Tag Archives: Great European Roadtrip

Great European Roadtrip: Going home for the first time

As the sun threatened to dip below the hills to the west Saturday afternoon, George and I bade Ximena goodbye and sped east out of Lausanne. We found a French-language DJ on the radio who played creative mashups of pop song vocals with other pop songs’ beats. By the time that radio station petered out, we realized that we were in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. That really brought home for me that for the first time I’ll be living in a place where I don’t speak the language.

Normally when you move house you leave one home and you go to your new home in a one-way journey. This was a little different. I was visiting my new home temporarily and then going back to my old home to return the car. In anticipation of both living here and leaving here we spent our rest day in Zürich engaged in both domestic and touristic activities.

In the morning George and I ventured out in search of ground coffee to use at home and, with the guidance of a helpful local, found the only supermarket within walking distance that opens on Sundays. “Zürich is not very cosmopolitan, though we like to think it is,” shrugged our guide, before dropping us at the entrance. Its people can be hospitable, though, if she was typical. On our return I unpacked my things and Molly took on the laundry, a bit like the first day back home from any other trip.

20110405-074615.jpgIn the afternoon the three of us became tourists and went down to the lakefront promenade to soak up the sun and slurp down some beer. My college buddy Jon, a cosmologist who spends part of his year in Zürich, met us by the lake. Another old friend in a new place. Jon introduced me to Molly when we all lived in Cambridge, so it’s fun that he’s also the first person to show us around our new home.

We celebrated our arrival later that night with an international supper of a Spanish potato omelette and a French garlic-and-rosemary-infused baked Mont d’Or cheese. I believe we toasted in German. Here’s to our new life in Zürich.

Great European Roadtrip: Late late late lunch in Lausanne



After our delay at the border we met my friend Ximena, who I met 9 years ago at a science camp, for a very late lunch on the lake in Lausanne, which also happens to be where our former housemate Nick lived for a while. So it was another chance to see an old friend in a new place.

We also managed to end up on the wrong side of a small mountain the city straddles before finding Ximena, which had one payoff: we trotted past what appeared to be a civic pillow fight.

And on our walk with Ximena, we discovered a bicycle-cum-planter which George plans to recreate in our garden in Cambridge.

Great European Roadtrip: Swiss hospitality


Guest post by George:
Saturday at the border we met a welcoming committee of two stiff-backed gentlemen in peaked caps, one with a trim French moustache, the other with a clipped accent and both blessed with a keen sense of curiosity. Their searching glances were the preliminaries to what promised to be an exhaustive inquiry. Our hand luggage, jackets and wallets were turned out, inspected and patted down with finger-tip precision. Still entertaining the possibility that our tousled appearance might be caused by something stronger than Chimay, Trim-tache and Clipped-accent told us to ‘ouvrelevoiture,’ only to be greeted by the spectacle in the photo a left. Faced with the choice of unpacking Lucas’s flat or sending us on our way… they sold us a road-tax sticker and welcomed us to Switzerland.