Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lausanne, Pittsburgh and Paper Trails

13 July 2017

     Yesterday, some three hours passed queuing and exchanging francs for important papers. First transportation cards. The masterful Jean Michael at Swiss Railways walked us through the options, and we obtained temporary monthly passes. Con papeles, as one might say in Spanish, we proceeded to the tram, up to Flon.

     The shock of a slanted tram station has not worn off. I lean, and hold onto railings. Lausanne and Pittsburgh have steep hills in common, and different solutions. The inclines of Pittsburgh, and for that matter, Johnstown, are single car, horizontal affairs. Not so Lausanne, with tilted station and tram. As in Pittsburgh, Lausanne’s bridges, great stone-arched affairs, reach from height to height, across old riverbeds.

     We had a late start, and when we stopped for lunch at an outdoor café, we were reintroduced to civilized eating hours. Lausanne eats lunch from twelve to two. Exactly. Eventually, we found Restaurant Leonardo, at Movenpick, I think, and had a fabulous salmon bruschetta for me, and ham and cheese Panini for the spouse.

     Thus fortified, on to the Communal Population Control to pick-up our attestation of registration. The charming lady who received our documents on Wednesday had warned us that in Switzerland, there will always be a fee for these pieces of paper, so we were prepared.

      Another quick trip upwards, this time in an elevator, took us to the city center proper, where Credit Suisse and UBS have their impressive headquarters. There are many banks in Switzerland, but only these two are prepared to offer accounts to Americans. The fault is in the banking and tax regulations imposed by the United States. We entered the grand foyer. A kindly security person called up to the appropriate office. Mind you, by now it was four o’clock on a summer Thursday. He informed us that we could not be seen until Monday at 9 in the morning.


     As with every single person we’ve encountered, he was effusive in his praise of my attempts at speaking French and equally delighted to have the chance to practice his English. This is not Paris, we are not in France! Still, I hope to improve by reading and talking more.

     My legs and knees are feeling the hills, but less so each day. Today I will attempt another piece of paper entitling me to swim at the pools, one located near the lake and the other at the park of Mon Repos, where Voltaire has his writing studio. His studio was in the villa, not the pool.

     Last night, chez nous, I made lentil and quinoa salads. I’m investigating the delivery of local vegetables and eggs. They would arrive by bicycle delivery cart. There is tremendous interest here in biologique, and I intend to support local agriculture, and try to taste the dare-I-say-it terroir. There are large supermarkets, and small shops close to the apartment, but I see fruits and vegetables shipped in from around the globe. I named this the Driscoll effect when I encountered strawberries shipped from coastal Northern California to Connecticut in June.

     Dizzy, my head spinning, I contemplate the privilege of travel, and memories of the series of places I’ve called home. Like a spider, my mind is suspended between the rungs of a radiating web, scurrying back and forth to capture impressions.

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