This post is the continuation of a series that I just started one post ago about our trip to a small part of the beautiful country of Switzerland in August 2022. We had just had a great first morning exploring the beautiful Old town of Lausanne (Lausanne Old Town , a pleasant surprise – Swiss Sojourn, Part 1).
In my research about towns on Lake Geneva what had drawn me to Lausanne over Geneva (the city) was the presence of a typical European Old town part up on the hill and a typical European lakefront neighbourhood called Ouchy. It gave us both the experiences without changing bases giving us more time in the main attraction of the trip – The Swiss Alps.
After resting our legs for a couple of hours we set out for the Ouchy waterfront which is very convenient to reach using the metro. I like the concept of hotels in Switzerland cities giving out transport cards that provide free local transport as well as concessions at most of the attractions in lieu of the city tax collected. It meant that we didn’t have to spend anything extra on transport during our time in Lausanne.
We have been to a fair few European Alpine lake towns on our various trips to Europe. I have to say that while Lake Geneva doesn’t have the sheer wow factor of Lake Como in Italy (Varenna – The Perfect dreamy little town on Lake Como ) or the quiet charm of Annecy in France (Annecy – A Beautiful Alpine Lake Town) it makes up for it in sheer size and convenience of getting to it. The Ouchy waterfront was just across the street from the metro station of the same name and had all the bells and whistles that make for a great evening walk – wide pedestrian paths, conveniently placed benches, beautifully manicured gardens and pristine blue water of the lake itself. To add to the beauty of it the cloudy morning had given way to a beautiful sunny evening.
We had decided to skip the Olympic Museum located near the waterfront in favour of a relaxing evening by the lake taking full advantage of the long days of the European summer. It looked like all of Lausanne had the same idea as the waterfront was a popular place to be and there was a sizeable crowd of people having a great time on the pathway close to the metro station itself. So we just wandered along the path lining the lake getting farther away from the crowd taking in the sun and the view.
Posing on the waterfront with Lake Geneva & the Alps in the background
People (& their pets ) having a relaxing evening by the lake at Ouchy, Lausanne
The beauty of the Alpine lake is evident at the Ouchy waterfront in Lausanne
We had walked a fair distance from the crowded park opposite the metro station along the lake at a leisurely pace. The further away we went the number of people on the walkway decreased and the number of birds on the lake increased. That gave me enough reason to put on the 300mm lens which I had carried just for this. Alpine lakes always have a fair number of mallards, gulls and swans which are always a pleasure to photograph, but there is a bird which I’m always looking out for in these Alpine Lakes – The Great Crested Grebe. It is an obsession that has no reason other than the fact that I like how regal these birds look. I have always found one or two of these sneakily swimming in between the other common birds in previous trips. So I was looking forward to finding one here in Lausanne.
A Mallard basking in the sun on the banks of the Lake Geneva
My search for the Great Crested Grebe ended just a few minutes after putting on the 300 mm. This time it wasn’t a lone specimen but a full family of Crested Grebes merrily swimming pretty close to the lakes edge. There are almost no breeding grounds of this bird back home in India where it is a winter migrant. So once I saw the young grebes the better half knew we weren’t going anywhere for sometime now and took a seat while I filled up the memory card with photos of the Crested Grebe family. The Father swimming close to and guarding the young ones while the mother swimming far and wide returning with fish in her beak to feed the babies. It was great fun watching these beauties go about their daily routine.
The better half enjoys the view while I do what I enjoy the most – Birding
The male Great Crested Grebe keeps a close eye on the chicks
Father and baby Great Crested Grebe in glorious sunlight at Lausanne
Momma Crested Grebe getting fresh food for the young ones
The young one with the fish smartly swims away from it’s siblings before gulping down the fresh meal
Family photo of the Great Crested Grebe on Lake Geneva
After a great half an hour the Crested Grebe family started swimming away from the shore and it was time for me to move on. I was taking a few photos of a yellow legged gull swimming close by when the better half pointed to something that was swimming very close to me. It was a Common Merganser, another beautiful lake dweller that unlike its name is not that common. So I trained the camera on the Merganser and got some good photos from close quarters.
A yellow legged gull in beautiful sunshine
The Common Merganser at close quarters on the Ouchy Waterfront
After that unexpected birding hour on a European vacation we walked to the gates of the Olympic Museum. Though we had no intention of going inside we took a few photos at the beautiful fountain outside before returning to the lakeside and occupying a bench in the shade. We have learnt over the years to have these quiet intervals on vacations and just taking in the beautiful environment around rather than rushing from one sight to another.
At the fountains outside the Olympics Museum in Lausanne
Enjoying a quiet few minutes on the Ouchy Waterfront
Beautifully maintained gardens all along the waterfront at Lausanne
A bee enjoys the plentiful nectar on offer
We checked our watches and it was nearly 7 pm. It was still bright but the sun was slowly started to go down. So we started on our way back towards the metro station. I was surprised to see the the Great Crested Grebes had moved back closer to the shore and were still going about their feeding. It was what is known as golden hour and to get action shots of the Crested Grebe was an opportunity that no birder worth his salt would spurn. So I filled up the memory card even more!
Mama Crested Grebe with a fresh catch
Mama carefully hands down the fresh supper to the little one
Juvenile Crested Grebe at Golden hour on the Ouchy waterfront
We finally said goodbye to the Grebes and thanked them silently for the great photos they had given. As we moved towards the larger pier near the station we saw a big flock of Swans, common coots and gulls congregated near the shore. Never one to shy away from taking more bird photos I took a fair few photos of these birds who are extremely used to human presence.
A flock of gulls and Swans near the lake edge
Adult and immature mute Swans in beautiful light
A yellow legged gull in flight
A black headed gull swims in the placid lake waters
A common coot swims along the lake shore
A portrait of an adult mute Swan showing the serrated edges in it’s beak
Here too I had a couple of Tufted Duck blending into the gull flock or at least trying to blend in. It was turning into a great birding session in Europe.
The Tufted Duck in beautiful light at Lausanne
The mixed flock with the main pier at the Ouchy Waterfront, Lausanne
The better half also takes advantage of the great light too
The Chateau d’duchy hotel at the waterfront in Lausanne
It had been a great evening but the tummies were grumbling now and we decided to have dinner at a traditional Swiss restaurant at the waterfront. The Cafe du Vieil Ouchy was perfect for what we wanted and we got a table indoors. We decided to have the traditional Swiss Potato pancakes called Rosti with toppings of Ham, Fried egg and Raclette cheese for me & Pesto, cherry dried tomatoes and Burrata Cheese for the better half. It turned out to be delicious and a perfect end to our short stay in Lausanne.
Rosti with Ham, Fried Egg & Raclette Cheese
Rosti with Cherry dried tomatoes, pesto and Burrata Cheese
A great dinner to end our evening at the Ouchy Waterfront, Lausanne
We took the metro back to the old town where we stopped at Manu for yet another Gelato before returning to our hotel for a well earned night’s sleep. It had been a perfect start to our Swiss Vacation and Lausanne had ticked all the boxes for an Alpine lake side town. We would leave Lausanne the next morning after a great & varied breakfast at the Hotel des Voyageurs.
The Alps and the resort town of Zermatt beckoned. But that is topic for another post, some other time, some other day.