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Feasting with Natalie

by Tara

Last night when we returned from our trip to Geneva I checked my email and was excited to see that I had a message from my brother. He'd sent us a note to say that his friend from high school, Natalie, is studying at EPFL, a university in Lausanne just a few kilometers east of us. Natalie had already replied to his three-way email saying that we were more than welcome to stay with her for as long as we wanted, offering us the futon in her living room! If we hadn't taken a rest day to visit Geneva, we would have passed Lausanne yesterday and would already be making our way towards the Alps.

A short, flat ride along Lac Leman took us all the way to Natalie's university, EPFL, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. There we met up with our friend and she treated us to lunch at one of the many cafeterias. We sat outside with her and her research partners, enjoying the cool weather and our delicious meal of pizza, pasta, and chicken wings. Everyone asked us numerous questions about our trip, and we answered them as best we could, all the while being curious about them. Finally after our questioning was finished, we asked them all about their research projects. Most of the people working with Natalie's are studying things like turbulence and urban wind patterns, while she studies trees and their water consumption. Cool!

After lunch we headed to their office's break room for some coffee and treats. To Tyler's great delight, their break room table was covered in English copies of "Physics Today" magazine. He immediately grabbed a few and was henceforth completely absorbed reading about fission and langmuirian monolayers.

It was soon time for Natalie to get back to work, so she generously left us with her keys and pointed us in the direction of her apartment. It was a short ride to her place just up the hill in the town of Renens. We let ourselves in to her clean, simple Swiss apartment, immediately began perusing her book collection and promptly began poring over the precious English words.

Before we knew it, it was 7pm and Natalie was opening the door carrying two huge bags of groceries. Her friend and research partner, a French girl named Nicki, tagged along bearing a bottle of rum and a bunch of mint leaves to make mojitos.

Suddenly the kitchen was alive with action as we all pitched in to create a veritable feast. Natalie had found some corn on the cob to remind us of home. We reminisced about the late-summer sweet corn festival in our home town as we put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. While she prepared the corn and cooked noodles, I prepared a fresh pesto sauce using leaves from a basil plant growing on the porch and Tyler cut up tomatoes for a tomato and mozzarella salad. All of this colorful summertime food was brought outside and we ate on the balcony while sipping mojitos.

Natalie & Nicki

After dinner, Nicki went home, and the remaining three of us cleaned up the hefty pile of dishes in the sink. With everything put in its proper place we retired to the living room where Natalie brought out a board game we'd never seen: Blokus. It's a bit too complicated to explain in great detail, but if you click the link the website tells all about it. By the time we were finished playing three rounds of the game, finally getting the hang of it, it was way past our usual bedtime. We said goodnight and fell promptly asleep.

Tomorrow we head for Martigny, halfway between us and Visp. Our loads will be just a bit heavier as we go, for Natalie has kindly given us six books. Finally, something new to read! Thank you for everything, Natalie!

Balcony Pigeon Renens by Night
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Anytime guys!

I am in Villigen this weekend to work in a lab here. I biked to Germany yesterday evening on this old swiss heavy one speed military bike that I borrowed from the school....I thought of you and wondered where you are these days. But it doesn't look like I will cross you here. I am a bit too far North.

Enjoy the rest of Switzerland!
Posted by natty c on August 23rd, 2009 at 2:38 AM
Thanks, Natalie! Sounds like you had a fun trip to Germany :-) We're in Silvaplana right now waiting for replacement wheelsets. Soon we'll have a long downhill into Italy!
Posted by Tara on August 26th, 2009 at 3:31 AM