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vietnam I

We landed in Ho Chi Minh City with a delay of more than an hour, but the driver who was supposed to pick us up and bring to the hotel was still waiting. When we looked out of the car window we saw hundreds of motorbikes with up to four passengers on it. Actually whole families, with all children. What a contrast to the well-regulated traffic in Singapore! There were no rules, our driver just drove where he though was enough space. Remarkably we never saw an accident, even though I learned that Vietnam has a very high traffic mortality rate. When we arrived at the hotel, the next challenge was crossing the street. The driver told us to just walk slowly without looking at all the motorbikes that were coming towards us like a swarm of bees. If you run, what you naturally would, they would not be able to judge your position, but if you walk very slowly they just pass beside you. But you have to be aware, that they never slow down or even break for you.

As we were hungry we wandered around the neighborhood and then found a food stall where we had a pho soup. This is a Vietnamese beef and rice noodle soup, which is often served with basil, lime, bean sprouts and peppers that you can add by yourself. After dinner we went to the Sheraton Hotel and took the elevator to the Wine bar at the 23rd floor. From there we could see the Chinese New Year parade down on the streets, where millions of people were celebrating. The next day we strolled around the city, tried different kinds of food, had coffee now and then in a street café and enjoyed the warmth. In the evening we had dinner in a thai restaurant, because most locals had closed due to the public holiday, and ultimately we ended up at Gossip Club (79 Tran Hung Dao Street). I never saw a security as tight as there, which can be a bit daunting. You're not even aloud to take pictures with your iPhone. Apart from that the club was pretty good!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Singapore III

The next day we took a taxi to Chinatown and visited all the markets there. It's again another face of Singapore, quite a contrast to all the shopping malls at Orchard Road, that we've seen so far. In Chinatown you'll find hundreds of exotic fruits and foods, and the characteristic smell, that you can find also in the Chinatwon in New York or elsewhere. We eat at a nearby food stall and got rice, chicken and some chinese vegetables. Again it was bloody cheap. In the afternoon we soon had to be ready to go to the Airport as our flight to Ho Chi Minh CIty with Tiger Airways was scheduled at around 4PM. Unfortunately, we were at the Budget Terminal, where there's not much to do. And even worse, our flight was more than an hour late.

After the trip to Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur, we came back to Singapore for a day. This is now not in chronolocial order anymore, but it perfectly fits into this post. As I went to Kuala Lumpur only by myself, I took the MRT from Changi to the Harbour Front station. From there I took the Sentosa Monorail to get to the island Sentosa. We agreed on meeting at the beach, at Cafe del Mar, upon my return. I left my luggage at the airport, but I had my shorts with me. As we all were hungry we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. As it was a rather expensive one, we changed clothes in a toilet, so that we at least were wearing trousers. The sashimi was delicious, so was the miso soup. As it was our last evening before returning to Switzerland, we went to rooftop bar Loof (331 North Bridge Road) for a farewell drink. This appealingly eccentric rooftop bar is a playful space. The people who gather there and the mood manage to be achingly hip without being overly pretentious. As we had a direct view on the Raffles Hotel, probably the most famous hotel in Singapore, we thought about going there as well. However, the bar was crowded with tourists, so we left immediately.

Now, the next post is about the trip to Vietnam!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Singapore II

The next morning we got up early, had breakfast and set out for the university. Silvan first showed us the ample food court where we immediately grabbed a delicious mango juice and a seat in the sun. That's how days should start! After a short walk to the lecture building, Silvan introduced us to the professor and we could attend a lecture about nutrition and cancer. As the students had presentations afterwards Sophie and I left and went on a bus tour around the extensive campus. We then waited for Silvan lying in the gras under a palm tree, getting suntanned. For lunch we decided to go to a nearby a food court, which was bigger than the one in the morning. I had green thai curry with chicken and a fresh made kiwi juice, for as much as nothing! However, we went to eat chilli crab in the evening which was fairly expensive. But cracking the crab with your hands made up for the price, and was pretty funny!

Back to the afternoon: As Silvan had to write a lab report Sophie and I went to Orchard Road, which is the major shopping and entertainment street in Singapore. There are innumerable shopping malls where you could spend whole days strolling around. As we took the MRT from the uni campus we got off at Orchard Station and hence we were already in the middle of the ION Orchard shopping mall. It's probably the newest one, opened in July 2009 and houses six double-storey flagship stores of close to 9,000 square feet each, including Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Cartier. Its signature glass façade doubles up as a giant media screen as well. Then we walked along the road to Wisma Atria, and further on to the largest mall, called the Ngee Ann City. It houses the Japanese department store Takashimaya as well as it is home to Southeast Asia's second largest book store Kinokuniya.
This all-afternoon shopping session made us tired and so we decided to walk home. At sunset we went to the Esplanade for a drink on the top of the theatres with a stunning view on Singapore's skyline (see pictures of the last post). We actually watched the sun go down until it was well dark, when a nice firework started, to celebrate the beginning of the Chinese New Year. After that we were hungry and ready for crab. We tried not to get too dirty hands as we intended to go to Zouk afterwards. Best club ever in Asia!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Singapore I

Actually I've already been at Singapore once when I had a stopover at Changi Airport on my way to New Zealand. The flight with Emirates was good, although we had quite a few turbulences on the way from Zurich to Dubai. At the Airport in Singapore we took a taxi to the citycenter to the Ibis on Bencoolen, where we were supposed to meet Silvan. It was already 10PM but we had still over 30 degrees celcius, which was a slight contrast to the freezing temperature back in Switzerland. As we all were hungry, we walked into nearby Little India to have dinner. While walking through this ethnic neighbourhood I hardly had the feeling of being in Singapore. This place wasn't clean and tidy as Singapore is claimed to be. However, that made it fairly special and appealing. We found a restaurant called Sakunthala's where we enjoyed different Indian meals.

After strolling around a bit in Little India, we took a taxi, which by the way are pretty cheap, to the New Asia Bar on the 71th level of the Swissôtel The Stamford. It's a great location with stunning views on the sea of lights below! The music was good, but nothing compared to that played at Zouk, the late evening location of the next day. Actually we thought about going to Zouk or Attica the very same evening, but as we were tired of the long flight and wanted to attend a lecture at the National University of Singapore the next morning, we decided against and went home.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Final Semester X

This is the last post with Final Semester as title. I had my final exam yesterday, in Applied Statistical Regression. Then I went to the brand new gym at Hönggerberg for a workout to get my mind free. By the way, the picture in this post is shot in the gym, which is held entirely in white. Actually I was supposed to work in the afternoon, but I had some discussions with my supervisor about the contract with Givaudan, so I had to call that off. As ETH doesn't accept the contract, I'm not even sure if I can start with my thesis after my holidays. At least my supervising professor said that I should not worry...
Then I applied for another consulting event with Booz & Company. It's a three-day strategy conference about sustainability held in Venice in March. It would be a good opportunity to get to know the company in more detail. Such events are also great to enlargen the personal network and to compare oneself with other aspiring students. Furthermore, I can further benefit by solving strategic problems and practice my presentation skills. However I guess it's rather difficult to get a place in Venice, as it's an event open for students from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Nevertheless, I'm optimistic, even though I just read that in 2009 Booz got 1200 applications, of which 35 were selected to take part at the event, that was held in Istanbul last year.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Final Semester IX

To make a stright connection to the picture: I went skiing in Scuol last weekend. As Saturday was supposed to be a beautiful day, we already left for Kai's flat in St. Gallen on Friday evening. The next morning we got up very early and drove to Landquart by car. There we waited for Thomas and Sandra, who came from Zurich by train. In Scuol we had perfect blue sky and almost no one was on the slope, so we never had to wait to get on the cable car. Every now and then we stopped for a hot chocolate and tanned our skin in a sunlounger. On Sunday, the weather was not that good anymore, so we already left soon after lunch. But still, it was a great weekend up there in the mountains.
Now, let's get back to New Year's Eve. I invited Peter and Marie for dinner at my place. Actually Thomas and Sandra were also supposed to come, but the flu upset their plans. It was a nice and funny evening, also when we went to town after dinner.
Apart of learning, I bought some books, some old classics, like Ulysses by James Joyce or To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And to get my mind free, I also met friends for a nice dinner with a glass of wine or just for a drink in a bar, of which I can recommend 0815 (Lintheschergasse 23) or Amber (Bahnhofquai 15).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Final Semester VIII

I'm very sorry for my delay. I was learning day and night for the last few exams, but still I have two left. However, the effort was worth it, as I already got some marks and I'm pretty satisfied. So what did I do besides learning? Can't be much since I don't remember anything of importance.
Oh, still, I booked holidays in February. More precisely, I booked quite a few flights. The first one with Emirates will take us to Dubai and then to Singapore. We'll spend some days in the island city-state and then board a Tiger Airways machine to get to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, formerly known as Saigon. From there, another flight will bring us to Da Nang in the middle of Vietnam right on the coast of the South China Sea. After visiting this city as well as the former capital Hue, we'll take the train to get to Hanoi in the North. There we will visit the famous Halong Bay, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we'll heading back for Singapore, but only for a few hours, since we then take a flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. As far as I heard it should be a beautiful city. So I'm curious. And on top of all, I'm longing for sun and summer temperatures!

So I guess that's enough for now, what I did beside that you got to know in the next post.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Final Semester VII

The last semester is over! The last few weeks passed pretty fast, as I had exams in Epidemiology, Food Microbiology and two presentations, one of those in front of the Head Sustainability of ABB. I guess I did well, particularly the exams. Actually, can't wait for the marks. After the last exam on Thursday, I went to an event by Bain & Company, where they talked about merger & aquisitions, a topic I'm not really familiar with. Thus, it was a great opportunity to get a first insight. After the presentation we were invited for lunch and had time for networking that I used extensively. Then I went to the gym for a nice workout and returned to ETH to make pizza and christmas cookies. We had so much fun there, however it was also kind of a farewell event, as some of them I won't see again for quite a long time. As Kai was going to California, I took a train back to Schaffhausen and met him at Oberhof. We talked a bit and decided to go to the Orient next door. The party was great, and made up for not going to Indochine, so it was pretty late when I returned home.

A week before I was invited at two birthday apero in Zurich. The first one started at 6PM and was at Lara's place, where we got Pizza and different kinds of salad. But actually I was just there to say Hello, because I had another invitation for an apero in a lounge at Hotel Plattenhof. I went together with Tobias and again, nice people and nice location. However, as I had to prepare for the exams I went back home, whereas the rest headed for a party at Alte Börse.

Then I participated at Absolventenkongress located at Messe Zurich. It's one of the biggest job congresses in Switzerland and all notable companies were present. I had interesting talks with Nestle, Unilever, Kraft Foods but also with Roland Berger, Booz & Company and Bain & Company. All in all, a great day!

Right now we have approximately 15cm of snow outside! The weekend was bloody cold, and on Saturday it started snowing. On Sunday I went to Zurich by car together with Thomas. We went to Globus Delicatessa and to Sprüngli for some chocolate, and then drove back. However, we were driving 50km/h on the highway because we were in the middle of a snowstorm. At least I felt something like christmas mood coming up!

I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Final Semester VI

I finally found some time to write a new post. I was up to many things recently and already had an exam in Food Biotechnology and a presentation in Food Chemistry. So I had to prepare that in the library and still, I have 4 exams before Christmas. Luckily, the semester ends pretty early as I have my last exam on 17th and then will go to the gym for the last time in the semester, listen to a presentation by Bain & Company, meet friends to bake some christmas cookies, and then will have party at Indochine in Zurich. However, I can't afford to be negligent, as I have another 5 exams in January. And at the moment I'm not yet quite sure when I will start my master thesis, but I guess I will have two weeks off in February. So I might go to Singapore with Sophie to visit a friend who is currently studying at the National University Of Singapore. And there is still plenty of time to go skiing on a weekend or two.
Besides, I have no plans for what to do on New Year's Eve. Kai will be in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and I kind of envy him. Talking of him, we went to have a drink at Güterhof two weeks ago and then went to the cinema in Singen/GER to watch "Law Abiding Citizen" with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. Besides, I once had lunch with Jonathan, went to Café Vordergässli with Ulli and Michael to have coffee and cake (the lemon cake is just perfect!) and met Lea for lunch at Tibits. That's what I love in Zurich, you got so many choices for lunch or dinner, you see people and feel alive!

Besides, I was accepted for two more consulting workshops. The first was with Monitor and took place at the Radisson Blu at Zurich Airport, which is, frankly, a perfect location to meet. The conference room was in the 8th floor, next to the Airport Lounge with it's large panorama windows! You could constantly see airplanes take off. After the final presentations we were invited to an apero in the hotel atrium with its famous wine tower. It was a great evening and I got to know some nice and smart people, some of them being MBA candidates for Stanford University. As I wanted to improve my english anyway, I downloaded the podcasts of a lecture at Stanford called: Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, so I can listen to that in the train, just great!

The second workshop I had was with Booz&Company, that are located near Stadelhofen in Zurich. Here, in contrast to the workshops at Roland Berger and Monitor, we were only students from ETH, which was a little bit less challenging. However, it was still a great opportunity to get to know the company and the consulting business in general. The same day I also got a job offer at ETH Juniors, which is a consulting group built by students from ETH. But actually I don't think I can do it, because I would have to postpone my master thesis. However, it think about applying for an internship in the strategy consulting business after I'll have finished my studies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Final Semester V

Last Thursday I spent my first night in a hotel in Zurich. I was offered a room at the Hotel du Théâtre, which is located at the Central, right below the ETH. The location couldn't actually have been better, because it was only a short walk to the Club zum Rennweg and the bus stop to the offices was right at the corner. Funny enough the receptionist asked if I needed a map of Zurich which I smilingly negated. At the Club zum Rennweg we were welcomed by two partner of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and we could use the evening to network and get to know each other. I had some really good talks there and I also enjoyed the delicious food, which was served all night long. Most of the participants were from HSG, thus having an economic background. As I got to know a girl that also had a room in the same hotel, we left at 11PM and walked back along the Limmat. The next morning I dressed in suit and tie and went down to the lobby where breakfast was served. At the offices of Roland Berger, located in a beautiful building at Neumünsterallee, we got croissant and offee and an introduction in the workshop. The participants were divided into four teams and then the teams had to individually develop solutions to combat obesity. We then had to hold a presentation in front of the management team and one group won a first price. Unfortunately not my team, but still the event was really worth it and I gained an insight into the consulting business. As consultant you have pretty long working days, but you also get a good salary, actually one of the best, as you can see on the newest salary statistics published by the Bundesamt für Statistik. An interesting article about the most famous management consulting firm McKinsey was published in the NZZ Folio some years ago. Take a look at it, if you're keen in the topic.

Now, I applied also for two other workshops held by management consulting firms. The next one is on November, 26 at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Zurich Airport. It's a workshop about the wine market and organised by Monitor, a firm founded by Michael E. Porter, a famous economist at Harvard University. The other event is in Zurich with Booz & Company, but there I don't know yet if they accept me. Though, I hope so.

Last Friday I also had kind of a reunion with my ex-class from secundary school. We were invited to a Fondue dinner and livened up old memories! And I went to eat lunch with a friend at the canteen at University of Zurich, a place I haven't visited for ages, even though the crowd there is, in my eyes, better then that at ETH.

Yesterday I gave my comeback in sprint! And my coach meant that I was in really good shape! Indeed, I was surprised how fast I was, but now I have kind of a compulsory break, because I severely pulled my hamstring! I barely can walk and my coach had to drive me home in the car, as I couldn't get on my bike anymore...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Final Semester IV

As I wrote in one of the previous posts, I applied for a workshop at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. And I was pretty happy when I got an email with the invitation for the event. It starts next Thurday evening with a dinner at the Club zum Rennweg. The club is pretty, how should I say, exclusive. It's the only private member-club in Switzerland that found its way into the International Associate Clubs. People like Georges Kern, CEO IWC Schaffhausen, Philippe Gaydoul, CEO Denner or Christoph Franz, CEO Swiss have free access there. As dinner is about to end late, Roland Berger booked a hotel room for me: My first night in a hotel in Zurich! Maybe it's time to say something about them: Roland Berger Strategy Consultants was founded in Munich in 1967 by a man named, surprisingly, Roland Berger. Now the company has offices in 27 countries and employs about 2100 consultants. In Germany they are number two in market share after McKinsey. Besides I had to buy a new suit, as the dresscode for the event is business dress. So I got a dark gray suit, after checking out several stores in Zurich. Now I'm looking forward to a new experience in the consulting business.

Besides I got a brand new 3GS iPhone. My contract was due to expire, so I was offered a new mobile phone anyway. Thus, I was thinking, why not the iPhone. And indeed, it can support me in many situations. Especially at ETH, when I need to have a quick look at citations, I just can browse in the internet. I can write emails in the train, I have unlimited access to the train, tram and bus timetable, I have maps and GPS and a very useful calendar that reminds me of upcoming events.

The last two weeks I mainly focused on studying and went to the library to have a quiet place to study. The only event that was up recently was a raclette evening at Kai's new place in Dachsen, and lunch at Tibits with Lea. But honestly, I enjoy sitting in the library with a warm cup of coffee staring out the window at the autumnal sky over Zurich. I don't need too much distraction now, I'm happy with the thought of finishing my last semester in a few weeks time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Final Semester III

Now I’m already on the way back to Zurich, typing these words into my MacBook. Today the weather was just great, I enjoyed the sun, eat crêpes at Creposuk, as I already did last year. It’s still a great place to have crêpes, and they use wholewheat flour, which makes them special. I walked along Rue Saint-Honoré, went to the japanese-style concept store Collette (Tom Ford scarf for 485 Euro, almost bought it). I walked through the Tuileries gardens, walked along the Seine, the Bassin de la Villette, and read a lot. Besides I made some decisions and I fueled my spirits. Now I can focus on my studies, and look forward to the winter with confidence.

Part two, on 27th of October
Today I attended the 2nd Natural Science Day as I wrote in the last post. Located in the Technopark in the vibrant part of Zurich West. The area is now full of construction sites, one of those is for the new Mobimo Tower. Anyway, back to the event. I was working for DSM Nutritional Products together with 12 other students on every possible level (PhD, Master and Bachelor). And it was quite international, as we had students from Japan, India and Indonesia in our group. DSM was present with the people from the Recruiting Center, with Dr. Klaus Kraemer, Secretary General of Sight and Life, Dr. Ralf Biebinger, who did his PhD at the Human Nutrition Laboratory at ETH. The workshop was pretty much about the topics of the Nutrition lectures we had in the last semester. So I was kind of the expert in that field. At lunch, we had the opportunity to talk to the DSM representatives and could ask questions about career and possible jobs. All in all, a great networking day! After the event was over I met Kai and Thomas for dinner at the Restaurant Movie (Beatenplatz 4, near HB). Well, it was not that good actually. But Kai and Thomas made up for that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Final Semester II

Right now I'm sitting in a Starbucks Coffee at Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, France. I bought a TGV ticket some weeks ago and will meet Peter in a few hours. But it's a pretty short stay here, tomorrow I have to go back already as on Monday I will attend the 2. Natural Science Day at Technopark in Zurich. There I will take part in a workshop of the company DSM Nutritional Products, where I already had a job interview (and they wanted me) a year ago. But back to Paris. I just wanted to have some time to think. Time to watch out of the train window, watching the autumnal forests and foggy meadows passing by with great speed. I have to get my mind clear, I want to now what to do with my future. I had a job interview yesterday at a software engineering company where I could work as marketing assistant. But I'm not quite sure if it's a good idea to work 20-30% during my last semester. I know I have not so many lectures and I could manage that. But maybe I should better use the time for studying. And maybe I even could work at the consulting company that I've worked during my bachelor studies. That would be another option which I rather might accept. Besides, I right now work at the Laboratory of Food Biotechnology in a project about 3-HPA, an antimicrobial substance produced by some Lactobacilli.

Anyway, as I'm already talking about job, I read "Das Magazin", actually a number that was published somewhen in 2004. It's about how Zurich works. How you get a good, well-paid job in Zurich. Is it always the best qualified person or the person with the biggest social capital, which means with the biggest network of people with influence and power? So I wondered about the secret of success. Thus I wrote an email to Mark van Huisseling, the journalist and columnist. I proposed an equation that includes factors like talent, ambition, diligence, social capital and luck. A well-balanced mixture of these components will make you successful. Mark agreed with me. And what did Lucien de Rubempré say in "Illusions perdues"? He said: "Unbounded ambition makes an obscure life simply impossible for me." Right.

To strenghten my economy skills I also attend the lecture Discovering Entrepreneurship, which is provided by the MTEC department (Management, Technology and Economics). The lessions are great and the professors too. I guess I learn a lot. And maybe, if I don't go into Research & Development, I might do an MBA in the future. I attended a podium discussion moderated by Kurt Aeschbacher, the famous, at least in Switzerland, TV man. And as Urs had birthday, he organized an apero at his place. And guess who belonged to his guestlist? Patrick Rohr, another famous moderator. You see, I was up to quite a few things in the past few weeks. I attended even more discussions, with Doodle founder Michael Naef or presentations of the new professor Raffaele Mezzenga at ETH. Besides, I went to eat Pizza with Silvio, a buddy studying medicine that I know from the time at the army. Or with Yu, a japanese, south-african citizen, who is also studying at ETH. Then I applied for an event called "Consultant for a day" at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. It's about obesity and strategies to decrease the prevalence in Switzerland together with Dr. med. Markus Meier, head of Gesundheit Sprechstunde. Another TV show.

Enough talked, I'll enjoy the Paris weekend and see Peter and Marie for a drink at Bastille, eat some crêpes and just enjoy the autumn with a good book by Balzac.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Final Semester I

Actually, I wanted to post something with relevance. Some general thoughts about success and how important an efficient network can be. And some general thoughts about my life. Next time more of that. Still, a little review of the summer of 2009: I guess it was one of the best summer that I ever had. I travelled a lot, I saw new countries, new cities, met so many amazing people. I was happy! And still I am. But now it's already October. Time to seriously concentrate on my last semester. Unbelievable, already four weeks have passed since I returned from New York. And in approximately two months time, I will have my last lecture at ETH. That's kind of glad and sad in combination. No joke, I loved to attend lectures, even though the first year was not that easy and for my taste focused too much on Maths. However, I'm also eager to transfer my knowledge into a proper job position. That's what we were trained for. So I'll enjoy the next two months as much as I can. In January and February I will have my last few exams, and then I will start my master thesis from March 1st at Givaudan.

Besides, the weather in September and beginning of October was great. It was warm and a few days ago, we had 26°C! Two weeks ago I spent the whole Sunday at Güterhof together with Thomas and Kai. First we had a coffee, then got the last Ice Cream of the season at El Bertin and returned for grilled fish and baked potatoes. The day before I was invited to a flat party by Sophie. It was a nice evening and I met quite a few people, that I haven't met for ages! For example Muriel, who was in Tokyo together with Sophie two years ago. Then, as Sophie also had birthday a few days later, I was again invited for some delicious pasta.

And I went to see Inglorious Basterds, the newest movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. It was really fabulous, and even though some scenes are quite brutal there are others were you barely can't stop laughing. And Christoph Waltz playing Hans Landa is just awesome! No wonder he one the award for the best actor at the Cannes International Film Festival.

In the first week of the semester, there are many opening parties. So I went, together with Sophie and Silvan, to the Alte Börse where the Wednesdaze took place. The music was great and I met many old friends, but drinks were too expensive. Fortunately I could sleep at Sophies place and didn't have to return back home. A few days later, the French DJ David Guetta had a concert at Alte Börse. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any tickets anymore...

Friday, September 11, 2009

New York X

To make it short: I love New York! Some months ago, Tokyo was kind of the number one. But now I'm not sure anymore. I guess, New York made it to the top. Paris is also cool, so is Vienna. But they are too normal, too much european, too small. New York is just another feeling. A feeling of belonging to the sophisticated. And I kown there is much more to see, much more places to go, much more restaurants to eat, much more bars and lounges to have a drink, much more clubs to dance. So I'll take every chance to return to New York. Maybe not next year, but certainly within the next three years! Because I guess you need to experience NY as long as you're young.

Back here in Switzerland, I still feel in another mood. I just feel more relaxed, more confidential than before. The trip was just great, not only New York, but also Montreal, Toronto and all the other places we visited. Awesome. Now I look forward to some other trips. Maybe Singapore next year, but certainly Hong Kong and Shanghai. And what I still like to see is Oman, or the United Arab Emirates. Nobody knows what the future brings, so watch out!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New York IX

The last days in New York were just awesome! We had so much fun and enjoyed the city as much as we could! Thanks to Kai we got free entrance to the MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art. I'm not an art student or something like that, but the MoMA is really well worth seeing. No wonder it's often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world. It has one of the best collections with works by such famous names as Warhol, Dalì, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, Matisse or Cézanne. But the museum does not only feature paintings but also includes works in architecture, design, sculpture and photography. And for those who don't know: They have the first Freitag bag in their collection. And I loved all design pieces such as the chaise lounge by Le Corbusier or the Eames lounge chair.

As we alread talk about style and design, I had to buy a Jack Spade briefcase! We were walking through SoHo, which is the hippest neighbourhood that you can find in NY. And actually we just had a coffee at Café Café on Greene Street, when we saw the store. Honestly, I didn't need a briefcase but that one was just awesome! And even though the price was also awesome I bought it. SoHo was really cool. Fabulous young couples, wealthy singles, and ex-suburbanite empty-nesters long ago took over Soho from the artists. Now, the cobblestone streets, cast-iron buildings and designer boutiques draw quite a crowd. Literally. The people on the streets look exactly like I imagined people from NY have to look. And the streets in SoHo look pretty devoid, but as soon as you enter an unimposing store, it's huge and heaps of young people are inside! That happened with the Café Duke. Outside it looks like nothing but as soon as you get through the entrance you feel absorbed in the crowd.

That evening I went to buy some Zoot running shoes in a cool store some blocks from our hotel. As Thomas and Kai were at the tennis game, and Laura was out to meet a friend, Sandra and I went to eat at Spice Market (403 West at 13th Street) in the Meatpacking District, where you can see, especially on weekends, celebrities and fashion models all over the place. I actually feel pretty small compared to these 1.85m girls. Anyway, the Spice Market is a restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of the most celebrated chefs on the planet! New York Magazine wrote that in the past two decades, no single chef has had more influence on the way New Yorkers dine out. And it's true! The menu was pure explosion of the senses!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New York VIII

After dinner at Wolfgang's we met two friends of Kai, that also study at the University of St. Gallen. After visiting the top of the Rockefeller Center, we walked to the Times Square with all the colored lights and advertisements and heaps of people on the streets. We intended to have a drink there at a cozy lounge bar, but it was already full. Fortunatley, you just can walk around the corner and you're prone to find another good bar or lounge. However, better stick to the following recommendations, an incomplete selection of the best bars and lounges in New York, or better, in Manhattan:

The Stone Rose (10 Columbus Circle at 58th Street), a 510 square meter lounge located at the Time Warner Center, is capable of seating 300, and its massive windows facing Central Park make the city itself feel like a hired character. Leather and light wood paneling, plush banquettes, and muted lighting lend the enormous, marble-floored space surprising intimacy. The lounge was designed by Yabu Pushelberg, two great interior designer! To stick to the topic, the W (1567 Broadway at 47th Street) was also designed by Yabu Pushelberg, hence its interior is modern and invites you to relax. They serve marvellous drinks but you might need to come early to get a seat. Salon de Ning (700 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street) lies on top of the famous Peninsula Hotel. Drinks are good but expensive, the atmosphere is relaxed but views on Manhattan are better from the top of the next rooftop-bar. The 230 Fifth (230 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street) fills up the penthouse and the 2000 square meter roof of a former hotel. Great location, stunning views of Manhattan by night, but drinks are lousy and come in plastic cups. The Brasserie (100 East 53rd Street) is located in the Seagram Building and was built in 1959. The stunning reincarnation showcases the award-winning, ultramodern design of Diller + Scofidio. Drinks are perfect but the bar is rather small, better come for dinner.

Finally, we went to have a drink at the Stone Rose and used the personal atmosphere for good talks about architecture, banking, fashion and a lot more. After two hours we had spent enough money and decided to go back to the hotel. The two girls also joined us and so we could continue our discussion there. It was pretty late when we went to bed that night, so we decided to sleep a bit longer in the morning. I was hungry, so I went to Starbucks quite early and then walked along the busy 42th Street. My hunger was calmed and so we went to the Guggenheim Museum at 89th Street, right across the Central Park. The museum was built in 1939 by Frank Loyd Wright and is the permanent home to a renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art, and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. However, most of the floors were closed at the time of our visit. Still, the paintings by Picasso, Chagall and Kandinsky were worth seeing. After this cultural visit we walked through the Central Park, where you kind of feel as if you were in another world. Or at least you wouldn't expect to be in the largest city in the United States. And as we the walking made us hungry again, we went to eat the best burgers in town at Shake Shack (Madison Avenue at 23rd Street) located at the corner of the Madison Square Park. Besides, Kai had bought tickets for the US Open some time ago. Unfortunately we didn't see a game with Roger Federer, but the match of Djokovic vs. Verdasco was quite ok.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New York VII

The next day we went to eat bagels at Ess-a-Bagel (831 3rd Avenue). I strongly recommend the whole wheat bagel with baked (not smoked!) salmon, it's just delicious. However, expect long lines at lunchtime. Then we boarded a Greyhound Bus to Atlantic City in the state New Jersey. The city is famous for casino gambling, shopping malls and sandy beaches. As we stayed over night, we booked a room in the Trump Plaza, which is a hotel with a huge gambling hall in the heart of the building. Funny enough, we all slept in the same room that had two beds for the five of us. As the name Atlantic City already indicates, it lies directly at the sea. So it was just rational to eat at Phillips Seafood. But don't expect much, it's pretty touristy and there are heaps of people eating there. The main dish, Ahi Tuna, was delicious but the starter, a shrimp cocktail, was nothing special. After dinner we took a taxi to the newest and most glorious casino in Atlantic City, The Borgata. It was build for $1.1 billion in 2003 and indeed, it's grand and carries the glory of Las Vegas. And here the impression comes true, money does attract beautiful women. There was a dance club in the Borgata and as we glimpsed inside, we had the feeling of taking part in a movie, all the tall tanned girls were dressed in very short skirts and high-heels that could not be higher, gorgeous. You can imagine the contrast we felt when we returned to our room with the two beds for five people.

The next day we returned to New York. We purchased a combined ticket for the Rockefeller Center, so we could go up to the top both on daytime and at night. The building with a height of 259m is only the ninth tallest in New York. However it offers spectacular views on Manhattan with the Empire State Building, Downtown, the Hudson River and Central Park. The $30 entrance fee is a lot, but I guess it's worth it. That evening we went to eat at the second-best Steakhouse in New York, the Wolfgang's. However, to the pleasure of my friends, I ordered a grilled tuna and the Wolfgang Salad as starter. Actually I preferred the Wolfgang's, but more because of the location and the interior because I couldn't compare the steaks.