Lausanne in the spring is transformed into riot of colours. The greens of the lush new foliage and vines; yellows and purples of the flowers; blues of the lake, sky and alps in the distance sporting the last of their winter white. The people are coming back to life too after hibernating for the winter. Lusanne is nestled on the side of the hills that run straight down to Orchy and lake geneva. If you grabbed your bike and simply rolled downwards from central Lausanne, you would launch yourself over the Olympic museum with a faint nod to the sculpture depicting cycling on the front lawn as you plummeted into the clear but freezing lake waters.
I had principally come here to work on a collaborative project with an old friend from Melbourne, now living here. Mujo and his partner Lara, have had a child since my last visit, Elise. They were very proud parents and delighted in showing her off. We spent the first night in Lausanne having dinner with them after Mujo and I had done some work. Plans for the following day were made and we walked outside to catch the bus back to our hotel. They have these great buses that have a second half that they trail like an after thought. They don’t know if they’re trams or buses as they look like buses but have pantographs like a tram as they run on electricity.
We made it back to Hotel De la Paix, a nice but fairly charmless place in the middle of the city.
We had planned to catch the train to Vertaux-Chillon to visit the Chillon castle. This meant an early start with a run before breakfast. As I struggled to run up and down the extremely steep streets, I looked longinly and lustingly at a the bicycles that rode past. This was definitely not fixie territory. Even the couriers looked grateful to have geared bikes despite adopting the ‘New York courier’ look. Now I’m no jogger so exhaustion and delirium quickly settle in. Nothing snaps you back to reality as quickly as a rapidly moving swiss garbage truck frantically tooting his horn at you to get out of the way before nearly running me down. In my delirium, I had looked left then right. Should have done it the other way. Doh! Good thing I didn’t have my heart rate monitor on as the numbers would have terrified me even more.
The rail trip to Chillon was typical swiss. The only thing more accurate than a swiss watch is the rail system that relies on the watches. We watched the scenery zap by and marvelled at the old homes, vineyards everywhere and all using the lake and alps as their back drop. Picture post card perfect. And then to top it off, we rounded the bend and there was a real castle sitting by the edge of the shore, in the lake. Buttresses, flags, stonework and slits for shooting arrows in the walls. This thing was the real deal and dates back to the 12th century. It was built on a massive big rock that sits just off the shore. On the lake side, the water level drops rapidly away to nearly a thousand feet deep. We toured through the castle and were amaze and mortified by it. Like all ancient buildings, it has many stories and some of them are bleak. The dungeon was a large open affair with prisoners chained to the stone pillars supporting the roof. Even at this time of year, it was freezing. Four to five years was the typical stay for inmates who weren’t hung in the room next door.
The castle was very secure although it does have one vulnerability to attack. The drop toilets had been known to see soldiers scale the pit walls and force their way through the holes into the castle. The next time you think your job is shitty, consider the plight of those poor soldiers, merde!
Back to Lausanne and more work for me and shopping for Denise. By the time they returned however, we had called it a day and I was sampling a local delicacy. Polish vodka and apple juice. The rest of the evening remains a blur! Needless to say that getting up to go for my run the next morning took some effort.
I’m writing this as we sit on the train back to Zurich. We have been getting sms messages from the gang who are already lapping it up in Venice. I’m looking forward working out why monty python had a problem with gondolas.