[Update on April 7: Eight of the ten completed their one or two-month stays and departed on March 29. Michal Lavidor (from Israel) and I were the only researchers to stay on, and we were joined by a new group on April 3. (In between, we had the whole estate to ourselves, the staff having also temporarily departed, and felt very much like the lords of the manor). The very lively new group is on average considerably older than the one it replaced and more European. Two researchers are from the Netherlands, one is from the US, and the others are from Germany, France, Ireland, and Norway, (The Norwegian brought a guitar and he played and we all sang for hours last night after dinner).]
Returning to the original narrative:
The travel here was challenging. Although the originating flight (on TAP Portugal) was fine, the transfer at Lisbon airport was a disaster. A 2-hour long line to clear immigration was followed by a lengthy security rescreening. Although it should not have been a tight connection, I only made the Lisbon-Geneva flight because the latter had been delayed. Then on arriving in Geneva, I had to take two local buses to the institute. I found the right bus from the airport, managed the transfer, and was feeling pretty self-congratulatory – until I got off at the wrong stop for my destination! There I was, in the middle of nowhere, with luggage sufficient for a 2-months’ stay that crossed seasons and no idea of far I was from the Brocher or with any way to find out or to contact someone. But I eventually spotted a young woman across the road, and when I told her my sad story, she said not to worry, that she lived nearby and would retrieve her car and return in a few minutes, which she did! So I was driven to the door and not just dropped off at the Brocher gate (as with the bus), and what would have been a memorably awful travel experience was transformed into a memorably lovely one.
The Brocher estate, which consists of several structures and beautifully-landscaped grounds that slope down to the lake, is about a 5-minute walk along the road to the village. Here are some photos of the Brocher:buildings (Villa Brocher, Centre Brocher, and a belvedere on the lake) and the grounds. I have a sleeping room in the Villa Brocher, seen in the first photo, which is also where meals are served, and am very fortunate to have a separate office (sometimes shared with Maya the cat) overlooking the lake in the Centre Brocher, where the administrative offices and auditorium are located. The views from the office -- both daytime and at sunset -- are spectacular (and seriously distracting)!
The final photos were taken on a (hilly, muddy, winding) hike on a path through the woods to Hermance with colleagues Bahir (from Egypt) and Meredith (from Australia). On the left of the stream is Switzerland, on the right France.
Update on April 7: Due to explorations by one of the new Dutch researchers, we now know of an entire network of walking/hiking trails that branch out from Hermance (most crossing the French border). So the last photos were taken yesterday evening (it's now light til at least 7:30) when, inspired by the report of our Dutch colleague, Michal and I decided to explore new walking paths.