Day 03, Part 02: Lausanne with Walter

Day 03, Part 02: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

After eating lunch, Walter played hooky from the afternoon presentations at the conference and we went into Lausanne together. I asked him what he wanted to see and he specifically wanted to go see the shopping district. We wandered through several streets going in and out of different shops that Walter wanted to go into to.
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Walter was particularly fascinated with one shop that was a pawn shop. I kept on following Walter in only to be driven out by the smell of weed/clove cigarettes and mothballs. He was interested in the different gaming systems, musical instruments, and other electronic devices within. I was more interested in being able to breathe.
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With more wandering we crossed over a bridge, watched some firemen wash their tiny firetrucks and into a nice park. Earlier that day, on my way back to the hotel for lunch, I had actually spotted a Domino’s pizza place. Freaking out, I asked Walter if we could have Domino’s pizza for dinner. He, of course, said yes. Unfortunately, they were closed from 2pm until 5pm so we had to kill some time.
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In this park was a few buckets of pine cones. As we were sitting on a bench talking, we saw two teenage boys walk up and start throwing a bunch of pine cones angrily into a fenced in dirt/grass patch. Walter and I were quite confused and theorized that this was the Swiss version of vandalism or rebellion. A few minutes after they left, we got up to continue walking through the park and saw that there was a sign actually encouraging people to throw these pine cones into the fenced-in areas. The reason was something weird-sounding related to these being the seeds that the community is planting together or something.
Day 03 52 Day 03 53 Day 03 55 Day 03 Combo 4Yes, after waiting for a bit, we excitedly walked to Domino’s and ordered pizza and cheesy bread. Good day. On Thursday, I took a train to Bern, Switzerland so that’s up next on the blog!

Day 03, Part 01: Lausanne

Day 03, Part 01: Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

I had decided to spend the better part of Wednesday exploring the city of Lausanne itself – the more touristy parts like the town center, the cathedral, etc. I took the normal route to Lausanne and began to wander. I had no real idea where I was going but I figured it might be in the general direction of the “Old Town” or town center.

Day 03 Combo 1I ended up wandering through a pretty extensive shopping district. Truth be told, I was also trying to find a Burger place that we had read about that had good reviews for cheap burgers. Unfortunately, I could not find this burger place. Fortunately, I stumbled onto what I think was a town center with a market selling fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, seafood, pastries and even a flea market as well.
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Here’s something I wrote in my journal while munching on a pastry I bought: “Part of me wishes Walter were here to enjoy the food and so that I could beg him to buy a big wheel of cheese and then talk me out of it.”Day 03 03Day 03 Combo 2I then walked up a flight of stairs to what looked like a pretty intense cathedral. Fortunately, I did find a marvelous cathedral with pretty spectacular views of the city. Unfortunately, I had to climb at least 3 long flights of stairs to get there, one of which was completely soaked because it was in the middle of being pressure-washed.
Day 03 Combo 3 Day 03 05 Day 03 06 Day 03 07I continued to wander around, hoping to find more pretty buildings or food or any real tourist areas so that I could buy a magnet. I wandered down a lot of random and mostly empty side streets. I hardly saw any tourists and I did not find one souvenir shop.
Day 03 09Day 03 11Day 03 16I continued to wander around, following signs marked “Centre” which led me into another shopping district. Thankfully, I was able to find a shop that sold some Switzerland magnets but I still found no real souvenir shops.
Day 03 18 Day 03 19Finally, after wandering down several side streets and giving up on ever finding the town centre, I actually found a little shop that sold a reasonable amount of different magnets and other souvenirs. I wouldn’t call it a souvenir shop, more of a Tabak (which is Czech for tobacco), a shop in the Czech Republic that sells what you would find at a gas station – cigarettes, drinks, newspapers, snacks, little souvenirs.
Day 03 17After wandering more downhill, I actually ended up at the train station. Tired and annoyed that I couldn’t seem to find the town center or any real souvenir or touristy locations, I went back to the hotel for lunch. Up next, Walter plays hooky and explores a bit more of Laussane with me!

Day 02, Part 02: Saint-Sulpice

Day 02, Part 02: Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
After visiting that little town center with the church, I began wandering downhill and followed the bus route hoping to catch one somewhere along the way.
Day 02 54Day 02 56 Day 02 57 Day 02 61I was quite distracted by cornfields, wildflowers, and other fields. I was actually bent over photographing the wasp on Queen Anne’s Lace (pictured above) which was right next to the bus stop when the bus zoomed right past me. As the next bus wasn’t expected for another 20 minutes, I continued walking in, what I thought was, the right direction. Thankfully, it was the right direction and I managed to take a bus that dropped me right in the middle of the tiny lakeside town of Saint-Sulpice.
Day 02 63One thing that I loved seeing while wandering through these suburbs, was that each house had taken a thin tube of metal and twisted it into a name that they attached to the front of their house, normally near the front door. A perfect example of this is pictured above: La Petite Maison.
Day 02 66 Day 02 Combo 03Day 02 68 Day 02 69 Day 02 70 Day 02 74Safe to say, I was quite tired after this. I went back to the bus stop and took it down until it met the metro. From there, I took the metro back to the hotel. As the weather was supposed to be a bit more cloudy and sunny the next day, I had plans to spend the day in the center of Lausanne. Next: Day 03, Part 01: Lausanne.

Day 02, Part 01: Ecublens

Day 02, Part 01: Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
I had the idea to walk south of the university to the coast (as the distance seemed minimal on Google Maps). After walking through the university and several parking lots, making my way around a large field, past a few bus stops… and once through a residential area, I was at the coast.
Day 02 04Day 02 06 Day 02 09Day 02 08After walking through the streets for awhile, I found a few parks, one of which ran right along the edge of the lake. It was essentially a narrow concrete walkway between the end of people’s lakefront properties and the lake itself. Occasionally, there would be a small peninsula with grass and a few benches but for the most part, it was this narrow walkway.
Day 02 18Day 02 15 Day 02 16 Day 02 19Day 02 21 Day 02 26 Day 02 30Day 02 Combo 01After I walked back to the university for lunch, I took the metro North hoping to find a large park that I had seen in Ecublens on GoogleMaps. I neglected to see the large highway on the map and then once I walked around it, I didn’t know where to find the park and everything I walked by was industrial or a giant mall (i.e. boring), so I took a random bus and jumped off when I saw these hay fields.
Day 02 39Day 02 41After wandering through these hay fields for a bit, I walked uphill towards a church steeple. While we’ve been living and traveling in Europe, it’s always been a good rule of thumb that, when in doubt, walk towards a church steeple. More often than not, you’ll find the center of town or an old town.
Day 02 43 Day 02 45 Day 02 46I did find a small town center, although there was nothing particularly exciting there. I was more interested in the unique doors, gardens, archways, architecture, and trees around people’s houses.
Day 02 49 Day 02 51 Day 02 Combo 02After this, I wandered towards the coast again – much farther away than I was expecting. Up next Day 02, Part 02: Saint-Sulpice

Day 01: Lausanne & Thonon-Les-Bains

After a 14 hour bus ride through the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, we finally arrived in Lausanne, Switzerland. Walter was attending the Junior Euromat at the Swiss Tech Convention Center on the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) campus. I was lucky enough to tag along on the bus ride and stay in the hotel with Walter for the week.
_DSC0009Day 01: Monday, July 21, 2014.
The hotel we were staying at provided transportation passes for the city, so on the first day, I went into Lausanne. I immediately went to the port of Ouchy to see about taking the ferry across Lake Geneva to a city in France.
Day 1 Combo 1_DSC0150I had researched taking the ferry across the lake but I just wanted to see how much it cost and how long it would take but I then found myself buying a ticket and getting on the ferry to Thonon-Les-Bains an hour later.
_DSC0163 _DSC0186It was quite cloudy but beautiful. 50 minutes later, I was across the Lake and in the port of Thonon-Les-Bains, France. The other option would have been to go to Evian which apparently only had a casino and some free Evian water as its primary attractions. Thonon-Les-Bains did not have much either but it did have a Chateau and what looked like a nice port. Plus, I couldn’t resist the chance to go to France even if only for a half day.
_DSC0226 _DSC0233Funny enough, France was not that much different from the French-speaking part of Switzerland. People spoke French and their menu items had some amazing sounding cheeses. The primary difference was the currency and the overall prices. 2-3 EUR for a magnet rather than 7-9 CHF.
_DSC0257 Day 1 Combo 2_DSC0281I followed the curve of the port towards where I thought the Château de Ripaille was. I thankfully saw a sign and a few minutes later, I was walking onto the property of the Chateau which was apparently some rich person’s house before some monks took it over and made a bunch of wine.
_DSC0334Regardless of who owned it when, it was a nice, historical place which had a labyrinth of staircases and hidden rooms. I had quite a bit of fun going up and down and around each of the staircases.
Day 1 Combo 3_DSC0357 _DSC0360Day 1 Combo 4After exhausting the entertainment factors of the chateau and surrounding grounds, I started making my way back to the port. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I was five minutes short of making the ferry on time and had to wait an hour for the next one. As it was raining (and all of the benches were wet) and I was tired and hungry, I sat down at a restaurant and ordered toasted bread with fromage blanc and ham but then the waitress told me they were only serving desserts (uh, okay…) so I got an apple tart.
_DSC0428_DSC0432 _DSC0452 _DSC0473After finishing the apple tart, I meandered around the town a bit more and then made my way to the port to take the ferry back to Lausanne. Then I took the Metro Line 2 from Ouchy to Lausanne-Flon and then got on the bus from Lausanne-Flon to UNIL-Dorigny and then got on Metro Line 1 from UNIL-Dorigny to EPFL where I went into our hotel.
_DSC0481End of Day 01. Day 02: Ecublens & Saint-Sulpice up next.

Aux Bonnes Choses: on Pl. de la Navigation near Port Ouchy. I got a tuna sandwich/sub there for 5 CHF. It was not like a Subway sandwich but still filling enough. The woman there was very nice and helpful when I asked questions. This is a good place for a quick lunch or snack.

Ferry from Lausanne to Thonon-Les-Bains: I travelled across the Lake with CGN for 50 CHF. This was a round-trip ticket to use for that day (or whichever day you choose) and I could go and return whenever I wanted on that day. The ferry was virtually empty and there is a lower and upper deck, both inside.

Château de Ripaille: This chateau is a short walk uphill from the port of Thonon-Les-Bains. I looked at many websites that said this chateau is half-way between Thonon-Les-Bains and Evian-Les-Bains which is not true. The cost for entry is 9 EUR and a listening guide is only 1 EUR extra. They have a nice little gift shop and you can sample and purchase wine from their vineyard.

La Commanderie: This is a nice little restaurant. The waitress was lovely and sweet. Very quick service and the prices were good. As I said above, I got an apple tart which was quite large (somewhere between a CD and a frisbee in size) and I believe it was only 4 or 5 EUR.

Carnival Burger Place: I don’t know the name of it but there was this little burger kiosk near a merry-go-round in the port. Cheeseburgers were 6.50 CHF and they had some interesting potato bites for 6 CHF. The burger was pretty good with some nice sauce and the potato bites were odd but interesting.

2nd Wedding Anniversary

This past Saturday was our (my hubs and I) 2 year wedding anniversary. We had specifically decided to go to the zoo and took the prescribed route: red line to Nádraží Holešovice and then stood outside waiting for Bus 112. About 20 seconds after we found the bus stop, another 60 people showed up. The bus was overcrowded as what felt like every person in Prague, their dogs, their children, and their imaginary friends piled on and the 6 stops seemed to take forever because of construction all along the way. When we finally got to the zoo, the line to buy tickets was out to the bus stop. They even had restaurants and concessions along the line where you could buy gelato or sausages.

I don’t do lines (or ques if you’re pretentious or British). I looked across the street and saw the Troja Castle…. so, we crossed the street and wandered through the grounds and gardens…for free!
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Surprise! I didn’t even know this existed. After visiting the bookstore of the chateau/castle and purchasing a commemorative coin, we wandered uphill towards the botanical gardens.
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…up a flight of stairs and then another flight of stairs..and then down a dirt road…

_DSC0527 _DSC0531And for only 50Kc each, we were able to have access to all open-air parts of the botanical gardens which was pretty much everything and the entire garden was huge. Giant. SO much bigger than the one in Amsterdam and well worth the cheap price. Like huge. Really really big.
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I spent a majority of the time sticking my face/lens ridiculously close to swarms of bees while Walter made it his goal to hunt down every bit of shade.

_DSC0593 _DSC0644_DSC0717For awhile we relaxed in this amazing hammock. For the record, we don’t like the heat or the sun or the summer and so we deserve a lot of credit for venturing out in the middle of July. Regardless, we still plopped down in this hammock and opened up my umbrella to shelter us from the sunlight. Also, we’re totally putting one of these in our backyard one day. Walter apparently knows how to make one (like that’s new – he apparently knows exactly what knots are used and what each item on the
 hammock is). _DSC0666 _DSC0698 _DSC0765And after a lovely few hours of getting sunburned and learning that I would be an amazing beekeeper (seriously, that’s going to happen) while Walter should stick to science and knots, we went to Hooters. Don’t judge. They have the cheapest American food in town. Fourth of July hit us hard and we’re missing our home more than ever recently. Hooters weirdly helps.

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One last photo – this was taken from the Botanical Gardens looking down on the Troja Chateau. We actually got lost in that circular (not-a-real-maze) hedge thing.

Southern Bohemia

Our day trip to Southern Bohemia (the SW of the Czech Republic) was more or less planned out beforehand with a little bit of flexibility.

Our first stop? České Budějovice.
2 České Budějovice As we were walking into the town, this old homeless man jumped in front of us and asked for money. Walter and I both sternly said no but, in my surprise, I sucked in the air around me as he jumped in front of us and I spent the next five minutes forcing myself not to throw up in my mouth from the smell….. not. a. good. start.4 České Budějovice

Honestly, we got bored quite easily. This town looked a lot like most other Czech towns: a big square with some kind of church on or near the square with a pretty fountain in the middle and lots of brightly colored, typically Czech buildings surrounding it.
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We bought a magnet/postcard per our travel tradition and walked back to the train station. For some reason, I didn’t write down the name of the town we were supposed to travel to next so I had to guess and then write down something wrong and the ticket lady finally guessed the right town and we bought the ticket and she motioned that the train was leaving in 2 minutes. We rain up and scrambled around trying to find the right train… we finally talked to the right person and got on board. All in all, we spent 50 minutes exactly in České Budějovice. After we got on the train, Walter and I talked about how this felt like one of those quintessential European travel moments that people talk about.

10 Train Ride 13 Train RideWe were on our way to Holubov, a small town down the mountain of Klet’. The only reason we were going there is because I read that there was a chairlift that would take you up part of the mountain. I can now tell you that while there was a chairlift but it was no where near the town of Holubov.
16 Holobuv17 HolobuvWe walked through the town towards the mountain. Despite the research I had done prior to our trip, I could not find a map of this town with actual street names and I also could not find a map telling us where the chair lift up the mountain was. Regardless, we continued walking towards the tall mountain in the distance.
18 HolobuvThese fields of flowers are literally everywhere in this part of the Czech Republic. Apparently (upon some research) we discovered that it is rapeseed or canola used for oil. Upon reaching this particular field, we saw a very small green arrow pointing around the field. While walking around this field we heard the sound of a massive number of bees – a literal swarm. There were hundreds (if not thousands) of bees buzzing around the fields we were inches from. 20 HolobuvAs you can see below, we had walked from Holubov (1.5 km, 0.9 mi) and we were walking towards Klet’, another 5 km (3.1 mi) away. In addition, it was part of the plan to walk down the mountain to Český Krumlov which, as you can see, was 13 km (8 mi) away from that spot. And the chairlift was no where in sight….(dramatic music).21 HolobuvWe also had been following these two women for quite awhile hoping that they knew where the chair lift was… they must have thought we were some creeps (see the two dots in the photo below).
23 KleťWe kept on walking uphill…. stalking these women. FINALLY, after climbing up a hill and past a bunch of motorcyclists, and then up another steep hill….we made it to this weird building where the chairlift was. Unfortunately, the chairlift runs once every hour at the top of the hour. Fortunately, we got there at 11:30am – we only had to wait 30 minutes.
24 KleťI was quite nervous when I saw the chairlift. I don’t know if you can see it below but the chair lift is individuals in individual chairs. While it wasn’t so bad once you’re actually in the chair, it looked very intimidating at first. The chair came down the line and then swung around at a pretty fast speed while you were standing on a target with your back to the chair. As you bend over (facing away from it), the chair basically scoops you up and it feels like you sail away.

Scared that I was going to drop my camera (and not thinking of the simple solution of simply putting the camera around my neck), I broke my camera down and put it in Walter’s backpack. Walter, not wanting to risk dropping my camera, did not put my camera back together and take any photos of us on the 15 minute trip up the mountain.
25 KleťWhile we had avoided the rain up to this point, it did rain on us on the way up as well as when we reached the top. This was unfortunate as the view supposedly allowed us to see some of the Swiss Alps in the distance. There was literally no visibility whatsoever and, as the restaurant was packed with no spare seats, we could not wait for the storm to move on.
26 Kleť 27 KleťThe fog was absolutely beautiful though. We did get lost following the wrong trail for 1 km or so but we did make a friend in a snail. I ended up taking photos on my hands and knees while people and bikers passed us.
28 Kleť 31 Kleť35 Kleť 36 Kleť 38 KleťThe fog did clear as we walked down the mountain. I realized about 2 km down the mountain that I had to pee and the sensation continued to increase as we walked down. For the first time ever (which, weirdly, makes my mother proud), I peed outdoors. And that’s all I’ll say.
42 Kleť 43 Kleť 44  KleťThis was a LONG walk down the hill. I mean, it’s like 6 miles from the top of the mountain and we had wandered about lost for about 1 km (o.6 mi) and then walked another 1.5 km (0.9 mi) from Holubov and then more walking all over… we were really really really really tired.
53 Kleť 54 KleťWhat was really strange was that there were no animals anywhere. At all. Absolutely no animals at all. No squirrels. No birds. No chipmunks. No armadillos. No deer. No nothing. It was SO weird. I had heard that the Czech Republic didn’t have many wild animals but it was quite disconcerting.

Finally (finally, finally, finally) we made it to Český Krumlov; A beautiful city that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for very good reason.
59 Český Krumlov 62 Český Krumlov 63 Český KrumlovNow this is what I call a castle. What was so very unfortunate was that we were way too exhausted to do anything in this city whatsoever. We went to a recommended restaurant which was a major letdown and then we walked around until we found a shop where we bought a map. We found out where the bus station was and made our way there after eating some pizza. We ended up leaving 4 hours earlier than planned and fell asleep soon after we got on the bus. It was an exhausting day but it was great. We will definitely be going back to Český Krumlov again when we can spend an entire day enjoying the town. 64 Český Krumlov 65 Český Krumlov 66 Český Krumlov 70 Český Krumlov