So I’ve decided that Switzerland is awesome simply because it has several national languages. It’s mindblowing to me that I can start out somewhere where everyone around me is babbling in Swiss-German (Zurich), then suddenly find myself able to understand signs and distant chatter in Italian (Ticino), only to be completely baffled again by French (Lake Geneva)… all in the same country!! Incredible. But the it’s normal for Swiss people to be fluent in multiple languages. I respect and admire that a lot. And they’re very accommodating – if they realize you can’t understand the language they’re speaking, they’ll automatically switch to English (if they know it). And while I appreciate that immensely, I also feel really bad… like I’m a dumbarse American tourist who expects everyone to cater to me. But of course in the US you can get by on English alone… whereas in Switzerland it’s much more practical to know more languages. Fascinating, no?
Well then, the next segment of my European journey led me to the lovely Lake Geneva. I am admittedly a sucker for gorgeous scenery… so lakes and mountains and lots of green obviously appeals to my senses. Just before arriving in Lausanne, the train plowed through and around rolling green hills and vineyards, with the enormous lake just beyond and little villages down below. Holy crap it was stunning… so stunning that I didn’t even have time to grab my camera. All I could do was stare out the window and gape at the scenery.
I made the terrible mistake of ordering a latte from Starbucks once I arrived in Lausanne. My rule is generally NEVER to order anything from there other than the frappuccino. I mean I’ve tried it all… latte, cappuccino, americano… and found them all to be complete rubbish. But man, all I wanted was a big-arse coffee… a la Dunkin Donuts-style. They don’t do that in Switzerland, really… it’s always these tiny cups of coffee that I down in about 10 seconds. But Starbucks has their big takeaway cups of coffee, so that’s why I caved and broke my rule. And ugh, disgusting. So milky and bad and GAH STARBUCKS SUCKS!! >:o
But alas, I didn’t come to Switzerland for the coffee, so life goes on.
It ended up being gorgeous out, so I dropped off my bag and headed east to Montreaux. Montreaux is basically a snooty resort town with lots of rich old people lounging around. So I felt a wee bit out of place.
Buuuuut I walked all along the promenade on the water and all the way to the Chateau de Chillon, a medieval castle. I’m not big on museums or history, but I friggin LOVED this place! Oh man it was so much fun to wander through the entire thing. I followed their map-guide which explained what each room/area was for and the history behind it. I felt like a little kid playing house, except in this ginormous castle on a gorgeous lake. You can’t help but let your imagination wander with such an idyllic setting before you. What really got me was how in most of the rooms, they had these windows built into the stone walls overlooking the lake, with stone seats just inside so you could sit there and just stare out at the water. God that’s just incredible to me. Granted some of these windows were undoubtedly used to keep watch over the castle and be on alert for approaching enemies… but they were definitely used for more leisurely purposes in the bedrooms and such. I resisted the urge to sit by the windows in every room (the train back only ran once per hour) and continued exploring the rest of the castle. Dungeons, store rooms, the watch towers… it was absolutely fascinating.
But the highlight of the day – and perhaps the entire trip – was the hour I spent in St. Saphorin, a small village in the Lavaux winery region just east of Lausanne (west of Montreaux). Imagine standing up in the hills looking down at tiered vineyards, with a cute European village just below, a beautiful lake just beyond, and mountains in the distance. I had flashbacks to the time I spent last year hiking the Amalfi coast and felt a similar *holycrapisthisreal?* feeling. It’s just so damn gorgeous. Beautiful things make me so happy… especially in nature. They have a way of making me forget about everything else and live completely in the moment. It makes me feel like this world’s alright after all, ya know?