Christmas in one of the most charming countries in the world!

Boat in Ouchy
Boat in Ouchy

Happy New Year, my readers!!!! I hope that 2014 will bring you lots of happiness, great moments, strong health and many dreams come true!

Now, let me ask you: how was your Christmas? Me, my boyfriend and our friends went to Switzerland for 5 days to breathe some mountain fresh air and visit some of the most beautiful places in this country. Our party was mixed as we were : me, from Moldova, two Dutch and another friend that came from the Country of Rising Sun 🙂

It took us almost 8 hours (from Schiedam) to reach Lausanne and during the driving time we had some funny moments, talked about my trip to Japan – recalled some very funny and dear moments to me from that trip. Also, we had enough time to plan our trip to Switzerland and things that we must see while there. On 25th of December the weather wasn’t great, but we decided to have a walk around and see what’s nice in Lausanne. Everybody was ready for the rain …. well, not everybody, one wasn’t – ME! 😀  That’s why the next day the very first thing was to buy a poncho and be happy!

My favorite place in Lausanne, by far, are Ouchy and Lavaux. Ouchy is a fisherman village, just on the Lake Geneva. The view from there over the mountains is spectacular! The water of the lake so clean, that you can see the stones few meters from the shore. One very important remark here: the Olympic museum is OPEN and until 24th of January the entrance is FREE OF CHARGE! The view from the last floor over the lake is magnificent. There, on the last floor is a café and a special place for those who want to leave a message to the Museum administration.

Olympic Museum in Ouchy -Lausanne
Olympic Museum in Ouchy -Lausanne

The museum is very nicely done, has screenings from opening ceremonies to moments during various Olympic Games. You’ll see here all the torches that were been used since the beginning of the Olympic games and also the medals. If your country has a winner at one of the OG, then you should look for his/her signature among the clothes, shoes and other tools that are part of  sportsmen uniform. There are many other interesting things to be seen and read there and I let you to discover them. A couple more things about this museum: one, the Olympic fire – you’ll see it on your right when walking to the entrance (building) and second, on your left you’ll find a sprint line. If you dare to run on it…or walk on it, then on the asphalt will be projected the world records in this sport.

Olympic Fire
Olympic Fire

 What is Lavaux? Lavaux is a region and not a city or locality. At the beginning, we thought that this is a locality, to be honest. Lavaux is famous for its vineyards, that since 2007 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want a Swiss good wine, you should go there 😉

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Lavaux
UNESCO World Heritage Site – Lavaux

The terraced vineyards of the Lavaux site unfold above Lake Geneva for 30 kilometers (on 830 hectares) and is just in between Lausanne and Vevey-Montreux. The impressive thing about this place is that it’s composed of 5 villages and some of the houses in these villages are dated from, as far in the past as, 12th Century. According to some sources, the actual vine terraces can be traced back to the 11th century, when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries controlled the area.

Vineyards in Lavaux
Vineyards in Lavaux

One tip here: if you travel by car or even by train and you want to explore this place on your own and not willing to spend money on guided tours, then you should rent a bike or be ready to walk a lot! Anyway, we drove there and stopped here and there. We saw 3 of the 5 villages and took some nice pictures too. Ah, the tip: if you want to learn more about this place from locals, try to go there between Christmas and New Year – that region is EMPTY, or almost empty as most of the tourists aren’t around there. Find an open wine shop (here these shops are family owned) and then for sure you’ll be taken on a tour around the cellars and some of the wine production processes will be explained to you. If you’re lucky (as we were) then you might taste some of the wine too, and all this FOR FREE! Just keep in mind, the prices here are much lower than in any other store or shop! And Swiss wine is almost 100% consumed by Swiss people, therefore, do not miss the chance to take home such a nice souvenir.

 

Cathedral Notre-Dame,   Lausanne
Cathedral Notre-Dame, Lausanne

Some other places that are worth to see/ visit here are:

  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • Swiss Reformed Church of Saint-Laurent
  • Swiss Reformed Church of Saint-François
  • Saint Maire Castle
  • Railway station
  • Beau-Rivage Palace
  • City Hall
  • Hôtel des Poste
  • Beaulieu Castle
  • Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC)

For more information about Lausanne (what to see, what to eat, where to stop and how to travel around) you can go on these pages:

If you’re already decided to make some time and squeeze a trip to Switzerland in your agenda, and most importantly, to go there on the right time, then maybe you’ll need one more piece of information and this info is about events in 2014

Where to eat and not break the bank?

Hard question! The easiest answer will be: HOME! But as long as you’re not visiting friends or family in Switzerland, then you may face the challenge of choosing the right place. At this question, one of the locals said it simple: Turkish (kebab, doner, etc) or Chinese will be the cheapest choices. And rest assured, in Lausanne you’ll see plenty of Chinese-Thai restaurants!

Where to sleep?

Find someone to lend you their sofa, simply said couch surf. If you’re traveling in many or if you want to have the freedom and privacy that a hotel room will provide, then look for something across Accor chain and in particular check the rates from Ibis Hotels (they have family, business and budget! hotels). I have no idea about hostels, as we never stopped in one, but maybe there are plenty and cheaper than a hotel room. If you’re traveling in two or more then maybe you’ll want to compare the rates hostels-hotels before making any booking 😉

My last remark here: fondue?! Would you want to have some? Maybe once , just out of curiosity would be enough, but I did not like it and all my friends as well. And after talking with some locals, it seemed that they also did not enjoy this dish too much. What is the taste, you might want to know. Well, is bitter! It’s melted bitter cheese, if you like bitter foods go for it! And yes, the price may vary from one restaurant to another, but a reference price is 23-24 CHF per person (moitie-moitie – half of your portion will be one type of cheese-half another type) Travel safe and wise!

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