Bonjour mes amis!
OK, first, 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.
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.
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.
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.