Switzerland – Lausanne and Lessons in Cheese, Dancing & Kissing in 3’s

I arrived in Switzerland Thursday evening after a long day of travel from Granada. Two hours of bus travel, a two hour flight, and a 45-minute train ride later, I finally made it to Lausanne.

My friend Jérôme met me a the train station that evening and we went back to his place to have dinner before going out. Jérôme set up the raclette system and we went to town. First cooking miniature potatoes and then warming up slices of cheese varieties that you heat on little trays before pouring the melted cheese on to the potatoes, baby corn, and little (almost cocktail-like) onions. Paired with some white wine and you have raclette. This was my kind of meal.

After dinner, Jérôme’s friend Cesar picked us up and we made our way to MAD club for a kick off party for one of their new levels. Cesar spoke little English and I certainly can’t get by well with my French, however, he did know Spanish, so we talked in Spanish in Switzerland. Comical.

We made our way to MAD which is one of the largest clubs in Switzerland. Several floors and different music on each and you have a club suited for everyone. The place was packed for a Thursday night. We ordered drinks which were the equivalent of $17 for vodka-sprites and $15 for Coronas (everything in Switzerland is expensive) and drank and danced the night away.

I met several of Jérôme’s friends that evening which proved to be quite entertaining. In Switzerland, instead of shaking hands with new people that you meet, you kiss them on the cheek. Once on the right, then on the left, and then back on the right again. I’ve never kissed so many strangers in my life. But after a while, the tradition was growing on me.

We also met up with Edem, one of Jérôme’s friends that I had met while in Vegas when I first met Jérôme, and we danced the night away with him and his co-worker.

The following morning, after waking around noon, Jérôme was off to work for a few hours and I left to explore Montreux and Chillon, the nearby town and castle.

The day had definitely gotten away from me and before I knew it, I was cutting it extremely close to the cutoff for ticket sales for Chillon. I made my way via bus to the train station, grabbed a train to Montreux and then caught a taxi outside of the train station for the nearby castle which was about 4 km away. The taxi, also happened to be a Mercedes, so it felt posh to be pulling up to a chateau, in Switzerland, in a Mercedes. With only a few minutes left to spare, I purchased my ticket and entered the Chateau de Chillon.

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The chateau sits on Lake Geneva, has amazing views and is set among some beautiful, picture-esque scenery. Walking through it though, you often find yourself somewhat chilled to the bone as the stories of witchcraft and burning of witches seem to be prevalent throughout the tour. You also can go through several “prison” areas in the basement of the chateau and see, in some cases, where people spent years and years chained to a poll or were left imprisoned in the coldest and darkest areas in the building. I’m sure it was enough to drive anyone crazy.

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After being slightly creeped out, I made my way out of the chateau and walked the grounds to take some photos of the castle and the surrounding lake. With the sun setting and the dark clouds swirling above, the photos were both eery and beautiful.

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I caught a bus back in to Montreux and stopped to walk the town which I read several great things about before arriving in Switzerland. I stumbled upon several shops near the lake and ended up in a complex which held several cabin-like huts for vendors to sell items for Christmas. It was enchanting. Crafts, jewelry, food, chocolates, liquors, wines. You name it and it was for sale. And everything was so beautifully decorated for the holidays, it was like walking in a true winter wonderland.

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After taking the train back to Lausanne, I made my way back to Jérôme’s place. Once he returned from work, we decided to stay in, make dinner, and watch a movie. All of which sounded great as I hadn’t really done much relaxing for most of my trip. Jérôme made ham and pasta and then we watched Crazy Stupid Love on his giant projector screen which takes up an entire wall in his living room. It was definitely the best theater system I had seen.

The following day, Jérôme was off to work again, but he came back mid-day and then gave me a ride into the center of Lausanne to explore the city. Again, the holidays were truly bringing out the charm of Switzerland. Every shop was decorated for Christmas and because of the weekend, the city’s main shopping area was lined with vendors selling flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and other goods. Like Montreux, there were also several areas of the small huts set up with vendors housed in them. There were hundreds of people out shopping and everything was just so full of life. I walked around for hours just exploring and loving the excitement of the city.

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That evening, it was Cesar’s birthday and Jérôme had a work function, so Cesar picked me up and took me to a pre-party before going out in Lausanne. I ate and drank (and kissed a lot of new Swiss people) and found a few people to speak English with until Jérôme arrived. Eventually, we made our way to another club in Lausanne, and danced the night away, finally making it back to Jérôme’s place around 6am.

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Needless to say, most of Sunday was spent sleeping, but eventually, we got up, had breakfast and then Jérôme took me to the train station for my departure to Geneva.

I hate goodbyes. Especially when it comes to traveling. I have met so many people along the way, and meeting people from all over the world is always so rewarding. I’ve spent weeks traveling with people, or I’ve gone to visit friends and have been welcomed into their homes and cities. Saying goodbye is always so difficult. This time proved to be no different.

My aunt Pam and uncle Andreas picked me up in Geneva and we went out for a great little evening of fondue and wine (something I had been wanting to do during my visit to Switzerland). The place was a little over the top, with a band playing accordions and some other crazy instruments that I can’t name, all while wearing lederhosen, but the fondue was excellent and my cheese fix was fulfilled.

The next morning Pam took me to the airport and I said goodbye to Switzerland and ended my European vacation. 12 days, 2 countries, 5 cities, a few old friends, a few new ones and another trip under my belt.

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