Monday, 16 July 2007

Strange Swiss cities

This post covers our journey through the strange Swiss cities of Freibourg and Lausanne.

From Interlaken we headed north to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. We’d planned to look around the old town but after half an hour of searching for a car park we gave up. Almost all the car parks in town had a height restriction so we continued on southwest to Fribourg.

After we found a park for Ace we walked around the city for an hour. It was not really what we expected, one part was modern with shops, the other part around the old town was only mildly attractive with no major sights of interest. We looked for some Swiss chocolate shops but there were none. We continued onto Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. As we approached the city, vineyards cascaded down the steep slopes and towns were dotted along both sides of the lake.

Above: Freibourg
Below: Sarah before the attack of the midges, Lake Geneva

Our campsite was right next to the international Olympic headquarters and there were many sporting facilities nearby including the Pierre de Courbetin running track, an archery green, beach volleyball and cycling tracks. We set up next to an old guy from Northern Ireland and had a chat for 15 minutes as Sarah fed 3 ducks and some sparrows with stale bread. We then walked along the shores of Lake Geneva towards the city. We are pretty sure that this area has one of the highest populations of midges in the world! We walked and ran along trying to avoid plagues of these pesky creatures. It had been hot and sunny but a storm on the other side of the lake was rapidly approaching and it went quite cool. In the end we got the bus back with some pizza in tow!

The next morning we got up early and parked near the town. We then walked half an hour up steep slopes to the city centre. This was another strange Swiss city – some parts were very upper class with luxury goods shops, yet around the corner in front of the town hall, a couple dozen drug addicts shuffled around mumbling to each other. Our guide book raved about this city, but again, we thought it was only of passing interest. With 20 Swiss Francs to get rid of we finally managed to get our hands on some Swiss chocolate from a supermarket with the rest of the money buying a Starbucks mocha.

We headed along the motorway south towards the French border. We started to climb upwards when we noticed a sign saying Chamonix – Col des Montes Height restriction 2.5 metres, width restriction 2 metres. Were we now stuck in Switzerland with no way through to France? A german motorhome family turned up next to us in a restraurant car park on a hair pin bend of the mountain and told us they were worried, even though they’d driven this way a few years earlier. I checked with a waitress in the restaurant and she assured me there was no problem. Back to France we went, climbing up the steep slopes with Ace whizzing around the hairpin bends.

Above: Ace getting ready for his journey to France

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