The unique museums, distinctive neighborhoods, and lazy Lac Leman waterfront of Lausanne (pop.125,000) make it well worth a stay. In the vieille ville, two flights of medieval stairs lead to the Gothic Cathedrale. (Open July to mid-Sept. M-F 7am-7pm, Sa-Su 8am-7pm; mid-Sept. to June daily 8am-5:30pm.) Below the cathedral is the Hotel de Ville, on pi. de la Palud, the meeting point for guided tours of the town. (Tours M-Sa 10am and 3pm. lOSFr, students free. English available.) The Collection de I’Art Brut, av. Bergieres 11, is filled with disturbing and original sculptures, drawings, and paintings by artists on the fringe institutionalized schizophrenics, uneducated peasants, and convicted criminals. Take bus #2 or 3 to Jomini. (Open July-Aug. daily llam-6pm; Sept.-June Tu-F llam-lpm and 2-6pm, Sa-Su llam-6pm. 6SFr, students 4SFr.) The Musee Olympique, Quai d’Ouchy 1, is a high-tech temple to modern Olympians with an extensive video collection, allowing visitors to relive almost any moment of the games. Take bus #2 to Ouchy. (Open May-Sept. M-W and F-Su 9am-6pm, Th 9am-8pm; Oct.-Apr. closed Mondays. 14SFr, students 9SFr.) In Ouchy, several booths along quai de Belgique and pi. de la Navigation rent pedal boats (lOSFr per 30min.) and offer water skiing or wake boarding on Lake Leman (30SFr per 15min.).
DO YOU SCHWING?
A summer in Switzerland would not be complete without the institution that is the annual Schwingfest, an event dedicated to the arcane sport of Schwingen. A form of wrestling, Schwingen features two male Schwingers faced off in a Sagemu-hlring (a ring of sawdust). The men wear leather over-shorts with loops on the back which the other Schwinger must grip for leverage at all times. As a Schwinger, your goal in life is to throw your opponent down on his back, and to stay within the circle while doing so; matches last around five minutes.
The earliest known reference to the sport is a 13th-century stone carving in the cathedral of Lausanne, which depicts two overshirt-wearing strongmen at loggerheads. The sport’s origins lie in Alpine farming regions, where farmhands would compete to see who was the strongest, and everyone presumably wore suspenders. Today, the men are still distinguished by the roots of their training: Sennen are farmers and wear traditional blue workshirts; Turnen are gym-trained athletes and wear only white.
The Schwingfest itself includes more Swiss tradition than just wrestling. Normally, the playing of an Alphorn kicks off the first bout, and flag throwers, yodel choirs, and a beer-and-sausage tent provide entertainment on the sidelines. Check www.esv.ch for info on the Fest nearest you.
Trains leave from pi. de la Gare 9 for Basel (2’Mu:. every hr. 5:25am-9:25pm, 68SFr); Geneva (50min. every 20min. 4:55am-12:45am, 19SFr); Montreux (20min. every 30min. 5:25am-2:25am, lOSFr); Paris (4hr. 4 per day 7:35am-5:50pm, 71SFr); and Zurich (2’2hr. 3 per hr. 5:25am-10:25pm, 65SFr). The tourist office in the train station reserves rooms. (613 73 73. Open daily 9am-5pm.) Home of the world’s oldest hotel school, Lausanne has a well-deserved reputation for service-industry excellence. Lausanne Guesthouse & Backpacker , chemin des Epinettes 4, is conveniently located and has comfortable rooms. Head left and downhill out of the station on W. Fraisse; take the first right on chemin des Epinettes. (601 80 00. Sheets for dorms 5SFr. Reception daily 7am-noon and 3-10pm. 4-bed dorms 29SFr; singles 80SFr, with bathroom 88SFr; doubles 8698SFr. MCV.) Camping de Vidy O, chemin du Camping 3, has a restaurant (open May-Sept. 7am-llpm) and supermarket. Take bus #2 (dir.: Bourdonnette) to Bois-de-Vaux, cross the street, follow chemin du Bois-de-Vaux past Jeunotel and under the overpass. ( 622 50 00. Showers included. Electricity 3-4SFr. Reception July-Aug. daily 8am-9pm; Sept.-June 8:30am-12:30pm and 4-8pm. 6.50SFr per person, 8-12SFr per tent; 1- to 2-person bungalow 54SFr; 3- to 4-person bungalow 86SFr.) Restaurants, cafes, and bars cluster around place St-Fran;ois and the vieille ville, while boulangeries sell cheap sandwiches on every street and grocery stores abound. Stop by Le Barbare O, Escaliers du Marche 27, for a sandwich (7SFr), omelette (8-10SFr), or pizza (12SFr) after trekking to the cathedral. ( 312 2132. Open M-Sa 8:30am-midnight.)
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