9 July 2008

Lausanne Old Town shopping district

Lausanne Old Town shopping district

Shops line the tiny streets in this old town district of Lausanne.  This morning we did some window-shopping, enjoying the vibrant life of the district.  Flower stall, cafes, souvenir shops, and clothing boutiques are everywhere.  And my mom and I located a Coop City within easy walking distance of our hotel.

Hotel Regina is nice enough, and the neighborhood is fashionable and fine during the day.  But like several of the cities we have seen, many buildings are covered with graffitti, and during the night we can hear groups of teenaged boys roaming the cobblestone streets, scuffling with one another.  The hotel does not offer air conditioning, though we were provided with a portable electric fan.  The weather is not too hot, but the windows do not open enough to encourage the breeze to freshen the room.  I have been slightly claustrophobic in our mini lodgings.

In the late morning, we walked to the bus depot and rode down to Ouchy, the waterfront district.  It is quite

The Olympic Museum

The Olympic Museum

lovely, and it appears that this area wakes later than old town as we encountered no crowds.  My dad told us that during the evenings the quay is choked with roller-bladers and skateboarders.

A short walk from the quay was the Olympic Museum; this area is home to the International Olympic Committee, so it was filled with all sorts of trivia, sculptures depicting the athletic form, sports equipment, costumes from games past, and propaganda.  In the basement we found several viewing stations at which one could watch footage from past games.  We watched the final moments of the 1980 USA-USSR hockey match, and Jesse Owens winning in Germany.  Very cool!

Caligraphic panel created for Beijing 2008

Caligraphic panel created for Beijing 2008

The aforementioned propaganda was primarily from China, consisting of items created to promote the upcoming games in Beijing.  Much of it was goofy stuff, such as a duck quickly waddling along through a city and a garden, to the narration of someone saying that China is the most beautiful land in the world.  Some other narrations bordered on creepy; reminded me of some Hitler speeches I had read in my history class.

Entrance to the museum was covered by the Swiss Rail Pass, which has been quite useful throughout our journeys.  It not only covers rail service, it is also frequently accepted by city buses, and affords discounts on several boat trips.  Well worth the expense.

After the museum we boarded a boat for the 90-minute ride to Montreux.  En route we enjoyed a peaceful journey.  The boat stopped at several small towns including one particularly pretty one called Vevey.  From the boat it appeared to be a cute older city – very small – with the obligatory old church (currently undergoing extensive repairs), and a waterfront carousel.  There was none of the bustle of Lausanne, so it looked really relaxing.  A future destination!

Chateaux and vineyards

Chateaux and vineyards

Also along this route we had a nice view of gorgeous chateaux, with large terraced vineyards.  This was picturesque, and made me wonder how disappointed the Swiss would be if they have this sight in mind and come to visit California’s wine country, with all the brown hills in the background.

Montreux is posh and busy – likely more so now, due to the ongoing jazz festival.  We scouted in advance for Friday night, when we intend to see David Sanborn.  My mom bought a commemorative t-shirt for my musician nephew, and we all regretted that he was not with us as he (like Sanborn) plays saxaphone.  This was reiterated a few minutes later when we wandered into an outdoor performance area and listened to a high school jazz band.  From Mountlake Terrace High School in Washington state (just north of Seattle), the band played to an appreciative audience.  Lucky kids!

Lucky American teenagers play jazz at Montreux

Lucky American teenagers play jazz at Montreux

We continued walking along the waterfront, where there was the requisite variety of vendors:  food carts, jewelry, hippie-style clothing, caricature artists.  Typical fair fare.

We returned to Lausanne by train and enjoyed close-up views of the old homes and vineyards seen from the distance during our boat ride.  It took us about 20 minutes to reach Lausanne by rail, which is much quicker than the boat but less of an adventure all the same.

Again, we became quite lost when attempting to return on foot from the train station.  A funicular from the train station to old town was closed for renovations, so we trekked up the hill.  Arriving in a residential neighborhood, we resorted to stopping a well-dressed gentleman to ask for directions, and in broken English he very kindly gave us instructions leading back to the street where we catch the buses.  By the time we reached the hotel, we were thoroughly winded.  But after freshening up we bravely set forth again, this time in search of Cafe Romand.  Fortunately the good map proved its worth and we found a quick route painlessly.

The restaurant was another good find from the Rick Steves’ guide, and we were able to order with a bit more success despite that this waitress also knew only a handful of English words, thanks to an English-language menu and much pointing.

After dinner we managed to return to the hotel without becoming hopelessly lost, and my parents went to their room.  My husband and I couldn’t sleep though, so we strolled the quiet streets.  Stores tend to close earlier here than in the US, and while we saw plenty of restaurants and bars busily engaging crowds of customers, we otherwise window-shopped.  Some funny observations:  a sex-toys shop that also sold baby clothes; shops festooned with SOLDES! signs where a basic men’s jacket still cost 900 CHF; strip clubs advertising on the street with pictures of topless women.

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2 responses

  1. Montreux sounds incredible but got stuck on sex toy shops that sell baby clothes how ironic!

  2. Yeah, that was really funny. The passion and the outcome … both served in one store.

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