Our last day in amazing, magnificent Switzerland was spent in the French-speaking town of Lausanne. (That’s pronounced lo-ZAHN by the way, and you better make sure you’re saying in right!) We had been planning to go to Bern, but a quick read in Rick Steves’ book made me change my mind at the last minute, the clincher being that THE OLYMPIC MUSEUM IS THERE! Did you know we are Olympic fanatics?!
I spent most of the great train ride through the western Swiss countryside trying to brush up on my conversational French and Zack spent most of his time catching up on Go Call Saul.
A couple hours later we were stuffing the lockers in the train station with our backpacks and taking the local public transit down to Lake Geneva. Literally, down. Lausanne is a steep lakeside town and once you get on their public transit at the main train station, you are halfway between “uptown” and “downtown.” It’s kind of disorienting to be standing there, because the train is actually on a slant. So weird but very cool! Like most other Swiss cities, your Swiss Pass covers your public transportation.
We decided to go “down” town and grab a bite before heading to the Museum. The lakeside is just beautiful! Full of skateboarders, people playing on huge chess boards, and little food stands selling gelato and sandwiches. It kind of has a boardwalk feel, but in the way that a town that straddles France and Switzerland only can feel. From what we would tell, the food stands are definitely the cheapest lunch in town, but there is a Co-Op grocery store a block down where you can grab some picnic provisions. We had a couple of Caprese sandwiches and they weren’t too bad at all!
And then: The Olympic Museum. Le Musée Olympique. There was much rejoicing. We. Love. The. Olympics.
The statue of Pierre de Coubertin overlooking the eternal Olympic flame and Lake Geneva is pretty awe-inspiring. It was cloudy the day we were there, but on a sunny day, he must have a great view of the French Alps!
To enter, you walk under a high jump bar that is set to the height of the men’s world record.
The inside is filled with beautifully curated memorabilia, a living history of the games, and even hands-on exhibits and activities.
Upon seeing the autographed basketball from the 1992 Dream Team, I decided to record the following for hometown celeb Charles Barkley:
Anyway, of course Atlanta was our favorite Olympiad! I was in middle school when the next city over from ours hosted in 1996. I remember taking a field trip to Atlanta in the 6th grade and seeing them finishing up all of the venues. We even went to the Japan-Italy Mens game at Legion Field here in Birmingham, since the soccer games were played here. I also vividly remember a men’s soccer team walking around the Galleria shopping mall one while I was there with my best friends for my 12th birthday. I don’t remember what country they were from, but I remember gaping at them as they walked by and the smiles we got in return. Whew.
If you’re anywhere near Lausanne while in Switzerland or the Swiss-French boarder, then GO TO THERE! You will love this charming little lakeside town and all the fun that comes with it being the home of the International Olympic Committee.
We took a late train to the Geneva Airport, got there about 11pm, and napped on the floor until 4am when we could check in for our flight to…Marrakesh! “A right bonkers vacation,” as a British lady we met in Morocco who lives in Lausanne told us! (And we’re quite proud of that!)
I also want to give a shout-out to my TOMS Nepal boots, that kept my feet warm and toasty in the Swiss winter weather! (Good travel tip: waterproof your shoes before you go so the snow doesn’t get your feet wet!)
Sadly I have no photos of our time on the floor of the Geneva Airport, but I really wish I did, because it was quite the experience! (To sum it up in case it could be good advice for anyone else: we are pretty rugged and cheap when we travel, often opting for hostels and picnic lunches when we’re abroad. RyanAir had a cheap flight from Geneva to Marrakesh so we knew we were going to fly out of there to get to Morocco, but it left first thing in the morning, and to stay in Geneva for the night would have meant getting an expensive hotel room in France and paying a hefty taxi fee to pick us up around 3:30 am and take us back across the boarder. Not to mention that our rail passes only covered Switzerland, so we would have had to pay for a taxi from Geneva into France late at night too. What’s 4 hours on the floor of an airport when the alternative is 3 hours in an expensive hotel room the next country over? It would have cost us something like $225 when it was all said and done, and we just couldn’t justify that at all! The Geneva Airport is closed from midnight to 4am by the way, so it’s nice and quiet, and filled with other budget backpackers who are doing the same thing. Get there a little before midnight, grab a quick snack, brush your teeth in the bathroom, and a few hours later you can rest up at your next destination!)
Anyway, to wrap it all up, Switzerland was amazing, clean, friendly, filled with wonderful history and beautiful scenery, and worth the expense it costs to stay there, even for a few days. And I hope these blog posts have helped give some ideas on how to save money while you’re there! Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions at all and I’d be so happy to help! And feel free to check out my posts on Zürich, Mürren and Gimmelwald, and Lauterbrunnen,