Advice - woman going to Lausanne solo

Old Aug 25th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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Advice - woman going to Lausanne solo

Hi, everybody!

I'm going to the Lac Leman area next Thursday for 11 days and would like some advice from anyone very familiar with the area. I am staying near the Lausanne train station (off Rue du Petit Chene) and would like to know how safe the area is at night. I plan to take several day trips to nearby cities (example: Berne, Geneva, Neuchatel)and don't plan to be back until after dark. If I have only a 5 minute walk from the train station, do you think I will be safe? Or is it important to get back to the city before dark? Also, I am nervous about not understanding the train schedules inside the station, where to wait, etc. Is it confusing?My French is pretty good, but I guess I am asking if I should go to the Swiss Rail site and print out schedules ahead of time (such as leaving at 10, returning at 7). Also, how are the bus schedules - are they easy to understand? I have a Swiss Pass and I'd like to just take off and ride around town - but don't want to get confused getting back! And if anyone knows, I'd like the same info for Geneva, also. Thanks so much!
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 10:22 AM
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I just returned Sunday from 10 days in Vevey and Montreux. I was visiting a friend so she showed me how the trains and busses worked, then I used them frequently on my own. They are very efficient and easy to understand (and I speak no French).

When you enter a bus you get your own ticket by putting coins into the machine at the back and pressing a few choices. The charge is by how many zones you will go thru and there is a map above the machine. The routes are on the front of the bus, and the next stop flashes on a sign overhead inside. Each bus stop is marked with a name. Sometimes there will be a spot check to see your ticket, but most often not.

Train stations also have machines that take credit cards or cash, or you can go to a ticket window with a person selling them. The machines are a bit more complicated (than the bus) only in that there are more choices of where you will go, class of ticket, 1 way or round-trip, etc. The machine shows how much to put in once you enter your destination. On each train there are 1st class and 2nd class cars and smoking and non-smoking (there are signs on the outside of each car showing this). In a pinch you can jump on the train and pay the conductor when he/she comes thru, it will cost a bit more but might be worth it in some circumstances. A conductor will come thru and punch tickets somewhere along the line.

For excursions from Lausanne I highly recommend Vevey and Montreux! They are only a few minutes away. I found Geneva to be a huge, world-class city, but without much "soul" compared to the lovely areas around it. I would personally be much more intimidated there (not for safety reasons, although there are a few rough parts of town I hear, but by shear size more confusing).

Personally I would not bother to print train schedules ahead of time. Unless perhaps for getting to the airport on time, or something like that. If you are traveling around Lac Leman it's pretty straight-forward, I can't imagine how you would get lost. Even if you miss your stop or fall asleep the worst that could happen is you'd have to get off at a train station and take the train back the other way.

Go to the Saturday early morning market in Vevey!!! Thru the end of August is Marche Folklorique. Besides all the usual vendors and fabulous food and flowers, there is a wine tasting, and various live music, some people in traditional costumes. This is a well-loved local event, not just a tourist deal. It is a 3 min. walk from the train station to the town square.

I hope this isn't too much detail and that at least some of it is helpful. My trip is so fresh in my mind, it's hard for me not to go on & on...
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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Thank you so much, Suze! I will print all this out. PLEASE go on and on! What all did you do? What was your favorite town, experience, etc. etc?
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 12:34 PM
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Who needs schedules for Switzerland trains - twice an hour on lines you mention. And the avalanche of printed info, maps, schedules, etc. is easy to figure out. Plus many people speak some English - just no problem getting around; put any angst to rest. As for the safety issue, I suppose it's a problem anywhere but Lausanne and Switzerland in general seems as safe as anyplace i've been. I always ask my hotel desk if i have any doubts about the area.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 01:25 PM
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Are you staying at Alpha-Palmier? That's 2 minute walk from the railway station. It's not a dangerous area at all as far as I remember. Common sense should be enough. And as PalQ suggested, ask the hotel reception to be sure. I have not been to the area since about 2 years.

Regarding the train time-table, remember the poster-like yellow ones on the walls are for the departure trains (written DEPARTS at the top)and the white ones are arrival trains (ARRIVEES). You can see the platform numbers on it. Lausanne station is fairly small and easy to get around.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 01:52 PM
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What I would recommend:
- Take a boat at Lausanne-Ouchy Pier for Evian France across the lake (have a passport with you), for Vevey, for Monetreux or for Chillon castle. Except for Evian, you can return to Lausanne by train or vice versa.
- Take a train de Vigne from Vevey to Chexbres and walk down among the vineyards to Rivaz or St.Saphorin on a
sunny day. Lake/vineyard landscape of Lavaux region is so beautiful. See photos here > http://www.lavaux.ch/
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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Suze, I just got home a few hours ago from my Swiss adventure, and thanks to your suggestion, I went to Vevey on Saturday, Aug. 14 and drank wine in the morning!! I kept looking around for someone who fits my mental picture of you and sounds like she is from Seattle. Of course I never found you, but I wanted you to know I was there when you were, and thanks for the suggestion. That was good wine!!

To the original poster, I felt very safe in Lausanne even at night. In fact, I felt very safe everywhere in Switzerland except in Geneva near the train station at night. I left this morning around 5am for the airport and I had planned to walk to the station, but there was so much commotion last night from drunks that I took a taxi. I know the train would have been a heck of a lot cheaper, but as a female travelling alone, you cannot put a price on safety and some of those characters around my hotel seemed scary. Besides, I was able to share a cab with another hotel guest so it wasn't too costly.

I plan to post a trip report sometime this weekend, but right now I am reeling from jet lag and I could fall asleep right here and now, so I will tell you all about it soon.


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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 09:05 PM
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P_M, fantastic to hear that we were at Marche Folklorique together on Aug 14th (cute logo on the glasses that day)! I know it's tough duty drinking wine in the AM, but wasn't everyone having a great time!?! I was the one leaning against a column on the steps in the sun (my friend and I arrived early to get a good spot!). I'm thrilled you were able to join in the festivities.
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Old Aug 25th, 2004, 09:20 PM
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For scheraulei~ I am incredibly fortunate to have dear friends who live in Montreux. So most of my experiences are around dinner parties, BBQ's, shopping at the market, getting invited places. Having said that I LOVE the castle at Chateau de Chillon (it's OLD), the Vevey Saturday market as mentioned above, walking along the quai (lakeside promonade) anywhere in Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux. I hear great things about Morges, but haven't been yet. Don't miss the amazing pastries and bakeries everywhere. The scenic tram Roches de Naye is good (leaves from the Montreux train station but from a separate ticket office) and goes straight UP the mountain overlooking Montreux. The town & castle at Gruyeres was lovely, but we went by car so am not sure the logistics of getting there on your own. There are various boat rides available along the lake.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 12:28 AM
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scheraulei,
You shouldn't be afraid of the neighbourhood you stay in in Lausanne, no problem.
In every train station, you'll find an electronic board, mostly blue, indicating all the destinations with mayor intermediate stops and the platform of departure. Besides these, in the corridors you'll find yellow posters with the daily schedules/destinations/platforms. (The white ones are the arrival schedules).
And, on the ticket counter in Lausanne, you should find a little booklet, the size somewhat bigger than a credit card with all destinations from Lausanne. These are free of charge. If you don't see them, just ask for 'le carnet des horaires'.

As for the busses in Lausanne and Geneva, there should be some info-boot in or in front of the station where they have a small plan. Look in Lausanne fo TL (Transports Lausannois) and TPG (Transport Publics Genevois).

Excursions.
Previous posters have indicated quite a few. Vevey market on Saurday morning is a must. I'm quite sure you can also go from Ouchy to Vevey by boat. Ask at the hotel. (Ouchy is lakeside Lausanne).
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 02:34 AM
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Lausanne is the home of Switzerland's largest university so you may see a lot of college-age kids out and about at all hours. Their presence makes for a pretty lively scene in a city that has been known for eons for its rather un-Swiss "liberal" attitude about life.

I think you have very little to worry about after dark and I honestly think that the above poster's experience in Geneva is a rare one..the Swiss love to party but they can also be quite reserved when they wish to be. The usual precautions are probably warranted but I think you'll come back to tell us you ended up having few, if any, security worries.

As another possible excursion (and I very heartily recommend a boat trip to the lake towns as well as a visit to Chillon) you might consider taking the train from Montreux up to Rochers de Naye. The views from the top (if you get there on a clear day) out over the lake are more spectacular than you are likely to see anywhere else...just the trip itself is kinda fun.

Have a great adventure!
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 03:31 AM
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Hi scheraulei,

I don't have much to add to these GREAT suggestions you're getting (and loving the few vicarious moments in Vevey thanks to suze and P_M -- looking forward to that trip report, by the way!).

But I do want to say, contrary to what many have said here, that you may want to print out some of your train schedules ahead of time (or print them onto a 3x5 card, as I do). I only do it because I don't like arriving at the gare at 9.10 to see that my train left at 9.07 or something like that. Alternately, find the small booklet with local schedules. Simply as a matter of convenience. But then I tend to obsess over these planning things . . .

Hope this helps.

s
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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TopMan, just for your info...
The Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne is on #3 while the University of Lausanne is #7 for the total surface they occupy.
The FPS is #8 and the UNIL is #5 for the number of students and personnel.
Even combined, they still are way back behind Zurich University and FPS-Zurich.
This student population is hardly visible in town, firstly because the main sites are out of town, secondly because the semester starts in mid-october.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 03:51 PM
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PalQ - thanks for the reassurance!
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:01 PM
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Kappa - I am staying at Hotel Elite. I plan to walk to St. Saphorin since it's only 3 miles from Ouchy and hopefully take in a free concert at the church there. I do plan to visit Vevey at least once, since it sounds relaxing and pretty, and then take the boat back at sunset, which is supposed to be just glorious. I just hope it doesn't rain! Thanks for answering!
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:17 PM
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P M - Thank you so much for the reassurance about Lausanne safety especially since I forgot to mention that I also plan to hang out at cafés in Flon and "Sainf" at night. I was even toying with the idea of going dancing by myself (I'm pretty independent and just love to shake my tail feather!) I like being in the midst of people and action. I LOVE Vegas and feel very comfortable walking up and down the Strip at all hours of the night. However, I've heard mixed things about Flon at night. Are there too many drunks and druggies? I do know you have to avoid the Jet d'Eau in Geneva at night. Thanks for the warning about the train station. I assume you're speaking of Cornavin as opposed to Cointrin. I can't wait to read that trip report. What will the thread name be if you don't post it in here?
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:20 PM
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scheraulei (in the "small world" category)... Hotel Elite is where I planned to stay 2 nights at the beginning of my last trip. Dates changed and I was able to go direct to friend's house instead. Long story shorter the hotel looked lovely to me on the website, I liked that it was near the train station, and would love to hear how it works out for you.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:39 PM
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Suze - Thanks for reminding me about Roches de Naye! Do you know if that little train is covered by the Swiss Pass? I went to Gruyères many years ago on my first Swiss trip, but as I am not that much into cheese, it didn't really excite me. However, Château d'Oex had more charm and we found this little place where they had to-die-for Fraises aux Crème. Them strawberries be calling my name and I plan to also check out the chocolate situation at the Caillers factory in Broc. I am partial to Crèmant myself and plan to bring back a 2 kg bar if I can find one (and keep from eating it before I leave town).
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:42 PM
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Baldrick - Thank you so much for your help especially with giving me the specific names of these books to ask for if I don't see them. That is truly helpful! You guys are making Vevey a done deal. I was lukewarm on it before posting here.
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Old Aug 26th, 2004, 04:47 PM
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TopMan - Thank you, too, so much for calming my fears! I hope the students will indeed be in town, since it's still summer. I plan to go over to the university, as I find college campuses interesting in general. I'd like to observe their differences vs. a US college. I also hope to engage some students in conversation about US and Swiss politics.
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