12 August (continued)
I had about an hour in the Lyon train station before leaving for Geneva.
Though I spent countless hours on trains as I crisscrossed my way all over France, I took hardly any pictures from the train as it was moving since the windows were usually grimy and the fast speeds and annoying propensity for trees to pop into the window frame tended to blur or block any subject I tried to capture. But the ride to Geneva was stunning, and I made a few attempts that came out well:
The Alps, just barely visible in the distance from Lyon, began to creep up upon me as we got closer to the Switzerland border. Their craggy peaks and conifer-lined slopes were stunning.
I was in Geneva for all of about an hour and a half between trains on my way from Lyon to Lausanne, Switzerland. I didn't want to waste my time sitting in the train station, so I paid the ridiculous 8 CHF (Swiss Francs - funny fact, Switzerland is not part of the EU and, consequently, does not use the Euro - who knew) to store my luggage in a locker at the station so I could head out and explore a little. However, I didn't have a map of the city and I didn't want to get lost, so I just walked down to lac (lake) Léman, the big lake that marks much of Switzerland's southeastern border. It was a beautiful afternoon:
There is plenty of space to walk along the edge of the lake on a wide pedestrian path:
And many gorgeous buildings lining the lakeside - I can only imagine how much it must cost to live here...
...and have this incredible view:
I'm not sure what this building was, but I appreciated their super-reflective windows, as well as the terrace on top:
In Marseille, there were globes all over the city, apparently set up as an urban art project, like the cows in Bordeaux (give me a little time - I'll get there!) or, a few years ago, the crabs in Baltimore. There were globes in Geneva, too, but here they seemed to all be in a line.
Each one had some message - many were about global warming or social and civil responsibilities in the 21st century.
Geneva is at the southwestern-most tip of the Lake. Here, looking to the northeast, you couldn't see to the other side of the Lake.
I would estimate I walked about a mile along the lake - it was a very pleasant walk. Finally one last view back to the South, towards where I had come from:
I would have loved to see more of the city itself, but that will have to wait for my next visit. I walked back to the station with plenty of time to catch my train to Lausanne for the evening. It was about a 45 minute ride, and a very pleasant trip, through an idyllic green countryside. I'm not sure if this was a station, or just a restaurant that happened to be called "railroad" due to its proximity to the station, but isn't it adorable? Note, too, the vineyards stretching back along the gentle green hills that gradually rise into mountains.
I went to Lausanne to visit my good friend Justine who had come to see me the weekend before in Avignon and Orange. Justine, who is currently getting her PhD at KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), a new university in Saudi Arabia, spent the summer in Lausanne, Switzerland working in a lab on something relating to water desalination or something similar which is completely over my head. She was one of my closest friends in college, and now that we live seven time zones apart it was amazing to get to see her two weekends in a row in France and Switzerland!
Justine met me at the train station, and we went back to her apartment so I could drop off my bags and take a quick shower before we headed out to visit her colleague, Giulia, who had prepared dinner for us in her apartment. Giulia is Italian, and she made pasta with a homemade pesto and a quick eggplant parmagiana, all of which was magnifico - the pasta was a perfect al dente, the pesto was smooth and super flavorful and made with basil from her parent's garden and Sicilian olive oil pressed by a family friend. The eggplant parm, rather than being the standard breaded, fried and baked slices was diced eggplant pieces sauteed with a little onion and garlic, than baked with a simple tomato sauce and Parmagiano on top. Delizioso!
Giulia's apartment has a balcony with a view over the city and of lac Léman. We ate dinner on the balcony and watched as the sky darkened and the lights began to switch on across the lake in Evian, France. It was a lovely meal.
After dinner, the three of us met up with a few more of Justine's colleagues from her lab for a quick drink. It was a Thursday night, and the following day was Justine's last in the lab before she left Switzerland on Sunday - so it was something of a "good-bye." (Or, perhaps, since we were in Switzerland, an "Au revoir" - although the common language everyone used in the lab was English).
We woke up early since Justine had head to work and we both needed to do laundry. I ended up doing four loads that morning - hers and mine combined. Once that was finally done and everything was hung to dry, I headed to a grocery to pick up a few small items for breakfast/lunch - bread, goat cheese, an Alpine cured "pancetta", a hazelnut yogurt, and a banana. The cheese was inexpensive and it showed in the flavor - but it had a nice basic tanginess that went well with a little honey on bread reheated in the oven. The pancetta was nice - like Italian pancetta, it was cured but not smoked, and it had a sweet, meaty flavor with a hint of rosemary.
All day, Justine and I were in touch about whether we wanted to go up to Gruyère for the evening. There was a meteor shower that night, and we debated about whether it would be better to spend 90 CHF (about the same as 90 USD) to spend the night at an observatory to watch it, or whether it would be too cloudy to see anything, or whether we should just go down to the lake and try to see some meteors from Lausanne... Finally, at the last minute around 4 pm, we decided to go up to the observatory. I am so, so glad we did - it was probably the best part of my entire trip. But unfortunately, that is a post for another day.
Coming soon: Moléson-sur-Gruyère: our sunset hike through the clouds along Alpine peaks, with cowbells jingling in the distance. Wow.