Vernazza Updates:

Vernazza is well on its way to normalcy and while I no longer write updates on their status, you can learn about the devastating floods of 2011 by clicking the label "Vernazza Updates". For the latest information from the organizations in Vernazza and Monterosso, visit SaveVernazza and Rebuild Monterosso.

28 September 2011

Swiss Getaway

My parents had some business at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and I jumped at the chance to meet up with them for the weekend. It also worked quite well that I had an interview in Paris two days before (Paris? Mais Oui!), so I was able to get a cheap flight to Paris and take the train straight to Lausanne (there are no flights from here to Geneva). 
Meeting them at the large train station was surprisingly easy, as they were right outside the door with a fellow Swiss colleague of my step-father's that I hadn’t seen since I was thirteen years old! That was a great surprise and he escorted me up the steep hill to our hotel to drop off my bag and then he took us on a mini-tour of Lausanne.

Like most European cities, it was a pleasure to travel around, made simple by excellent public transportation. We took a super modern light rail from the main train station area straight down to the harbor.
The first stop anyone makes in Lausanne is obviously the lake.
Lake Geneva to be exact, and it was quite a beautiful site to see.
The fact that the entire area was in such beautiful bloom in the last week of September was so lovely because I wasn’t sure what to expect from the weather. But, after a few fantastically warm  days in Paris, I wasn’t too surprised.
We strolled the streets around the lake until we picked a restaurant for dinner (without too much sticker shock) and we had a fantastic time chatting and eating local Lake Geneva Perch. After dinner, we bid farewell to our friend as he had to catch the last train to his town.
The next day, I had a lovely morning with my Mom, getting cappuccinos at a castle-turned-hotel and restaurant and lunch at the train station buffet (yes, it was recommended and it was good and affordable). But the highlight of the day was actually when we left. One of my favorite things about Europe are the train systems--and Switzerland is one of the best in that department. My step-dad was off to return to Norway and my Mom joined me back to Italy. We took the train from Lausanne to Milan, a three hour ride that was smooth, comfortable and above all else...
Beautiful!! Our train took us along Lake Geneva,

past castles

and through the Alps.
And before we knew it, we were back in Italy,
passing Lago di Garda (Lake Garda) and on to Milan. If you plan to travel through Europe, make sure to include some long-distance train rides, especially those that travel through mountain ranges like the Alps. You can see a whole lot of countryside in a matter of hours. I won't ruin this lovely post with the description of our next three hour train ride from Milan to La Spezia which was horrific, gross, and terribly uncomfortable--it is just what you get here with local Italian trains. Did I mention how great Swiss trains are?

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