Edit Blog Post
Published: July 21st 2012
My students trying to walk on a tight rope at the picnic.
I stocked my kitchen, did the laundry, cleaned the apartment, and made the beds. Everything was ready for Nancy’s arrival the next day. I could wander down to the Summer University’s annual lakeside picnic without any worries. Chi and the twins would be there, having just arrived from a week in Denmark.
As soon as I arrived, the Bacchanale began. A warm beer was thrust into my hand and I was hoisted onto a tight rope. Things got hazy from there. I suppose I only need to look at the photos my students are probably posting to piece things together. Maybe one of those photos will reveal the moment I parted company with my iPhone.
Nancy and I were greatly relieved to see each other at the airport the following day. She was (and has been) a good sport about the furious pace here. I dragged her jet-lagged body to the Lausanne City Festival that evening. It was raining, so I figured the crowds wouldn’t be so bad. We circled the cathedral viewing jugglers, actors, and musicians performing on makeshift stages tucked between the buttresses. I can’t imagine that the festival was much different when it started 800 years
Nancy peeking around a corner in Evian
ago. Maybe fewer electric guitars.
The next day we joined the students on a field trip. At an outdoor restaurant in Gruyere each of us was served a bucket of melted cheese and a basket of bread to sop it up. Next stop was Nestle’s chocolate factory. We followed the assembly line starting with a Gatling gun that extruded thick brown noodles from each barrel onto a conveyor belt. The belt carried the noodles under a guillotine that turned them into little brown turds. A wrapping machine twisted each turd into a wrapper and voila, we had arrived in the tasting room. We emerged from the tour with chocolate-smeared faces. How are the Swiss not the fattest people on Earth?
There are so many places to go in Switzerland, and when you’ve visited them all you can start on the neighbors: Austria, Italy, Germany, France. For days I pondered maps and train schedules trying to decide where to take Nancy for our little three day break. In the end, I decided to simply rent a car and drive us to Lauterbrunnen Valley, a place determined by a blind finger stab at the map.
Driving in Switzerland was easier than I had imagined. Our car was equipped with a GPS that had a lovely British accent. "Please take the second exit at the next roundabout," she would plead as we heedlessly sped through villages. Occasionally she would pay us back by sending us down roads that looked like mule trails. Nancy would slap the dashboard trying to bang her out of "humorous route" mode.
Lauterbrunnen Valley is a deep glacial valley in the Bernese Alps. Base jumpers and dozens of waterfalls rain from 3000 foot cliffs on either side of the narrow valley. Insane cable cars take the brave to isolated car-free villages perched along the edges of the cliffs (the Swiss are amazing engineers.). From the hotel room bed I could look straight up at the triple peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
On our first day we hiked up through spiraling tunnels that twisted around the violent cascades of Trummelbach Falls. We continued to the farming village of Stechelberg at the end of the valley with the idea of taking the gondola up to the village of Murren. Nancy took one look at the flimsy thread that carried the
Dinner at Rene's
Dinner on Rene's terrace with his three daughters and their three friends.
gondola at a near vertical angle to the top of the 3000 foot wall and balked. I think her exact words were "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR F*ING MIND!" I must say that I was a bit relieved. I knew that there was a funincular in Lauterbrunnen village that also went to Murren that wasn't nearly as scarey. Instead we settled into a quaint restaurant in Stechelberg for some good German farm cooking: schnitzel und struddle und lots of flies.
This is my fourth summer in Lausanne. By now I have a good number of acquaintences, so that every night is taken up with a dinner party. My friends tend to live in quaint villages surrounded by mountains, forests, and vinyards. At Stephan's house we walked through a patch of forest before dinner to work up an appetite. The trails have been groomed for centuries to the point that there are little art installations hidden among the trees. At Rene's house we worked up our appetite with a hike through the salt mines at Bex to his secret swimming hole. Tonight, a big dinner party at a chateau in Montreux that Cay and Chi managed to
swap with their house in San Francisco. Of course we have eaten nothing but chocolate, beer and cheese for the past three weeks. Tomorrow we leave for Greece and a healthier diet of gyros and ouzo.
More Photos Below
Tot: 0.164s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 11; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0155s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb