Boston

Early flight in, late night flight out. it is definitely not as crowded and bustling as NY, but it has its charm in its own way. i found it more difficult to get around, in terms of helping apps for transportation schedule, than in NY despite all the brains across Charles river.

public librarybooksOn the other hand, the culture for education is impressive. As a direct result, the first institution that I will mention the public library. It is yet another architectural masterpiece on the outside, as well as on the inside. the reading roominner court of the libraryThe impressive facade shelters an impressive amount of books, available to anyone who has the will to grow as a person and educate him/herself. The inner decoration and architecture is as beautiful as the inner court little oasis of peace.

public garden

boston common

Unlike NY, it is a much smaller main city, yet I found it much noisier too. I guess here the ambulance or firefighter car is more obvious when passing, since there is no bustling street life humming in the background. I love the countless parks on the other hand. The weather was surprisingly chilled, but very pleasant at the same time. Walking around the city was a pleasant stroll all the time. It is clean, despite the same phenomena of the missing trash cans. Whenever someone would ask me about impressions about the US or Boston in general I would end up saying it is not that different from Europe, especially England (obvious reasons) therefore there was no really severe cultural shock. Some reactions of differences that I noticed and I still remember, which stroke me at first.

 

Positives:

  • people would meet you with a smile and will actually establish eye contact, which I find very human and pleasant; even compliment sth on you, or give a free advice–take ti or leave it, but I still find these reactions pleasant, more human than a cold, straight, blank face or total lack of contact
  • ice is served in abundance everywhere
  • once you ask for adjustments on the service, it is done right away, which is considered rather awkward in Europe
  • doggie bag is as usual as tipping; no one would object it unlike here… where basically the equipment thus the concept is missing entirely
  • there’s a huge variety of cuisines, most of the time good as well, at least in the big urban agglomerations
  • while walking through the train station’s tunnel under the road, in Lausanne, I noticed that people in the bigger urban agglomerations know much better how to share the common space– they are better democrats. I actually started associating the lateral line from fishes with the crowds from the US. They would be just far better at avoiding individuals that the folks back here…
  • sailing on Charles riverone particular thing that I liked about Boston was that going sailing is so easy once on the shores of the Charles river, or of one of the ponds
  • second handsecond hand/not right from the shelf of a super fancy store is not a crime!! there would be various opportunities to find great articles (treasure hunters, attention! ) of high quality, at actually affordable prices. e.g. Boomerang thrift shop– even serves a good cause! — ok I saw there is the salvation army in CH as well, so little less criticism for this one …
  • softball gameI just assisted at my first softball game! :) it was fascinating to see how people with so different backgrounds, would actually be on the same wavelength for that one hour game, leaving any kind of differences outside and actually enjoying a non-competitive game, where being on a team is the main focus

Less positives:

  • toilet bowls fill up too much with water, which can cause unpleasant even gross situations; the hygienic paper in most of the places is so thin… :)
  • one must be always sharp on the maths, cause (S)he will have to deal with tipping and total sum computations all the time; which is quite ok though
  • what is more disturbing is that the prices don’t contain tax, you see one you pay sth else…well more usually ;) ; same goes for tips. I feel like once the tip is added, the price is a bit high for the service.
  • public transportation…
  • pubic library homelesshomeless? -)social aid — there would be quite a few homeless ppl sleeping in the parks
  • seemed that people wouldn’t really thrive for better understanding of what’s happening around them; I cannot forget this happening that I assisted at, while traveling by tram (locally called street train !) where a grandma’ would give her nephew a full white flour doughnut topped with chocolate, and the little cute redhead boy would eat it all ( this is even much for me as calories) and all that she could show would be a full contentment with her deed, asking the child whether he enjoyed –the unhealthy thing she just gave him. There was another scene as well, which kept me wondering for long, again a grandma not being responsible enough about her nephews. …
  • I missed speaking other language than English… I missed the variety from Europe, e.g. Switzerland
  • there is so much variation from one state to the other one… when I found this Colgate wisp (I wonder if it is available here, but so far I haven’t seen it… :( ) in industrial quantities all over the duane reader stores in NY, in Boston I had to pay a fortune for these ingenious inventions and had a hard time finding them. Probably the plus point here is Amazon’s efficacy, but still… not to mention the difference with the west coast …
  • one more that stroke me was that centralized car locking systems make the car honk as they lock it, instead of the usual blink of hazard warning lights. It just took me a while to get used to it :)

Well, these are example that stroke me, just to name a few, but of course the list can go on and this is only a tourist perspective. Anyone has different reactions to add?

More pics here.

Bar Harbor

Right before landingHappy accidents do happen. The flight from NY to Bar Harbor was with a stop over in Boston, which was a good idea. The first part was short but enough– like a roller coaster. Both takeoff and landing were designed for serious adrenaline junkies, I am happy that it wasn’t my first flight, but we made it!! :) and then I switched to a small Saab 340 plane for the rest of the trip. Like 30 ppl were on board and the flight was very smooth and surprisingly short. In like 1h we were basically landing on the tiny airport of Bar Harbor, yay!

The lodging turned out to be a very good deal. Due to the misunderstanding with my confirmation, I got to stray instead of the college dorm, in the hotel/motel across the street, in superb conditions, so this one checked!

The weather was still an issue to fix though, as after the 35+(felt like 40+) C in NY, here we would hardly have some ~20C, which I was not really prepared for. The town is quite, but very small.

Speaking of happy accidents, it is not only the lodging that turned out well, but also the room mate and the people I got to meet right from the beginning, in the tiny little airport at arrival. We sort of forged together right from that moment, and ended up going for a traditional local dinner on the first evening, skipping the one provided by the course. The view was scenic, wonderful colors, but unfortunately I did not have the camera with me.

Jordan PondWhen the weather was not crying, one day in the lecture break, we managed to escape for a short walk around the Jordan Pond. Well, glacier little lake, like…many other in Switzerland, but was a good means to disconnect from the science overdose that I got in the last 3 days.

 

Sandy Beach P1160344And yes, there is justice in the World! Finally after a week of rainy, overcast weather, we have a …half day of great weather! We make it basically to the sandy beach to do some tanning and relaxing on the beach, in the sound of breaking waves. The water was pretty cold, no brave people were actually swimming for long time in the water.

A later stop brings us back to the Jordan Pond, where this time we have a very pleasant conversation on the side of a blueberry crumble (the local favorite) and popover — the must try at the restaurant over there.

Sunset from RegencyBack in town, we make a third attempt to try the pool and the hot tub from the Regency hotel, right across our stay, and victory! The water is just perfect in each pool, we have a great relaxing evening, by waiting for the beautiful sunset at 8 PM. I have already missed a gorgeous one a few evenings back.

 

Irish PubTo finish the evening is style, we decide to head out, downtown for a walk, which ends in the local irish pub! Guinness, fries and chowder! Bon App!

 

 

Favorite dinner place and the dinner! ...will miss this place

Days went by and the weather decided to keep on playing bad tricks on us. There were not too many sunny days, but the good thing about such weather is that one gets to know fairly well all the shops and cafe places. The favorite breakfast / coffee place is Cafe This Way, a very nice shelter from the rain, bustling with half of the life from Bar Harbor during weekend time. However, the preferred dining place stays for me, the College of the Atlantic mensa, for the great organic food and awesome salads they serve.

Compass HarborOne of the finally sunny days brought us on the shores, in the cove next to the Jax Lab, Compass Harbor, so got to explore this angle of the chilly island too. The nature is very similar to the low hilly regions from Romania, like 600m alt., but with the crispy touch of the ocean breeze.

 

Finally and final sunny day. The nice part of the story ends here, since most probably the good weather will leave us for the end of the course. The lectures and the insight into the clinical world, for someone coming from the realm of theoreticians is always fascinating! I enjoyed today particularly the presentation of clinical cases, with references to genetic testing results. Fascinating!

Sailboat in the bay area

However, as I am getting closer to the end of my second week of genetic studies, I start feeling the symptoms of a scientific overdose. Therefore I turned my attention for the rest of the afternoon, towards the other fascinating motif around, the bay area. Couple of sailboats riding the crests of the small waves, some kayakers and a lot of calm. I particularly enjoy a lazy time on a bench not far from the course room at the hotel, and contemplate for a long while the scenery.

View from the Regency

I must mention that the lawn was amazingly thick and well trimmed. A pleasure to walk on it. Another nice thing while sitting on the bench and contemplating this view, was that after all the presentations of the day, there were many genetic diseases presented, from phenotypical p.o.v. alike, so this is a challenge for someone not used to work with such conditions, therefore, the sight of a healthy, energetic teenager playing soccer with his father on that lawn and obstructing my view from time to time, was very pleasant!

Mists of ... Bar HarborActually we had one more beautiful sunny day. Though it was a bit special, due to the fog that spread across the bay area and gave us a special feel about the place.

One of the art galleries from Bar HarborArt and handcraft -- SunlightcatchersThe last day was actually a treat; we got to walk around the city once more and as a treat, we got to discover the literally hidden gems of the place: art galleries! The handcraft objects sold in the local art shops are very neat and original. Here’s an example… .

Was a great time, however now is time to say

Bye Bye … Bar Harbor!

P.S. I forgot to mention the local market experience, on the only Sun we had there. It is a tiny, neat market, with only a few stalls, yet one can find some hidden gems. The one I discovered was Lucy’s granola. Very nice granola, would order it online if I went back to the US.

More pics here.

New York

Long flight, but the journey started well. While waiting on the quay in Lausanne, I happened to not be sleepy but practice my smiling exercise– you know, it confuses people :)– but it works only based on action-reaction. So it was the chief of the station, Thierry, happened to be doing his 4th on site survey since December. He must have been happy to be out of the office, since he was in a good mood, so we had a short but very neat chat. This put me in a good mood.

The flight and the transfer went smooth. The 7h40 on the LHR-JFK elapsed quite fast and I hardly noticed when the plane landed with almost flapping wings. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, smaller than the one to Singapore, was impressive at take off when the whole structure seemed to be well.. less rigid than expected.

In NY the weather was very good, warm and sunny. We arrived at 7 ish PM local time. The luggage claim took forever but in the end worked out well. No welcome messages at the border check however. The transfer to the hostel was slightly trickier since someone in the airpot directed me astray a bit, but made it in the end. Was a pretty white night, since according to Lausanne local time, I ended up going to bed at 6 am. What a party! :)

Impressions over 4 days

Jet-lag says its word and I cannot sleep past 6AM so I get up and by 8:30 I am downtown. Surprise Surprise! Some of the shops open at 9, but most of them at 10.

To my surprise I meet so many Europeans in NY. First of all, the girls who does the check in for me is a black, very sympathetic and pretty girls of not more than 23, and she is speaking german with an obviously native speaker. I am impressed since she speaks a very good german! Then next in the morning, I meet accidentally a french student whom I accompany to a certain stop while she sends me in the right direction.

The metro system is surprisingly easy. At least to me it seems easier than the London one– maybe I did not put enough effort into it when there. It is dirty and doesn’t come as often as I would expect it to, but it is fast and efficient. The tickets are per ride, once in, you can ride the metro the whole day and it will still cost you only one entrance ~2.5$ I think. Expect an infernal heat when down there waiting for the next coach to come (at least in this period of the year).

carRockefeller BuildingCars and buildings are huge! Like in Iceland, I guess they borrowed the model from Alaska. It is still impressive for me to see these exaggerated sizes compared to the European culture. I guess I wouldn’t be able to drive one of these cars without some pillows.

5th Avenue: the lower part is for shopping, so I spent most of my time there, while the upper part, as progressing towards the Flatiron building, was not jammed when I saw it, but then I spent most of my time in the shops. The traffic flow felt very calm in the afternoon. What I particularly enjoy in the local traffic is its smooth flow and the fact that most of the one way streets–there are many– are traversed on red :).

Three cornerstone delis:

  • Dean&DeLucaDean & DeLuca was the first one that I discovered. It is amazing! the whole concept of having fresh products sold like on a market–well European market style– and in the same closed space to have corners where people consume instantly prepared food.

 

  • EatalyEataly was the second one that I discovered and honestly my favorite so far. It looks from the street like a small coffee bar and I just decided to pop my head in before taking the metro back to the hostel. Well, was a great decision: I spent there 2h looking around. The whole complex is based on italian food product selling and serving.
  • GrandCentralMarketGrand Central Market my third best surprise in this matter. Another neat covered market. This time, eating on the spot is less favored. Yet, it presents a fair range of products. It has just like the others, a strongly vibrant atmosphere!

 

Museums and art galleries  have really something to offer, though I would have expected and wished for more institutions of this type, in such a big city. In any case, I enjoyed my time in the ones that I visited. I can only recommend them! I would say that Vienna is quite a good competitor at this chapter though.

CentralPark Turtle PondMetropolitanMuseumArtCentral park was pretty but I just saw part of it. The rest of the visit was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I haven’t had the time to visit all but most of the exhibitions where I peaked in were worth the tie investment. A bit of Picasso overdose, some Miro –which I like a lot, some Brancusi and Giacometti. I also discovered that in my early elementary school I was on the same wavelength with Klee! ;-). On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the exhibitions on the New Guinea and African cult objects, impressing by rich and intricate decoration.

Constantin Brancusi <3GuggenheimMoMA was however my favorite. Their art collection is impressive. A lot of new works as well as classics such as Picasso, Monet, Klimt, Brancusi, but more recent ones as well, in the contemporary section s.a. Andy Warhol and the following era. The museum is very well organized and the audio guide is perfectly usable with your own smart device. This is not entirely true when it comes to the Guggenheim museum. I left this place with a slightly confused regarding the theme of the exhibitions. The exhibited collections were nice — Kandinsky’s time in Paris and others, plus the building itself, but no clear structure about the collections on display at each level. Maybe I was too much in a hurry, thus haven’t dedicated the right amount of time to figuring out the missing pieces.

Empire State BuildingEmpire State Building actually it all went pretty fast. Wasn’t that crowded as expected, but definitely worth the money for the view. Though I keep wondering if the Rockefeller building wouldn’t have been maybe better to oversee the ESB. For me the main observation deck was more than enough.

 

Shopping so far, to my delight, I could find some nice stores. Favorites are Club Monaco, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Uniqlo and well, the Nordstrom Rack is really for the hardcore gold diggers. One could easily find sth, but it would better not be a scheduled must have.

WallStreetSouth Manhattan offers a nice view over the waterfront, and an extensive urban jungle feeling. The skyscrapers are mostly steel and glass buildings. The most impressive site was maybe the Wall Street (Wiki: the name of the street was derived from an earthen wall on the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement, perhaps to protect against English colonial encroachment or incursions by native Americans. A conflicting explanation is that Wall Street was named after Walloons—possibly a Dutch abbreviation for Walloon being Waal.[14] Among the first settlers that embarked on the ship “Nieu Nederlandt” in 1624 were 30 Walloon families.) though I felt a slight repulsion from the whole district, when thinking of all the damage they caused to the World since 2009.

Hippie all day long, but I like it! WilliamsburgThe list continues with a pleasant surprise in the hipster district, Williamsburg. The neighborhood looks pretty wracked,  you wouldn’t want to hang around too long, and above all, sit in at one of the local cafes. But as a bit expected, once in, it is a totally other world. The two places that i visit, leave me with a desire to come back.

Technology. I cannot believe how much people rely on iPads around here. First night when I arrive, the check is done all the way on iPad. The reservation, payment with the credit card(!) my hostess simply connects a small card reader extension to it and paid! Then in the restaurants, reservations are done via iPad too. Well, thumbs up for making life easier!

One more day … Long Island

Was a great destination and a good timing. The so much awaited thunderstorm announced for the day actually poured cats and dogs on NY, but it was only on our way back from LI that we saw the aftereffects , aka we had a great sunny day!

Wine Tasting cuuute ^^Basically we did a section cut through the middle of the island, visiting the south beach (ahhhh! :) ) and then drove up to the northern part, for a delightful wine tasting in Baiting Hollow –very good wines actually that we tasted.

C'est Cheese We finished the stroll by driving through Coram, up to the tiny, little neat village of historic Port Jefferson. A quick drive through tour on the Stony Brook University Campus, I realize that EPFL is really small compared to STU, yet going so much stronger for a good ranking.

 

Favorite spots

  • Flatiron BuildingFlatiron Square –this is where one can find the Eataly Cafe and this was my last destination for the first day. When I entered and discovered the cafe, I was very impressed and just before that, I snapped this pic, where I found the clock to be such a nice European tough… maybe British?

 

  • BatteryParkGot to sit down on a bench in the shadow and write some postcards in Battery Park. The view and the timing was perfect and gave me a pleasant moment in the heat of the day

 

 

  • Rosemary'sRosemary’s turned out to be an italian place. a bit pricy, but the interior design was very much for my taste. Could be described as rustic, but in the same time, of high quality.

 

 

  • The Blue Bottlethe Blue Bottle Coffee place, Williamsburg. Love it! another hidden gem of New York. The place is awesome indeed. It is not the Starbucks of coffee choices, but I liked it more like this, just varied enough to satisfy a gourmand’s taste. I grab a New Orleans cold brewed coffee and a parmesan shortbread and watch how people do cupping just next to me. Soon I would realize that it was a pretty strong coffee, as I am enjoying my granola in the stop below, I feel some palpitations… :)
  • EggEgg, same story as above. The place is perfect for breakfast or an early brunch, or maybe even more. I have a home made granola with yogurt and a wonderful grapefruit, to temper the coffee after effects.

 

  • and the cheese degustation plate. Thank you guys, was delicious!at the C’est Cheese, they have a great selection of cheeses, local and european likewise. But the most impressive is their menu, a very good selection of sandwiches, degustation plates and beers, from the merchandise they sell.

 

Coram, lazy end of the day …

Time to go... :(

More pics here.