We’ve been living in a lovely little town for the last week in the Canton de Vaud, a French-speaking region of the south of Switzerland surrounding Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Leman). We are quite near the town’s boulangerie where they have simple and amazing sandwiches made from their homemade baguettes, plus many pastries and a really tasty homemade ice cream. I had no idea, but you can’t go very far in this area without passing vineyards, as apparently they produce a lot of wine here. It must not get exported, at least not to the States. Our host who we are housesitting for said that the wine “isn’t very good” but I think she cares more about that sort of thing than we do, so I’ll have to try some and report back.
While everything is quite expensive, wine and cheese (depending on what you get) can sometimes be quite reasonable and there’s lots of wonderful options in the grocery store for picnic food. The amount of cured meats, fresh summer fruits and chocolate bars alone! Pair that with a stunningly blue lake and it’s really easy to see why we see people out and about along the lake even on a Monday afternoon, lounging with food, swimming and taking their friends on their boat. We are poor in comparison (and, alas, boat-less), but the chance to live here and take in the scenery makes us feel very rich indeed. The Swiss life seems to be slower paced than us, especially in the summertime when school is out and entire businesses such as the hairdresser in town close for a month so that the family can go on holiday.
Switzerland, despite its smaller size, has four languages and depending on where you are, the news and signs and language spoken around you changes. You have German in the north, French in the west, Italian in the south, and some Roma sprinkled in there too (of the Romani gypsy people). Every small town here, at least on the lake, seems to have a castle or at least a really old significant building of some kind. Ours has a church that is over 1000 years old. It’s sobering, really.
We are here for a month sitting for a sweet dog named Ted. He’s a fluffy terrier with a bit of confidence issues. Despite him being incredibly shy and sulky when we first started here, going so far as to sleep every day and go on a hunger strike, Matt displayed his usual knack for getting dogs to love him.
Ted now happily follows Matt around, even occasionally gives a tail wag when they are about to go out for a walk. I think the owner was surprised at how quickly Ted warmed up, and I think we should get Matt his own reality show about animals. Well, it’d be entertaining, at least.
I’ve been laying low for a while and haven’t gotten out as much as I’d like due to prolonged allergy suffering, but it’s because everything is in bloom here. On a day we did get out, we took a walk with Ted through the vineyards and sunflower fields, and we picked a really pretty bouquet of wildflowers.
They have a lot going on this summer, including a large music festival called Paleo, the Swiss national holiday on August 1st with fireworks over the lake, and the recently completed Montreux Jazz music festival. Despite its name they actually had lots of different kinds of music, both paid and free acts, from classical to jazz to silent EDM discos at 1 am.
This was a jazz orchestra from Prague. It was fun in that they had a really dynamic strings section, and played some numbers that I would have loved to have played back in college.
I’m hoping once I get back on my feet more and feel a little less fuzzy headed (that’s sinus issues for you) I’ll have some goals and things to keep me occupied. Feeling a bit useless and all. It was nice to take some time to play the tourist in London, and there are things here I want to visit…for example, France is just across the lake and there are some medieval towns there that are supposedly very nice to visit, and there are some neat chateaux here and lots of walking paths to explore. It’s just a stark difference from our last housesit. I had so many responsibilities and goals there, that I filled my days with things to do to help our family and work on the farm. Ted doesn’t need us much here – he sleeps, mostly, with a couple walks a day – so I’m figuring that out. I realize it’s a really nice problem to have, and not one that many get to have, and I don’t want to waste it. Also there’s a lot of chances to practice my French here, including conversation meetups, but I’ll admit that my fear of failure is getting in the way of putting myself out there. Anyway! You probably came here to see pictures, not delve into my issues with work and rest. I hope to have some exciting adventures and linguistic risk takings to report on next time. À bientôt!