Olympic Lausanne

It’s Election Day back home. I’ll be following CNNpolitics.com very closely today. Election day anxiety always hits me for some reason, even if I am in a foreign country. For the last “big” election I remember being in a hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City in January 2010. The race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat was heated, would Martha Coakley (D), the MA attorney general, be able to hold off Scott Brown (R)? It was a small election with a lot at stake-back then, it seemed as if the future of Obama’s health care reform was based on whether the Dems would control 60 Senate seats or not.

Now, we’re back at the midterm election. I cannot wait to see how this election pans out. One of these days, I will be stateside for an election. One day.

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I had a 3 day weekend this past weekend. In true Minh style, this means time to go Europe-trotting. This weekend was destination: Switzerland. So, Saturday morning I hopped two trains to head up to Lausanne, a city right on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman to them), in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Looking onto Lausanne and the surrounding areas from Lake Geneva

Market in Old Lausanne

I arrived in Lausanne at 10 am, perfect timing to check out the Lausanne market. Now, European people tend to really love doing their grocery shopping saturday (or sometimes sunday) mornings at open-air farmer’s markets. These markets have stall after stalls of fresh veggies, meats, cheeses, breads, olives, etc. There are markets everywhere on Saturdays in Europe. The thing about the Lausanne market is that it is integrated into the city center. There isn’t a big place where all the vendors set up; instead the market takes place on cobblestone roads in front of shops like Gucci. and H&M. and Rolex stores. It was quite the interesting juxtaposition of high fashion and everyday fruits and vegetables, but it works for the people who live in Lausanne I suppose! I tried a Swiss version of the “pain aux raisins” but it wasn’t as good as the French version which is more buttery and made of croissant pastries.

Street performers amusing children

Fall has arrived

Veggies!

I also took the time to go visit the most famous museum in Lausanne, the Musée Olympique. Lausanne takes great pride in the fact that the International Olympic Committee has dubbed it the “capital olympique.” Makes sense though; the headquarters of the IOC are right in Lausanne, which explains why most things in this city are sports-oriented. The Olympic Museum, right on the banks of Lake Geneva, was surrounded by lovely gardens with sports statues and many many flags. I don’t know if it was worth the 10 CHF to go in with a student card, but I am certainly glad I went. The museum had the torches from all the previous olympics and also many medal samples. I have to say that the weirdest medal I remember seeing were the ones from Vancouver 2010; they weren’t just flat disks but they were wavy! Quite interesting. There were also displays such of bobsleds, skis, runners’ shoes, etc. Very sportive. A must see for anyone super athletic or anyone who just likes the Olympics!

Flags in front of the Olympic Museum, overlooking Lake Geneva

An Olympic gymnast's uniform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing I want to tell you about are the Lavaux Vineyards. Dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 and described in a tour book as, “What a sight God and humans have made: terraced vineyards, picturesque villages, mountains and a deep-blue lake — [the Lavaux Vineyards are] a work of art.” The Lavaux vineyards are nourished by 3 suns: rays from the sun, reflected light from the surface of Lake Geneva and the warmth stored in the stone walls of the vineyard terraces. Any train ride that goes east of Lausanne will allow you to see these beautiful golden vineyards. I think if I go back to Lausanne, it will be to take a tour of these vineyards (tours operate April to October). These vineyards are truly beautiful.

Part of the extensive Lavaux vineyards; view from a train window

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