Monday, August 25, 2014

Lausanne and Ouchy District

We overlook the very large cathedral, Notre Dame, across a bridge that spans the metro system, nothing as pretty as a river but there you go. We get to listen to church bells again and the bonging of hours. Enjoy that, had it in Heidelberg, sometimes too much there with three churches below us, but now welcomed again.

Walked to it today, again all up hill, found a restaurant that does fondues which are very indicitave of this region but it was early and filed it away for another time. The Cathedral is massive and on top of a hill which provides wonderful views of the City. This City is much like Seattle, rising from the water in dramatic hills. People here have great calf muscles! Truly! It is built on three hills I read and can easily believed.

Not so much today, being Sunday, but yesterday I noticed how the women dress here, very classy well fitted, summer dresses, hair done, make up and jewellry to match. Felt a bit like frump girl in my jeans and shirt. Really feel like I’m in France NOT Switzerland, the language being French as mentioned and the fashion on the streets.

We have found five good restaurants nearby, at least we have choices that Bruce can easily walk to. Even above the Coop food shopping has tables outside with a view of the lake and cheap food, not very good food, but a good place to have a cool drink.

The lake is called Lake Lemon (accent over the e) everywhere in Switzerland, except in Geneva, where it's called Lake Geneva, confused us at first ... I read it is the largest lake in Europe.

Franc notes here are large and look to me like play money, but when they put the Euro conversion on the bill it’s not that far apart really. Everything seems to be rather expensive and have to take into consideration the Franc is less than the Euro but still. Going through Francs like water it seems! Unsettling, two small bottles of water and Coke are 7.50 CHF (Francs), lunch runs us between 30 and 40 CHF and that’s if it’s a simple one. Cannot seem to get a meal under about 15 CHF although sometimes we can share.

Lausanne is about the size of Freiburg I think, again no data.  It also is a University town. Crime is pretty much non-existant and it is considered to be a very “green” city with recyle programs and lots of transit. For the summer companies can install gardens within the city and I have seen a few, one that was lovely, full of herbs and on a roof top, another in a square with tall wild flowers and grasses, and one more which took it’s cue from building to building wash lines, but they’ve strung potted plants across. Makes me wonder how they get watered on the second and third floors of tall buildings.

Someone has a sense of humour, plants climbing a tepee behind, part of the garden project

 The Post people attempted to deliver Bruce’s computer, bad timing as I was in the shower and Bruce not up yet. Received notification it was at the post office, normal, now to find the location, again, in the rain. Done, but Bruce forgot to pack it’s power cord so next day we go hunting and get directed to what seems all over the City. People are nice and try but it doesn’t always get you where you want to go. Anyway, found the store, no stock, found another bigger store. Bought, we are both tired by now and pretty much lost but I decided to check it was the right cord while in the store. I’ve had this problem before, better to check while there. Wrong cord so we get a swap, check again, and it will work. 

We stopped for a wonderful lunch in the middle of the search. Expensive but so very tasty! A treat to ourselves. Food in Lausanne is very good on the whole, portions are not huge but adequate, and in between France (read small) and Germany (read large) we still tend to share a meal.

I guess one could say we are learning the City by roaming for things needed. Took the bus coming home from the last excursion, realized we were going the wrong direction, this is my fault, I always seem to take the wrong side of the street. Oh well, made it back. Some buses here have bus trailers on behind to ferry more passengers. The transit system is unique in that it can handle the grades of the hills. I know I mentioned that this City is hilly, well multiply that to the extreme. Bruce has travelled more than I and has never encountered the slope this place has.

Now have tested the transit system, the tram, specifically, it goes through many areas of the City but we went through a very long tunnel at 12 degrees elevation down and up. Wonderful system really, the station at the Rail is on a complete slant! Bought tickets to Zurich for September 4th, found an internet café that was closed for holidays, Bruce has some business to take care of regarding his new wheels. Found the Theatre and Bar area of town called Flon, all modern, boxy buildings. Weird, to my mind, art installations and murals on the walls. Had a wonderful lasagne at a café near the train station, shared, as usual. 

Ouchy, pronounced oo shie', is a former fishing village but you see no evidence of that now, all quite modern, with a few rather old, grand hotels.
One of the hotels
A very large marina behind a long breakwater with many expensive looking boats and one replica of the former fish boats they used. 
Replica fishing boat and lake

The beach area is flat, probably the only flat spot in Lausanne! They are gearing up for a Triathalon this weekend. Had a nice lunch and then a glass of the local Lavaux wine. Lavaux is a wine area close to Lausanne that has been designated UNESCO World Heritage. Didn’t know anything but very old buildings and areas of cities could be designated UNESCO but it is. Weather finally cooperated so it was very comfortable to walk and sit in cafes.

We sat next to a family with a little girl, about three, cute as a button (now where did that expression come from?). Another family came along with a child about a year older, well, they became best buds in a matter of a few minutes. Very cute to see, both families were laughing and all the patrons of the restaurant were grinning as well as us. It was the little one’s birthday, and as usual with children and pets, she played more with the packaging than the toy.

Being close to the water was a treat for us. There were many swans and ducks hanging about. Gardens were beautiful, a large park dominated the middle with a working floral clock!

 Internet access here at the flat is the pits! Will have to go to a WiFi location to get you this blog, which has been a long time coming, sorry about that. We tried an Internet Cafe three times, closed each for summer hours, but I'm composing this at a WiFi Cafe so will be returning here again. Food is good so it's not an imposition!

A couple of other things. People kiss each other on the cheek in greeting, three times, not the usual twice. These are the City trash cans.

Weather has been cool, cloudy and rainy for the most part, although we did choose a good day to visit Ouchy. 

Being a green city, lights are motion activated and escalators don't move until you get close to them.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Freiburg to Lausanne, Switzerland

Had a mani/pedi one day, the girl next to me was having fake nails painted. A work of art really, included small jewels and flowers painted on. The manicurist took a picture it was that pretty. Certainly not my taste but do appreciate the artfulness of it.

As said, Bruce bought a new set of wheels, larger than his other scooter with the intention that it would handle trams and trains better.  Our first tram experience with the new bike went quite well, with one snag, and no, he didn’t hit anyone! Just hit the edge of the tram shelter and drove off the sidewalk onto the track, no tram arrived, so while it gave me quite a scare and Bruce too, all worked out. 

 Who knew, maybe you did, Lausanne is mostly French, certainly I didn’t. It is on Lake Geneva which borders France so perhaps we’ll take boat trips to France while here. 

I’m tired of talking about Bruce’s “wheels” and have decided to name them. They are now called Pepe le Pew, being black and white, like the animated skunk and I’m sure they will sometimes be like one, not by smell, but by getting to places. See next paragraph.

Transport on trains isn’t easy with a bike this size. I was told to truck it! So now when we thought it would make life easier, it’s made it harder. Decision made to leave it behind and take the little one.  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, or lack thereof.

Met up with D & E our partners for drinks and dinner on their arrival from France, good chat. Next day together we met downtown Freiburg at a local beer garden with Christoph and his two younger sons. The children played in the next door playground while the adults conversed. It was a long lunch but tasty and full of good humour and conversation. Started off in German with Christoph and D & E, I’m thinking they wanted to find out communication skills between them, thankfully switched to English thereafter.

Off to Lausanne, the day arrived, going into the unknown again. Train trip was comfortable and very scenic, one could see over several valleys at once, many types of green. It’s haying season right now so many tractors tedding hay or bailing.

Get to the flat, Mike has left us the keys in a mailbox, figure out how to work the garage door and Bruce and wheels are in. Find the flat, it’s a bit different, on the ground floor but suspended above the street. Very modern, austaire really, in everything but clean, spacious and light. Has a view of the Notre Dame Cathedral we look forward to visiting. Overlooks a nature park, which provides us with lots of green space to look at. 

The usual issues, my phone ran out of minutes in Germany and I didn’t upgrade it so couldn’t contact Mike our landlord. Can’t get onto the internet with this machine, it says okay then bumps me off. So Mike showed up at the door the next morning to do an orientation, thank goodness. He couldn’t get the Net running either, but got the phone going. Showed me the laundry room, he has a "credit card" that allows the washer/dryer to run on his dime. Typical orientation for using a long term flat. I like the fellow, he was welcoming and showed us around the appliances in the flat.

We got in around 1800 or 6 pm that first night, next day was getting food and drinks in, Coop down the street has just about everything we need, including electronic converters. They are on a different plug in system we didn’t expect, so aside from getting Francs, they don’t use the Euro here as much, and the converters, things here are typical. All good and just the basic stuff of moving into a rental. 

Lexi doesn’t like us being outside and out of her reach so even with the patio door open a notch she got through to the outside, but was easily captured because all she really wanted was to be cuddled. Leashed she’s okay but has escaped into the night, running through the terraces. Ever try to find a black cat in the dark? Good thing she has white paws.

Lausanne rises above Lake Geneva so it is hilly from bottom to top. We’re either going to get in better shape walking those hills or use the metro system which looks good, or cab.

Coming into Lausanne we started to see the lake kilometers back, it is huge!  Perhaps as large as the largest of our Great Lakes in Canada, no data on that but seeing it on a map and seeing it in person is a whole different concept.

We’ll be happy here for a month but told Mike we’d be moving on to the place near Zurich beginning of September.

With the what are now coming to be expected usual glitches in moving to a new flat we deal, better each time. If you’ve been following since our time in Heidelberg it took a lot longer, each time gets shorter due to our “experience knowledge”, so glad to have learned it.

Some trouble with the internet connection here specifically saving the blog, will keep trying, pictures won't load. Will find a WiFi spot that works better for next time.

Cheers, Bx2 & Escaping Lexi Cat