Lake Geneva

Monday 12th August

We decided to leave Geneva for the day and explore other towns around the lake. We discussed plans over breakfast (always stressful). Jay was keen to visit CERN (Brief explanation for Mother: This is a very boring science place which has a long tunnel where they can split the atom.) Unfortunately, you can only book tours between 3 and 15 days in advance, and the only other part with public access is a museum which is aimed at children rather than serious scientists (I do not put myself in the latter category). I was not distraught that we were unable to visit. Instead, we decided to catch a train to Montreux, and I was promised a castle.

We bought a picnic lunch in a COOP supermarket, and ate it on the train. Tickets cost 66CHF return, which included a bus to and from the castle, and entry to the castle. This was all explained to us by a very helpful woman in the station ticket office (not the COOP bit, obviously).

People in Geneva all seemed very keen to be helpful, and generally their advice was to be trusted. They all spoke excellent English, though seemed pleased when we made the effort to try and initially speak French. I think this is quite important actually, and I rather despair when I hear English-speakers start a conversation in English, with no attempt whatsoever to even greet the person in their native language or enquire whether they speak English. It seems very rude, in my opinion.

The train took about an hour, and stayed close to the lake, so the views were lovely—lake on one side, mountains on the other (I think there is something rather exciting about mountains, especially when they have snow on top, don’t you?) Catching the bus was easy, and we saw the castle before we reached it, so we knew when to get off.

Chillon Castle is right on the lake, and looks like a storybook castle with a princess and a dragon. It’s not derelict (my favourite kind of castle is one where you can wander over the ruins, imagining stories) and it had a slightly ‘museum’ feel to it inside. However, we avoided the audio guide, which meant we could explore freely and avoid the parts squashed with serious-looking tourists. There were lots of ancient wooden walkways suspended high on the walls. Emm felt it necessary to stomp loudly whenever we walked across one, and at one point I was so exasperated with him, that as he followed me down some steps, clonking loudly on each one as if trying to collapse the staircase, I gave him some rather caustic feedback over my shoulder, explaining that it is possible to walk downstairs quietly. When we reached the bottom I turned around to continue my lecture, and found an elderly lady stomping behind me! Embarrassing.

Montreux is a pretty town on the far side of Lake Geneve. It has shops full of cuckoo clocks and cheese shops and expensive clothes shops. Next to the lake is a statue of Freddie Mercury, because he used to live there.

We returned to the Intercontinental Hotel. It has revolving doors, and the boys insist on squashing into them whenever Bea uses them, so they move slowly round, with the concierge watching on with concern wondering whether to explain that only one person should walk in each segment. I always walk in first and pretend I don’t know them.

Dinner was at Cafe du Soleil again. Husband followed his fondue starter with extra cheese fried in batter, so he’s clearly being careful about his cholesterol intake.

Tomorrow we leave for the Alps. I will be sad to leave the hotel, which has been wonderfully clean and comfortable with the most fantastic bathroom…but although I’m glad to have visited Geneva, I haven’t managed to fall in love with it…and snow-capped mountains sound rather fun, don’t they?

Thank you for reading.

I hope you have some fun today. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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