We landed in Geneva about 6 p.m. last night (Swiss time.) Took a train to Lausanne–remarkable smooth and easy, possibly because everyone here speaks better English than we do French–and got into town just in time for the the U.S.-Ghana World Cup match.
I’m writing at the desk in our room at the Hotel Movenpick, an elegant, modern-looking hotel along the waterfront. (The waterfront being Lake Geneva.) During the soccer/football match last night, there was a massive screen set up in the waterfront park, with thousands of fans from various nationalities drinking beer and munching on Italian sausage sandwichs and kebobs and ice cream. It was loud. ear-splitting. Screaming, and, unfortunately, far too many of those freakin’ vuvuzelas. They are ever so much more annoying in person than they are on TV. I can understand why they’re everywhere, though–if you’ve had a few blown in your ear, it seems silly to stand there defenseless. You’re a sitting duck without your own horn.
So we lost. And we went back to the hotel. While Lausanne has more asphalt and concrete and litter along the water than you might picture for a Swiss waterfront town, the lake itself is stunning. I’m about to go on a self-directed walking tour of old town–wandering is my favorite part on any trip. First I’m going to practice a little French–there are always a few unknown phrases you realize you need immediately in another country. And you need to know them WELL so that you don’t look like an idiot as you stand there trying to remember how to say “bottle of water” in front of the cashier. You want to have “I would like” and “May I have” on the tip of your tongue. I also like “Thank you for everything” in any language. My vote for the handiest obscure phrase while travelling in Europe: “Can we seat ourselves?” That’s always a terrible tourist moment–standing aimlessly in a restaurant doorway when there’s no hostess around, trying to figure out whether to wait or sink happily into a booth.