Monday, 27 April 2015

A quick trip to Geneva

Getting away on the first flight out of Friday morning we head to Geneva. We are leaving clear skies around Luton, but unfortunately the forecast for Switzerland is not so good. Despite that, it was a smooth flight and as we descend through the cloud, we can just make out the shoreline of Lake Geneva - bordered by both Switzerland and France. The surrounding land is lush and green, with large areas of yellow crop and perfectly ploughed paddocks ready for planting.
There to meet us are Chantal and Fredy (Micromegas) from our Sail Indonesia Rally and how wonderful to see them again. Having sold their catamaran after 5 years cruising the world, they have retired to their home town of Geneva and are transitioning back into land living again.

With the whole day ahead of us, we travelled into the city and drove around all the beautiful old historic buildings as well as the more modern and impressive embassies. Geneva is home to more international organizations than anywhere else in the world, and is headquarters to the United Nations and the Red Cross. We walk along the lakeshore to the famous landmark - the Jet d'Eau shooting 140' into the air - it symbolizes Geneva and Switzerland's strength and vitality. We learn the history of Geneva and how it grew from a small settlement to the impressive international city it is today.

                                         The Jet d'Eau - Geneva's famous landmark behind us

        The memorial to the assassinated Empress of Austria (Sissi) - stabbed to death at this very spot.

                                         A scale model of Geneva - 13 years in the making

After a few hours of sightseeing, its time for lunch so we head to France. Geneva is described as sleek, slick and cosmopolitan and that it certainly it, but as the cost  of living is so high in Switzerland, many locals cross over the border into France to eat and do their shopping. Leaving Switzerland it is only a short drive to Yvoire, passing through rolling green hills, vast paddocks of yellow Rape (Canola), perfectly ploughed acres of rich fertile soil ready for planting and acres and acres of vineyards. It is such picturesque countryside, dotted with villages of chalets like houses with pitched roofs, shuttered windows and colourful planter boxes. Like the UK, the countryside is coming alive after the winter and as well as daffodils, tulips of every colour can be seen. We stop to eat at the Restaurant du Port in Yvoire and have a lovely meal of fresh fish, chips and salad with a chilled glass of local wine.

                                   Pete and Fredy outside the Restaurant du Port at Yvoire - France.

Our lunch stop - looking across Lake Geneva to Switzerland
After a leisurely lunch, we headed back south along the lake, across the border back into Switzerland stopping at small villages along the way to purchase bread and wine for dinner. Through Geneva then north up the other side of the lake to Chantal and Fredy's house at Nyon - almost directly opposite where we had stopped for lunch at Yvoire. Time to sit and chat about mutual friends, other cruisers, what they were doing and where they all were. The afternoon rolled into the evening, and soon we were dining on our French bread and fondue, more wine and kirsch, followed with fresh berries and cream. It had been a wonderful day - a long one for us with a 7.00am flight so time to retire and get some sleep.
Next morning after a sleep in and late breakfast, it was back in the car and heading north along the lake towards Lausanne and stopping in the very pretty town of Morges. We parked the car and wandered along the waterfront and through the tulip gardens. I have never seen such magnificent colours, and combination of colours of tulips before, many of them in full flower, others still waiting to open. We stopped in at the yacht club where Chantal and Fredy had kept their first boat for many years, and of course had to have a glass of local wine.

                                     Flower bed at the yacht club - Morges, Switzerland

                                    Myself and Chantal at the Yacht Club for a pre-lunch beverage.


              Just some of the amazing colours of the tulips in the gardens at Morges - Switzerland
After a lunch stop in town, we headed up through the Jura Mountains to the Vallee de Joux where Chantel had spent her childhood. The road is closed in the winter months, in summer it becomes a mecca for hikers, horse and mountain bike riders. Back in France and nestled in the centre is the Lac de Joux. Popular with windsurfers and sailors in the summer, and frozen over for the ice skaters in Winter. The countryside is rugged and unspoiled, the small villages down in the valley filled with watch-makers - many of the names I have never heard.
                            Pretty countryside as we leave the lake and head up to the mountains
                                   At the top of the Jura Mountains looking over Lac de Joux
On our descent from the top, we stop for a last coffee at La Mainaz Hotel - a great vantage point looking towards Mount Blanc. Sadly the cloud was sitting at the same level as the peak, but it was still an amazing view. Back in the car and winding down the mountain we cross back into Switzerland, the border being almost at the airport. It's time to say our goodbyes to Chantal and Fredy and our thanks for a wonderfully full 2 days with them. Our French had improved and Fredy's English also, great food and a fun time. A bientot - we hope.
                                                          Just one last tulip shot !!!!

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