We've done a bit of venturing today - exactly what the trip is all about. Thanks to the fucking brilliant Swiss rail system, our InterRail tickets have suddenly given us a whole new sense of freedom, and today we've used that to see more of this incredible country.
We're still in Lausanne currently... after being unable to book a hostel (for a reasonable price anyway) in the place we visited on the train today, we decided to use Lausanne as base from which we could go and visit other places if we wanted to. This was definitely a good idea. It was easy to do and saved us a shit load of money, and it'll still be easy to move on to the next place we're staying tomorrow.
The weather's been a bit more on the cloudy side today - the weather forecast said it would be - but it's still good to see stuff in different weather, not the usual blue sky and sunshine that we've been used to. But when it has been sunny, it has been really good too.
We've taken things quite easily today. Although we've done quite a bit of walking, we haven't been standing around in places too long or been rushing around a lot, so our legs aren't aching at all really. Switzerland is such a good place to be lazy in... you can enjoy the views and that way you spend less money too!
In fact I'm too lazy to write any morein this introduction, so now I'll get on and take you through today's events.
So we planned last night that the first thing we were going to do this morning was to go shopping.
As you should know by now (considering the amount I've moaned about it on this blog), prices for EVERYTHING in Switzerland is fucking ridiculous. So we've been avoiding buying food as much as possible.
As you should also know by now, food is essential for life. So it came to a point where we had to buy food somewhere, but it needed to be as cheap as possible.
We hadn't found any cheap supermarkets at all since we'd been here, and we'd been looking EVERYWHERE. We needed to talk with the locals.
So we went to the receptionist in the hostel and asked if there were any cheap places to buy groceries.
She said about 'Co-op', which we'd already seen, but then she told us about a place called 'Migros', which is very very cheap comparatively, and was quite near the hostel.
So this was the place we headed after showering and getting dressed.
MIGROS IS THE BEST FUCKING PLACE IN THE WHOLE WORLD.
If you look at the last blog post at the picture of the poster 'You know you're Swiss when...', you'll see one of the things is 'You love Migros and you swear that some of their products are better than anything you've ever seen elsewhere'. This is SO TRUE.
I guess this shows that we've definitely picked up on some aspects of Swiss culture!
Our hostel doesn't serve breakfast, so we had to buy our own, as well as food for the rest of the day. There is a kitchen though, so we can cook our own stuff, which is what we did in the end.
We bought: a big loaf of bread, half a dozen eggs, 4 big hot-dog style sausages, 4 apples, a bag of salad, a big pot of natural yoghurt, a pack of 18 fish fingers and a MASSIVE pack of biscuits.
The fish fingers cost 1,80 Swiss Francs. That's 10 cents, or 7p in Pounds Sterling, per fish finger. WHAT THE FUCK.
In the pack of biscuits there must be about 70 biscuits, and they probably cost less than a Franc.
So much better than we'd seen elsewhere.
In total, the shop cost 17 Swiss Francs, which is pretty good for all the things we bought...the equivalent of £11.40. So much better than we could have got anywhere else.
We got back to the hostel and we cooked up a really nice breakfast of messy eggs, some of the sausages chopped up and bread. It was AMAZING.
I did have to wash up though...yay.
So after feeding ourselves, we decided what we were going to do today.
First on the list was to go down to the lake, which we hadn't been to in Lausanne yet, and visit the Olympic Park which was nearby. Lausanne is where the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee is, so there is quite a big focus on the Olympics here.
We walked to the train station, which takes less than 5 minutes, and got on the metro down to 'Ouchy' (the name still makes me laugh), which is right by the lake.
This area of Lausanne by the lake is beautiful.
There are a lot of interesting features and stuff, which mixes with the view over the lake and the mountains really well. Here are some pictures we took after we walked around near the metro station:
It was really warm and humid at the time we were walking round too, and when we saw people swimming and riding pedalos in the lake, it looked SO TEMPTING.
But we didn't have any swimming stuff with us or anything, so we carried on round to the Olympic Park.
On the way, we saw these billboard things with images from previous Olympic games in London. At first we wondered why it was centred so much around London, and then we remembered...OH YEAH, there's this thing called the Olympic Games that's happening in London soon. Not like we haven't known about it for the last 7 years or something.
We got to the park, which was quite small but nice for a stroll around. They had some interesting sculptures and stuff and like everywhere in Switzerland, it was nice and quiet. Here are some pictures we took:
The fountain at the entrance.
This one was called 'La Vela', meaning 'the sail' in Spanish (it was by a Spanish artist). I liked the concept.
This one was based around the bone structure of the human foot and about an athlete's ability to maximise what their body is capable of (according to a nearby sign).
Called 'Nageur' or 'Swimmer' in English.
One of those flames that don't go out, whatever you call them, I've forgotten.
So it was a nice little walk, and what was best was that the time we spent here fitted in perfectly with the time that we wanted to get the train to the place that we wanted to visit.
So after this, we headed back to the metro station.
By the time we got to the main train station, we had ages before the time when we wanted to get our train, so we headed one station further on the metro to have a look around for 10 minutes. Sam took some photos of architectural shit he liked. Here's one of them:
So we then went back to the main station and actually got on a train earlier than we expected.
So the place we went to is called Thun.
It is a small town to the east of Lausanne which took about 1 hour 45 minutes to get to by train. It sits on its own lake and from pictures we'd seen it was beautiful. As I said earlier, we'd planned to stay here, but it was so expensive, and given that a day trip was easy to manage from Lausanne, it was a good idea.
To get there by train, we had to get a 1-hour train to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, and then it was a 30-minute train ride to Thun.
The train rides were amazing. On the way there, we were on the top of a doiuble-decker train to Bern which was cool, and the views on the train between Bern and Thun were stunning.
During the second leg of the journey, we saw daunting black clouds in the distance over the mountains, and were worried that we might get rained on as soon as we got there, but luckily for us it held off and we really got the best of the weather there.
So we left Lausanne at about 16.20pm and got into Thun just before 6pm. This gave us a couple of hours to have a look around before getting the train back.
Thun is a fascinating, historic and beautiful place. Just wandering around was a pleasure, and in our short time there, we managed to see a lot of the town. Perhaps it was good that we didn't stay there as we'd planned, because we might have struggled to find stuff to do - the time we had was just about right to really get a feel of what the place was like.
Firstly, we headed in the direction of the centre of town from the train station. Here's what we saw:
It's the Titanic!!!
The water in the river was very blue - clearly snowmelt from the mountains.
And then we saw the castle.
It's like something out of a fairytale. In fact, a lot of the town was. It was so picturesque and even at this point we were so glad we came here.
It looked really nice with the church too.
After heading up the main high street for a little while, we decided to walk in the direction of the castle to get a bit closer. Here are some pictures we took on the way:
We figured that this must be one of the main symbolic flags of Thun; we saw a few.
We ended up in this lovely square...but there was no one else there! If this had been Spain or Italy, it probably would have been packed with tourists, but it was almost completely deserted.
The covered steps on the way towards the castle.
At the top of these steps, you could either head to the castle or the cathedral. We chose to head to the castle first, but not before admiring some interesting depictions that were above our heads at the time.
During the short walk to the castle, we got a lovely view over the town and the mountains.
We eventually got to the castle, but there was literally NO ONE there.
The entrance was open, so we walked in, but it was completely deserted. What was going on?
Here are the pictures that we took in the opening of the castle:
I walked up to where a sign pointed for 'Tickets', but the room it pointed to was closed.
I guess we couldn't go inside the castle.
We did then hear a spontaneous round of applause coming from inside the castle, which, coupled with a sign we saw earlier with a list of dates and times for events in the castle, told us that it was closed for an event.
Still, it was nice to have a quick look around.
Next stop: church. It was only a short walk away.
We still didn't see anyone. We hadn't seen anyone for about 25 minutes; it was eerily quiet. Like in a fucking horror film or something.
This is the church:
We saw a sign saying opening times, and unfortunately we were too late to go in. But we still got some nice pictures around the outside of the cathedral.
We did finally find another human being, although he was MEDITATING ON A WALL. As you do.
We decided to head back towards the main part of the town to see what else we could find,
We ironically found a shop/tea room called 'A Slice of Home', which sold pretty much everything stereotypically British.
So that was fun to look at for a few minutes.
We got back to the river and found a beautiful wooden bridge.
Here are the pictures we took going towards it and across it:
Probably the best view of the old part of the town.
The river flowing under the bridge. You can still see how blue the water was.
The inside of the bridge. We liked how you could see all the inner workings and structure of it as you passed through it.
We saw a path alongside the river after the bridge, and decided to follow it. It's so good to have this freedom!
More riverside pictures:
An example of the incredible houses they have here. Considering how expensive everything is, these people must be seriously rich.
A quaint cottage by the river.
We followed the path around further, and encountered this interesting building, which had no signs to indicate what it was for...still it looked good.
At this point, we could see trains going past, and sure enough, we were right back near the train station.
We sat down by the river and ate some fruit, and then decided what our next move was going to be.
We didn't really know what else to do. We'd already seen so much amazing stuff. If we got the train back when we'd planned to, we'd have only had a very short window in which we could cook our dinner before cooking stuff was no longer allowed in the hostel. If we headed back earlier, it would give us more flexibility.
So this is what we did. And it was great timing too, as it was clouding over much more.
The train journey back was lovely again, and we also got to go on another double-decker train. We saw an amazing sunset as we got to Lake Geneva and close to Lausanne. If we took photos from the train, it wouldn't have done it justice, but I wish I could have shown it you.
When we got back to the hostel, we cooked most of our fish fingers and used the salad and bread to make FISH FINGER SANDWICHES. So fucking good (and very student-like!).
And that was pretty much the extent of what happened!
It's Jack from the future again. I will catch up completely some day.
I've been writing this from Zermatt in the south of Switzerland, where we have been today and where we are staying tonight.
WE ARE GETTING THE FUCKING GLACIER EXPRESS TOMORROW.
So exciting!!! It's gonna be an amazing experience. We're already like 1,200m above sea level!
If you don't know what the Glacier Express is, check out my blog post 'Preparations', which tells you a bit about it.
But yeah, I've had to rush this post a bit because I really need to get to bed. I want a decent night's sleep so that I'm properly awake for the 8-hour train ride tomorrow. So I'm sorry if it's been lacking in funny stuff but I hope you've enjoyed the pictures. Thun was unbelievable.
I think I'm gonna do two posts in one tomorrow...today's events and tomorrow's combined. That could work. But I might not too. So..........well basically that was a pointless sentence so I'll just go and bang my head against a brick wall.
But anyway, thanks for reading, and good night. Stay tuned!!
Jack - 20/6/12 - 01:31 in Zermatt, 00:31 in the UK