Monday, May 25, 2009

Lac Le Mans/Lake Geneva/Genf/Geneve

You may have noticed the multiple names I've titled our trips with lately. Until we came over here to the 'Old World', I didn't realize there were so many 'titles' a large city might have. We have our little bits in the US: New York "the Big Apple", Chicago "the Windy City or San Francisco "City by the Bay." But it's not as if New York has any other name but New York in any other country or language. If it does - let me know!

When traveling in Europe it can be really helpful to know the name of a city in it's original language. It can be confusing for the unsuspecting tourist who is trying to catch a train, say to Vienna, only to find no train with "Vienna" as the destination. Catching the train to "Wien" in that situation would be great. Many larger cities in Europe have their own original names as well as other language counterparts: Firenze (Florence), Milano (Milan), Moscou (Moscow), Munchen (Munich) for example.

I havn't taken the time to Google the reason for multiple language names for large cities but, logic makes me think, as map making became more widespread in the 16th and 17th C's, there would be changes based on language differences and ease. My logic could be flawed - do not quote me - ever. But it seems to make sense. And while I would NEVER call Venice "Venedig", I would, and occasionally do, refer to it as Venezia.

Why do I even bring this subject up? Our neighbors sometimes find our frequent traveling fascinating. "Those crazy Americans trying to see as much of Europe as they can in 3 - 4 years. " But everytime we use one name for a city or place, they respond with another name for it. I will say "We are going to Locarno next weekend" and they respond "Ah, Lago Maggiore - so nice." For a while, it really confused me. I've gotten used to being corrected. And learned from it.

This may all be useless information. But - you might just be going to Vienna someday and need to look for that train going to Wien!

So this past weekend was Ascension (last Thursday was the official day) which gave us a school and work holiday of 4 days. Wishing all of you in the States a fine Memorial Day - and Thank You to all the Veterans.

We headed to Lake Geneva, or Lac Le Mans as my neighbors (and the rest of Switzerland) refer to it - with a French accent of course. Bart found a very reasonable apartment in a little village called Lutry in between Lausanne and Vevey. It is here on the right with the vines crawling up it: The building dates back to approx. 1520! Fortunately for us - completely new, modern renovation. So while it was small in size, there was plenty of hot water and it was clean. My only complaint and I should have left a suggestion: the kitchenette was stocked with pots/pans/dishes and regular utensils - spoons, forks & butter knives only. The only other 'tools' were a wine opener and a paring knife. So that made cooking dinner and scrambled eggs a challenge. We worked through it.

Here is a view of Lutry from the marina:
We went to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Bart & I had gone last year but it was fun to take the girls.
The gardens around the museum (which is not big - an easy morning or afternoon excursion) contain many metal art sculptures - most representing the challenge of the human body and spirit. For 2 months, they also have sand sculpures by a group of 4 artists who are continually maintaining the figures and refining them. They had a sculpture of Michael Phelps but it looked a little creepy. So here are the girls in front of Ali instead:

Next day we headed to Vevey - headquarters of Nestle and home to the Nestle Alimentarium (Food Museum). Thus - the "Fork" in the Lake. It was a really cool and interactive museum. Especially for kids - we had a great time learning some of the history of Nestle - no, they didn't start out with chocolate! They started with condensed milk and food products - and 'milk' chocolate was invented a little later - right there in Vevey. I know - too many factoids today.Say "Cheese!" MMmmmmmm - Gruyere.
We also headed to Geneva - a first for us. I will just repeat one item of note that we noticed on both of our other trips to this region: we seem to choose places to eat where people don't speak English or German. I'm sure it's just us but - I have better luck in France with language than I seem to in French region of Switzerland.
One afternoon to spend, kids might make it through ONE museum - what do we do? We head for the Cathedral and the Museum of the Reformation. Geneva was the seat of Protestantism during the Reformation - mid 1500's to early 1600. Where Jean Calvin (aka John Calvin) established his Academy as well as becoming a place for refugee Protestants (Italy, France, Belgium, etc...). Martin Luther's translation of the Bible to German (largely helped by the invention of the printing press) set off a wave - quickly followed by a French, Italian and then English version.
I find the old Reformed Churches fascinating. This, the home of Jean Calvin, is very similar to our Grossmunster in Zurich - home church to Ulrich Swingli of the Swiss Reformation movement. The structure and layout of the buildings themselves are that of any Catholic cathedral/church from that period. That's what the builders of the time knew. The elements inside have similarities as well as striking differences: crosses but no crucifixes, pulpits but no altars, stained windows and beautiful woodwork but lack of other ornamentation.
We found many of the documents interesting - much of it used in it's original text until the early 20th C when many things started getting an update in the language department. They have a thorough library of Reformation literature. I myself have difficulty memorizing in new (language) Bible translations as I memorized everything up through High School in the King James Version.
So - after museums and churches and whatever the parents dragged them around to do, the girls got their time too. Much of it was spent at the playground in Lutry after dinner each night. But, there was this:
And this:
AND, this.
Give them ice cream, something to draw with and some grass to roll around in and they're happy. And you can do that about anywhere in the world. Except maybe the desert - they'd be pretty happy rolling around in the sand too!

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