This month has been absolutely insane. I have traveled more in the past few weeks than I have in my lifetime- and I love it. Since leaving home in September, I have taken eleven planes (I’m sorry environment) and many more buses to travel around the UK and Europe. Next week, I get to take my twelfth home for the holidays. Our last hurrah before Christmas, Sam, Meghan and I went to the Swiss and French Alps for the weekend.
Sam and I stayed in an adorable Air BnB in Geneva and Meghan found a free couch to stay on only five minutes away. Our Air BnB was an entire apartment, as our host was out of town for the duration of our stay. It was a nice change from hostels, and I got to have my first bath in over two months! At home, I never take showers- only baths. It was so incredibly lovely to have a nice relaxing space.
After arriving late Friday night, Sam and I went searching for some food and found a Pizzeria where the owner and cook were having their own dinner but invited us in and
made us a delicious salami and onion pizza. We wandered around a little bit but tucked in for an early night. In the morning, we met up with Meghan and searched for some reasonably priced breakfast. As we would soon learn, there is no such thing as reasonable prices in Geneva. We stumbled upon a market in the centre of town and I bought a canelé for two Swiss Francs. It was perfectly crunchy on the outside with a custard centre. If you haven’t had one of these, you can buy them at my old bakery in Vancouver, French Made Baking. This tiny bite of heaven did not hold me long so I ended up splurging on a coffee and croissant for something like 12 francs ($15 Canadian). It was a sad moment.
After breakfast, we went to the bus station and bought tickets to Annecy. We had to transfer so we hopped on the tram and listened to some insane live accordion music. We found our bus stop and got on. Unfortunately, Meghan sparked conversation with some American girls in front of us. Their vocal fry and thick eyeliner were not helping their claim to be “outdoorsy” women. They talked about traveling and how they hate cities and only like hiking, but also about how they only do it from resorts. It smelt fake, and when Meghan asked how it was to be in the States during the election, they responded: “it was funny, ahaha!” Ew. Trumpers. I quietly texted Sam that I felt like these women were the kinds of people who pay thousands of dollars to pretend to help starving children in the “country of Africa.” It was at least an amusing bus ride. When we arrived in Annecy, the woman gave us her Facebook and low and behold, there was a photo of her and a little African child. Called it!
Annecy is a small city in Savoie region of the French Alpes. When I was in grade 10, I did a brief exchange to the nearby town of Albertville, where I stayed with a host family.
During my exchange, I visited Annecy for a few hours and it has always remained very close to my heart as the most beautiful city I have ever seen. As fate would have it, my host sister Marion and her mother were able to come meet us for the day.
It was a real French experience for all of us. Sam and Meghan didn’t speak a word of French, and Marion’s mother spoke very little English. Thanks to Marion and I, Google Translate, and miming, we were able to get by.
To begin our day in France, we wanted cheese. We were told to try a regional dish called Tartiflette. Tartiflette is essentially potatoes, bacon, onions, and large quantities of melted Reblochon cheese. It is a little bit stinky and absolutely delicious. Marion and I couldn’t
finish ours so Meghan inhaled the rest. After lunch, we waddled around the Christmas Market. I found not one, but two booths repping Canada. They even sold red check flannel… Is this a Fench fetish? I couldn’t bring myself to buy imported Canadian syrup but it did look scrumdiddlyumptious.
We walked around a part of Lac d’Annecy. The fog had finally lifted and we could see the beautiful Alpine mountains. This city is a postcard.
We returned to the streets of Annecy and regaled in its cuteness. At this point, we were able to eat again.
Sam bought a beignet with speculoos and I bought a strange creation of cheese and potato. It had the consistency of warm mochi or flubber and tasted like truffles. It was weird, I won’t lie. But throw cheese and truffles at me and I will fall in love. Speaking of cheese, I made sure to pick up some reasonably priced Beaufort before I left.
We did the double kiss and said goodbye to our hosts. I won’t let it be another five years until I see them, and plan on visiting Marion in Lyon in January. À bientôt!
Back in Geneva, we watched In Bruges. Meghan and Sam opened a bottle of red wine that they had bought in Annecy, and everyone slept well.
In the morning, Meghan went for a hike around Lake Geneva and Sam and I stayed in the city. We met up with my friend Katrin and her friend Meredith at an adorable cafe called Birdie. I spent $32 Canadian for avocado-salmon toast with a cappuccino. This was a normal price for Geneva… Isn’t that shocking? It was pretty good though.
After brunch, we stumbled upon an interesting car park/ archaeological site. Read about it here. It was an interesting and saddening juxtaposition to see a modern lot next to a site from the middle ages- but also makes you think. When big businesses find sites during construction, unfortunately, they often get demolished. In this case, they decided to build around it.
Sam, Katrin, Meredith, and I headed to the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire. It was a nice museum- however, I found the aura slightly cold and did not emotionally click with the exhibits. I don’t know why- perhaps I was just too tired to appreciate it. They did have some Amarna art, though… and you know how much I love Akenhaten!
Geneva is very quiet on Sundays. Almost no restaurants are open, and the only shops open are in the train station and airport. As tourists, this was slightly annoying because we wanted to buy chocolate and funky things but no one was open! (First world problems- I know.) After searching forever, we found a chocolate shop open in the train station and filled up on the overpriced Swiss specialty. When in Switzerland?
Sam and I met up with Meghan, took one last walk along the lake, and picked up our bags from the Air BnB. We killed an hour at the Natural History Museum, which looked more like a zoo or aquarium- except all the animals were dead, and then said goodbye to Geneva and headed to the Airport. We were too early to check-in and got turned away from the ticket desk, so we decided to get dinner in the airport cafe.
I fought the urge to be a good person and not eat McDonald’s, but I could not resist the chance to eat a Royal with Cheese. You either get it or don’t. I have to say, I wish it was a Big Kahuna instead.
Our flight was delayed but we entertained ourselves by sliding up and down the floor and connecting to the dear old internet. I bought more chocolate. Finally, after five hours, we got on the plane to Bristol. The flight was tidy, and the bus to Cardiff was fast.
1:45am, and I was back in my bed in Cardiff. My last whirlwind trip to Europe for the time being. I am so lucky to be able to travel like this. I’m incredibly thankful to everyone that has helped me get here. I really am. And as much fun as it is to see the world, it has also really shown me how much I love Vancouver.
One more week, then I’m home for the holidays.