whereisirisnow: (harry potter)
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 18:52
More than a year ago, in October 2015, the first tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were released. I was determined to get some, so that we could go with the whole book club! I registered as a priority member (because that's what I'm like), and had the most stressful internet-experience ever! After getting through the queue (finally!), I had to click on the dates with a green or yellow colour (indicating availability) to book tickets. Only my dates didn't have any colour at all! They weren't even red! I have never been so disappointed by a colourless calendar! So: frantic google search about what could possibly be the problem. Meanwhile, I am panicking, because you only have 5 bloody minutes to do everything on that website!

Long story short: the safari browser was not supported yet. Are you freaking kidding me?

So, I got kicked out, went back into the queue (bloody queue) with some 20000 people before me (seriously..) while frantically downloading firefox. As you do. Mild heart attack ensued when they announced that the tickets were now sold out. Which was very ironic, as this was still the priority-member sale, before the sale opened to the general public. Luckily, the smart Harry-Potter-people also realised they couldn’t open the sale the next day while everything was already sold out, so they added more tickets to the mix and then (and only then) I managed to snatch 4 tickets for October 2016.

Fast forward a year And we finally got to go to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a few weeks ago, after more than a year of anticipation. As you can imagine, the expectations were astronomically high at this point, also because we all had refrained from reading the script and had avoided spoilers online. Or as JK Rowling would say: #KeepTheSecrets.

And that is, strangely, my most important piece of advice to you: refrain from reading the script, avoid spoilers and you will have the best time ever. I have always been a theatre lover, but beyond a doubt I can say that this is the best piece of theatre I have ever seen. And I mean ever. I have seen quite a few big (musical) productions, and some plays, but this was a whole other level. My favourite musicals Footloose, Avenue Q, and Cats can’t compete with this magical gem of theatre! Les Misérables, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are all very nice, but peanuts compared to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Promise.

The music! The acting! The theatre (you will know what I mean if you’ve been ;) The costumes! The magic! The story! The characters! Oh! It was amazing, magical, basically-any-positive-word-you-can-possibly-think-of.

After the show, we got our programs signed by some of the cast members. I was by that time in a very peculiar state of mind, and could only babble to them about how great the show was and how thankful I was to them for being so amazing and blablabla. They must’ve thought that I was some weirdo-creep, but that’s okay..

In the spirit of keeping the secrets, I will only share some of my favourite quotes behind the cut.

(mild) SPOILERS! - My favourite quotes from the play )

 photo DSCN5618_zpsz8wjgrdl.jpg


And then I leave you today with the cheeky fact that, after another stressful afternoon, I managed to get tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for January 2018 (seriously though!). So I’ll be back!
whereisirisnow: (harry potter)
Monday, November 14th, 2016 20:11
I have been to London a few times already (I even visited London during the Harry Potter Holiday "Harry's Magical England" which is, indeed, as awesome as it sounds), but I had never been to the Harry Potter studios before! Can you believe it? The main reason for this is that you have to pre order your tickets online and I had never had the foresight to do this (I didn’t know this amazing place existed!) and/or I didn’t have a laptop with me, so no chance of getting tickets while I was in London, admiring the billboards…

But, now, finally I had the foresight and I made the book club come along with me! We arrived via Watford Junction and the Harry Potter bus (*screaming internally!!*) and were soon inside the premise. Tips from other Harry-Potter-fan-friends included the fact that I had to get the children’s passport at the studios, because you can collect awesome stamps and look for snitches. I was desperate to get one. Normally, I shy away from things like this, particularly asking these things, because, you know, embarrassing!, but now I was determined to get one of these passports. Shame aside and go for it! So, when I was walking into the studios absolutely giddy with anticipation/happiness/nerves-about-asking-for-this-bloody-thing I soon got a Harry Potter passport from a lovely woman walking past. Yay! Day made! Happy! But only if we would act childish and over-excited inside the tour. No problem!

The others also got a passport (some more reluctantly than others..), but soon found out, when we were actually doing the tour, that the stamps were absolutely gorgeous and so worth it! It is, however, quite hard to get the stamps in your passport nicely, as not all of them work well. The best advice I can give you is to only put one piece of paper underneath the stamps. That seemed to work best.

The tour itself is a-ma-zing! I have always loved the books and the films (although I will always stay true to the books), but I have now gained a whole new level of appreciation for the movies. There is so much detail in all the props and sets! It is absolutely incredible. Most of these details aren’t even visible on screen (or at least, I have never noticed them, and I have seen the films quite often!) and they still put in so much effort!

One of the coolest things there (according to me) were the Death Eater masks, as each Death Eater in the movie has a different, individual mask, with minuscule detailing, that is handmade and fitted to the actor. Stunning.

The set that I found most beautiful was the Ministry of Magic set: it is quite big and has these great, lively colours of red and green! It’s a shame that they put a dark filter on the movie, so that the bright colours don’t really pop out, even though they are incredible on set.

 photo DSCN5560_zpszicruyqs.jpg
The Yule Ball sculpture/drink bar was visually stunning


 photo DSCN5574_zpsmtmanlqf.jpg
Isn’t this amazing? This is an actual, real working door with slithering snakes that they made for movie 2



 photo DSCN5582_zpsv7uue9lu.jpg
Hogwarts Railways! On the actual train!


 photo DSCN5588_zpsbvoorktm.jpg
Saying hello from the Knight Bus!


My finest moment was when we were talking to one of the staff members and he challenged us to guess to whom one of the wigs belonged, after hinting that it was a very difficult one. After an additional hint (it was movie 7), I correctly identified the wig as belonging to Aunt Muriel! Woohoo!

I went slightly crazy in the shop, and bought the following:
• An Edible Dark Mark for each of my office mates and myself (although I don’t think they fully appreciate the Edible Dark Mark). Of course, as you undoubtedly know, it was developed by Fred & George Weasley during the Second Wizarding War to make fun of the Death Eaters and keep up the spirits of people. I don’t think my office mates get any of the humour. I don’t even know if they know what a dark mark is. Anyhow, they each have a lollipop now!
• The Souvenir Guidebook. Did you expect me to just not buy it? Right, I didn’t think so!
• A Ravenclaw pillow, because I am a Ravenclaw, obviously. (It’s not just me that thinks so: I was sorted accordingly on Pottermore as well)
• A Pygmy Puff to help me face the lonely days and nights in Switzerland (I know it’s not real, but it does purr…)
• A gorgeous notebook, which I have yet to write in (it is so pretty! I don’t want to destroy it!)
• A snitch charm. Very expensive. I repeat: very expensive. But it is real silver with plated gold and it would just look lovely on my silver necklace, right? And this never looses it’s value, right?

In any case, you get the idea. I won’t tell you what I had to pay in the end (I threw away the receipt as soon as possible. I am repressing the memories as we speak), but let me just tell me that I didn’t feel so bad for spending all my money on this stuff, when I saw the woman that was standing behind me in line holding a broom. I repeat: She was going to buy a broom. At least I did not spend my money on a fake Nimbus 2000, huh? That is something. Although she was also feeling the embarrassement of the purchase herself and kept telling people that it was not for her. Even if it was, I wouldn’t have judged. It is a Nimbus 2000 after all.

And so, I leave you today with an important question: what should I call my Pygmy Puff? I haven’t got a name yet, and am tempted to select a name from Cursed Child… Very tempted to go with Scorpius, but that seems a little extreme for my pink, fluffy Pygmy Puff. So, suggestions?
whereisirisnow: (harry potter)
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 21:00
On our second day in London, we decided to do some sightseeing. We started with a brief stop at Piccadilly Circus and then went to Westminster to view the Big Ben (one of the musts for one member of the book club), the houses of parliament, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. I can assure you that they all still look lovely.

In the St. Margaret’s Church (next to Westminster Abbey) was a sale of Christmas cards for charity. We all really wanted to buy some Christmas cards for a good cause and I found the most adorable Christmas cards of ‘Ratty & Mole in the snow’ from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, which were also, of course, extremely relevant Christmas cards for our book club (we read The Wind in the Willows a while ago :) ).

After walking around a bit, and having a delicious lunch at a Greek restaurant, our next stop was Buckingham Palace. After establishing that the queen was at home (though sadly wouldn't invite us over for tea), we walked through Green Park to the big Waterstones book shop near Piccadilly Circus. The parks of London are one my most favourite things about the city!

We drooled and sighed and dreamed for a looooong time in the book shop, because BOOKS. Being in a book club and all, this book shop was heavenly. Of course, we couldn’t resist buying some marvellous books (although, alas!, I hadn’t calculated this in my holiday-budget.. I think this was the moment I decided that the budget would go out of the window…), and I bought two lovely books:
• A very luxurious edition of The Canterbury Tales (which was so beautiful I really needed to have it! And also, we will read this at some point with the book club, so it will be totally worth it, right?)
• A book full of Russian Fairy Tales in anticipation of going to St. Petersburg in a few months. Again, a totally necessary buy; I challenge you.

 photo DSCN5539_zpsagpqfjc9.jpg


To top of this wonderful day, we went to the Mousetrap in the evening. If you are not familiar with this, The Mousetrap is a play by Agatha Christie which has been running for 64 years on West End continuously. It is the world’s longest running play. Traditionally, the Mousetrap has not been published in any books, and the terms and conditions by Agatha Christie determine that no movie can be made unless the Mousetrap stops running on West End for more than 6 months. So, of course it has been running for 64 years straight. Can’t risk making a movie out of this, right?

All this makes the Mousetrap an extremely cool play to go to: the plot and solution are heavily guarded secrets and everyone who sees the play is politely asked to keep the secret. As we are going to read Detectives with the book club next year, this was the perfect kickoff!

I can also attest to the fact that the play is very well written, very humorous and entirely unpredictable with a very good surprise ending. Agatha Christie really is the Queen of the Whodunnit!

To blow my budget a bit more, I did not only buy the programme of the play, but also a book with a collection scripts written by Agatha Christie. Again: a must.

And then I leave you today with the fact that we attended the 26659th performance of The Mousetrap to be precise. Quite something, wouldn’t you say?
whereisirisnow: (harry potter)
Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 19:57
Instead of trying to catch up with the increasing amount of things I should write here concerning trips/holidays etc., I am just going to write about something that has gotten me extremely excited. Even for me. Office mate R. noted that he knew I could get very enthusiastic, but he had never actually seen me jumping around.

So. Excitement.

I went to London last week for a long Harry Potter weekend. I love Harry Potter, and I love London and the UK. In fact, if it wasn't for the great opportunity at ETH, I would've definitely moved to the UK, because that is just where I would like to live at some point. But we'll see what happens in the future :)

Just so you know, this is not my first Harry Potter holiday, and neither will it be my last. I love Harry Potter extremely. I have a lot of friends who love Harry Potter in various degrees, but somehow I always seem to be the most extreme. How can I not be, I ask you, because it is Harry Freaking Potter (consider yourself awarded 10 house points if you recognise that reference ;) ).

So. HARRY POTTER LONDON.

The idea started a loooooooooooong time ago! In fact, it started in 2015 when I learned that a new Harry Potter play was coming out. Even before the title was released, I knew that I had to go there, because if there is anything I love besides books, it is theatre. It touches me in a way books or movies never can: for me, it is a very emotional, personal and beautiful experience. Which sounds lame, but that is just the way it is. So I was determined to go to this play, no matter the costs or logistics and I registered as a priority member (obviously).

Sidenote: bearing in mind my love for theatre, I was absolutely thrilled when I got a musical-voucher from my office mates and colleagues for my birthday 2 weeks ago :)

When the tickets for Cursed Child actually went on sale, things were absolutely crazy! It was by far my most stressful experience on the internet ever! After a brief moment of panic - where I finally got through the queue to buy tickets, but learned that the Safari browser wasn’t working, so I had to get back into the queue, while frantically downloading FireFox - a new booking period from September - December 2016 was released and I managed to get 4 tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on October 29, 2016 for the entire book club (they had consented to go to the play with me with varying degrees of enthusiasm..). I was elated! But it was over a year before we actually got to go.

And last week, the time had finally come to go to London, to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had deliberately not read the script (even though it was seducing and tempting me from my book case every single day, since I had pre-ordered it of course!), so that everything would be a surprise.

However, just going to London for only 1 play (even though it is Harry Potter), seemed a bit of a waste, especially since some members of the bookclub hadn’t been in London before. So we (well, I mainly) decided to go to London for a long Harry Potter weekend with lots of activities related to Harry Potter and books! I very happily arranged it all :)

So these blog posts will be the Harry Potter London Chronicles, where I will tell you in detail about our A-MA-ZING Harry Potter weekend. Today, the first instalment: Harry Potter London - Platform 9 3/4.

We arrived on Wednesday, October 26 in the evening and had a lovely pizza dinner at King’s Cross station. After the dinner, we went to Platform 9 3/4 (OF COURSE), where we had our photo’s taken (I did not anticipate buying them, but the photos were just so superior to the ones we managed to make ourselves) in house scarfs (I am a proud Ravenclaw!).
I also bought quite some stuff in the shop: a Harry-Potter-bag (which I really needed), and Harry Potter trivial pursuit (so that we could play it during the weekend) and of course the photo. The rest of the weekend, I bought more stuff, and more justifications will follow :p

For now though, I will leave you, while I depart from Platform 9 3/4 with the Hogwarts express!

 photo large_zpsiaxxrp1u.jpg
whereisirisnow: (Default)
Friday, September 23rd, 2016 14:16
(So, I wanted to write earlier, but then: summer holidays: Japan!, back to work! Conference! You know what it’s like…, so here a very outdated update.)

To forge a bond between all the Earth science PhD students at ETH, a PhD retreat was organised in May so that we could actually meet people that are not on the same floor (I believe I tend to be quite narrow-minded socially…). We all went to a large guest house in the Black Forest in Germany and then indulged in science and not-science :)

 photo DSCN4078_zpsrjhfmbfj.jpg
View from the guest house.

One day we had an excursion (so that not all days were science-y) and I opted for the geological excursion. It was really nice on the one hand (nice nature, we also needed to go to a castle to view the rocks, which was pretty cool. And they had ice cream there), but on the other hand, it made me realise again why I didn’t choose geology: rocks! I just don’t see the things in them that I am supposed to see. Just give me some models!

 photo DSCN4108_zpsaylu0hhn.jpg
Walking up to the castle.

 photo DSCN4112_zpseixzqehy.jpg
The castle! So pretty!

The cherry on the cake was that I got a lot of compliments on my presentation (representing our research group). Most importantly, I apparently know the level of my audience very well, so that everyone can enjoy my presentations. Nice!
whereisirisnow: (switzerland)
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 21:54
I have been neglecting this blog (for like, the 100th time), I know. I'm sorry. Shall I name work as an excuse again? Yeah let's do that..

You see, when you're a PhD at ETH, there is apparently this thing called a 'Proposal Defence'. Before getting into ETH, I had never heard of it, as it is not common in the Netherlands. The proposal defence is one of the two major deadlines during your PhD (the other being the defence of your actual thesis): before the first year is up (but at the end of your first year), you have to present your 'proposal' for the rest of your PhD to the committee. In order to make it appealing, a mere schedule and some vague plans are not enough: you basically have to show everything you have done so far (or generate results very quickly), and give a very detailed plan, including methods, time estimation, etc. This is also one of the most likely stages where you could potentially get fired. After this, you are pretty safe. So: it's a big deal.

Needless to say, when the date for your proposal defence comes nearer and nearer you realise more and more that you actually do not have enough results to fill the 'approximately' 10 pages report. So, you go into panic mode and work. At least, that is what I did. I sacrificed a total of 3 weekends (farewell!) and worked more hours than usual during the week, although I did not work crazy hours: I know I'm not productive when I try that. In the end, I did have a report of 37 pages and some (nice?) results, so I guess it was worth it? In any case, the committee let me pass (after a discussion/question round, which made me sweat a lot. I know they should ask me things, but it was nerve-racking.. )

My proposal defence was July 11, 2016 and I started really working on it (or rather: generating the results) somewhere in May. Busy times.

Unfortunately, these two months of work coincided with a lot of travel (most of them work related), so I was (and still am) a bit knackered.

To get over this, I am going on a (well-deserved) holiday soon to ... *wait for it* ... Japan! Not sure if I'll be completely rested afterwards, but it should be at least very awesome.

Before I will post pictures of Japan though, I wanted to share my recent (work-related) trips with you.

The first trip (which was just for fun, not work) was Tatort Jungfrau during the Pentecost weekend: a detective game in the Swiss Alps (Jungfrau region), where you have to find clues located everywhere in the area. It was a fun way of discovering one of Switzerland's most beautiful scenery.

 photo DSCN3922_zps2mrhpmpx.jpg
Snowy landscapes at Kleine Scheidegg


Click here if you want more pictures )

Next trip I will tell you about is the PhD retreat in the black forest in Germany. Stay tuned!
whereisirisnow: (Default)
Monday, May 9th, 2016 22:05
Yesterday, we (friend N. and me) went to Cats - the original English production in Basel and it was a-ma-zing!! Basel has a lovely theatre: I also saw the Lion King there last summer!. It made me realise again exactly how big of a passion of mine theatre is. Unfortunately, I can't really do much with this passion here: I'm away half the time, so how could I ever play in a production? Not to mention the fact that most groups are German-speaking. Fortunately though, there are occasionally some very good (English/original) productions in Basel and/or Zürich, so I can at least satisfy some of my theatre-cravings :D (bloody expensive, though).

To commemorate this cheerful day a not-so-very-flattering-made-in-a-hurry-picture of us in front of the Cats logo.

 photo DSCN3896_zpswolfv2um.jpg


I will sing these songs for a looooooong time to come ;)
whereisirisnow: (switzerland)
Sunday, May 8th, 2016 14:47
Last Thursday (on our sneaky extra free day) I decided to take matters into my own hands and proposed a 'lazy people mountain day trip'. Very soon, we had established the Lazy People Group, consisting out of 4 people.

We decided to go to Mount Rigi near the Vierwaldstättersee and take the cogwheel train up to the top, instead of walking up (we are the Lazy People Group, after all). The weather was great and the views were breathtaking, so I will share my most pretty pictures with you now!

Taking the cogwheel train up
After going to Arth-Goldau by train from Zürich, we took the cogwheel train up. This ride lasted for about 45 minutes and was very scenic. You should definitely go on this train once (even if you’d normally rather walk up the mountain), because you’ll see great views from spots you can’t always reach yourself.

 photo DSCN3742_zpsqxzpljap.jpg
N. and F. are in the right spirit! We were very lucky when we took the train, as we were in the old, cosy train!

 photo DSCN3748_zpsbiaqtabi.jpg
Train looks cute, doesn’t it?

Views at the highest train station Rigi Kulm
This is the view you are greeted with immediately after stepping out of the train:

 photo DSCN3743_zpssgb4ntwr.jpg


More views from the train station )

Views from the hotel/restaurant
F., who was in charge of maximising the laziness of the day, soon found an elevator which took us one level up, to the hotel/restaurant with, again, very pretty views!

 photo DSCN3754_zpswvqgzeag.jpg
Me!


More views from the hotel/restaurant )

Views from the top
After laughing a bit at our laziness with the elevator, we took the gentle path upwards (total distance ~300 m) to the absolute top of the mountain. This path was marked with a statue of an old man with a cane. Laziness maximised again! The other path, by the way, (which was shorter, but much steeper), was indicated by a statue of a fine, young, backpacking guy. Of course.

 photo DSCN3762_zpszybnvh7b.jpg


More views at the very top! )

On our way back from the top to the restaurant, we were not really paying attention and hence missed the path for both the lazy or elderly people and for backpacking guys. Hence, we chose our own path and just walked down over grass and snow. This was the first indication that our group name might be changed eventually to the Somewhat Lazy People Group.

Hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Staffel
After a lunch at the restaurant (I had a bratwurst with fries), which was expensive but okay, and a visit to the souvenir shop, we decided to walk down to the next cogwheel train station, as that was not too far (we started to really become a Somewhat Lazy People Group).

 photo DSCN3808_zpstenp5jiq.jpg
We hiked from all the way up there!


More views during the hike from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Staffel )

Hike from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Klösterli
We were (surprisingly) still in good shape when we reached the cogwheel station and we decided that we actually wanted to hike a little more; not in the least because when you hike, you see a different view every twist and turn, which is amazing! Unfortunately, the next stretch of the trail/path next to the cogwheel tracks that we had been following so far, was still snowed under, so we couldn’t take that. Fortunately, J. found a path which was even suitable for prams from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Klösterli. This was a nice 40 minute walk on a very well-maintained path (although I’m not sure if it would really be that suitable for prams, but Swiss people are special, so maybe they would be able to use it for prams after all..).

 photo DSCN3824_zpspuzjwlg5.jpg


Views during the hike from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Kloesterli )

Hike from Kräbel to Arth-Goldau
When we reached Rigi Klösterli (which was again a cogwheel train station), we decided to take the train down a few stops, because the total hiking time back to the main station in Arth Goldau was over 2 hours, and even though we were quite active so far, we are still the Somewhat Lazy People Group :p.
So, we ended up taking the train from Rigi Klösterli to Kräbel from which we walked all the way to the main station of Arth-Goldau.

 photo DSCN3864_zpszwe1thrs.jpg


More views from Kraebel to Arth-Goldau )

It was a lovely, lovely walk. While waiting for our train back to Zürich, we had some ice cream and when we arrived in Zürich, we had some drinks in the park. It was a lovely, great, amazing, somewhat lazy day and I can’t wait to go to the mountains again!
whereisirisnow: (travel)
Thursday, May 5th, 2016 21:45
I went to my first big conference: EGU in Vienna! It was quite the experience! Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to visit the city. I did manage however, to get a few nice pictures of the city centre and the conference centre :)

 photo DSCN3729_zpslab5kaqu.jpg
City centre + river

 photo DSCN3730_zpslkoqs0qk.jpg
Conference centre

 photo DSCN3731_zpszqgi9f5z.jpg
Stephansdom

 photo DSCN3734_zps2tqbzoft.jpg
Beautiful fountain
Tags:
whereisirisnow: (Default)
Thursday, May 5th, 2016 21:43
One of my collegues, R., and his girlfriend live in Winterthur, which is a city near Zürich. They invited us on April 10 for a lovely dinner and a tour of their city. I came up with ‘The Winterthur-Tour’, and I will admit, I was very pleased with myself :)

 photo DSCN3711_zpsykpalqbx.jpg
Winterthur

 photo DSCN3723_zpshmahz6yz.jpg
If I remember correctly, this is the town hall, which was designed by the same architect that designed the ETH main building.