November 17, 2014

Switzerland, Belgium, and Home

After Paris, we headed to Lausanne to visit friends.

Lac Leman (aka Lake Geneva)

We arrived after a morning of train chaos (see previous post).  The weather was unseasonably clear -- you could see the entire lake and the Alps on the other side in France. We walked along the lake and caught up with our friends.  Unfortunately, I forgot my phone, so I didn't get any pictures until the next day when the weather had returned to its typical overcast state.

After the walk, we were treated to a delicious dinner of fondue at their newly re-constructed/renovated home -- how had I forgotten how amazing fondue is?  I declared that I knew what I was asking for from Santa and I stand by my statement.  Mark my words, there will be a Swiss-style fondue set arriving in our household in the next few months.

During all of this and for the rest of our visit, our friends' children (former American residents) talked non-stop, thrilled to practice their English.  The end result is that I learned way more about Swiss history, culture, and the school system than I otherwise would have, and it was very interesting.

My AM run on Sunday and Monday AM along the lake -- pas mal du tout.
I had tried to run in Paris in the Bois de Boulogne, but after 0.5 miles it was clear that I had not fully recovered from the marathon, so I had to stop and hobble back to the hotel for a workout in the gym.  Just before we'd left, I'd managed a 15-minute run on the treadmill, so I knew I could run if the opportunity arose.

Steps up to the Cathedral de Lausanne.
And, so, I did 3-4 miles easy on the gorgeous running path along Lake Geneva both Sunday and Monday before attacking the rest of my days.  So wonderful! 

Cathedral de Lausane -- the reformation here was Calvinist.
Sunday, after the run, we did a few hours of work at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and then we had a delicious lunch of squash bisque with sauteed chanterelles as garnish.  Brilliant! (Perhaps one of my favorite things about this trip was being reminded of so many wonderful foods I can cook in our new kitchen -- this recipe is going into the rotation soon.)

View from the grounds of the Cathedral.  Alps across the lake in the distance.
After lunch, we headed out to do some local sight-seeing.  It's very cool that a random town where your friends live can have so many historical sights to enjoy. 

Interior of the Cathedral.
We took the metro at one point and were amused to see the apologetic signs announcing any delay whatsoever (e.g. 30 seconds gets an apology -- so Swiss!).

Stained Glass in the Cathedral de Lausanne.
Monday AM, it was time to go.  We walked 5 minutes uphill with our luggage to the train station, and then took trains and trams to Geneva, enjoying a day of Raclette, cured meats, and other Swiss delicacies before a tour of the LHC at CERN, followed by more delicious fondue, of course. 

LHC.  Thank goodness it was off for upgrades.  Otherwise, our tour would have been infinitely lamer (but still cool).
Cheese fondue and broth fondue.  Heaven.

The Belgium visit was cut short due to the extra day in Geneva for Cern, so we arrived for our one day in Brussels on a public holiday (which they take a bit more seriously in Europe).  This meant the Magritte Museum was closed. Turns out, US Veteran's day exists on 11/11 for a reason, and there are a few other western European countries who also think this is a good day to celebrate -- major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

We made the best of it, walking around the Grand Place, the Park, and the museum district, enjoying a heavy Belgian lunch of Steak Frites and dinner of Moules Frites.  Of course, along with hundreds of others, we visited the Manekin Pis, but unfortunately, he was not in costume (most likely due to the holiday).

Manekin Pis.  Proof.  We were in Brussels.
Wednesday, we flew home.  Thursday and Friday were jet-lagged work days as we slowly settled back into our home and time-zone.  The weekend was full of socializing and chores and normal things we hadn't done in ages -- E went to a rocket launch; I went to the gym on Friday and Saturday and on Sunday I joined the 6-mile run with my local running club.

Sunday evening, I made the first *real* meal in our new kitchen.  F,P&R came over and we talked and sipped drinks while I finished preparing farfalle with sausage and onions in homemade roasted tomato sauce (canning is such a blessing!) and a side of sauteed spinach in garlic.

Simple food.  Good company.  Some wine and beer and great conversation.  Yup -- The kitchen is wonderful.  People can sit on stools and chat over the bar while I cook.  Children can run in and out of the kitchen and living room and still be under adult supervision.  Essentially it is much more social and welcoming.

It is great to be home. 


Jen said...

Welcome back! I just watched Particle Fever on Netflix, so I geeked out when I saw your CERN photos on Facebook.

bt said...

@Jen -- never heard of particle fever. Will have to check it out