Timeline: September 25th – 30th
Lisa Neddam had contacted us via email in Bulle to let us know that Adrien’s situation had not improved and they would have to decline hosting us in Geneva. We scrambled again for lodging, this time arranging to stay Friday night at an Ibis Budget property, the Annemasse, on the French side of Lake Geneva for a rock bottom 50 euros a night per room. It would place us about 20 minutes from Geneva International Airport, where Jessica and Kris would depart for the states Saturday morning.
It was a long afternoon of driving as the GPS took us north and then west around the lake, then east again to the property. By the time we arrived we hit rush hour traffic and it took us nearly an hour to go five or six miles. We first stopped at the address listed on the web site, in a run down part of town with no easy parking and were discouraged, and yet delighted, to find we were at the wrong site. We drove another couple of miles east to our Ibis, which had plenty of outdoor parking.
The budget part of the Ibis chain is just that. No frills. It is more like sleeping in a dorm room but its clean, the Wi-Fi works and you get a good night’s sleep. What more could you ask for 50 Euros? We decided against a restaurant for dinner, instead walking the quarter mile to a large supermarket where we gathered up picnic supplies, centered on a whole roasted chicken.
Returning to the Ibis we availed ourselves of the wooden picnic tables outside the breakfast room and proceeded to finish all of the food, two bottles of wine and one bottle of Port. It was truly a fitting way for us to end our journey together, sharing a meal in this fashion, allowing us to recount the many memories we’d compiled during the week.
Up early the next day in order to make it to the airport in time, we purchased the hotel breakfast at 6 Euros apiece, good enough for what they supplied us and it got us on the road with time to spare. The drive to the airport, back along the same route we took in the day before was much easier this time, given the early Saturday morning departure. We arrived at the airport to discover that, although the signs indicate there is a kiss and drop spot in front of the terminal no such location exists.
So we pulled both cars over near an exit, trying not to block traffic, and hastily said our good byes, sad to see the kids leave. We hustled back into the cars and made way to our next destination, the Gorges du Fier, near Lake Annecy where Joanna and I would be camping (our fall back lodging) for the next few days. Kim and Marty would hike the Gorge with us and then drive to Zurich for their flight home the next day.
We parked in a lot at one of the two entrances to the Gorge, walked the short distance to the entrance and then made our way along a series of ledges and catwalks through the narrow canyon cut by the River Fier. This leads to the The “Mer des Rochers” a maze of fissured rock, through which the River flows as it leaves the Gorge.
We finished up the hike, enjoyed a last beer together and bade farewell to Kim and Marty. A half hour drive found us in the small town of Annecy, sitting on the lake of the same name, a postcard picture perfect locale to visit; like Lucerne, with tall mountain peaks framing the lake, but nicer. We pulled into Camping Municipal Belvedere and set up camp, curiously glad to be back in our home away from home, our tent.
We spent the next three nights there, cooking in camp the first two (utilizing a Casino market in town) and enjoying a very nice twenty-mile or so bike ride along the lake. There is a dedicated bike path that follows the western shoreline, our plan being to ride it to the top of the lake and then wrap around on the eastern shore using a local road for a complete round trip. We ended up riding past the turn off for the eastern shore, quite a distance more, into a small valley where one could see Mt. Blanc in the distance. We just turned around and followed the same route back to camp.
Our last day was devoted to doing laundry and then a quick trip into town to walk its streets. We’d planned to try a pedal boat, but threatening skies and the chance of lighting convinced us otherwise. Annecy is charming and we wandered around on a quiet Monday, the town free of the crowds we’d witnessed on Saturday and Sunday.
Not wanting to spend a wad on dinner, we opted to visit the burger joint 231 East, which would open around 7:00pm, giving us an hour or so to kill. We walked down to a small bar and enjoyed a Belgian Beer, our first other than a local lager in months. Back at the restaurant, we ordered our burgers, medium rare because you can get them that way here, and consumed our organically grown beef patties of goodness with gusto. Curiously, two of the best burgers I’ve had in recent memory have been here in Europe in places where I would not have expected it.
We returned to camp and prepared for our drive the next day to Torino (Turin), a halfway spot between us and the Cinque Terre. As we were going to stay off the toll roads (it would have cost close to 90 Euros) the trip would take well over six hours. If the weather had stayed sunny, we might have considered spending another day or so in this delightful area, but sunny weather in Italy was calling. We reflected on how the change of plans regarding our Geneva lodging had instead provided for us a much more enjoyable Swiss experience than we’d had in Lucerne, and given Joanna and I the opportunity to enjoy Annecy.
I was a little concerned about the MacBook Pro as the day before the screen had pixelated, then the unit froze and I had to perform a hard restart. It booted back up but I did a full back up as a precaution. I debated taking it to the Apple Store in Geneva, but the distance and our desire to head into Italy, and the fact that it seemed to be working OK outweighed my concern. That would all change in the days ahead.
Ibis Budget Annemasse: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2565-ibis-budget-annemasse/index.shtml
Gorges du Fier: http://www.gorgesdufier.com/index.php
Lake Annecy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Annecy
Camping Belvedere: http://www.annecy-camping-municipal.fr/en/
231 East: http://www.231-east.fr/