Lovely Lac Leman

Since the last trip, a 6-month old kid decided to join us on this one.  Don’t worry he’s my son (put the phone down). With that in mind, it was a longer trip than usual; overall though he was a good kid – mostly slept.  A bit inconvenienced because of the stroller but I guess this will be the new norm from now on.  The airline was good, but surprised that they didn’t serve any meals (just a pizza roll and some breakfast, the chocolates were a great touch seeing how this is Swissair).

Here we are on my boy’s first trip (with him crying my ears off in the background as I write this) – not as bad as I thought really.  This trip came at a great time just as we are getting really tired of the heat in Dubai and haven’t had a proper trip for about a year now because his highness (since Canada last year). It was also a test for him travelling on the plane, and other than being fidgety and occasionally a loud screamer (maybe 5 minutes in total) it wasn’t bad at all.  Carrying all his stuff though is a bit tiring (car seat, stroller, bottles, etc.).

The apartment we stayed in is very nice and high tech (yes we do apartments now, no hotels and definitely no hostels anytime soon). The weather is amazing and the countryside is so surreal, reminds me of Canada mostly but less “wild” and more picture perfect.  So we’ll rejuvenate after the flight, and hopefully will go and visit Yvoire tonight and have a good meal/dinner there. (Friday, from Evian apartment 12:40 p.m.)**

Drove to Yvoire and somehow ended up in the old village (which is the place to be).  This was by accident, even though in the car rental GPS I put a random address, but looks like luck is chilling with us today.  Oh the GPS, how I love thee…. saves so much time and stress, where have you been all my life (Tunis, South Africa, Cyprus, Kuwait??) – so easy to use I cannot stop raving about it, I have been introduced to a whole new world.  Took a good few photos in the “sickingly quaint” old village; but had stupid camera issues again.  It stopped working (on and off – randomly) I was so pissed, this always happens in every trip no matter how many backups I prepare for.  I’ll have to make do, and just go with the flow taking as many pictures as I can before I invest in a new camera, but soon before going to Toronto/Frankfurt in the next fall.

Picturesque Yvoire

We thought we would avoid the crazy high prices of food in the touristy Yvoire restaurants and go back to Evian or somewhere closer along the way back for food.  We were starving, so in my infinite wisdom I thought let’s go to St. Morzin (I had heard there is a chalet there with great views).  So the GPS doesn’t say how long it is (distance) but even if it did it wouldn’t have helped because the road is so jagged up the mountains that a short distance takes forever.

At this point we were beyond starving, but I put a random address in the GPS as usual and started to head there, it took at least another hour or more to go to the town.  We ended up in a residential complex then looked around for an open restaurant because at this point we were ridiculously hungry.  The light of the sun was still shining even by the time it was 9 p.m.!  We kept asking and moving further along until we finally found an open restaurant that had amazing pizza (I know not very authentically Swiss but the misses had hers with a Swiss/French element to it; basically a cheese pizza that tasted like fondue).  Then we topped it off with this amazing dessert called Kaioca which had some weird spicy and exotic sauces on a fritter type pastry; sticky rice and like a mousy but crispy layered cake – weird but so worth the trip.  Finally drove down in the night through the hills and made it home.  A long exhausting day – waiting to see what Lausanne holds for us tomorrow. (12:07a.m. Evian time)**

Today was a physically difficult day; lots of walking (mainly uphill) carrying things, I hope this goes well into my muscle toning routine – or lack thereof.  Took a walk with my boy for the morning breakfast essentials and got a baguette, some jams, and edam cheese from the nearby grocer.  Came back and got ready for the ferry to Lausanne.  After a nice walk to the terminal, the ferry went smoothly, then metro to the main town.  The market was nice, but mainly food items like fruits, veggies, cheese and of course bread – all very tempting but nothing we can buy and carry around for the while we are here.  After A LOT of walking and picture taking; we walked into a nice restaurant in some corner, was prepared to have some Horse meat (a delicacy here), but as usual they don’t have it so had some nice beef with some thin fries. “Ma lady” had some nice shrimp, the salad was amazing with light mustard dressing.  After we had our fill, and my little satan knocked down the coke bottle (twice!) we left and had a great walk about.

Chilling in Lausanne

It was exhausting but we began to make our way back, after seeing some church (the main one – forgot the name).  Took the metro and ferry back, beautiful scenery (but we were all sweaty, tired, and a tad dehydrated).  We were ready to hit the supermarket here, but we just came back. What a useless journey we did, I wanted to go to Carrefour but because it wasn’t in the GPS it took a while to figure it out.  Finally, we found it and it was 40km away in Switzerland (not France) and the road ended up being closed, so we had to drive all the way back to a Michelin restaurant with great food, but not the cheapest, called L’histoire de gout or something, and my son as usual became annoying towards the end so we didn’t get to enjoy it fully.  They were a bit slow too and we were exhausted from the long day, and at the start we sat outside and got attacked by a million bugs – anyway needless to say we didn’t save money on the dinner and by no means did things go according to plan – what else is new? (11:35p.m., Evian)**

What a lovely day this was, tried a few different things.  Went for a morning stroll again with my son out to the baguette place in the morning.  Had some fresh baguette, butter, and water (we are using a lot for a toddler and for two adults who are walking a lot) –then headed out to the fromagerie at Gruyere. It was nice but small and quick; still, it was interesting, and we had some good cheese tasting.

Gruyere fromagerie

We then moved to the Chalet at Chateau D’oex but we had just missed the demonstration, it was raining hard and gotten cold which was nice because we cozied up to hot chocolate for me and tea for my better half, had some nice cheese fondue (very strong taste though) and macaroni.  Needless to say we had cheese overload but it wasn’t great that my camera stopped working (again!), then my blackberry lost power so I couldn’t take pix with it, eventually I resorted to the video cam to take pictures as well as videos.

We rode back on some amazingly beautiful country roads and passed Montreux (to be visited tomorrow in more detail) and headed to Evian where yet again the super markets were closed, we are really having issue with supermarkets here, specifically to get baby food.  At least we finally saw their location and for tomorrow the first thing we’ll do is go there to make sure we buy what we need, essentials are running low.  We finally made it home (the earliest we have done so far) chilling, and will have a light dinner (I got some bread from a local bakery on the way home) ready for some relaxation.  Lots of cheese today; and even more “A LOT” of chocolate, especially with the sampling at Le Callier (after Le Chalet).  That last thing was the best of the three today.  Their presentation was an impressive walk through and we had amazing amount of chocolates to taste test.  Eventually we ended up still buying more chocolate (even though we were full). I got a poster for me as well as from their store – eventful day looking forward to tomorrow. (8:52p.m., Evian)**

Cailler Choclaterie

So today was another great day, it started off rainy and cold but as I write now (about 5:20 in the afternoon Evian time) it’s nice and sunny with a fresh breeze.  We started off by going to the local hypermarket “Cora” – yes I know, we did it! – and were pleasantly surprised.  Love going to grocery stores in different countries, the products were all unique and we found some good stuff; especially when it comes to baby food – got us some good French bread, anchovies, cheeses and more chocolate for our trip (so that we can save the Cailler chocolates for Dubai).  Then we headed off to Montreux and went to Chilion Castle.  Wasn’t expecting much, but it ended up being more interesting than I expected. After a detour through posh Montreux suburbs, we ended up on the waterfront of Montreux in a restaurant called Matara which had great food at reasonable prices (still not cheap, but then nothing is here).

Montreux and Chilion Castle

After a quick stroll along the waterfront, we headed to Aigle and then Leysin; picture perfect, post card moments, unbelievable scenery was in full display.  Loved it – although had a couple of car related panics going almost 90 degree slopes down a cobblestone road in Montreux to get to the restaurant and then going up the mountain to Leysin.  Had a couple of close calls with all the trucks passing by.  Our little one wad a champ the whole time except he got a bit cranky again at lunch in the restaurant and towards the end (granted it was almost his feeding time).  Had to cut short the trip up to Leysin, but even then it was my favorite part of the whole trip so far – driving on one of the most beautiful routes I’ve had the pleasure of driving in all my life – incredible memories.

I guess I realised it’s not like my old trips, certainly not the ones I did solo, in terms of really seeing what I wanted to see at my own pace. I tried to do that here, but more often than note I couldn’t and had to re-prioritise my itinerary.  A bit disappointed about that, but generally wouldn’t change any of it, certainly loving the time with my boy. This might make me rethink travelling as much as I had hoped.  Oh well, c’est la vie as they say, maybe when I retire (5:28p.m. Evian)**

The day started early for us, we made our way to the market in Evian near the Casino and church, was a bit of a challenge to find parking, and the spaces were ridiculously small, but after three cycles around the entire lot I found one in the last level of the underground parking (which was relatively cheap).  The wares on display were quaint, everything from clothes to jewellery to cheese (we got some), honey, rotisserie chicken, soap, bread, sweets (we get an orange cake which is very light and fluffy, highly recommended), shoes, olives, veggies and fruits – even bags and mattresses.  We then made our way to Vevey where we had a nice lunch at Le Mazot (or something like that – ask lonely planet).  Finally tried me some horse meat, wasn’t great but the potato rosti was awesome and so was my wife’s fondue.

Drove out to the wine country where the wifey must have had at least five heart attacks at the high altitude, narrow streets and sharp corner curves.  After some photo ops went back to Vevey along the waterfront as well as the food museum.  The first was a slight disappointment but I enjoyed the food museum and got a book about coke memorabilia collection – random but it’s cooler than it sounds.

Inside the quirky food museum

Made our way back with some quick grocery shopping at the co-op, got a couple of wine bottles (which I’m not sure I’ll have time to drink) and then home where I ate some just-baked bread (tasted like pretzels – was great) with anchovies I bought the day before.  It seems like we have so much time when we make our way back but all of a sudden the time just flies by and I wonder where it all went.  Time to head to bed for another early morning, off to the Morges market with stops along the way at Nyon and Coppet to make our way back through the Auberge D’Hermance (a late addition to the schedule) and then one day left.  We might also ask if we can delay one more day to head back at night that way our kid can sleep for most of the trip and we have time to clean up the apartment before we leave.

Vevey and the pretty wine country

I am also contemplating getting a Swiss army knife while the lady goes to the Spa – saw it this morning at the market, we’ll see.  By the way loved Vevey, and the wine country was another visual miracle.  Such a photogenic part of the world (10:27p.m.Evian)

Off to Morges – however the original plan to go see the big Wednesday market fizzled as time passed by; and soon we were too late even for the Nyon market.  Regardless we set-off to see this Café Balzac which is apparently known for Asian twist on teas, hot chocolates and salads. As the GPS told us to go around from Montreux, it soon became apparent that we were going to drive around the entire lake.  So off we went on a cold and another rainy day and eventually after passing all the areas we saw and got so used to, we made it to Lausanne and passed it to make our way to Morges.  A very nice town, parking in the commercial centre we set off to the café.

After a confusing start we found the way via a pedestrian only road with nice stores and café – reminiscent of Taksim in Istanbul and main streets in the UK.  The café did not disappoint, after initially being ignored by the waitress we finally made headway – the décor was bohemian and tribal and the selection of hot chocolates made us salivate.  The Balinese salad was amazing, and gave us a break from all the Swiss food we had, it’s nice to get something with spices and flavours from Asia for a change.  I had the mango infused hot chocolate called Majomba or something close, and madam had the vanilla flavoured hot chocolate which was very tasty.  After another tantrum from the little guy – which is now becoming the norm in restaurants, we made our way back and through the commercial road.  Made the best of the way back by looking at a few stores along the way. Off to Nyon, but wait I forgot about the Tristan Chocolaterie!

So for a quick detour went to the Tristan Chocolaterie in some miniscule but charming town.  The selection of chocolates were AMAZING, from green tea, Jasmine, café Arabica, and other ones I could not pronounce, to white, dark, fruit and nut as well as very spicy chocolates.  We had so many samples of chocolate we were really full and able to wait for lunch.  The town was very small with one road and only a few buildings. It was surrounded by wine country similar to Lavaux but without the heart attacks due to some nice wider roads. We got a small sample of mixed chocolates, which weren’t cheap, and off to Nyon.  At this point we started to get slightly quieter and a bit more tired having passed half the lake, so by the time we reached Nyon I parked in a 30min zone, the gang stayed in the car while I took some pix from the Nyon castle.  It had great views on the lake, and the town was very charming – as most towns were around this part of the world apparently.

After a quick stop at Coppet, literally a 5-minute stop in this one street town, taking a couple of quick snaps of some medieval looking urban planning – off to Geneva and the Auberge D’Hermance, but wait apparently they don’t open on Wednesday unless you’re a group.  So since we were tired and hungry we forgoed the risk and had some Turkish food in Geneva (another break from all the Swiss food).  I had Iskendar Doner (my fave since Istanbul) and she had a shawarma wrap – good but very heavy.  After a quick walk had to stop at a souvenir shop next to the Turkish canteen – where I bought a Swiss army knife, from SWITZERLAND!

We headed back home and went for plopping my head down on a pillow and sleeping right away, heavy sleep right away. So Today I wake up writing this at 5:35 Evian time after feeding the little guy and putting him back to bed, getting ready to have a light last day tomorrow.  She’ll be off to a spa I got her, so I might get a good lunch at the missed out Aubrge D’Hermance, and maybe a quick pass by the Geneva Chapel for some quick pix then back home to clean up the place and pack up. (5:38a.m., Evian) P.S. I finally finished reading A book (called “A year of travel”) after 5 years! Fitting really that I did it while travelling.

Last day – what was meant to be quiet and uneventful was anything but, as usual, but not in a good way.  So first thing first, took my son in the stroller to get a freshly baked baguette from the nearby grocer and water, as we did every morning since being here – but of course they were closed. I decided to go for a bit of a walk to get something edible to eat for breakfast and soon enough decided to walk all the way to the Casino, something must be open surely?!  I did pass by the souvenir shop but it was still too early to be open, and I found a bakery!

Of course it started to rain and I had no umbrella or anything, just a cover to put on my little guy’s head. I hung onto the baguette and water and walked as fast as I could – of course by the time I reached home it was sunny and bone dry – typical.

Then it was off to the Spa to drop the misses off.  All was well there and I decided to get some gas as I was driving on edge with the last few drops.  Of course at this point I get a scathing call from work in Dubai, wasn’t a good thing.  I had to send an e-mail, but my blackberry refuses to send e-mails – I can just receive them and do texting.  So I had to go home to send this urgent e-mail and take a small break.  Then went back and picked up my significant other from her relaxed spa session; all the while I was looking forward to the salt crusted chicken I read about at the Auberge D’Hermance.

So of course we go there, and they cannot make the chicken! Had the duck and mash with rice or something – really good – and a strawberry chocolate mousse for dessert, with a salad as an appetiser that had feta and pesto.  It was very tasty. My wife had the salty fish with fries, also cooked to perfection.  Not without incident of course as we walk in the restaurant which had no support ramp, much like everything in our lives, I picked up the stroller, forgot my boy was not belted in, and he literally fell from the sloped stroller and dropped to the hard rocky sharp steps.  Thankfully – I just about buffered his fall, but I am sure he had a bump on his head.  Needless to say this will be a source of guilt for a long time to come, I did take a picture of it to remember the moment (I need help!) Even thinking about it pains me right now.  After that crappy episode, we still wanted to go see the Geneva Chapel.  We decided to make a quick trip to the old town (after being lost), and saw the chapel but only from far away and only the tip of its roof (it was nice to know at least we were close).

My blackberry was now full of pictures and did not have enough space, my video camera was out of battery power – so I think this was a sign of enough sight seeing and time to wrap up this trip.   I just hope all the pictures from the blackberry will be clear enough.  Now we are in our last day in the apartment, cooking a fish we bought yesterday with lemon we bought today at the grocery store (and we are slowly packing up, cleaning up, and getting ready for an early morning tomorrow and a long flight home. First trip with a kid, beautiful country and lots of memories (7:30pm, Evian)***

What’s a good safe trip to test out kids in their first travel experience?

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