Switzerland is comprised of 26 cantons, each with its distinctive architecture and culture. The majority is German-speaking, a few are French, one is Italian, and several are bilingual, including one with Romansh. Today I traveled to Vaud, a French-speaking canton on the northern shore of Lake Geneva. It feels like a different country; not only is the language different, the people seem livelier.
16 September – Lausanne & Vineyards
I stayed in Lausanne, one of the cities along the shore of Lake Geneva. I was going to stop at Fribourg on my way, but got a late start out of Zurich, and then, surprise, the train had a mechanical problem and we were delayed almost a half hour. I say surprised because so far the Swiss transportation system has run perfectly. If it’s not the best in the world, it’s certainly the best I’ve ever experienced (and leagues ahead of Muni). The buses, trains, and boats are on time, reliable, and clean.
I left my suitcase at the hotel and caught a local train back to Chexbres where I took a walk through the vineyards that hug the slope above the lake. It was gorgeous, almost too hot, and I thoroughly enjoyed the salad I packed for lunch, on the only shaded bench I found along the way. The return train from Cully was filled with people, coming from I know not where.
After a short rest, I took the metro to the car-free center of town. It’s uphill from the lake. The streets are steep and the area feels less open than Bern, with it’s wide streets in the old town center, and Zurich, with it’s river.
17 September – Montreux
I got a leisurely start and posted my Zurich blog entry before catching the train to Montreux. There I wandered the old town a bit until it was time to catch a boat to the Chillon Castle, the most visited historic sight in Switzerland. This 1000 old building was built on a small rocky island adjacent to the shore. After exploring the castle, I returned to Montreux by bus and took a train back to Zurich.