Along the shores of Lac Leman

Trip Start Feb 10, 2008
Trip End May 13, 2009

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Flag of Switzerland  ,
Friday, February 29, 2008

Here I am again in Switzerland. I arrive at Vevey on Lake Leman in the evening and go straight to a milonga held in the old casino (no longer in use), with all my luggage. I have a nice night and about 3am I organise with Sarah (one of the organisers of the MuSaKa milonga in Geneva, which I attended last November) to couch-surf at her place in Geneva. We travel in a 4-wheel drive with a couple of her Spanish friends in the front and by the time we get to her apartment it´s about 5am and she bakes a loaf of sweet bread for the brunch she is having for some friends, who are coming around 11am, ie in about 5 hours time.
So I manage to get some sleep and get up and tidy myself up just in time. They have all brought delicious things to eat, and of course I sample everything (and get to fly a toy helicopter around the lounge room), then we go for a walk in the warm winter sunshine to watch some young people dancing some new, hot dance in a park - the backdrop is giant sculptures of the 4 city-fathers (Calvin, etc) with their grim expressions, and I can´t (or can) imagine what they would be thinking if they saw this exhibition and heard the music.
Then it's on the train back along the lake to Aigle, and up the mountain train to Leysin to stay with my friend Ana.
It's great coming back to a place because now you know a bit about it and don't waste so much time finding out where everything is. I would love to ski here, but they've had very sunny weather and the snow is a bit thin, so I end up relaxing and taking day trips along the shores of Lac Leman (also known as Lake Geneva). One day I have lunch with Daniela, who I met the first night at Vevey at tango. Her parents are Italian from the Salento (the heel of Italy) but she was born in Switzerland and has her own hairdressing salon - one of her clients is Geraldine Chaplin, actress daughter of Charlie, who lived here for the rest of his life I think after he was kicked out of the US. After lunch I wander along the water front on this brilliant, warm and sunny winters day. The lake is so calm everything feels suspended in time and soon I come across a surreal sight - a giant fork in the lake. I continue on to Lausanne, where I visit an exhibition about Victor Hugo, including many of his paintings, and then retire to a wine bar for a quick drink, and meet a lady who has perched her little dog in it's basket on the bar while she has a wine with a friend, then later I go to a practica. Along the way I pass a shop called Boutique Fascination and it sells 'sous-vetements et chausettes pour l'homme viril, seduisant, chic et classique' (like me :), but I've promised myself I'm not buying any more sous-vetements as I bought so many last year.
The next day I hang around Leysin and go for a long walk in the snow above Prafandaz - it's wonderful, with the views, the snow, and the crisp mountain air. That night the little group that took me out for fondue last November adjourns again, and we agree that we will start a little tradition that every time I visit Leysin we will have fondue at Prafandaz on Wednesday nights. Bertrand, who is an English teacher, invites me to come with him next day and observe his English class at his high school so, curious, I agree to go along.
He picks me up sharp at 8am and we wind our way down the mountain and along the lake to his school between Vevey and Montreux. The students are in year 12 and I am impressed by the standard of English. A couple of the students have a question and answer session about a novel they have read set in the West (of the US). One of the questions is 'what is a cowboy?' and the young man responds 'someone who burps and farts', which I guess is true as far as it goes, but the young woman doesn't follow up with a more penetrating question, which Bertrand points out. Bertrand asks me to come to the front and tell the students a little about myself and see if they can guess where I'm from, so we play 20 questions and they soon figure out I'm from Australia.
I leave the class and have a pleasant walk along the lakeshore to Montreux, home to a famous Jazz festival and of the rich and famous, then I continue along to the Chateau de Chillon. The castle was started around the 1100's and progressively enlarged over time. It has inspired a number of writers and artists, among whom was Lord Byron, who wrote the poem 'The Prisoner Of Chillon' about François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk who spoke out in favour of the reformation and was shackled to a stone pillar by the Duke of Savoy from 1530 until 1536.
Bertrand then picked me up and dropped me off in Aigle, where I wandered around a bit, found an agreeable-looking wine cellar, and had a very pleasant wine tasting. I bought a half bottle of Chasselas (a crisp white wine), and Shiraz (very different to the Australian style - lower in alcohol and drier - really delicious), and a bottle of Pinot Noir.
That night I prepared dinner again - I forgot to tell you that I've been acting as a bit of a house-boy, going shopping at the supermarket and the Laiterie (a cheese shop with a lovely, friendly woman proprietor, where I bought some beautiful raw milk cheeses, pate, rich, thick cream, and various local smoked meats), cleaning up, preparing food, and generally making myself useful. Ana and I polish off the two half bottles that night, and then had raspberries and cream, and I have a very sound sleep, for tomorrow morning a small group of us is headed for Sweden for a marathon.
To be continued ...

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valeriavine on

My Bro got one of those helicopters for Xmas and we had a great time playing with it too...a wonderful invention. Life looks good!

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