Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 44: The Swiss Experience (Vevey and Lausanne)

I came to Geneva on a whim. I knew nearly nothing about the place but Switzerland sounded sweet. A CouchSurfer who I was hoping to stay with in Lyon said that she was going to Geneva and I thought "Maybe I'll go too!" A handful of couch requests later I found a host, so I jumped on the train headed towards Geneva.

Leaving Lyon was rough. Some towns I'm excited to leave but others have some quality about them that makes leaving difficult. I felt a strong bond with Lyon. Perhaps it was from the city itself but I reckon it has to do with all of the amazing people I met there. Thankfully I never miss a place for too long because I'm focusing on where I'm headed. Geneva sounded good to me!

Walking around Geneva felt like any other city.

My Swiss host, Ioan, was the geekiest European that I've met so far. Let me clarify. He is a super geek. His middle name is kitsch. He is a Redditor. But the quantity of magnets on his fridge is indicative of the size of his heart. How can you not like someone with a collection of plastic frogs and a shower head that changes colors?

American meal for Ioan: bacon and cheese biscuits with bacon gravy and bacon.

No sooner had I taken off my pack than he suggested that I spend as little time in Geneva as possible. To alleviate my confusion, he spent a few hours recommending other places to me. I still wanted to see Geneva, though the next day, after I walked around for three hours I was satisfied. He was right. That was that. The next morning I jumped on another train headed to the North East side of Lake Geneva, to Ioan's home town of Vevey.

Ioan and I, up early to catch the train to Vevey.

On the day I explored Geneva, later that night Ioan asked me if it was what I expected. Oddly enough, I was baffled. I didn't expect anything out of Switzerland. I thought I had no preconceptions. However, on the train ride to Vevey when I saw the Alps soaring up behind Lake Geneva I laughed to myself "this is Switzerland."

The "aha!" moment.

Ioan arranged for me to stay with his mother in Vevey. She lives right on the lake and the view is breathtaking. The weather hasn't been bad but I've never been so frustrated with it. Screw you fog! Go away! The fog is like wrapping paper that I'm helpless to remove. It's beautiful now, but if this fog were to lift, I don't know if I'd be able to handle it.

Ioan's mom lives in Vevey with her two cats. She greeted me with open arms. Unfortunately she was leaving that morning but at least we had time for a coffee together. She recommended a number of places for me to check out, including Ch√Ęteau de Chillon where she works, the nearby town, Lausanne (which if you keep reading, you'll see), and Rocher de Naye near Montreaux. After she taught me how to feed the cats she was out the door. I was alone with a stellar view and two fuzzies.

The living room has an amazing view of Lake Geneva.
Lolette doesn't like me much. She has put a big dent in the sofa.
"Chatouiller" means "tickle" in French.
Lake Geneva from the balcony. F-you fog!

The next day I headed to Lausanne on bike. Yes, I have use of a bike! Amazing! I left later than I wanted and Lausanne is about 20 km (11 miles) from Vevey so I got there just before dark. The bike ride was splendid. I took the road by the lake so I had Lake Geneva on my left and incredible hills, packed with vineyards, on my right.

I wish I was here during summer!
The Alps broke through the clouds on the other side of the lake.

When I saw this bike I was psyched. It's a 21 speed. It's got mad gears. As I got close to Lausanne I was thankful because the hill leading up to the city is at least a mile long. Huff huff. Good thing I did all that biking in Brooklyn, though I would be thinking about that again shortly.

I locked my bike near the cathedral and went off to explore. Since I was right there, I checked out the cathedral first. Lausanne's cathedral is a magnificent structure, built in the 12th and 13th centuries, in the gothic style. I loved seeing the buttresses (hehe) on the outside.

Lausanne panorama, shot from the cathedral.
The outside of Lausanne's cathedral.
The cathedral's entrance and pipe organ.
Inside Lausanne's cathedral, facing front.
Complete with a cozy tree.
It's getting dark, you should have left earlier, you dope!

I had a free ticket to the Olympic Museum but it was too late by the time I got there. Bummer!

I enjoyed wandering aimlessly around the city. Lausanne is really beautiful because of its geography. While you can't see the lake, the hills that it's built on make the city really welcoming and interesting to walk around.

Lausanne's Christmas tree. All the lower presents were stolen.
The word on the street is Lausanne is fun even in the dark. 
The Christmas market pro gives this market a 6/10.
My long exposure experiments begin...
Ouchy? haha 
Blurred for your protection.
Right across the street from the sex cinema!
Headed back uphill towards the church.
One of my first times using my Gorillapod. Awesome!
Lausanne from the bridge.
Merry Christmas!
The cathedral's bell tower.
Cars crossing the bridge.
Lausanne's cathedral all lit up at night.
A second panorama of Lausanne, taken at night.

Remember when I said I was glad I did all that biking in Brooklyn? I thought I had buns of steel, but when I got back on the bike it proved otherwise. Ouch! With a tender tush I biked back to Vevey.

When I got back I was wiped out. I had high hopes to write this blog entry but after biking 40 km (22 miles) and trekking around the city, making tartiflette was all I cared about. I picked up some potatoes, reblochon cheese, bacon, and onions in Lausanne. When the gooey mess came out of the oven I ate the whole tray. I don't want to know how many calories were in it, but after I ate it I felt kind of dizzy.

6,000 calories, all to myself ^_^.

Stuffed and beat after a long day of adventuring, it was time for bed. I'm happy to be in a new place.

Au revior!

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