When the owner of the local boulangerie knows you by name, it can mean one of two things: either you buy too many croissants or you’re becoming one of the locals. I’d like to think it’s the latter, but it’s more likely that my addiction to Swiss baked goods is spiralling out of control. Nevertheless, I’ve been here for nearly two months and it’s no understatement to say that life in Switzerland is amazing. Can someone please ask time to stop going so goddamn fast, because I really don’t want to leave in December!
We’ve been enjoying an Indian summer here, although a couple of seemingly endless thunderstorms have reminded me that bad weather does still exist. While Monday to Friday is spent hard at work at uni, my weekends are devoted to exploring Geneva and beyond. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve been everywhere from a lakeside Comic-Con to the Mont Blanc massif! Here’s a snapshot of some of October’s day trips.
Morges and Tolochenaz
It’s been drilled into me throughout uni that the year abroad is the perfect time to say “Yes!” to everything, which is why I headed to the Swiss Fantasy Show in Morges with my fellow Lancastrian, Charlotte. Charlotte is a comic-con veteran but to be frank, I can’t tell my Gimli from my Gandalf! That said, I bit the bullet and bought a ticket, not quite knowing what to expect.
In spite of my horrendous lack of sci-fi knowledge (“Aren’t Star Trek/Star Wars/Stargate all the same thing?”), the convention was surprisingly enjoyable! The lengths that some people went to in making their costumes was unbelievable, taking to stilts to make themselves stand out.
I also visited nearby Tolochenaz, a beautiful hillside town which was home a very famous former resident. After wandering through the maze of winding streets and pastel-coloured houses, it was clear why Audrey Hepburn chose to spend the last 30 years of her life there. However, Tolochenaz doesn’t flaunt its Hollywood connection. You certainly won’t find any garish museums or hoards [sic] of tourists. Instead there is a modest statue in the town square, a road named in her honour and a small plaque outside her beautiful villa, La Paisible.
I was very lucky to have my parents come from Wales to visit me for a weekend, which meant that I could unleash my inner tour guide and show them around Geneva. The highlight of their visit was our trip to Lausanne, just 35 minutes by train from the city. Deciding to take a break from the brilliant sun, we made the most of Lausanne’s Olympic connections (the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee are based here) by going to the dedicated museum.
The museum itself was something of a revelation. After climbing a concrete waterfall of steps to reach the entrance, you are rewarded by the most stunning views across the lake to the Alps. Step inside the gigantic white building and you’re immediately immersed in all things sport-related. As well as there being a lot of interesting information about the Games’ history, there is a whole load of memorabilia to be gawped at. Yep, I’m not ashamed to admit that I inwardly screamed with joy when I saw Federer’s tennis racket and Nadal’s trainers!
Most recently, the lure of the snow-topped mountains became too much and I took a trip across the French border with my Italian friend Irene. Take a quaint Alpine town in the shadow of Mont Blanc, add a good handful of British yuppies and Chamonix is the result! Franglais is everywhere and the supermarket’s “British” section is bulging with Dairy Milk and Digestives. Nonetheless, the town was postcard-perfect with its chalet-like shops.
While the footpaths leading to the mountaintops looked (not in the slightest bit) tempting, we plumped for the cable car option. The ride took us up to Le Brevent, which sits directly opposite its big brother Mont Blanc. After the recent hot weather, it was refreshing to feel the snow under my feet and watch the more intrepid walkers navigate the icy trails. If I’m honest, it was tempting to start a snowball fight, but then I remembered my age and we returned to the valley floor for an afternoon of shopping.
You can read more of Helen's experiences of the time she spent in Switzerland and Austria in her blog.