Well guys, I made it. I’m here in Lausanne, 5182.7 miles from little old Arlington, Texas. And, I gotta tell you…. IT’S AWESOME!
My flight over was pretty pleasant. And, coincidentally, two of the other gals from the Texas A&M program were on my connection in London to Geneva- cray cray, right?!? So, I flew into Geneva, went through customs where a rather large squinty guy looked at me, my passport, back to me, back to my passport for a few seconds, and then let me into the country. Got luggage? Check. Then, I asked my first French directions and found my way to the train station inside the airport. So far, so good.
So, I’m in the train station. I see these giant screens, find a few that say Geneva- Lausanne, and make my way to an electronic ticket machine where I magically navigate it in French, stick in my credit card and BOOM. Train ticket. I had 10 minutes to hustle down to the platform with my two suitcases and backpack before the train said au revoir! I opened the 2nd class door and pulled a total Hulk move, throwing both my suitcases into the seating area and hopping on before the train could leave. Sweating and out of breath, I crashed into the first open seat by some very nice people who chuckled at my amount of baggage but were wonderfully cordial all the same.
Once off the train, I grabbed a taxi to my youth hostel- a pretty easy deal for only about CHF 15. I dropped off my things, had some oatmeal, called Mom, patted down my slightly frizzed curly hair, and headed out into the wild Swiss yonder with my free hostel transport card and a map. I decided the best place to start was the center of town so I found a nearby bus stop called Bois-de-Vaux and whipped out my classy map. I sat there for about 10 minutes until I realized: the funny thing about buses is, you have one stop to go in one direction, and another stop to go in the other direction.
And I was totally about to go in the wrong direction.
Just then, a gaggle of school kids made their way to the bus stop. “Perfect!” I thought. As they approached, I flashed my best smile along with a jaunty “Bonjour” and proceeded to ask where the next bus stop was in French. Before I could finish, one short, plump girl, about 14, asked me a question that sounded like plain garble. Without thinking I said in my best French, “oh I’m sorry I don’t understand I’m American.”
Rule #1 when conversing with des jeunes Suisses: never, ever, under any circumstances, say you’re American.
Miss Sour Grape started rambling on about “how did I have the right to be there” blablabla. No mute button either. So I just politely decided to walk off….until I was walking in the complete wrong direction of the stop I was looking for. So I had to pass by the kids AGAIN, endure more heckling, and headed back to my hostel. Oh and it had begun to rain. Perrrrfect.
I went back to the hostel for a round-two self pep talk, grabbed my umbrella and went out again. Walking just ahead from the hostel was a very nice-looking older gentleman, about 75 or so. I figured, “Hey, if I didn’t have luck with the kids, might try an older generation.” As it turned out, his name was Deeter- he was German, spoke some English laced with a thick accent, and was also trying to figure out how to go into town. Score.
Deeter and I maneuvered our way through the bus to the metro and finally made it en ville. Deeter was only here until the next day and wanted to explore the main cathedrals in the area, all the while giving me these awesome history lessons over the construction of these buildings older than my country. He then took my to this little stone hilltop outside the church where you could see across Lac Léman all the way to Evian, France (yeah! the place with the water!!!)
Deeter and I said our goodbyes and I grabbed a café au lait and continued to mosey around the area
(It was delicious. Look at that FOAM)
As darkness began to fall, I popped in a small shop for a petite pain complet (aka small whole-wheat baguette) and some apples for a light dinner. I got a little turned around during all this and, well, totally lost the metro stop.It’s a little nerve-racking being in a new place for a few hours all alone.
Okay, VERY nerve- racking.
I started walking in a logical direction, found a bus driver and asked him where the metro was. I must have looked pretty frazzled because he laughed a little and said “Oh you’re almost there! It’s right here” and pointed to my left (all this is in French mind you and I feel pretty good about that after my incident with Miss Sour Grape).
So I found the metro, got on the bus and made it back without a scratch. I soon fell asleep for many, many, many hours with visions of delicious petite pain complets dancing in my head.
Talk to y’all soon!