5 days adventuring through Switzerland and France which, actually, had very little to do with finding cheese 🙂
Our Swiss adventure started off pretty rocky: we originally planned to take the train to Bern and spend our first night there. Unfortunately, train tickets ended up being over $100 instead of the $26 as advertised online. We spent the better part of the day trying to find alternative transit, trying to cancel our Bern hostel, trying to find a new hostel in Geneva and trying not to lose our minds! It was stressful, but we eventually booked an overpriced
closet room in a hotel in Old Town.
After dropping off our bags and breathing a big sigh of relief, we headed back to the lake to check out Geneva’s icon: the Jet d’Eau. Basically, it’s an oversized water spout. But, it was pretty remarkable up close and wonderful to sit out on the lake and enjoy the sun. Next we walked up to St. Pierre Cathedral, which was supposed to be the perfect background for a jumping photo (where tourists jump in front of monuments….sometimes it looks cool). Unfortunately, Gabby took an astonishing eighteen (18!) photos before capturing Carlie and I in mid-air. It was hilarious & exhausting!
The next day we set off to visit the United Nations located in Geneva. We saw the Broken Chair, a giant three-legged chair built in honour of landmine victims. We walked around the grounds, stopped in at the Red Cross Museum and then headed back into town for lunch.
After lunch, we stopped at a department store for some authentic, but cheap, Swiss chocolate. The place was swarming with tourists – chocolate buying has never been more stressful! We took our new purchases to the “bohemian neighbourhood” of Carouge, which ended up being pretty deserted. Last on our Geneva tourist list: visit the reformation wall! This giant wall holds the statues of 4 guys who reformed Europe….or something (we didn’t do much research on it). We did, however, watch some fearless young boys climb all over the statue and leap off of it!
Our time in Geneva ended with a yummy chicken dinner and views from Old Town. The next morning, we set off for the beautiful French town of Annecy!
And thank goodness we did! Annecy absolutely made the trip! Annecy is home to a stunning lake, picturesque French Alps, an adorable little Old Town, tons of gelato shops and way better prices than Switzerland. I can’t recommend a visit to Annecy enough! We were so happy to arrive in France and be greeted by the Old Town’s Sunday market. The streets were buzzing and we dug into a full chicken and potatoes with our fingers while sitting on a bench with the mountains and water behind us 🙂
Wanting to get closer to the Alps, we decided to try our luck at hitch-hiking up Mt. Semnoz. We got many an apologetic head shake until finally, an older Vietnamese guy pulled over and we jumped in! With our shaky French and his shaky English, we managed a very windy 20 minute car ride straight up the mountain. When we got out, the scenery had gone from road and trees to snow and ice! It was insane! We walked out along the peak to try and get a better view, while sliding in our inappropriate footwear and watching the snow bunnies of Annecy do their thing down the mountain.
Speaking of down the mountain, we confronted two French women by their car and basically begged for a lift back down. They were super kind and happy to struggle through broken French conversations with us. As unimpressive as my French skills are, it was nice to have the opportunity to try them out in a very French town.
Back at sea level, we fulfilled Gabby’s boat fantasies and went paddle-boating! I was a little scared about jumping into the boat – because if anyone is falling off of a paddle boat, it’s me – but we managed okay. We even had the sore thighs to show for it! The rest of the day was walking through parks and the cobble-stone streets of Old Town, eating gelato (twice) and finishing the night with cheese fondue (delicious, but you can only have so much melted cheese and bread in one sitting).
Day 2 in Annecy started with a visit (or two) to the bakery. It felt very authentic to visit a French bakery first thing in the morning while the rest of the town was still waking up. We took our treats up to the basilica on the hill and enjoyed the view over the lake. We followed our view back down to the water and spent a few sun-drenched hours walking along the sea wall (lake wall?) where we made new friends (bunnies, dogs & swans included!) and took too many photos.
After lunch and more time admiring the views, we had to leave Annecy 😦
We picked up our bags and boarded a bus back to Geneva. We spent our last night on the Swiss-French border, at a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Restaurants were closed, or non-existent, so Gabby and I settled on vending machine soup for a late dinner. The next day we picked up lunch from the grocery store, spent our last Swiss francs on more chocolate and made our way back to the airport and back to our home.
After 5 days in Switzerland/France and a whirlwind day and a half back home in Amsterdam, I am off to Rome tomorrow! Ciao 🙂