Posted on March 11th, 2016
A little while back I had the absolutely awesome privilege of getting to do a round trip of Lake Leman, or more commonly known as Lake Geneva. Being one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, it called for a full day’s outing. I drove up the French side to the top of the Lake with my French family where they dropped me off and I continued the Swiss leg of the journey by train. On the French side you pass through towns such as Thonon-Les-Bains and Evian-Les-Bains (you know Evian water? Yeah, it comes from here!). These towns are so gorgeous and I imagine would very much resemble the South of France in summer.
My Swiss journey would consist of a train from Aigles to Lausanne and then down to Geneva, all the while hugging the edge of the glistening lake. Purchasing my ticket I very reluctantly inserted my credit card into the machine. The price of Swiss trains honestly shocked me. People aren’t exaggerating when they say Switzerland is expensive!
This day trip had been very impromptu and so I hadn’t had time to research Lausanne. I think this was one of the reasons it was such a wonderful day. I hadn’t had any expectations and was very pleasantly surprised by the absolutely charming Swiss town.
One thing you need to know about Lausanne: the people at the tourist office aren’t lying when they say that the town is on a hill – and a seriously steep hill at that! I had kinda laughed them off thinking that having grown up in hilly Hout Bay I knew hills and wouldn’t be shocked easily. Let’s just say I was very thankful that I had worn my trusty takkies that day and just as irritated that I had taken the predicted 4 degree temperature into account when putting on my thick coat.
I made my way down from the train station towards the Lake. The sun was shining and it honestly felt like a summer’s day. The bright light reflected off the expansive Lake as boats anchored in the harbor gently bobbed about. There was just such an incredible sense of tranquility. I just soaked this all in for a little while, walking along the promenade and sitting on benches. The only thing that seemed to be missing from this otherwise complete lazy summer daze feeling, was an ice cream in hand. There in the middle of winter in Switzerland I purchased a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and continued walking, smiling.
Lausanne is the Olympic capital of the world and is home to the Olympic museum. I had been debating going into the museum and wasn’t sure if it was worth the cost. My expensive Swiss train ticket kinda made my decision for me and I decided against going into the museum. I did want to have a little look though and so began making the climb through the gardens towards the entrance. All along the way there were ‘did you know’ signs with all sorts of little facts about the Olympics and the upcoming Games in Brazil this year. I slowly meandered through the gardens absorbing all of this information and admiring the many sports related works of art and the Olympic torch. I finally reached the entrance after about 45 minutes. I was so satisfied with the journey I had taken through Olympic history while walking through the gardens that I didn’t even feel it would have been necessary to go into the actual museum. So my little piece of advice for anyone planning on visiting Lausanne anytime soon: don’t worry about going into the Olympic Museum but take your own free self-guided tour through the gardens. It was plenty for me.
I then began the gruelling hike up towards the Old Town. It really was steep and tiring but oh so beautiful. The quaint and cobbled streets are lined with tall colourful buildings. I saw the St Francois eglise, the Hotel de Ville, Place de la Plaud as well as the Cathedral right at the very top. The view looking down upon the red-tiled roofs and Lake was absolutely beautiful.
It was a really wonderful day out and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do it. What’s so cool about this year is that I’m having so many opportunities to discover many interesting little places which I otherwise would never have visited.