Waking up in Switzerland is easy, because there are so many things to see and do. I kid I kid. We still needed the sharp shrill of the alarm clock to get out of bed. Jet lag wasn’t that bad and whatever discomfort we felt from it was immediately dismissed into the back of our minds when we saw what was on display on the breakfast buffet spread.
“Bacon and eggs,” I said.
“Yoghurt and cereal.”
“Toasted bread and jam.”
“More bacon and eggs.”
After all that eating, we had to burn it out. What better way to do that than exploring Lausanne from top to bottom. Literally. A typical map won’t do this place justice. You need the topographical map. Lausanne sits on a gradual sloping hill right down to the water’s edge. It isn’t that apparent with all the buildings around. But once you start walking, those aching sensation in your thigh and calf muscles will give a good indication as to what you’re facing.
Our first visit of the day — Place Riponne. We were there early and had the opportunity to witness some flea market owners set up their stalls. They were selling anything and everything, from old books to old records; home made embroidery and jewellery. The place could hold up to a hundred stalls if needed. It was THAT big. The imposing structure you see is called Palais Rumine.
There are five museums located in the Palais Rumine. All having free entry on the first Saturday of the month.
“Guess how many museums they have in there?” I quizzed the rest.
“Nah. Must be two only.”
“Unfortunately, it is five.” I answered back. Yes, you heard it right. Five museums currently reside there. They are the Museum of Archaeology and History, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Geology, Museum of Zoology and the Museum of Numismatics.
After having learnt my lesson during the last European tour, I decided to give all the above museums a miss. Switzerland is all about the scenery, time to really indulge in that. Place Riponne is easily accessible by the Metro system. That should shave some time off from walking. Not to mention, it will give your heart a break too.
Taking Rue Madeleine, we arrive at Place de la Palud. Another square made famous by the old Town Hall located right next to the fountain. This is also the start of the shopping district of Lausanne. All cobblestoned roads lead to shopping is probably the by-word here. It is also a car-free zone, so don’t worry if you suddenly decided to take a rest in the middle of the road, you can.
Fortunately most of the shops were just opening for business, I wasn’t going to babysit QS on her shopping trip. We made a detour into Escaliers du Marché.
“Hey, this looked familiar,” said Dad.
He was referring to one of the Lausanne amateur travel videos on YouTube. The guy filmed about five minutes on this particular area. The stairs can be traced back to the 18th century. It connects the lower shopping area of Place de la Palud to the higher Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Lausanne. Climbing these steps will give you an idea of how Lausanne is actually layered.
The cathedral is located right at the exit of the stairs. Compared to THE Notre Dame of Paris, there were no queues here. We were probably one of the earliest there. Church entry is free and it is famous for its Rose Window. Unless you bring along a binoculars, you will need to strain your neck to enjoy the Rose Window. It is made up of the Zodiac and also the months of the year. You could buy the smaller version at the gift shop.
Actually, my main aim for visiting this particular cathedral is to climb its tower. For CHF4 per person and with no lifts, this is the best way to gauge your cardiovascular status and also your fear of heights. The views at the top? Breathtaking to say the least. With nothing to block your view, you get a 360-degree view of the town. It is definitely better than the one we had at Sauvabelin.
Tip: If you want excitement, try to reach the top before the hour is up. Stay clear of the bells! Ding! Dong!
(to be continued)