Friday, January 5, 2018

City of Stairs - Lausanne, Switzerland

Cathedral of Notre Dame
in Lausanne, Switzerland
I had a forlorn feeling as Geneva grew smaller from my train window knowing that somewhere back there my AWOL bicycle was without me.  However, the adventure must continue and my host Vidal had a long list of 'angles' to help me see and understand Lausanne life.  Before I departed from Geneva, I messaged him about my misfortunes that morning and my new arrival time and method.  Once that message was sent, I disconnected from the electronic world for the duration of the lakeside ride.  Setting foot in the gare de Lausanne, I strapped on my pack and pulled my bike cart out into the afternoon sun of the Olympic Capital.  When making my arrangements with Vidal, he warned me about the confusing streets of Lausanne.  He preemptively apologized for living on one of the most puzzling parts of the city and I told him not to worry.  I had looked at the map on my phone while I was in range of WiFi while in Geneva and told myself I would be able to manage easily in the matters of navigation.  Regardless, Vidal gave me as detailed instructions as anyone could possibly give and yet, once I was faced with this maze of streets I quickly understood his concern.  He had warned me about the bewildering situation that surrounded his apartment and being surrounded by the web of Avenue de Morges and Rue de Geneve - quite literally a web!  Some segments going north-south and others going east-west and all one after the other!  See the map below and to the right to get a feel for this labyrinth of Lausanne!   After I had found my way to Vidal's I was warmly welcomed with his request to relax and enjoy some wine from local vineyards dating back a thousand years before we set out to explore the city and I gladly took him up on that offer!  After expressively telling him of that morning's three-ring-circus situation and a glass of wine, we were ready to go get a taste of Lausanne.  

Map of Vidal's neighborhood in Lausanne
While we walked, Vidal shared with me the fascinating history of Lausanne and the area, bits and phrases of the Arpetan dialect of French, and tips on getting around Switzerland inexpensively.  Wandering around for an hour or so, our stomachs started to tell us it was time for sit down and eat.  Being a courteous host, he asked me where I would like to eat but I really could not pinpoint my craving.  Vidal then suggested go to a place he recently heard about which was a Thai restaurant and immediately my taste buds seconded that idea!  Our stories continued as the courses of fiery and flavorful food came and disappeared until we both could not fit anymore.  Needing to burn off the feast we just devoured, Vidal took me around the city, although it was more up and down rather than around as we climbed what felt like 40 flights of stairs in the matter of a few hours!  He jokingly said that the International Olympic Committee chose Lausanne being getting around the city is a perpetual workout!  The following morning after Vidal headed to work at the hospital, I wanted to make a quick trip to the Notre Dame cathedral atop the "hill" in Lausanne before I ventured back to the train station.  Just a few hours prior, my city host had taken me up to the walls of the cathedral and I did not recall the way being so stair heavy as the route that I chose that morning!  But, the end result was rewarding as I nearly had the Notre Dame de Lausanne to myself and the view from the "front door" was astounding over the city and Lake Leman onward to the Alps as I was about to embark onto one of the most famous of her mountains - the Matterhorn.