Fête de la Musique weekend

Filed under: geneva, life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 11:57

Oops, just found the beginnings of a post about last weekend in my drafts. Well, we’re one weekend later and I have no idea if any one wants to read this, but now that I’ve started already, here we go.

Last weekend, I took a break from hiking and spent some quality time in the city – it was the weekend of Geneva’s biggest festival, the Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music).  Fête de la Musique, Genève It’s one weekend packed with concerts of all kinds, some open-air, some in classic concert halls, some with orchestras, some by street musicians.  The weather was fabulous, a little too hot even (now it’s really too hot!).

I spent only Saturday evening and a little of Sunday evening on the festival, which is a shame. I managed to pretty much waste my Saturday until the evening with shopping and laundry, by being lazy and unorganized and not feeling too well.  At least Saturday night made up for it.

I slowly wandered through Parc de la Bastion, my favorite park, towards the Old City, stopping all the time to watch people and listen to music. I met an English fellow from a previous Sunday hike there, and we spent the sunset down at the lakeside, then made our way back to Bastion to listen to one of the best sets of electronic music I ever heard.  The two young DJanes, Kyssia and Myssi Sensi, seriously rocked the park.  They covered a pretty broad range from House to Techno with some Drum’n’Bass influences, and were not afraid of adding quite some noise here and there, which made me especially happy :-) They are Geneva locals, and have their own independent label o’xensa, and that’s a site I’ll definitely keep checking for events.

Salève on Fire

Following up on that with a couple of refreshing beers made sure that this Sunday’s hike wasn’t going to happen for me. Which was fine, because my coworker Jerven had organized a picnic at the lakeside, where we happily spent the whole afternoon doing nothing.

As you can see, I had, of course, my new camera with me.  Some shots turned out pretty nice, but most of them have problems with sharpness, focus, or lighting.  I still have a lot to learn, and the SLR doesn’t do as much hand-holding as the compact one.  But it’s great fun.

So much to do!

Filed under: geneva — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 11:34

It’s horrible. There’s so much to do, and so little time. What, at work? No, on the weekends, of course!

Starting next Tuesday and ending the following weekend, there’s the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival. “The Swiss event for fantastic films, Asian cinema and future images”? – I’m sold. And I’ve never been to Neuchâtel, about an hour from here, anyway, so that should make a nice weekend trip.

Sunday at the Lake
During the whole of July and August, Geneva hosts the Musiques En Été (summer music) festival. In various venues, among them the old courtyard of the town hall in the Old City, jazz and classical concerts are hosted.

Also in July and August, OrangeCinema brings open-air cinema directly at the lake. Just look at the photos on the site! Amazing.

Since the Love Parade, every city must have a similar event, contrived or not. In Geneva, it’s, unsurprisingly, called Lake Parade and will be on July 12th this year. Well, there might be some good electronic music, making me have a look although it’s not exactly my kind of event.

No, I’m not finished yet! Two more to go!

Sunday at the Lake
From July 31st to August 10th 2008, Geneva hosts the Geneva Festival 2008. It’s an official event organized by the City’s institutions, and seems to offer a broad range of events. August 1st is the Swiss national holiday, so at least on this day there should be some interesting happenings.

Finally, August 29th to September 13th will see a festival called La Bâtie. From looking at the website, I honestly am not sure what that’s about, but it sure looks interesting. Music, dance, modern art, and lots of chicken and roosters running around. Look at the video on the page if that sounds weird to you :-)


Hike: Sous-Dine

Filed under: geneva — Tags: , , — thomas11 @ 21:04

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to do a hike with just me and a charming girl :-) We climbed the Sous-Dine [fr], a 2001 meter summit, again in the Haute-Savoie.

Sous-Dine hike

As usual, it was quite cloudy and the view suffered, but we still managed to get a few breathtaking glimpses. In fact, concerning the panorama, this was the most impressive hike so far. The Sous-Dine has no clearly defined summit, but is a stretched range with a steep dropoff on one side. Along the whole range, you can see Lac Léman on one side and the giants of the French Alps on the other! The Sous-Dine itself consists to a large part of rocks that have been splintered, perforated and bleached white over time, which gives the scenery a feel of being more exotic or high up than it actually is.

Sous-Dine hike

The starting point is easy to find. Drive towards Thorens, and turn left at the sign “Col des Fleuries”, which is easy to overlook!, and drive until the end of the road. The path up is sign-posted all the way through.

We said that we definitely want to repeat this one on a day with clear view. There is a route circling the mountain, so we still have some variety to look forward to.

Hike: Lac de Gers

Filed under: geneva — Tags: , , — thomas11 @ 21:02

Yes, more hiking! Sorry if you’re fed up with it already (or just envious??). Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short. I’m just really happy that I manage to get out to the mountains every Sunday so far, with some nice people sharing this passion.

Glocals hike with Phillip - Lac de Gers Glocals hike with Phillip - Lac de Gers

Last week, the lake Lac de Gers [fr] in the mountains around the curiously named, but really beautiful village Sixt Fer à Cheval in the French Haute-Savoie region was our destination. To be honest, the hike isn’t that spectacular. It starts with a steep ascent, then follows some idyllic meadows with grazing cows towards the lake at the end of the high valley. There’s a cheese dairy, restaurant, and mountain hut all in one. It’s probably due to the again very obscured view that I didn’t find it that exciting, although I must say that it has everything a classic relaxed hike must have. It follows a beautiful river with some waterfalls, there are cows, a mountain lake with the characteristic stillness and mirror-like reflection, and a cool beer at the end.


Hike: Pointe de la Gay

Filed under: geneva — Tags: , , , , — thomas11 @ 19:42

Last Sunday, I had a blast joining a hiking group from Glocals, a web site mainly for expats in Geneva. Phillip, opera singer and mountain freak, organizes a hike almost every Sunday. This time, the destination was the Pointe de la Gay [French], a summit of the pre-Alps in the Savoie (en. Savoy) region in neighboring France. With 1800 meters, it’s not that high, but its location between the high summits of the French Alps and the Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) allows fabulous views in either direction.

Glocals hike with Phillip - Pointe de la Gay

The glocals group was great. We were an impressive 17 or so people, and I didn’ t even count the different nationalities. It was great to meet so many nice people as I’m new in Geneva. That plus great hikes means I’ll join again next Sunday!

Glocals hike with Phillip - Pointe de la Gay

If someone finds this when researching practical hiking information: the French page I linked above has all the information. If you can’t read French, the gist is, drive to the tiny village l’Ermont, near Belleveaux; it’s on Google Maps. From there, the paths are signposted. It’s an ascent of 850 meters, and the round trip should take four to five hours. Some of the paths are narrow and steep, and while it’s not dangerous, it can be difficult to walk when it’s wet and muddy.


Hiking has started! – Morges

Filed under: geneva — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 21:04

First a very short update for my poor regular readers: I’m really too busy to blog here, it seems. I feel bad about it, though, and will improve on this. Monday to Friday I really don’t do anything exciting, because apartment hunting takes up quite a bit of time in addition to work. Well, that is exciting, in fact. It’s really difficult in Geneva and probably deserves a post on its own! Add to that the usual everyday stuff and studying French a little, and there’s not much time left. However, I did start to follow one of my passions on the last two weekends: hiking!

Monnaz, Lac Léman

Starting with a short and pleasant hike at Lac Léman (Lake Geneva/Genfer See), I did a round trip starting in Morges, between Genève and Lausanne. Clocking in at around 2.5 hours, it leads through a lovely scenery where vineyards, pastures, and little villages alternate. There’s no need to describe the route in detail here, as it’s recommended by the Morges tourist office and thus marked and signposted pretty well. You can get a copy of a map with the route and a short description there. The hike starts at the train station, which is just five minutes from the lake, and leads to the villages of Joulens and Monnaz (lovely!), with great views over the lakes. From Monnaz, it crosses the valley to reach the castle of Vufflens (not open to the public). From there, it leads back in a similar fashion via the village Denes. Alternatively, follow the valley between Monnaz and Vufflen for a straight route back to Morges. It’s a pleasant footpath along the creek, and shady.

near Morges, Lac Léman


New job in Switzerland!

Filed under: geneva, life — Tags: , , , — thomas11 @ 16:42

Better late than never, an update about my life and what I’ll be doing in the near and mid-term future: I’ll move to Genève (Geneva), Switzerland! I’ve accepted a position at the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), one of the world’s most renowned institutions in bioinformatics. The SIB provides tools, internet resources, and expert-annotated data in areas such as genomics, proteomics and systems biology.

Starting May 5, I’ll be a software developer in the Swiss-Prot group, which develops and annotates the UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot protein sequence database, the most widely used protein information resource in the world. Also, the group develops or co-develops other databases such as PROSITE, ENZYME, and ExPASy.

Obviously, there’s a lot of software development and maintenance involved, throughout the stack from databases to web frontends, along with the integration of analysis tools and data export in different formats.

The domain the SIB deals with brings some challenges that will certainly keep the job interesting (and me busy ;-): the huge volumes of data with complex interrelations, the mix of different technologies, and the rapid pace of progress in the Life Sciences. Add to that the research-oriented nature of the institute and the international collaborations the SIB is part of, and I guess I have an awesome job. Also, Genève is certainly a very beautiful (if expensive) city, with the best surroundings a mountain-lover like me could dream of. And learning proper French has always been a pet project of mine, now it will evolve into a must-do project – certainly a good thing. Yes, as you might have noticed, I’m really looking forward to the new job!

I don’t have a permanent flat yet, the SIB provided me with temporary accomodation until I find something. Also, I don’t have a local phone connection yet. So if you’d like to contact me, and I hope many of you will, please do it via e-mail or via this blog.

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