Monday, January 5, 2009

Au Revoir Les Contamines - hello Lausanne!

Not much to say about Thursday as it is supposed to be my day of rest - André was in charge of the kiddos. After the new year's party, all were exhausted and it was almost 11am and they still hadn't left the house - frustrant! They ended up going sledding again and working more on the igloo - we ended up having candy by candle light in the igloo that evening - very fun. I spent the limited free time I had simply blogging - journaling my time and adventures here is becoming very important to me. (as you, my loyal readers, must have figured out by now) I don't really know what will happen to this blog in the end - sometimes I fear it is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." But yet, I write on! I have finally caught up, but, since I lost the internet cable, I will not be able to post the blogs with the pictures until this weekend (or later!). Then I took a long shower and ate lunch in peace - I thought I might read a book but ended up packing for our return home. The kids are really sad to leave Les Contamines - Callie says she wants to live here for the next 2 years and Zander says he is NOT leaving. Griffin is happy since we are going to go back to France (he doesn't seem to get that the Alps (at least this part) are IN France).

Now it is early Friday morning, Mark is supposed to take a 6:55 am bus to meet us in Lausanne and doesn't leave the house until 6:53 - well, he misses the bus (or maybe it doesn't come?) and André has to drive him an hour round trip to the train station - making our departure later than anticipated. We make it to Lausanne around noon and meet Mark at the train station - we eat lunch there and then head for the bathroom (which, as is not uncommon around here) you have to PAY to enter. Personally, I just think it's wrong. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness - don't these basic rights include a free place to pee? Lausanne is a nice town - we had ZERO idea of what would be there but just figured there had to be something. Well, we were right. We stopped at the tourist office for a map and then wandered around to see the inevitable cathedrals. I was absolutely in love with the paintings on the ceilings of the first small cathedral we stopped in. It never ceases to amaze me how each place has it's own unique feature that catches at my heart.

We then headed towards the larger Cathedral of Lausanne - there has been some sort of church at this site since 300 AD. Some parts of the old church are under reconstruction ( interesting to see things like brand new flying buttresses - are there special architects in Europe that work on cathedrals?) and other parts are just falling apart. Good thing they have duct tape, as you can see! The kids were especially interested in some of the tombs in this cathedral. There were several tombs featuring the skull and cross bones - that is - pirate signs! Zander decided some bad pirates must have decided they wanted to go to heaven and so left all their treasure to the church so they could be bad but still get buried there and end up in the right place (not too far off what indulgences were, right?) But wait, there was more - this cathedral also had a tomb of a real live princess (or, maybe I should say, a real dead princess). After this visit, Mark remarked that all the cathedrals start to look the same to him - I couldn't disagree more - I love to see the wondrous variety of creations that the people have made over the centuries. Guess that's part of the reason why I like to travel Europe, and why every little town interests me.

We headed up the hill towards a castle, which we couldn't enter. But we saw this really neat public water fountain from 728 AD - as pictured, I guess Mark was thirsty. I also thought the sundial outside the castle was really fun - it only featured the numbers for daytime hours and said (in french) I only work when the sun is shining! (not sure about Lausanne's climate, but if it is anything like Besancon, that isn't all too often!) The quote next to the owner of the castle (an early governor of Lausanne) was interesting too - I will be judged, not by my life, but by what follows from my works while I lived.

We just keep on walking and head down a really amazing ancient street - here is Mark with the cathedral looming over him. We keep heading down and stop at a square dedicated to the memory of the great Joan of Arc. In a bit of happy coincidence, it happens to be 3pm when we arrive and we are treated to a show from a giant coocoo clock that is part of the wall of a shop near the square - there are figures that come out from several different doors and music and voices that play - the kids absolutely love it. We have now finished the tourist office map and decide we are going to walk back toward the train station - I fall in love with the orange building you see pictured below.

Well, here we are in Lausanne with a bit more time to burn - Mark's train doesn't leave until 7pm. We keep seeing Olympic rings everywhere and find out why. Voila! It turns out that Lausanne is home to the IOC and the Olympic Museum - we decide to visit the museum before we go. We walk together down to the train station and discover a giant tree. Our family hugs truly giant trees whenever we find them. We couldn't span this one with the five of us and recruit Mark - who seems to be perplexed by this little idiosyncrasy (Quote: "I don't hug trees") but we rope him in and get to give the tree a brief squeeze. We always thank the trees for giving us shade, and air and for beautifying our world. We make it back to the train station where our car is and decide to split up as the kids are getting tired of walking. Mark is to walk over to the museum whilst we drive.

I misread the map and, of course, we get a little lost (but happily run into the IOC offices and some Roman ruins as well as a pink lit up castle - neat o!)

Eventually, as yet another town grows dark, we make it over to the olympic park and museum. The sculptures were beautiful and this is also the home of the olympic flame - so cool! I kept thinking of my sister Jennie and brother-in-law Jeff, they would have loved it! I wish we could have gotten there sooner to make it worthwhile to visit the museum.

We stop for Chinese for dinner and then home to Besancon.

What an amazing vacation!

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