Lets chill out in Geneva! These grass lounges were all along one street.
I put the PS at the front: This turned out to be a loooooong Blog. So I suggest, you log out, make a cuppa tea or whatever your favourite beverage is and come back!
Well, what a challenging first day I had (Wed 3rd)! Lessons in learning to ‘go with the flow again’ started straight away. Leaving Sygun & Peter and Verena, I was full of anxiety, fear, sadness….a sort of emotional cocktail. I wasn’t in THE ZONE at all. I didn’t have a pilgrim pass yet, and to get one would give me a late start for the first etappe. I also felt quite unfit from all the bloody coughing, which is still hanging on. The fear at the beginning is mostly about getting lost I think. The guide book I have now is great, but I’m doing this walk back to front. This sounds easy, you just start reading at the back of the book, but it is a mind twister. Every right turn, means left for me, uphill means downhill etc, get the drift? Anyway, I had figured out and Peter and Sygun had suggested it, that because the first however many days are near or along Lake Geneva that I could take a boat to Versoix, which would save me 10kms of the 1st day’s 24. Great idea, I booked the 12.30 boat online the night before. Sygun and Verena dropped me off at Cern tram stop and I took the No 18 into town. I went to the Cathedral St Pierre for my pilgrim pass. They didn’t have one and sent me to the Basilika Notre Dame. They didn’t have one and sent me to a nearby church office. Here I was lucky and for CHF 25 (did I mention yet how expensive Switzerland is?) I received my pass. Same thing in Portugal was 1.50 Euro. I personally don’t really need yet another ‘credencial’ paper. I mean how many times can my sins be taken, and what sins anyway Saint Ursulina? But it is really helpful because you often get price reductions for meals and accommodation and entries to albergues.
So, all good, time enough to get to pier Paquis. Boat was 20 minutes late, VERY un-Swiss and the crowds (6) were getting restless. When it arrived, much apologies from the crew, they had had engine problems. We were rushed on board and 1 minute after leaving 2 stewarts came to me saying that we won’t stop at Versoix or in fact anywhere at the Northern side of the lake because of heavy wind! So, this was not good for me because the Southern side is totally not where I needed to be. When I questioned why they hadn’t told me before we boarded, they were very apologetic and said the captain only told them just now bla bla bla, nothing we can do. I now had to join the harbour cruise and we would be back in Geneva at 14.30pm. When asking for my money back, because I didn’t want a harbour cruise and then start walking 25kms at about 3pm, they said they couldn’t refund me because I purchased the ticket online and I would have to write to the company. So, here I was on a lake cruise in windy, cold conditions. I felt teary, which I think is really from leaving my friends and all the mixed emotions. Another issue too was that I had booked a, for my standards really expensive (but the cheapest available) accommodation already, where I needed to get to today. When I got a grip again, because ‘it is what it is’ and nothing I can do about it other than swim, I settled down, realising that now, while I am on this most beautiful lake, I might aswell enjoy it. The head stewart was super nice and tried to help me problem solve by suggesting I take the train after we get back and he booked me a ticket in 1 minute flat (he paid) to a place called Coppet, a bit further than Versoix, cause time was ticking on.
Silly not to enjoy this eh? But sometimes we just can’t see what’s in front of us….
So, all went well, I caught train to Coppet, a 9 minute train ride! Fast trains in Switzerland mind you! But the relativity of it all. This 9 minutes would have taken me 5-6 hours walk (17.8kms per guide book). Terry, I can see you shake your head and wonder why walk if you can take a train!
Coppet is a cute little place right at the Lake with a chāteau where they prepared for a 3 day flower show in the chāteau gardens. So, I started to relax. From here only 7kms to my destination, plenty of daylight left and most of all I saw signage everywhere!
My confidence slowly started to return, I wouldn’t have to read my guide book upside down after all! So, this deserved a relaxing start with coffee and cake in a café by the Lake. And then she was off, finally walking again. Everything was beautiful, vineyards, apple tree plantations, all in flower, the smells were divine, the sun was shining, the views were to die for, spring time was here and the world was ok!
So guys and here is my 1st night’s accommodation, I stayed at my castle, Château de Bossey. I had decided years ago to turn it into a conference/seminar centre and also allow pilgrims to stay, you know the upkeep of all my castles is a bit of a burden…lol
The top right little window is my room and this is the view from my room:
These alps are everywhere…
Next day walk was beautiful AGAIN! It’s a Public Holiday today, Himmelfahrt (Ascention Day).
If this doesn’t make your heart sing, I don’t know what will! I swear the Swiss don’t only sweep their streets they also vacuum them. If you see a spec of rubbish, you feel compelled to pick it up because it sticks out so much. My next night was in Rolle, directly at the Lake. Almost twice as expensive as last night! (CHF 145) Tomorrow I’ve booked a women only dormitory room in Lausanne.
Lake Geneva is with its 90 Trillion litres of water the biggest water reserve in Western Europe by the way. Little education on the side. You want a view from tonight’s room?
Oh dear, what I have to put up with! I totally deserve this after 25 kms of course. Ahhhh, it’s all just amazing. Uh lala, was going to be my new OMG. My friend Sygun said I use OMG (Oh My God) way too much. But when researching Uh (or Oh) lala, I found someone saying that French people actually don’t say this at all and if they do, it tends to refer to something negative. Or it means: “Check out that hot piece of ass”. Google said this not me! So, well oh lala is now of course not a new option.
You meet all sorts of pilgrims. This woman walked with her dog and some sort of cart invention, which she has a harness for and doesn’t have to use her hands at all. She is camping and the gear is too much to carry.
Tulips festival in Morges.After Lausanne I will leave Lake Geneva. I took a train for the last section to Lausanne. 30kms is such a stretch for me and I wanted some energy left to wander around Lausanne for a bit.
I was having cathedral withdrawals you see. But got my hit in Lausannewith the Cathedral Notre Dame, nicest building in Switzerland accordig to guide book from early Gothic, built between 1170 and 1275.
And then, having completed 25kms again, I celebrated my girl friend Verena’s birthday with a Swiss cheese fondue. I hope she appreciates my effort.
4th day walking today (Saturday) and got lost on the last 3 days here and there. I must review my previous comment about good book/good signage. I wouldn’t have dared to critize the Swiss, but every Swiss walker I met agreed with me. The signs often don’t match my guide book and they have the same signs for local tourist walks as for the Camino way. It often just says ‘Tourisme pédestre”, with the little yellow man and you’re not sure if this is for around the block or for the Camino or what. In Portugal were all these extra funny stickers: “Gut Weg will Pfeile haben”. Sorry, untranslatable, it relates to a German saying. And what was really helpful there was X on ways where not to go. Now that I have left Lake Geneva, which was a good orientation, having it often visible to your right, it’s a bit more stressful. Anyway, it’s of course not as bad as my original fears, because it’s fairly populated, you meet other walkers, cyclists etc to ask.
Couldn’t find this cyclist anywhere though!
This beautiful wooden tower called Tour de Sauvabelin, from where you are supposed to have an amazing view over all of Lausanne etc, unfortunetaly closed for renovation.
Came across this lovely wooden mermaid at one stage being lost (again) by accident at the edge of a little water reservoir. I almost didn’t notice her.
Last night I stayed in Moudon. That was interesting. Due to some agricultural festival everything was booked out. But I had heard about some military caserne (Kaserne), that offered beds to pilgrims in some huge dormitories. So, the info lady at the Lausanne tourist info centre called for me (after having made 10 unsuccessfull calls already) and it was a hit. The guy said there is a group of 8 but I could be by myself in a 60 bed dormitory and whether that would frighten me. Que???? Hmmm. Better by myself than with 59 soldiers. Anyway, that whole etappe was challenging, got lost, guide book useless, lots of asphalt, in short I took the bus after 15 kms to 2kms before Moudon where I went to the caserne. All closed but there was a bell and some 17 year old soldier came out (behind highly secure gates etc) and said, no, no accommodation here. We had a bit of a chat, there were only 3 soldiers there and they had no idea why they had to be there and were bored out of their brains, playing cards and stuff. So, I convinced them to ring the person who we had booked with, which they did. They found out the place was actually in Moudon town, where I wanted to go anyway and since they had nothing to do another 17 year old drove me there in a military vehicle. I mean how safe can you be! I had asked if we could go in a tank (Panzer), but the answer was ‘no’. Now, where he dropped me off, a place called ‘Arsenal’ was not the right place. It was very busy though being used as the car park for this agricultural show. So, I asked the car park attendant and he called that phone number again for the 3rd time by now and asked for an address. (Some times it would be helpful to have a phone, but then I don’t speak French anyway). Then a dear old English lady must have overheard us and came to ask if she could help. This story maybe sounds very convoluted, hence hopefully you have your cup of tea, but it shows how things go sometimes. So, we found out that the correct place is actually right next to the church and is now used for God knows what, school groups or something. So, the lovely English lady drove me there, just a km or so.
Well, I have arrived. And because in the big dormitory was a group of 8 walkers, the caretaker put me in a 4 bedroom room ALL BY MYSELF! For 18CHF. How good is that? 1 bed for me and one bed for my things and 2 spare. 3 more German walkers arrived for the big dormitory and we had a nice chat. I had lost my body wash container and asked if anyone had seen it and one of them immidiately gave me one of theirs, saying it was spare anyway. It reminded me of when Ruth and I walked and I had left my towel behind somewhere, and the same night we met 2 German women cyclists who cut their towel in half saying it was too big anyway. Ahhh, the universe provides. These are tiny little sharings, it’s hard to describe, but they make your day. When I left Lausanne I still had a public transport day pass that I almost threw away, but then thought no, I might meet someone, cause everyone goes the other way to me. And I met this Austrian lady whom I could give it to together with a map of Lausanne and she was so happy. And it’s not that we can’t afford those things ourselves, it’s a sharing of resources, a giving of a right gift at the right time or something.
Today was to be a short walk of 15 kms from Moudon to Romont and unbelievably I got lost AGAIN, wandering through fields of green and yellow with no signage to be found. I stopped a motorcyclist, who was lovely and pointed me in the direction of Romont. He was a farmer checking the crops. A km or 2 later, he found me again on his bike and look what he did. He must have gone home, printed out a map for me and marked where I needed to go.
Honestly, now in hindsight it brings tears to my eyes. The kindness of strangers. Meanwhile, there were also yellow markers again on the trees. Another km later he drove past again to tell me, a little disturbed I think, that he had actually never noticed the markers before even though he lives here. I tried to reassure him and explain that this is normal, we often only notice things on a needs basis, what’s in our field of awareness, but this conversation was getting beyond my limited French. How lovely though.
Romont in the distance. I’m getting there.