Sunday morning rose, bringing with it a great view of Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the sun shining brightly over the many vineyards in the area. We had arrived at Steve and Sinead’s the night before and of course the wine had flowed, along with a real treat for me- a couple of glasses of port. If I loved them before I loved them even more when they produced the bottle of my absolute favourite tipple, especially not having had a glass since we left the UK in January 2020.
The next morning, with some heads more sore than others, we decided on a bike ride to try and clear our brains after a good dose of strong coffee and croissants. Steve was easy on us, or rather more on himself, as he had had a very intense cycle session on the Thursday. But as a seasoned ‘Iron-man’ the hills were still easy for Steve and for us – with the benefit of our electric bikes. We all made good time through the delightful twisting vineyard roads, stopping every now and again to take in the views across the lake and over to the Jet d’Eau in Geneva itself.
We were then lucky we be able to share a birthday lunch at Steve and Sinead’s for their very close friend, also called Steve, to celebrate his birthday (age not to be mentioned, but it started with a 5) along with his wife and one of their daughters.
Sunday birthday celebrations with social distancing
Again, the food was a delight - homemade steak burgers and chicken along with fresh vegetables from the garden, all washed down with delightful Swiss wines. Many tales were told from both sides, before the singing and guitar playing broke out. For those of you that know me well, you will be delighted to hear that none of the singing came from me. In fact, we were in the presence of our very own real-life Swiss family Von Trapp - as birthday boy Steve played the guitar whilst accompanying his wife and daughter in song.
The evening was an absolute delight and wonderful to be in the company of such lovely people. The rain had even held off until much later, then signalling the end of the evening for us all, with Monday being a workday for the two Steves.
David and I decided on a long bike ride for the Monday, using the Lake as a guide and heading for Lausanne, stopping off at various places on the way. Again, the weather was kind to us and the cycle paths even better as we made our way to Lausanne. We stopped in a lovely small village called Morges, which was stunningly pretty and so very Swiss!! We walked the high street in an attempt to find affordable food and settled on a reasonably priced sandwich and a £4 ice-cream each, fighting off the Swiss wasps as we went.
Morges- historic steamer arriving from France
We made it to the port at Lausanne, but by then it was past 4pm and we still had to travel 38Km to get back so we couldn’t really explore the city, but the gateway into it was lovely: the lake with its parks and activities, plus the port itself with its array of yachts bobbing away in the evening sun. A quick drink then return was the plan, but then we fell foul to a charming French/German mix waitress who had other ideas on speed and service, but nevertheless gave me the full run down on the local white wine I had ordered. One drink each and some 45 minutes later, we sat our sore bums back on the bikes and headed back to Steve and Sinead, taking the most direct route and so dicing with the Swiss rush hour traffic on the way. Sixty-nine kilometres were done that day, our longest cycle thus far on this trip and our legs, but especially our bums, bore testament to it and after a lovely Sinead home made curry we all had an early night.
Ishka having a cool down swim
The next day we headed out to a local restaurant for dinner. It was here that we returned to the very local speciality of Malakoffs, a super ball of deep-fried cheese, a bit like a hassle free, bite sized cheese fondue, followed by local lake-caught fish in a white wine sauce. The meal was divine, sitting outside the lovely auberge, before again wandering through the vines back to our much needed bed.
Wednesday was a super treat day for David as he was to play golf for the first time since March, when Covid turned everything upside down. He headed off with Steve to play Domaine Imperial. This is an amazing golf course sitting right on Lake Geneva. David played with his usual aplomb, but thoroughly enjoyed the outing, citing his aching body as a reasonable excuse for any poor shots or the eventual outcome.
Domaine Imperial Golf Course
The days passed quickly for us all, with everyone enjoying their time together after having not been, or being able to see family and friends, and with my brother’s 70th champagne birthday celebrations now cancelled, we had the time to spend another day just chilling and relaxing all together before heading off in the big wide world again on Friday, heading across the Alps and into France.
Our goodie bag from Steve and Sinead!!
We said our goodbyes on the Friday, after the five of us having had an early lakeside swim and breakfast, with David driving Buster up the long and bendy road out of Switzerland and on to La Rousse in France.
The plan here was to visit the Comte cheese-aging centre set in the Napoleonic forte there. Sadly, as ever due to Covid, this was not be and all tours have been cancelled. So, we settled on a chunk brought from the nearby Carrefour … not quite the same!
La Rousse- comte factory shut to visitors
The weather now was grey and cold, not conducive for any of the walks around the area that the nearby tourist office had given us, but David still played his last game of golf with cousin Steve making the short, skip and jump over from Switzerland. Thankfully for me at the lunch, every hole was not relived, just a quick summary of the 18 holes before David and I enjoyed our last lunch with Steve before he headed back home to nurse Sinead, who had been badly stung by those bloody Swiss wasps!
Foreeee, as David plays his 2nd game of golf in 5 months
We are now in parked in Buster, sat on a lovely vineyard in Beaujolais, reminiscing the good old Beaujolais Nouveau celebrations from past years. The evening’s wine tasting bore testament to climate change, and the fact that the grapes here are now picked by August, not the October of previous years, and how they are having to change some production to Rose, the grapes being much more suited to the intense heat they are now receiving. The world is a’changin, that’s for sure – but for better or for worse?
Tomorrow, we will head further back south heading towards Provence - not for ‘A Year In’, unfortunately.
During our last trip in 2016/2017 in an Elddis Encore called Nikki, we were very fortunate to have both family and friends come out and visit us along the journey. Unfortunately, this time no one has been able to come and see us, so for us Zooming family and friends along the way is just great, but it’s not quite the same as the real deal, so a big thank you to Steve and Sinead for a giving us a great week, when spirits were perhaps flagging a bit.