Festivals, Cheese, and the Lake

Lausanne Travel Blog

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View of castle from across Ravine in Fribourg

On Friday I left Bern and headed to Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee and its museum and archives are located.  Of course, I can't do research over the weekend, so I had two full days to spend doing non-PhD stuff.  yeah!  I stayed with a friend in Lausanne who owns a car, which means we had even more options of what to do.  What I've learned from one week in Switzerland is that July translates into "hold a festival" in Swiss (either the French of German Swiss -- probably even the other two national languages, too).  I arrived in Lausanne on Friday evening, and that night was part of the Festival de la Cit頭- such a creative name those Lausanne people were able to think of!  It was a lot like the Züri-Fäscht only within a smaller amount of space, and minus the carnival rides.

  We met up with some of Thomas' friends who are doing PhD's in econ (yuk!) at Neuchatel.

Saturday we drove to Fribourg (no, not the German city, the Swiss one with a comparable name) and walked around.  We also had some of the yummiest pastries at a cafe in the city there.  Fribourg also has the Swiss National Museum of Sewing Machines, but we didn't go.  After walking through the town, we then headed to Gruy貥s -- home of, you guessed it, one of my favorite cheeses!  We went to the Maison du Gruyères which is all about cheese-making.  They hand you a package of three pieces of Gruyère when you pay to enter the museum part -- each piece is aged for a different amount of time (6 mo, 8 mo, 10 mo).  That was perhaps the highlight of the museum.  It had an audio guide which was pretty lame.  The only good explanation was the one on when the cheese is actually made.  The rest of the time it's a cow called "Cherry" (who names their cow Cherry?) telling you about life as a cow.  like I can't get that at home.  I suppose the museum would be better if you went during the set times each day when the cheese is actually made.  You can then take a two-hour walk through the countryside, stopping at other places where cheese is made in traditional methods, ending at the other big cheese-making place.  We skipped that and instead walked up to the town (I won't call it a city) proper.  The town is mostly contained within the original walls high on a mountain, or so it seemed when walking up the path.  There is a castle there, and also a museum for H.R. Giger, the guy who created Alien.  We didn't go in either because we were a bit pressed for time, but that's about it for Gruyères -- you can buy cheese and other dairy products from the region.  Cheese.....  yum......

Then it was off to Montreux, which is the city on the east end of Lake Geneva (with Geneva being on the west end and somewhat south of the lake, and Lausanne on the north side of it) for a concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival (though not everyone plays Jazz music).  See, it really is Festival month in Switzerland!  We walked along the lake through all of the stalls and food stands.  Montreux is one of the richest towns in Switzerland (as if it seems possible to be one of the richest among a really expensive country) and it's pretty posh.  We had tickets to a concert with three rock bands.  The first sung in French.  They were ok, but really, they could have been singing "I love my girlfriend" or "I hate the world" and I wouldn't have known any better.  oh well.  The second group sang in English -- they were just three guys.  The singer/guitarist, a pretty good drummer, and then the bass player.  You know how every school has that really tall and gangly 16-year old who looks like a turtle?  that was totally the bass player in this group.  Apparently that stereotype is universal.  After the second band, we waited a bit for the third band, and then the concert organizers came out and said the girl singer didn't have a voice, so there would be a rescheduled concert next Saturday.  After the mess of people attempting to exchange their bracelets (you trade your ticket for a plastic bracelet that allows you into the venue) for new tickets and, I presume, asking for their money back instead, they announced you could get your money back.  And so, we got to see two bands play, and get all the money back, too.  not a bad deal!

But after all that driving, now I understand why the Amish settled at home.  Seriously -- driving through the Swiss countryside is just like driving through PA!  Deer crossing signs, lots of farmland, getting stuck driving behind a tractor and just hoping you can pass it without being forced to drive 20 mph for the next 20 minutes.....  it's really just like home!  well, home doesn't have the awesome mountains in the back of every view.  so I guess they kinda lost out on the scenery when they came to the new world....  but I guess that was the price to pay for religious freedom a few hundred years ago.

Sunday was a bit more relaxing.....  no festivals going for us.  After brunch we headed down to the lake but just outside of the city to one of the more expensive suburbs of Lausanne.  We found a beach/park just on the water and laid out and swam in the lake.  Swimming in clean, clear water that's not chlorinated is a bit different than my usual brown Jersey Shore water.  But it was really nice!  Though I do prefer the sand to the pebbles that constitute the "beach" here.   Still, it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  Alas, it's research at the IOC this week....

windypeg says:
oops!! I was giving you wonderful advice about rowing events and a mountain to visit...they are in Luzern, not Lausanne!! Sorry about that!
Posted on: Jul 16, 2007
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View of castle from across Ravine …
View of castle from across Ravine…
photo by: breeniex