All too soon we bid farewell to our loft apartment in Sankt Goar Germany and headed toward Switzerland via the autobahn highway. Navigating in foreign countries doesn’t always go to plan even with a GPS. At one point we took a wrong exit and ended up 70kms off course in a small French town. Being Sunday everything was closed except a small hotel where we asked for directions using broken English and gestures. Miraculously we ended up back on the right freeway but lost two hours in the process.
I’ll never forget the vibrancy of the bright and deep greens of the grassy hills looking like a picture postcard as we drove in to Switzerland for the first time, When Lake Geneva came into view we were in awe of her size and natural beauty.
The small Swiss towns with narrow cobble stone streets are picturesque with colourful flower boxes on windowsills and along the streets. Our studio in Cully sits on a cliff top overlooking Lake Geneva with views you could never tire of.
One perfect sunny day we took a lake cruise to Montreux to visit Chateau Chilon. Traveling on a restored lake steamer built in 1910 provided a highlight as we took in the views of both the Swiss landscape and the French Coast. The 1000 year old Chateau stands on a rocky outcrop on Lake Geneva and is compelling to walk through and explore.
On a day trip we drove to Lausanne and spent a fascinating four hours wandering through the Le Musee Olympique (Olympic Museum). The interactive exhibits are engaging and we enjoyed reliving memories of past Olympics including Cathy Freeman lighting the flame and winning gold in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. We pushed all the buttons, read the fun facts, watched audiovisual and saw authentic memorabilia of each of the games.
The following day we walked through the vineyards near Cully up to Epesses a small wine village located 464 m above sea level with Vignerons dating back to the 17th century, with spectacular views over Lake Geneva. A steep climb but well worth it.
A visit to Geneva was a priority on our list of things to do in Switzerland. The water fountain jet that shoots 140 metres into the sky is an icon of Geneva. When we walked along the promenade on the lake edge we searched the horizon for the water jet but saw nothing. Eventually we discovered the fountain is switched off on windy days so unfortunately we did not see the famous Geneva water jet.
We walked toward Geneva’s city area and it seemed quiet. Feeling a bit lost we entered a hotel to ask for a city map. The concierge told us the shops were all closed for a public holiday. Luckily some of the cafes were open and we found a delightful Italian restaurant to eat lunch. We then wandered to Geneva’s historic area with beautiful old buildings, St Pierre’s cathedral and outdoor cafes on paved spaces in the sunshine. There is something special about ancient buildings thinking that they have existed for many hundreds of years and knowing people walked on the same cobblestones centuries ago.
For the return drive back to Cully we took a longer route traveling through France and enjoyed spectacular scenery as we circumnavigated Lake Geneva (a total of 190 kms).
We visited the cheese and chocolate making area of Gruyeres on our last day in Cully. Gruyeres is a medieval village, typical of the 1500s, in which cars are banned. The buildings are historic and you get a feel of living in a different era (except for the bus loads of tourists).
Even after five days the scenery amazes us as we drive around. Switzerland is the most beautiful and picturesque country in the world.
Our next destination is Aeschi, Switzerland and we will drive across the Southern Alps to get there. Aeschi is located in the German speaking areas of Switzerland so we’ll have to stop saying ‘bonjour’ and resume saying ‘guten tag’.