Chateau de Chillon

The Chateau de Chillon is a gorgeous castle outside Montreaux, Switzerland on Lake Geneva. Disney used it as inspiration for the castle in The Little Mermaid. I mean, look at this:

The day was both beautiful and hot – it was a good day to spend inside a cool stone castle.

There were loads of courtyards. I mean, how else do you get windows that let in light? This was the days before electricity.

The tour starts in the castle keep, a place that was used as both a storage area and a place to hold prisoners, depending on who was in charge and what was happening. This is the original castle, and was built largely in the 1100s.

The keep was also an escape hatch – this was the door the Duke of Savoy’s man escaped out of when the Bernese took the castle. (Lake Geneva is an incredible color.)

When people started visiting the castle in the 1800s, Lord Byron showed up. He wrote a poem about one of the castle’s religious prisoners, Francis Bonivard.

There are lots of picturesque courtyards at Chateau de Chillon. It is lovely.

The building is lovely, and it’s set up for amazing views. These are window seats for sitting and talking or sitting and reading or sitting and thinking.

In addition to there being lots of courtyards, there were also lots of dining rooms. This is one of at least three grand dining rooms that we saw.

Views and defensive towers coexist.

Some of the tile and decoration that was used throughout the castle. This is a high level of pattern matching.

It’s a passageway at the top of the castle, to get you from one tower to another. There are lots of these, too. They were fun because the day was hot and sunny, but I can see how on a rainy winters day, not having these enclosed would not be fun.

It’s another courtyard! This one a little quieter. If I lived here, this might be the one to go hide in with a book.

That was it! Lots of courtyards, views, and dining rooms. I would recommend spending a day at the Chateau if you’re on Lake Geneva. We took a boat ride – also a great thing on a hot day – to get there and back.

A walking tour of old Lausanne

I mentioned in an earlier post that old Lausanne is partway up the hill/mountain – that when the Roman Empire collapsed, the remaining people moved up the hill for safety. So the old town, which is very picturesque, is also very hilly. Be prepared for a walk.

This is the view outside the Cathedral, looking back down towards Lake Geneva.

The Cathedral itself is very plain on the inside. When the Calvinists took over in Lausanne, they destroyed the decoration inside the Cathedral. Which isn’t to say it isn’t still lovely. Just lovely in a different way.

After we visited the Cathedral, we walked down a covered stairway (that is part of an official pilgrimage path) that had this little park off to the side about halfway down the hill. It was a little gem that we just stumbled across.

This was a square that we came across, very colorful. It’s near City Hall, and this was the neighborhood fountain, where you would come to collect the water you would need for the day. It was hot the day we were there and I filled up my water bottle at this fountain.

Durig Chocolatier has delicious, yummy chocolate. Would recommend.

All in all, this was a good, albeit short day. We rounded it out with a good long lunch, and it was a relaxing vacation tour.

The International Olympic Museum

I enjoyed The International Olympic Museum more than I expected to. Lausanne is where the IOC is headquartered; ergo, the museum makes sense. (Lausanne in general is a very sporty town, we found.)

This is one of two olympic flames that never goes out. The other is in Greece.

This is the entrance to the museum; it’s also the current high jump world record. That is, someone has jumped over this bar (that most people can easily walk under) without anything like a pole or trampoline to help them along. It’s 8′ 0.25″, and the record hasn’t changed since 1993, according to Wikipedia.

There is a lot to the museum, like the history of the Olympics and what its goals are, the torches that have been used – the design retrospective through the years is fascinating, how different body types are good at different sports, but my favorite is the costumes. These are the costumes that Torvill & Dean wore for their famous Bolero routine.

This is Jim Craig’s sweater from the Miracle on Ice in 1980. (This is when a team of college kids from the US beat the all-professional team of Soviet hockey players in the 1980 Olympics. You can assign all the Cold War significance to this event that you want.)

Usain Bolt’s jersey if for no other reason than he is fast.

A basketball that every member of the 1992 Dream Team signed. That’s the year that the US finally sent its professional basketball players to the olympics – the team that included Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson – and won their games by an average of 44 points. (Dream Team was a fun book to read about their journey, but the narrative arc – the golden team that stayed golden – isn’t the most interesting.)

Jessie Owens‘ shoes from the 1936 Olympics, when he definitively proved that Hitler was a racist asshole. (I mean, didn’t everyone already know that? But still, keep shouting down racist assholes.)

The gardens outside the museum were full of statues (as well as Olympic sports to try, including a 100m dash course), mainly of sports. But there was this tribute to abs, which I found amusing. Yes, it’s all about power and performance. But also: abs.

This was the most out-of-place sculpture – it’s a gentleman holding an umbrella that’s made of water. It is whimsical, if a bit out of place in a place that is a tribute to sports.

The Olympic Museum is a bit on the expensive side, as is most of Lausanne, but it was totally worth it. I really enjoyed the visit. But then: the Olympics has so many good stories, and I am a sucker for a good story. Recommended.

Switzerland is pretty, aka, an introduction to Lausanne

The early morning, jet-lagged view from our apartment in Lausanne/Ouchy.

We went to Europe! Our family (me, my husband, our daughter) traveled in Europe for two weeks. First, we went to Lausanne, where it was hot and we had a lovely 4th floor apartment near Lake Geneva. The view was great, and being near the water kept things a little cooler than they might otherwise have been.

The first morning there, while my husband and I were up and ready to go and our teenaged daughter, um, wasn’t, we went for a walk to see a bit of the city. We actually mostly stuck to the shoreline. It was lovely.

I personally enjoyed this fountain of three horses fighting over who has the best access to the water.

This is apparently the hotel you stay at in Lausanne if you are royalty, rich, and/or famous. We did not stay there.

There were lots of wild swans. I chose not to get to close. Swans are dangerous.

There is a lot happening on the shoreline at Lausanne. When the Romans founded the town, this is where they started things. But after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s CE, the people remaining moved up into the mountains. (Lausanne is incredibly hilly. Being in the Alps will do that.) So the Old Town isn’t here, and there was plenty of room for development when the time came around.

I’ll be spacing out posts from our trip, with a different thing to do on different days. I’ll post restaurant recommendations as I come across them. Enjoy!