The shopping isn't dramatically different around here. The chocolate bar section is clearly larger, though I still have trouble finding the specific kind I really like (Lindt Noir Orange). There are some varieties of greens that are very common that I don't recall seeing back in the states. Also, of course, you have to have an elaborate cheese section. One of the things I was a little surprised by was the variety of fish that at least one store has. The Migros in Thoiry, France is maybe a bit smaller than any major grocery I have seen in the US and yet they clearly have a more impressive fish section.
One tiny quirk that I notice right away is the inclination away from huge jugs of fresh squeezed orange juice (I don't think you can buy anything in a container larger than 2 L) and more toward very small cartons of mixed juices. Everything is mixed juices. Sometimes you have to search a little to find just orange juice (and apple juice is just as common). I tried buying a 2 L container of orange juice but it fermented almost instantly. I saved the juice and somewhat successfully used it when cooking, but I took it as an omen. Now I buy only mixed juices, mostly the Tropican "Multivitamine" combination which contains pretty much everything. Of course I bet you are assuming that when I say "everything" I mean fruit juices, but some don't stop there. I picked up the bottle shown in the picture when I was in a hurry in the morning. I noticed it tasted a little odd, but I couldn't place the taste. Not until I had completely emptied it did I realize the label said "Fruits & Ceréales". It contained oats, wheat, and corn! That seemed a bit odd, especially since I grabbed it from the shelf right next what I assume to be a more generic copy of Origina Rouge. Yes, that's right, Origina Rouge. I didn't realize there were verieties of Origina. Back in Ann Arbor I was lucky to find Origina in cans instead of the funny bottles. I never thought it would come in five different colors.
This is Restaurant 1 in building 500, the primary cafeteria at CERN. I should produce a picture of their deserts, usually their most impressive feature and the main reason I visit.
There are two Cafeterias on the Meyrin CERN site (and one on the Prevessin site). They are simply named Restaurant 1 and Restaurant 2. Here is a picture of the dining area of Restaurant 1. During lunch time on weekdays it is very crowded. I don't eat a full meal here too often, because it is a little pricey. After a basic meal, a glass of wine, and a dessert it almost always costs about 13 Swiss francs, which is over 10 dollars. Of course I don't need to get a glass of wine and a dessert, but come one, who could pass it up? The wine is good and cheap, and the desserts are varied. I may not have eaten the same dessert twice.
If the weather is especially good Mont Blanc is partially visible from Restaurant 1, but Restaurant 2 is arguably in the more scenic location. There the dining area is on the second floor overlooking the vineyards that abut CERN. I should get a good picture of that view, though I will try to wait and see if we get some more snow. With things mostly dormant and brown, I'd say the most scenic times are those with snowy highlights.
A curious vehicle dropping off some very long boxes outside our our building (184). It's sort of a side loading fork lift.
There are some interesting vehicles wandering around CERN. In the next week's entry you will hear about the Robotruck, which is one of the coolest. Also, there is a truck I have seen near building 184 now and again, but I haven't got a picture of it. It's a medium sized enclosed truck which is somehow able to lower the bed down the ground between the wheels. I assume it must have regular axels, the wheels being mounted to a U-shaped frame around the bed. It seems like a very handy thing, not needing a ramp or lift to unload. But of course I assume there are downsides such as complexity and reduced carrying capacity.
The picture here shows another truck Reza and I noticed as we were leaving building 184. It seemed to be made perfectly for the job it was doing, moving and piling extremely long crates. It's best described as a side loading fork lift. I don't have any idea what is in the crates, but I could imagine long stuff like that might be needed for the LHC (they have to go about 27 km around the circle each section is maybe 15 m long on average.)
On a very clear day Mont Blanc can be seen in the distance. This picture was taken on a walk around Prevessin one evening. The Alps don't actually look quite this big, this was using a long focal length lens.
Reza and I had reserved rooms in the CERN St. Genis hostel because we had to move out of Zhengguo's place and neither of us had apartment's lined up. The St. Genis hostel is just off the main (Meyrin) campus of CERN in France. We looked into getting a room at the hostel in CERN, but they didn't have any rooms open for a long continuous block of time. Technically we can stay in the St. Genis for as long as we want, but for a variety of reasons I really want to find an apartment in toward Geneva.
The view from the window of my room in the CERN St. Genis Hostel. Those are the Jura mountains. You are looking in roughly the opposite direction of the last picture (and of course in a slight different place).
Reza and I had a bit of a scare when we went to check in. We were checking in on a Saturday and it turns out the main office is only open from 9-11am on that day. We discovered this about 3:30 in the afternoon. Not seeing any signs telling us what to do in a situation like this (it was a little hard to tell, all the signs we saw initially were in French), we drove over to CERN tried the hostel there. The offices there, it turns out, are not open at all on the weekend. But, luckily, as we were about to leave, desperate for some sort of information, I read some very fine print on one of their signs. It said to the go to the gate B to pick up keys if you arrive after closing. We thought we'd give it a shot, and thankfully they did in fact have the keys to both the hostel on campus and the St. Genis hostel!
All the rooms are singles, and they each contain a sink along with the usual bed, table, chair, and closet/dresser. Compared to almost any apartment the price is quite cheap and it is very close to CERN, but there are definite downsides. Most importantly for me, there is almost no hot water in the mornings. If I'm patient and wait until after the shuttle bus has left (8:15am) I can usually get some hot water to soak my face and head but that is it. I always take my showers at night. Also, the kitchens are very minimal. Reza and I had to go shopping for some cheap pots and pans which we are sharing. I also find it annoying that there is no freezer or oven available. I had a frozen pizza which was soon not, and I was forced to carefully bake it using a large flat pan on the hot plate.