Lausanne

Time really flies. I am not yet done writing about my Europe adventures this summer and I am flying to Taiwan next week. I aim to complete the stories from Europe before I embark on my next adventure.

Lausanne, Switzerland’s fifth biggest city, is the Olympic capital as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters is situated there. This is not the only major international organization located in Switzerland. Not too far away from Lausanne, the United Nations Office and CERN are located in Geneva. This probably has something to do with Switzerland’s political neutrality, strategic geographical position in Europe and wealth.

I really like Lausanne because it is an example of a nice fusion of the old and new. In the old town, there are people busking, graffiti on rubbish bins and anything that doesn’t belong to the old town and a couple of outdoor escalators instead of cobblestone stairs for some slopes. I find the contrast rather attractive and it makes the city feel lively and unique. For me, I think it is very nice that the old town evolves to retain its relevance to its people instead of just becoming a mere tourist destination. One of the biggest issues about preserving heritage in cities is that sometimes the monuments, streets and buildings just become a shell that looks good but devoid of life and activity. For this, I think Lausanne did a pretty good job. Apart from the fusion of old and new, the old town of Lausanne also has an animated clock that at noon has a band of Vaudois gentlemen marching across it. We also bought and tasted chocolate from “Chocolats Fins” – the oldest and among the best chocolate shop in Lausanne. The chocolate was delicious and it was the first time I came across chocolate bars that aren’t in a regular pattern.

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Old Town, Lausanne

Jennifer also brought me to see École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – one of the premier universities in Europe. Most of the buildings there are functional and old-looking and the only building that stands out is the library which looks like something from the science fiction movies. The interior is also really fancy because there seem to be more cozy spaces for people to lie down than seats and tables for people to do work.

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EPFL, Lausanne

We then took a leisurely stroll from EPFL back to the city by Lake Geneva which separates France from Switzerland. From where we were, all we could see of France is the silhouette of mountains. I wonder what people over that side see when they look over. I remember us riding wooden horses at a playground while staring at the lake, watching how Swiss people jog while pushing prams, trying to get close to the white swans by the lake, hoping to spot some cows mowing the fields. It was a nice, relaxing day out. I really miss those days when I could just disregard time and take in the sights and sounds. The experiments that I am doing in my lab are time-sensitive and it makes me really time-conscious.

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Lake Geneva, Lausanne

We ended a day with a visit to the Olympic Museum which houses permanent and temporary exhibits relating to sport and the Olympic movement. The actual building was actually undergoing some renovation so they moved the exhibits to a boat anchored by the lake near the renovation site. How convenient isn’t it? Apparently, the Swiss people were the ones who created the composite hockey sticks which were fashionable during those days when I played hockey. Now people seem to have moved back to the wooden sticks. It is interesting to see how technology transforms the way people compete in sports. Swimsuits, for example, are no longer just garments people wear for swimming purposes. Certain swimsuits, such as the controversial ones during the 2008 Beijing Games, are proven to make swimmers go faster. The Olympic torch for the London Games 2012 was there as well and it is amazing to think how this torch went around the world and created a stir in its journey, got to London and now placed here on a boat in Switzerland. I think the Olympic Games is a nice diplomatic event where people from all around the world put down their differences, gather, compete and have fun. I like how it celebrates human spirit and athletes based on their abilities rather than where they come from.

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Olympics stadium, Lausanne

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