04.07.2007 - 08.07.2007 15 °C
After a lovely stay in Innsbruck, we headed by train to Geneva. The trains ran on impeccable timing and were never more than a minute behind schedule, from which they soon caught up. Very impressive, very Swiss! We were met at the Geneva train station by Maryse, a friend of ours who we knew from the EcoVillage where Claire's dad lives. She is an awesome host and makes you feel bubbly just to be around her! Her cheerfulness is contageous! We stayed with her at her parent's house in Geneva for four nights and had an awesome time. We met her mum, Rachel, who is as bubbly and cheerful as Maryse and such a joy to be around and her brother, Christophe, who was the epitome of friendly bilingual Canadian. Thanks guys we had an awesome time with you!
We spent our first night going to a free concert in the park, which was a sort of reggae/african style. It was super fun, even if we were huddled underneath umbrellas the whole time. Their music was so cheerful, which we found uplifting especially because the guys were refuges from Africa. It was amazing that despite enduring such hurendous circumstances, they can still create amazing music.
The next day, Maryse accompanied us to CERN (some fancy pants nuclear research centre where they smash particles together for fun - also the birthplace of the internet). We thought it would be more specatacular, but since the tours were booked until January, we had nothing to do but explore the museum, which left all of us feeling quite sleepy. Next was much needed coffee in the old town of Geneva and a picnic on the church steps. Yes, real French cheese again and excellent chocolate Geneva is so close to France that it has a ton of French influence. Next we walked through the parks to the UN headquarters, which was closed for meetings all week, unfortunately. We still got some photos with the flags though We had a fabulous home cooked meal for dinner, so much appreciated after eating out for so long, and hung out that evening.
The following day, we got up early and Maryse drove us to Chamonix in her mum's fany Alfa Romeo. Chamonix is across the border in France and is a famous ski town in the Alps. It took about an hour and a half to get there and we had to go through like three toll boths on the road and pay to pass!!! French I tell ya! Upon arriving, we had some gorgeous French cafe au laits and croissants. Sigh. Then we hiked up into the mountains for a few hours, no we didn't make it to the top of the Alps, but we still had some lovely views and a picnic up in the mountains.
That evening we had our first cheese fondue experience. WOW. Christophe is a fondue master, and the Swiss are also known for their fondue, so as you can imagine it was absolutely amazing. For two people that love cheese as much as we do, well, we were in heaven. Thanks Chris! Afterwards some of Chris' friends came over and all of them could speak English so well. We were very impressed. We hung out with them all night and went down to the lake for some drinks. We had an awesome time. It was nice to hang out with people from another culture, similar, but yet different too....we headed home at about 2, Chris came home at 7am. I guess we are party poopers by those standards!!
The next day, Maryse, Rachel and Christophe had a wedding to go to, so we got ourselves organized and figured out how we would get our booties to Greece by land and boat because flights were too expensive. We had planned to go to Belgium and the Netherlands before Greece, but we just didn't have the time and wanted to maximize our time in the sunshine. A great finale to our trip!
The next morning we caught a train at 550 to Milan (after only 3 hours of sleep!), then we caught another train to Ancona, which is one of the places where boats go to Patras in Greece. According to our Eurail timetable there was supposed to be a boat that night at 7pm, so we headed right for the dock at 5 when we got off the train, only to find that there was in fact no more boats that night. The one at 7 only goes on Tues, Thurs, Sat. It was Sunday. We should have learned our lesson about travelling on Sundays, we know. Oh well. We will have some nice words to write to Eurail about that one. We found a cheap hotel, like the worst place we have stayed yet, for the night and had some gelato to soothe our wounds. It all worked out fine and we caught the 130pm boat the next day to Patras. Greece here we come!
The weather in Austria and Switzerland had not been very summerlike, so we were happy to be back in the sunshine again, even if it was like 38C. We had a lovely breeze on the boat and sat out in the sun and read for the whole afternoon. It was heavenly. The boat was super new and nice and we had nice airplane seating this time, unlike our French experience. We were very impressed. Superfast Ferries is the way to travel! We spent the night on the boat after watching the sunset over the sea, and arrived in Patras the next morning at 1130. It was hot, and muggy!