After the hotel breakfast today we visited with the proprietor’s two bulldogs: one exceptionally large, and one particularly small. How fortunate to be able to take one’s pets to work! I suspect the access that dogs enjoy here is part of the explanation as to why they tend to be very well-behaved.
When we had torn ourselves away from the friendly pair, we headed out to rehearse our final trip to the train station, as we are sadly to leave early Saturday morning. We were pleased to find this a simple undertaking.
My parents continued to Ouchy, where they intended to take a boat to another local lake town, Nyon, while my husband and I returned to old town. Old town is quite the shopping destination for locals and tourists alike, yet right in the middle of it is a darling old tower, Le Tour de L’Ale.
We walked out of our knowledge, encountering a pretty old building labelled as a university, museum and library. A short break at the hotel was then warranted; the hilly landscape was causing calves to burn fiercely. Another break thereafter at a patisserie next to the hotel was also a requirement – coffee and pastry did the trick! Here we enjoyed the best cappuccino either of us had ever tasted – rich, strong, adequately hot with a heaping head of foam and generous sprinkling of cinnamon. I think I am now off American cappuccino, as it will never taste that good.
We managed to walk the short way to Rue du Grand Pont, which sounds like a brainless task given that we are about 200 yards from this main thoroughfare. In retrospect, I wonder that we had become during the past days. At any rate, we wandered into Hugs Musique, where I had seen a collection of CD’s in racks by the door. We discovered that not only does this store offer a vast collection of CD’s, it also carries sheet music for all genres, tablature, and – in a large basement – a respectable collection of music equipment ranging from flutes and clarinets to electric guitars. A broad workshop, in which a craftsman built and repaired musical instruments, rounded out the services. My husband noticed several very good guitars, all with appropriate pricetags, and we stood to listen as a man in an expensive suit
tested various keyboards with the help of a salesman.
We met my parents in Ouchy, after a typical brief and efficient bus ride from rue de Geneve. During a delicious dinner at Cafe du Vieil d’Ouchy we were serenaded by a harpist and well-entertained by my parents. They had ventured across the lake from Nyon to the French town of Yvoire, described as a charming place of Medieval origin. The boat ride from Nyon was a brief one – really, only minutes. It is unfortunate we will not have time to visit this place, but can reserve it for a future excursion.
A walk along a waterfront crowded with happy children and amused adults followed dinner, and required a short stop at a building undergoing renovation. The roof is complete, and is a fascinating pattern mixing red and black tiles. A plate on the building identified the architect as Francis Isoz, with the year indicated as 1893. Certainly, it is not an old building by local standards, but it was interesting for another reason: it is dedicated to Pierre de Couperin, the organizer of the modern Olympic games.
A stop at Manor to grab some midnight snacks preceded the bus ride back to rue de Geneve, and the brief walk across the passenger bridge, and up one alley then down another one to reach our lodgings. Truly a puzzle, this little city.
There is so much more to see, but little time remains. We soon return to the United States, which I anticipate will seem both familiar and strange after this remarkable experience and the great liberty we have enjoyed as travelers in foreign lands. The world is so varied and beautiful, it strikes me strongly that there is great risk if we allow existing problems such as carbon-induced global climate change and wars over oil to escalate even further. Perhaps if every American visited Europe, and every European visited the US, we would individually discover that the similarities arising from our common genesis do outstrip the differences. And perhaps we would then appreciate, rather than fear, the differences that do exist because we could recognize them for what they are: expressions of unique cultures.
The differences are always interesting. There are small things, like the French custom of kissing friends on the cheek three times. There are big things, like the well-integrated bus and rail systems. And the similarities can be funny, too: it appears women in Europe are just as likely to wear the trailer trash look, with strappy tops showing their bra straps, and wearing clothing that is simply far too small. The consumerism too is similar – the wealthy are acquisitive. In the rich cities of Paris, Lugano and Lausanne it seems the principal activity is shopping, despite the incredible historic, architectural and natural interests of these areas.
Travelling here has made me want to change my life, though this thought is rather shapeless at present. It seems too much time is spent working and being under stress, while there is a great amount of interesting life to experience.