My tally for total days spent in Switzerland is approaching one week – and what a great week it’s been. As ever, I arrived here with no expectations and certainly no delusions of perfection but one week later, I really felt my stay here has come very close to that…
Lausanne is a French speaking thriving little town. Well, as it’s the fourth largest city in Switzerland perhaps it’s more thriving than it is little! The most important geographical feature of the area surrounding Lausanne is Lake Geneva. Actually, opposite Lausanne (and therefore across the lake) is France. More specifically, Evian les bain – only the home of Evian Water which I know you’ve drunk before. Now whilst I was able to take several pictures of the lake, I didn’t really get a chance to take any photos of Lausanne itself as my wonderfully welcoming host and I were out exploring more delightful places much further away in Switzerland thanks to us gaining access to the family car.
So I’m staying on a pull-out sofa bed of a girl named Lara Girard – not a name you will be familiar with. In fact, so brief were our encounters that I didn’t even get any photos with her from months ago. We were acquainted having both shared the same dorm room for a night in Gjirokastra , Albania and then our paths crossed again briefly in Tirana, Albania. We stayed in contact with periodic e-mails as you do with good travel folk and as luck would have it, she has the weekend free when I would be in Switzerland. Friendships really can be formed in that short a space of time…
Lara’s generosity had extended from accommodation to supper and I don’t just mean a little bit of pasta from home, I mean at a restaurant. She knew that as a backpacker I wouldn’t be able to afford to eat out so she treated me to some ‘proper food’. Great huh? Well, it most certainly was but at the same time, I got a dose of cultural differences that I was unprepared for. As many back home will know, I get uncomfortable receiving even the smallest of items from friends. Imagine then the feeling I had of being treated to a meal costing between 25 and 30 CHF just for my dish alone and from someone I didn’t know all that well….. After a fair amount of toing and froing we came to a compromise of me buying the super-market food for something Lara had planned for us for the next day.
Lara, sorry again for my lack of education to your culture and way of life along with any unintentional offence I will have caused.
Anyhow, how great does my Chicken Tagine look! (The image on the right is also a favourite dish that my Uncle rustled up as a starter that I forgot to include previously). Needless to say these two dishes were the best I’ve tasted in the last couple of months and since my heavenly birthday meal from Kate.
Today we drove over to Montreux to park up and just hang-out by the mighty Lake Geneva for a short a while. Before that though it was lunch time and so we came prepared with food and snacks that I was actually happy to have paid for and so we had a great little picnic with views over-looking the vast vineyards and of course Lake Geneva in the not-so-distant background:
Next up we made it over to Montreux and had a light walk along the promenade with Lake Geneva always within touching distance.
Later on that evening and with the sun still out, we walked just 10 minutes from Lara’s apartment to a cracking little spot over looking the lake. Here, we had the Sun beaming straight down on us and so clearly this called for a couple of beers too. Ok, ok, just the one at nearly 4 euros for a half measure.
The next morning, the Sunday, we would embark on a proper all-day hike. Well, four or five hours worth anyway. I recall several posts ago I acknowledged that I was enjoying a lot of hill climbing during my travels but wasn’t really sure if I was ‘hiking’ as such. Well, today was a hike, no question. Lara had previously put some good research in for today’s chosen mountain. So much so that it was nearly 2 hours each way by car! Knowing this we set off early-ish and were at Saint Luc for 11am.
This is the track for the funicular that would take us and a fair few others to the top of this section and therefore the starting point of the hike.
We hadn’t walked very far before scenes shown below were emerging everywhere we looked, although we didn’t foresee a small little community get together so high up and as you’ll soon see. This community were selling food and beverages as well as playing Church based hymns from a national instrument. Lara gave me the name for the horn and the melted cheese but I’ve gone and lost her note of course. Grrrr.
Still, I distinctly remember being told the priest (also up here!) had blessed the cheese before it was served to the public.
We walked for another hour slightly ascending every few meters until we reached Hotel Weisshorn at the top of Saint Luc standing proud at 2300+ meters!
Although I didn’t take a photo of the rather ancient hotel (we’re talking something like 1880 folks!), I did manage to snap an image of an excited Lara ready to try one of their signature desserts – a blueberry pie. Oh, and a cappuccino of course.
Really chuffed with myself for completing this today and I actually really enjoyed it too.
And for the trek back down the mountain we would not use the funicolare (you saw the track earlier) and so we walked down which was blooming harder than actually going up the mountain! Still, I managed to get this close to a waterfall and it felt fantastic being so close to the power and beauty of nature.
It was also really nice to have observed hiking etiquette too throughout the day. Literally every single mountaineer that passed us and us them, would exchange a positively warm ‘Bonjour‘ to one another.
Tomorrow I leave Lausanne and Switzerland for another country. My wallet will be relived but my heart will be a little torn. This last week would not have been the same if I hadn’t had Uncle Rob and Lara Girard accommodating me and showing me the sights. Thank you both so much. However, instead of being perpetually grateful, that’s far too exhausting, the return favour to visit me in the UK will of course always be open to you. I just can’t this minute tell you when that will be as I have no idea myself when I’ll be home! You’ll definitely wanna come though, I’ve got so much comparable scenery to show you in Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare. Well, perhaps not… 🙂
All of today’s photo’s were taken with my camera phone so apologies for the lack of sharpness in some shots.