Rain has begun falling intermittently from the dark skies as the weekend draws to a close. Thinking back to where I was only a week ago, I find it interesting to think about how life can seem to change as quickly as the weather here in Rennes.
Seven days ago, I was making my way back from Lausanne, Switzerland, after having spent the weekend with friends whom I met during their exchange year at Glendon in 2010-2011. The experience was phenomenal. From our first encounter in the Lausanne train station to grabbing a quick ice cream in Vevey before rushing to grab the train back, it all felt surreal, and yet I was totally at ease. Comparable perhaps to a dream where you can’t quite believe your eyes, but you continue to go along for the ride.
My adventure in Lausanne began at my friend’s flat. We had something to eat and I met her Swiss friends and learned more about the neutral country. For instance, there still exists mandatory military (or civil, if the state determines your reason to opt out of military service is valid) service for all men who have reached 20 years old. As well, contrary to what I had always thought, the French-speaking population of Switzerland is a minority, comprising only 20% of the overall population of 8 million. Later on in the night, a large group of us went out to give the couple of us foreigners a glimpse of what the nightlife could be like. The city was incredible. Built on a slope, cars wind up and down through the city above Lake Geneva featuring a backdrop of the mountains.
The next day, after a fantastic breakfast, the three of us headed towards the mountains to hike up to Lac de Taney,
where we spent a few hours relaxing by the water before having dinner at the Restaurant-Auberge Chez Nicole.
Dinner was a platter of charcuterie and cheese, a huge pot of fondue (real fondue, none of that chocolate nonsense) moitié-moitié, which means it’s an even mixture of gruyère and fribourg vacherin, followed by a sampling of some digestifs (alcoholic beverage served after a meal to aid digestion, and considering how I felt after all that delicious fondue, it was needed!) before heading back down in the dark.
My last day in Switzerland was less strenuous, but no less exciting. It began a little late (we all needed rest after the workout from the day previous) with an amazing brunch at Folie Voltaire in Parc Mon-Repos. After a jaunt through the park, we went for a drive through the vineyard that covered the hillsides, stopping occasionally for some photos, and to taste the grapes of the vineyard my friend’s family owns. Afterwards, we headed off to Vevey to catch some of the IMAGES visual arts festival. We all tried our hand at an exhibition called SHOOT!, wherein you shoot a target with a pellet gun, and if successful enough, your photo would be taken in the act of shooting. However, only my Swiss friend was successful at getting the right shot.
What followed the festival was a walk along the edge of Lake Geneva in Vevey, taking in the scenery and some ice cream before having to head back into Lausanne to grab luggage and catch the train. A calm end to a crazy weekend, my first European adventure as a foreign exchange student drew to an end. Though there is an awfully lot of amazing places around this continent that I feel (and have been told) I should be exploring, I would never regret returning to the Confoederatio Helvetica before heading back home.