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 (incredibly 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 modern light rail from the main train station area straight down to the harbour.
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 a lovely surprise because I wasn’t sure what to expect from the weather. But, after enjoying 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 perch. After dinner, we bid farewell to our friend as he had to catch the last train to his home town.
The next day, I had a lovely morning with my Mom, sipping cappuccinos at a castle-turned-hotel and restaurant. The patio was drenched in autumn sunshine and surrounded by flowers and an excellent view of the lake. Lunch was slightly less glamorous at the train station buffet, but it was highly recommended and it was delightful (friendly, good and affordable).

But the highlight of the day was actually when we left. One of my favourite things about Europe are the train systems--and Switzerland is one of the best in that department. My step-dad was off 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...
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 a long-distance train ride, especially those that travel through mountain ranges like the Alps. You can see a lot of stunning 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. Did I mention how great Swiss trains are?

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