Friday, June 5, 2015

my top five reasons to revisit Lausanne-Ouchy, Switzerland

I was lucky to have been selected as one of the young scientist attendees at the Nestlé Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. Thank you to the people who made one of the items in my bucket list become a reality! 

And so (as per usual), I only prepared clothes for the conference. I didn't know anything about where I was going outside conference hours. I didn't even know that many of the people I would be interacting with, outside of the conference, did not (or refused to) converse with me in English. And little did I know that I was staying in a VERY DIFFERENT part of Lausanne compared to the conference venue. So, I read up about the place a bit while I was exploring the area. Thanks to Wikipedia, Google Maps, Compagnie Générale de Navigation, I was able to learn more about the village; and my trusty Nikon D60, my Sony Action Camera, and my iPhone, because I was able to capture the beauty of the place.

Here's what I've gathered... and I'll add more information as I read more about Lausanne-Ouchy.

Lausanne-Ouchy is a port town and a popular tourist destination (after all, Lac Léman is surrounded partly by Lausanne-Ouchy). I immensely enjoyed my stay in this area, albeit the shortness. While walking around on my first night, I promised myself that I would go back here on vacation and explore Switzerland even more... I will be back AND will be speaking in French by then. Promise. 

Here are a few reasons why I'll go back:

#1 The hotels
The hotel I stayed at is called Hotel du Port. Don't be deceived by the relatively small façade of this hotel because my room was big enough for a family of four people! Despite the size, the room was really very cozy. But aside from the room, the highlight of my stay at Hotel du Port was the breakfast at its restaurant. The maître d'hotel always welcomed me warmly and it made me feel instantly at home in my temporary home. I think I was winding down my stay in Ouchy when she asked me why I always looked happy; I told her because I was really happy for being in sunny Switzerland. If Ouchy were the standard of how beautiful this part of Switzerland is, who would be in his/her right mind not to be happy to be there, right? I mean, just look at some of the pictures I took!

street-side cafes
The Hotel Aulac. Wow!
I thought Disney princess stories came true when I saw this castle: Chateau d'Ouchy.

#2 Lake-side vistas

For me, the lake-side area of Lausanne-Ouchy was an interesting place for strolling. If I were not staying in Lausanne-Ouchy, I'm almost sure I'd end up here in one way or another. Why it's worth the visit? Lausanne-Ouchy provides beautiful views of the other side of the lake (i.e., France) and of the Alps. For this tropical girl, it was quite disconcerting to see the mountains still capped with snow IN SUMMER! In fact, I got so intrigued by the snow-capped peaks of Dents du Midi that I rode on a ferry to get a closer look! The resort towns of Thonon-les-Bains and Evian-les-Bains (yes, as in Evian, the expensive bottled water) were also pretty to look at from the Lausanne-Ouchy side of Lac Léman. 

Aside from the Alps and the French towns, I could also see the shore leading to Vevey. Between Lausanne and Vevey (which I knew is where Nestlé has its global headquarters) lies the Lavaux, a grape vineyard region. Then there's Montreux, which I've heard has a statue of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen who died of AIDS in the 1990s.

Lac Léman is a major transportation hub, it appears, because there were so many boats and watercraft in the water. In fact, I could see a few ferries transporting people to the different lakeside towns. Since it's summer, I was also looking for jet-skis and wakeboarders. If there were wakeboarders, I would have found out how much it would cost to wakeboard there.

#3 Relaxing stroll on the quay
Tree-lined, with lots of beautiful gardens and promenades; that's my first impression of the quay when I saw it. I enjoyed walking around, taking in the sights... there weren't a lot of people and it felt more peaceful and wholesome than Manila's Baywalk (when it was still dotted with bars and concert stages). 
Hat seller

A gardener tending the summer flowers by the quay
I was told people drink directly from the fountain here. Uhm... no, thanks. I'm not used to drinking naturally clean water (anymore).
#4 Starting point for border crossings
Seeing France is enough... not for me! With France at plain sight, I wanted to actually go there! Thanks to the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN), I was able to visit Thonon-les-Bains with other Nestlé Conference young scientists. It was a relatively fast border crossing; far shorter than taking the train around the lake. Because of the CGN making my trip to France possible, one of my imagined versions of France was corrected: there's no background accordion/violin music while walking on the streets of Thonon-les-Bains! Oh well, it's only in the movies, I guess.

#5 Photography
I guess that this is an obvious reason, because I took a lot of photos in this portside town. Unfortunately, I've only been in Ouchy for a few days. I didn't get a chance to take sunset photos from this side of the lake (although I did from Thonon). And I've been there when it was raining too... The place is beautiful even with the rain at night; I just didn't bring my tripod along for the additional stability so I didn't attempt anymore. In times like these, I opt to watch the view (in this case, the reflection on the wet street) than worry about not catching it on camera. As Noan once said: enjoy now, post later. In this case, enjoy now and keep the memory in my head.