UK and Switzerland 2012

Back to London, en route to Ascona

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Re-return to London

Tuesday, October 30th 2012

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I like booking trips at the last minute. Finding yourself on a plane going somewhere you didn't expect to go when you woke up that morning is a great feeling. So I was extremely happy that when I asked ESO if I could go to a conference in Switzerland, they didn't actually confirm my flights until the day of departure. I'd assumed that the flights had not been booked until I got an email at 10am telling me I was flying at 5pm. So I packed up and went to the airport in a fantastic mood.

The conference was in Switzerland but I went to London first to work at UCL for a week. It was pretty awesome to be back but after the epic feeling of arriving home after a year away that I'd had in September, arriving back again in October after three weeks away really wasn't quite the same.

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Over Switzerland

Sunday, November 4th 2012

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ESO's last minute flight booking antics meant that instead of a nice easy direct flight from London to Zurich, I had a horrific 6.40am flight connecting in Paris. After a last night out in London I got to a cheap hotel near Heathrow at 2am, then had to get up at 4.30am to get a bus to the airport. So I was not feeling too fantastic when I arrived in Switzerland at 11am.

Switzerland has many awesome travel memories for me. It was the destination for my first ever overseas holiday at the age of 6; I stopped in Zurich on my way to China when I travelled from Beijing to London by train; and I'd crossed the country on my way from Liechtenstein to Monaco a couple of years ago. I crossed it again today, this time from north to south. In grey skies and drizzle I arrived in Locarno, and headed to the conference venue.

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Autumn at Lago Maggiore

Tuesday, November 6th 2012

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The conference venue was on a hilltop overlooking Lago Maggiore, but for the first couple of days there was nothing to see outside except thick fog. Just when I'd begun to doubt that there was actually a lake nearby, the fog lifted and the views came out. The air was fresh, the sun shone, the lake shimmered, and all was good in Switzerland.

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Bellinzona

Wednesday, November 7th 2012

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We went to Bellinzona for an afternoon. We went to one of the castles; Bellinzona has lots of them. This one offered a tour which started with some kind of video about the history of the place. Probably it was very informative but I wasn't in the mood at all after a late night the previous night, so I sneaked out and left all my fellow astronomers in there to listen to it for me. A couple of them followed me out after a few minutes, and we went up onto the castle ramparts to check out the views over the valley and some of Bellinzona's other castles.

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