Cowbells and making out: Switzerland and France. PLUS: READ A BOOK!

Bonjour mes amis!

OK, firOops, you can't see this picture! You can still read Nick's book, though. Get yourself over to amazon!st, please note a new segment on our page (to the right or below): “A word from our sponsors.” This is actually a message from me about Nick’s newest book, but I think I’m cute with the hilarious headings. Anyway, this book is sooooo good (I stayed up until 2am finishing it – this is behaviour usually reserved for Harry Potter).

Now onto the post:

Our usual m.o. on this trip is to do one – or two at a push – touristy activities per day. Activities could include such examples as adorable village stroll, adorable boat ride, guided tour of a site, castle visit, or hike. The rest of our time is spent faffing about, driving, or sitting on our behinds (on the terribly impractical but oh-so-squishy camp chairs Luke bought). However, I got all excitable  while sitting by the shores of Lake Geneva one evening, and I planned a day of touristing in the mountains above us for the next day. The day was to start with a winding mountain drive, followed by a gondola ride and hike, and then a second winding mountain drive to a fondue extravaganza, finishing up with a luxurious spa experience, and camping in the mountains. We actually did all this.

This is after the crying, but if you look carefully you can still see the fear in my eyes
This is after the crying, but if you look carefully you can still see the fear in my eyes
Luke is totally unconcerned by his wife's trauma. (J/k, he was actually very sweet of course.)
Luke is totally unconcerned by his wife’s trauma. (J/k, he was actually very sweet of course.)

The gondola ride was traumatic. I actually cried, there were actual tears. It turns out I’m really, really afraid of sitting still in a well-maintained Swiss engineered ski lift while it moves at a gentle snail’s pace no more than 10 metres away from the soft, grassy, wild-flowered ground. Anyway, we got there. We hiked up the rest of the way to the top of the peak, where there was still snow on the ground. Then we had to go down. We couldn’t find a path through the purple and white wildflowers carpeting the hills, so we had to walk right over them, which was sad. It started to rain. The fog swirled around us, and the mountain peaks took turns being obscured by it.  We started slipping down muddy streams that served as trails. Eventually, we reached some cow pastures (they have bells. The bells echo across the valleys. It is very Heidi.). The story will now come to an uprupt and unpoetic end with us arriving back at our car.

That little black dot is Lukey. He walks fast.
No pictures of the spa, for obvious reasons. But this is the hike. That little black dot is Lukey. He walks fast.

When I think of spa, I think of a few massage rooms and maybe a sauna. Of course with generic Tibetan/Enya/ocean-sounds music in the background at all times. This spa was not that. First of all, they only sell passes for three hours and five hours entry, with the option to extend for extra hours at an additional cost. I thought this was ludicrous, until I entered. It’s like The Chocolate Factory (of Charlie fame) for grown-ups with sore muscles from hikes for which they were physically unprepared. There is an enormous hot outdoor pool (overlooking an idyllic Swiss mountain town, snowy mountains, and a church with a freakin’ rainbow glowing above it). This pool has all sorts of underwater seats with bubbling jets, and hot waterfalls of varying strengths. There is an indoor heated pool with all the same shenanigans, plus two-story high glass panels looking onto the mountains, with reclining beach chairs to take in the snowy view from within the warm, humid air. There are a dozen different sauna and steam rooms, all with specified temps and humidity. And don’t forget the tiny Nordic pool – big enough for one person to jump straight into ice-cold water, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Luke decided to enjoy the naturalist (read: starkers) sauna. After soaking up the heat, he took stock of the various shower options available – standard shower, dip in a cool pool, or fun wooden barrel mounted high on the wall, with a rope attached to tip out the bucket onto one’s head. For funseys, he decided to go the latter route. It ended up being ice water, so, ouch.

Another thing about this spa: everyone was making out. It was gross. I saw two people actually start the approach with their tongues already out of their mouths. I would like to be crystal clear that Luke and I opted to quietly mock these couples, rather than getting into “when in Rome” mode.

With Berangere in Lyon- we found a barge on the Rhone river that was doing wine, beer, and food tasting. I had octopus in a crepe with herbs and cream!
With Berangere in Lyon- we found a barge on the Rhone river that was doing wine, beer, and food tasting. I had octopus in a crepe with herbs and cream!

After our mountain experience, we headed into Lyon to stay with my old friend from University College Dublin, Bérangère (hi B!). It had been ten years since I’ve seen her, and it was excellent to catch up. She took us on a jam-packed tourist circuit of Lyon – it’s gorgeous, I had no idea – and we stayed at her lovely apartment in the city. She had to leave for Jordan the next morning (she does humanitarian medical work, so thank you on behalf of humanity, B), but she graciously let us stay on for another night at her place so we could get some chores done in the city that day. We did get stuff done (laundry! Sim card! Etc.!), which felt very satisfying. Plus, it was fun to sprint about a city like lived there.

As always, onto photos to tell the rest of the stories. We have not yet replaced our camera, so your visual suffering will continue.

A little bit more France, and then Switzerland 

Back to France

10 thoughts on “Cowbells and making out: Switzerland and France. PLUS: READ A BOOK!”

  1. I am surprised you didn’t partake in the shenanigans at the spa – maybe you got it all out of your system while waiting for the lift at our Hornsby apartment…


  2. Loved reading about your travels and again the pictures and your comments are great, funny, and so much fun to read. Continue having such a good time and keep on blogging. Love, Grandma Marge


  3. Your latest blog sparkles with tension. The part about the gondola ride is fast, smart, and terrifyingly plausible–a fast-pace thrill ride that took me on a vicarious journey of fear. The depth of your research into European culture is staggering. Your hikes, spas, churches, and the accompanying sub-tourism are entirely convincing and held my attention from beginning to end. Truly a thriller itinerary in every sense of the word.


  4. So nice that you got to see B! I’m jelly, as the kids say. I hope you have her a hug for me!
    That spa sounds amazingg. I want to go to there.
    Also, thank you for the book recommendation. I want to read it!


  5. Hi, Miss Lena and Luke:
    Felice, you are a crack-up! Your entirely quirky personality really comes through, and your comments are a laugh riot for everyone! Apparently you are afraid of gondolas whether they are engineered by the Chinese or the Swiss!
    We love you both so much, and are so happy that you are having your long-dreamed of adventure of a lifetime.


  6. So worth interupting the writing of my essay to read & view pics. I agree with all previous comments you have a future in print. Shall we advertise your blog to increase your exposure? Never know when funds could become required.

    You are both looking decidely more relaxed and in the travel groove. Hope you are coping with 24/7 company of each other in confined spaces?!

    Can’t wait for your exciting & halirious next installment. As always missing you. Xxx


  7. I’m so glad you’re having so much fun! All of your hard work and planning have certainly paid off! Looking forward to your next post.


  8. Such a fun post! Your photo captions were the best part of my day! Too funny!! Love reading about your adventures!! Travel safe, love you.


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