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Busy busy busy... Snow, Lakes, Incredible Views and a Castle chucked in there for good measure.

Well, it's been another busy couple of weeks, with visitors and snow in abundance. Admittedly, the snow hasn't been quite as impressive as that in Britain of late, but nevertheless, it's quite happily fulfilled my expectations of Switzerland as a country in which it snows ALL the time. I kind of wish it would stop now though... think it would be nice to have some sort of period of sunny weather.


Alors, j'ai fait beacoup de choses dernièrement, most of which have involved spending money (lucky the Swiss government are kind enough to give me a grant!). I had a friend (Hayley) come stay with me for a couple of days before Easter, which were spent - I wont lie - drinking a variety of different alcohols (I introduced her to the 3, 5 or 10l columns or beer that they sell in one of the breweries here; it's probably a good idea we don't have these in Britain) but also engaging in a number of cultural activities. The highlight was a stop overnight in Neuchâtel, a pretty little town overlooking Lac de Neuchâtel. I've put a few pictures in the previous entry but here are a few more:

IMG_0489 IMG_0490 Pictures of the harbour... I'm liking the multi coloured beach huts!

IMG_0488 Hayley and I were highly entertained by the modern art outside Le Musée d'Art et d'Histoire.

IMG_0503 Another stunning picture across the harbour.

IMG_0507 A 3l column of beer... We were quite pleased with the look of surprise on the (male) waiter's face when we ordered...


Following on from my week with Hayley (obviously spent being entirely cultural), I was visited by Glen for a week. Despite some, um, passport "issues" he was both allowed in, and out of the country. We spent a lot of time visiting little places in and around Lausanne; a day in Yverdon-Les-Bains (a 20 minute train ride from Lausanne) discovered the rather odd yet interesting Maison d'Ailleurs (which literally translates as House of Elsewhere) - a museum of science fiction and  some rather bizarre drawings - and to be honest, not a lot else. However, the castle was quite pretty so, being a tourist, I took a few photographs.IMG_0553 IMG_0551

Oh yes, and there were lots of swans (25 at my count) IMG_0546 IMG_0547


Following Yverdon-Les-Bains, we spent a day in the seemingly sea side town of Ouchy (just down the hill from Lausanne). I say "seemingly" because, obviously, Switzerland is a landlocked country. However, when you're standing on the shore of Lake Geneva at Ouchy and the distant end of the lake is receding into cloud beyond, it really does feel like you're standing at the edge of the sea. Well, except for the distinct lack of sea gulls who have been replaced by their rather more cultured (and people-friendly) cousins, the ducks.


We chose a beautiful day to wonder along the shore front, taking some beautiful shots of the mountains and the lake.

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Glen and the harbour. We watched with amusement as a dog who was too distracted with looking at Glen and almost fell over the side and into the water.

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Our next trip was to Fribourg, a town described in my Rough Guide to Switzerland as "one of Switzerland's best-kept secrets". It didn't disappoint. The town has some fantastic old buildings and some incredible views depending on your vantage point within it. From the top of the hill and stood next to the Collège St-Michel, you get this view down across the town:

IMG_0626 IMG_0624 Left: Le Cathédrale St-Nicolas and the view across the town. Right: The Collège itself

However, by paying 2chf per person, you can climb the (possibly) 368 (?) steps up to the tower for a 360 degrees view across the entire city. Beautiful (if a little scary; I don't think Glen does heights well!)

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By wandering around the town gives you various other opportunities for very touristy photographs; we took a walk down to "Auge" (another section of the town) and admired the view from below up towards the rest of the city (like every other place in Switzerland, Fribourg was on quite a steep hill).

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We also came across some people who, unlike the rest of the country (remember, this is a chocolate producing country; the month leading up to Easter you couldn't move in a supermarket without being attacked from all angles by gold-wrappered chocolate bunnies) has a sense of humour about the whole event...

IMG_0696 Poor little chick.

A few more picturesque shots:

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...followed by an ice cream (no picture... I expect you call all imagine it) and we were set to return back to Lausanne.


Next place on the agenda was the medieval castle, Château de Chillon, a beautifully located building sat right on Lake Geneva which involved a boat ride across the lake to reach (admittedly you can access it by train but this seemed the far more exciting route).

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As you can see, the weather wasn't brilliant, but we still got some good views across the lake (if nothing beyond) and certainly an exciting first impression of the castle from the water.


The inside was rather exiting too, although some of the castle had been "reconstructed" i.e. lots of the rooms had been redecorated in the early 1920s to try and recreate what they would have looked like in medieval times. I'm not sure that this was particularly successful for some, but the building itself was incredible. IMG_0752 IMG_0759

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Also, on a literary note, the castle and one of the prisoners kept there during its medieval past, were the inspiration for Byron's "Prisoner of Chillon" when he and Shelley visited the castle in 1816. Egotist as he was, he saw fit to engrave his own name onto one of the columns in the dungeon...vandal.




Since my visitors returned back to England my time here has been largely uneventful and mainly essay-filled as I attempt to overcome the mountain of work that my teachers have so kindly given me. However, tomorrow Ralph is coming to stay so I'm sure life will be exciting again... Well, hopefully we'll do some more travelling as that does seem to be the most interesting thing about being in this country. If that doesn't interest him, I sure he can be introduced to Switzerland's answer to promoting binge-drinking...10l columns of beer!

Week Six... Easter Holiday!

So here it is: I've reached the beginning of my sixth week here in Switzerland. Does it feel that long? It's odd because it feels like I've been here forever but not really long at all. Shame I hadn't been here forever because then I could talk like a native...but I guess that comes with time!


My first six weeks have been interesting, and I won't pretend they haven't been hard. Uprooting yourself once to go half way across the country is difficult enough, but doing it again and moving to an entirely different country where they speak rapid foreign words, use shiny silver currency that all looks the same and have public transport that actually runs on time can be a little bit traumatising. Although,  not all of it's hard to accept.


But yes, life has been difficult at times. For starters, there's getting used to the language and the people. Not only am I trying to learn French, but also trying to navigate the millions of other languages and nationalities present in my accommodation block. German and Spanish seem to be the prevailing languages; maybe I should have listened a little bit more in my German classes.


Also, there are my 18 hours of lectures per week to contend with, including an eight hour Thursday (six hours of which are taught in French). Going from my relaxing five hours per week at York (which, I will admit, are for most English students reduced to two due mainly to the stupid nature of our lectures which are frequently entirely irrelevant to the topic) to this is a bit of a culture shock. But the classes are interesting and I'm sure the French ones will be doing wonders for my knowledge of the language so it's really nothing to complain about. Also, it demands a lot of time to be spent in the library and with a spectacular view down to the lake and off across to the snow-capped mountains, it's enough to make someone actually want to spend some time in that building! No one can argue that the library at York has any similar effect on the students....


However, there  are loads of positive things that certainly outweigh the difficulties I may have experienced since being here. The country is beautiful. It has snowed here several times since I arrived. I have an ensuite. And I still can't get over how amazingly regular and reliable the buses are! I've also had several people over to visit me thus far which has helped retain a sense of my own country while I've been over here (even if I have attempted to introduce them to Swiss ways).


I've got a few cultural photographs to upload on here from trips to Les Diablerets, Berne and Neuchatel, and hopefully will have some more soon from trips over the next week. I'm hoping to visit Zurich to see the art gallery (despite it being a couple of paintings short) and hopefully other places such as Basel (it's a point in Switzerland where France, Switzerland and Germany meet), Lucerne and hopefully some others if I can scrape together the cash.


Mais en ce moment, Joyeuses Pacques pour tout le monde et bonsoir! xx


Berne - The Capital City of Switzerland

IMG_0383Beautiful clock (left)

View from the top of the clock (Right) IMG_0385IMG_0394  The Munster

Elspeth and The Last Judgement (Saved, Left of Picture, Damned, Right)

IMG_0397 Close up of The Last Judgement

IMG_0404Rosti! Local delicacy of grated potato with cheese and in this variation, a fried egg on top. Yummy!

IMG_0406 Berne means "Bears" in German so it is tradition to have bears in a pit at the edge of the city centre. Rather cruel.

Neuchâtel - Forty minutes from Lausanne by train

IMG_0489 Like Lausanne, Neuchâtel sits on the edge of a lake (Lac de Neuchâtel, funnily enough). This is a view across the harbour

IMG_0511 Admittedly slightly scary looking mechanical figurines in La Musée d'Art et d'Histoire. Created by watchmaker Jaquet-Droz in the 1770s, each figurine move in a certain way. The one on the left is the Draughtsman who sketches a little picture, the one in the middle is the Musician (who actually plays the piano with her fingers rather than the piano moving independently) and finally the Writer on the right who can write anything up to forty characters long. Unfortunately we didn't get to see them in action because they're only showcased once a month but the entire concept and the workmanship is rather impressing.

IMG_0525 Beautiful fresco painted in the entrance hall of La Musée d'Art et d'Histoire.

IMG_0529 IMG_0531 Collégiale Church


Les Diablerets - Snow shoeing. What an odd concept.

Lausanne Week 2_054Lausanne Week 2_067Lausanne Week 2_070 Lausanne Week 2_072 Lausanne Week 2_073 Les Raquettes! (You attach them to your shoes and apparently they make it easier to walk on snow... not sure I agree with that)

Lausanne Week 2_084 Beautiful sleepy little Swiss town in the mountains. There's a chalet there with my name on it...

Testing testing, one two three


Hey this is my first post on my new blog: seems to have died a sudden death and taken with it my first entry... anyone save the entry that I put on there because I didn't! Oops...
Anyway, this will be my new blog for the next couple of months and I will endeavour to update it reasonably frequently with pictures and ramblings on what I've been doing recently.
I've got loads of pictures (see the one below) of the mountains from a couple of weekends ago when I went to Les Diablorets for snow shoeing which itself was an experience... I will go into more detail in a future blog! The photographs of the mountains that I took are rather beautiful; made me realise quite how lucky I am to be living in this country!
Anyway, I will upload some pictures and then write a proper entry.
Chow xx

Lausanne Week 2_050