Lausanne, now here’s a city that knows how to pack a punch full of character! We took a day trip to this wonderful Swiss town by taking the Ferry from Evian. It’s a 35 minute ride that would take your breath away on a sunny day. We were not as fortunate but decided to make the best of our day’s visit. Lausanne is Switzerland’s 4th largest city (pop 135,000), and it is located within the “French” part of the country. The city itself was built on a hill which makes for a rigorous hike to its highest point (something we did not do). Although I totally understand why many Lausannois are into fitness/exercise – the IOC and the Olympic Museum is based here.
The ferry tickets we bought also included all day access to Lausanne’s metro and bus systems (I was personally excited to ride the metro). Our first stop in town was the Cathedral de Notre Dame, one of Switzerland’s finest and largest Gothic cathedrals built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The stained glass windows were pure marvels that incorporated the Zodiac and other eerie depictions (along the lines of Tales from the Crypt). The cathedral was impressive inside and out.
Later we checked out the Chateau Saint-Maire which was an incredibly beautiful building that today serves as the Cantonal government (so this is how it works in Switzerland: there are 26 cantons that make up the Swiss federation, similar to our 50 states making up our Union). Canton is a french word meaning district or corner. Side note: and Cantona was a wickedly talented French footballer who is responsible for 20% of Manchester United’s superfluous trophy case (“ooh aah Cantona!”).
The next part of our visit took us through the centre ville, an endless mosaic of cobblestone streets, passageways and really cute shops (yup, I said cute!). But unfortunately it started to rain so we decided to make our way over to the Olympic Museum. Talk about an awe-inspiring experience! For any sport fan this would be its holy grail. From decorated memorabilia and medal cases to actual athlete apparel and event props – Shannon Miller’s gymnastics signed bodysuit, a Pele autographed soccer ball, Jordan’s Zeina Shaban’s ping pong paddle, etc. Unfortunately you cannot take any pics of this stuff but Brigitte decided otherwise. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of this museum was right in front of its entrance – a bar set to the High Jump World Record of 2.45 meters held by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba (sick! with arms completely extended over my head I could barely reach it).
On our walk back to the Ferry to Evian we encountered 2 younger boys lighting some fireworks on the sidewalk (jumping jacks an smoke bombs)… oh man, those were the days!
Our night concluded at “Au Bureau”, a local Evian bar dishing out comfort food (Brigitte had a flammekueche!) and extra large beers. Samira met up with us for our last dinner in this quaint town. Tomorrow we’re taking off for Senegal… we really love spending time at James and Samira’s place and discovering many amazing little towns and cities around the area. It may be a few days until our next post from Africa. So stay tuned…