What a weekend! I just got back from two days up in the mountains with my fellow Environmental Scientists. With plenty of new faces and new stories, the weekend was full of meeting people and discovering their backgrounds, their reasons for coming to ETH, and testing their Canadian geography (which proved to be quite good, but foruntaley not enough to know all the stereotypes).
Other than learning about one another, the conversations dealt heavily with language- native languages, comfort in foreign languages and all the diverse cultural aspects that relate directly to local language. It was fascinating and the big questions for myself and my friend, Andrea, who is from Ontario, were about the Quebec ‘accent’ and that Irish slang they have going on in Newfoundland. Amongst the French speakers, a good ‘Ouai!’ always found common ground as they were all keen on learning to speak it. I never would have guessed… 🙂
I’ve provided a handful of the best pictures from the weekend to show some examples of what real Swiss people look like, a working tropical greenhouse, and plenty of breathtaking views as we hiked below, through and above an incredible fog.
Our first stop of the weekend was a tropical greenhouse using waste heat from a nearby Natural Gas compression station. The heat is used to warm the greenhouse to grow organic fruits for local markets and high end restaurants. An incredible project that has brought investment into this small agricultural area, as well as captured some of the huge energy off of the compressor station (they said about 100 GW hours of which about 50% is captured through the greenhouse and heating a local hospital).
They also employed a Greenwater System using Tilapia fish (which at maturity can be sold as food) in ponds where the water is recirculated to the tropical plants. The murky green water, which gives this system its name, is full of nutrients from the metabolic processes of the fish and is ideal for the plants as well as for the fish. The whole system comes very close to being nutrient and water neutral. A very impressive setup!
Next, we were headed up to a mountain area called Napf. We had a few stops along the way to take in the incredible view and taste some local food. First though, we were in a small village with some locals who asked us to take their picture. Well, I snapped one too because they were just too great.
We hiked about 3 hours, through mostly open fields looking out over the neighbouring valleys, villages and grazing areas. As we got higher we began to get closer and closer to the misty clouds/ fog above us.
Then we met some goats!
Then we found who the goats belonged to- the farmhouse at the top of this rise had a stand selling their dried sausage, goat cheeses, and apple cider. I love Switzerland!
A little further up and we passed out of the clouds and were on top of the Napf! A lovely old farmhouse that fed and housed us (as well as some of the other hikers that made it up). Our group wandered around looking into the mist below and thoroughly enjoyed the moment of floating above the clouds.
We eventually made it in for a typical alpine meal and some tasty dessert. Plenty of story-telling and singing ensued but we knew what was awaiting us the next day- the 4.5 hour trek down.
Overall, the hikes were stunning, the food was great and the company proved to be very entertaining. A 10/10 for this one.