Thursday morning I decided to hop on a train and go to Bern, Switzerland which boasted an astronomical clock and a beautiful old town area.
I wrote this while riding the beautiful train through the amazingly gorgeous Switzerland countryside.
So, I just took the tram to the end of the line, which was the train station. At the train station, I followed a crowd of people as they passed the main building, seeing words and symbols that prompted me to not enter through any of the doors. Seeing an automated ticket machine, I waited in line and , once it was my turn, I pushed a series of buttons until I had selected RENENS VD to BERN via LAUSANNE.
Unfortunately, the ticket did not include any platforms or departing times. Fortunately, the ticket was a standard round-trip, leave and return whenever you want today, we don’t care, have a nice trip. I managed to find a few signs that left me confused enough that I decided to guess. I guessed platform 5 and a train pulled up a few minutes later and it thankfully took me to Lausanne. I got off the train at Lausanne, clueless about where to go next. After following the crowds (again), I finally saw a screen that said Platform 1 for Lausanne to Bern at 9:50a.
This train ride was one of the most glorious and wonderful experiences. The ride was so relaxing and peaceful and surprisingly quick. The scenery was amazing. Absolutely amazing. After a few hours, I’m honestly not sure how long, I arrived at the train station and Bern. As I did not have a map and did not want to spend the money, I just guessed where to go. I eventually found the beautiful town center and the turquoise river.
I walked from one side of the town to the other and across a bride over the river twice. I wandered in and out of several shops until I found a Bern magnet that I found suitable enough for our collection. I also bought a little music box that plays Edleweiss, one of Walter’s favorite songs.
There were so many beautiful shops and doors with the most amazing products. I took dozens of photos of the outsides of these shops. They were probably my favorite part of the town. Before going back on the train back to Lausanne, I went into a small grocery store and asked for advice on what is the most typical Swiss chocolate. The attendants told me that Toblerone, a brand filled with chocolate mousse, and another brand that had chocolate with caramel were their standards. I ended up getting everything they suggested in dark chocolate. My absolute favorite was the dark chocolate bar with mousse.
I accidentally sat in first class for a period of time (hence the red seat) but the ticket checker person was nice enough to explain and direct me to 2nd class. They literally had no signs anywhere except on the platform which told me the section I was sitting in was 2nd. Regardless, the only difference I found was the sparsity in 1st class.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, 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: 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.
I 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.
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.”I 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.
I 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.
I 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.
Finally, 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.
After 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: 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.
I 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.
One 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.
Safe 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.