I’m sitting on a bench in a busy train station in Switzerland. Dappled light drips through the blue glass ceiling onto a crowded platform of disgruntled commuters. My connecting train was supposed to be here an hour ago, but something about an electrical problem, or a strike, or, according to a red-faced Parisian man currently yelling into his phone, the Swiss themselves ( Mais putain! ils font chier ces montagnards), some inevitable aspect of fate has left me stranded here until further notice.
From the depths of a scratchy intercom, a cooing female voice speaks to me and one thousand others in an unplaceably-sexy Italo/Germanic/French/Romansch accent: “For the passengers awaiting connection transfers to the higher valleys, please wait until further notice. There are significant delays.”
I make a beeline to the tourist office to pick up some free literature. When I return to my bench, the seat is taken. No matter. I read the tourist brochure as I meander through the station, and soon learn that present-day Lausanne is nestled in an alpine valley, built on the impossibly blue shores of Lake Geneva, protected by the Jura and Alpine Mountain ranges.