Well, it's been another busy couple of weeks, with visitors and snow in abundance. Admittedly, the snow hasn't been quite as impressive as that in Britain of late, but nevertheless, it's quite happily fulfilled my expectations of Switzerland as a country in which it snows ALL the time. I kind of wish it would stop now though... think it would be nice to have some sort of period of sunny weather.
Alors, j'ai fait beacoup de choses dernièrement, most of which have involved spending money (lucky the Swiss government are kind enough to give me a grant!). I had a friend (Hayley) come stay with me for a couple of days before Easter, which were spent - I wont lie - drinking a variety of different alcohols (I introduced her to the 3, 5 or 10l columns or beer that they sell in one of the breweries here; it's probably a good idea we don't have these in Britain) but also engaging in a number of cultural activities. The highlight was a stop overnight in Neuchâtel, a pretty little town overlooking Lac de Neuchâtel. I've put a few pictures in the previous entry but here are a few more:
Pictures of the harbour... I'm liking the multi coloured beach huts!
Hayley and I were highly entertained by the modern art outside Le Musée d'Art et d'Histoire.
Another stunning picture across the harbour.
A 3l column of beer... We were quite pleased with the look of surprise on the (male) waiter's face when we ordered...
Following on from my week with Hayley (obviously spent being entirely cultural), I was visited by Glen for a week. Despite some, um, passport "issues" he was both allowed in, and out of the country. We spent a lot of time visiting little places in and around Lausanne; a day in Yverdon-Les-Bains (a 20 minute train ride from Lausanne) discovered the rather odd yet interesting Maison d'Ailleurs (which literally translates as House of Elsewhere) - a museum of science fiction and some rather bizarre drawings - and to be honest, not a lot else. However, the castle was quite pretty so, being a tourist, I took a few photographs.
Oh yes, and there were lots of swans (25 at my count)
Following Yverdon-Les-Bains, we spent a day in the seemingly sea side town of Ouchy (just down the hill from Lausanne). I say "seemingly" because, obviously, Switzerland is a landlocked country. However, when you're standing on the shore of Lake Geneva at Ouchy and the distant end of the lake is receding into cloud beyond, it really does feel like you're standing at the edge of the sea. Well, except for the distinct lack of sea gulls who have been replaced by their rather more cultured (and people-friendly) cousins, the ducks.
We chose a beautiful day to wonder along the shore front, taking some beautiful shots of the mountains and the lake.
Glen and the harbour. We watched with amusement as a dog who was too distracted with looking at Glen and almost fell over the side and into the water.
Our next trip was to Fribourg, a town described in my Rough Guide to Switzerland as "one of Switzerland's best-kept secrets". It didn't disappoint. The town has some fantastic old buildings and some incredible views depending on your vantage point within it. From the top of the hill and stood next to the Collège St-Michel, you get this view down across the town:
Left: Le Cathédrale St-Nicolas and the view across the town. Right: The Collège itself
However, by paying 2chf per person, you can climb the (possibly) 368 (?) steps up to the tower for a 360 degrees view across the entire city. Beautiful (if a little scary; I don't think Glen does heights well!)
By wandering around the town gives you various other opportunities for very touristy photographs; we took a walk down to "Auge" (another section of the town) and admired the view from below up towards the rest of the city (like every other place in Switzerland, Fribourg was on quite a steep hill).
We also came across some people who, unlike the rest of the country (remember, this is a chocolate producing country; the month leading up to Easter you couldn't move in a supermarket without being attacked from all angles by gold-wrappered chocolate bunnies) has a sense of humour about the whole event...
Poor little chick.
A few more picturesque shots:
...followed by an ice cream (no picture... I expect you call all imagine it) and we were set to return back to Lausanne.
Next place on the agenda was the medieval castle, Château de Chillon, a beautifully located building sat right on Lake Geneva which involved a boat ride across the lake to reach (admittedly you can access it by train but this seemed the far more exciting route).
As you can see, the weather wasn't brilliant, but we still got some good views across the lake (if nothing beyond) and certainly an exciting first impression of the castle from the water.
The inside was rather exiting too, although some of the castle had been "reconstructed" i.e. lots of the rooms had been redecorated in the early 1920s to try and recreate what they would have looked like in medieval times. I'm not sure that this was particularly successful for some, but the building itself was incredible.
Also, on a literary note, the castle and one of the prisoners kept there during its medieval past, were the inspiration for Byron's "Prisoner of Chillon" when he and Shelley visited the castle in 1816. Egotist as he was, he saw fit to engrave his own name onto one of the columns in the dungeon...vandal.
Since my visitors returned back to England my time here has been largely uneventful and mainly essay-filled as I attempt to overcome the mountain of work that my teachers have so kindly given me. However, tomorrow Ralph is coming to stay so I'm sure life will be exciting again... Well, hopefully we'll do some more travelling as that does seem to be the most interesting thing about being in this country. If that doesn't interest him, I sure he can be introduced to Switzerland's answer to promoting binge-drinking...10l columns of beer!