Day 1 – Geneva to Nyon – 43 km – 300 m
After traveling solo for a few weeks it has been so much nice to have good company. Our son Alex and his girlfriend Emily joined me in Switzerland for the final segment in Europe.
We picked up rental bikes at Bike Switzerland in Geneva. The quality of the bikes (more about this later) and the lack of stress in packing and shipping bicycles made me wonder why we’ve been carrying our own bicycles everywhere. But then I remembered, most places we’ve been did NOT have Trek 720 rental bikes. Plus my bike is now like an extension of me – I know all it’s quirks and sounds.
We chose to cycle clockwise around Lake Geneva which, according to the local Swiss tourist cycling map, is the “best” way for views, road signs, and general ease of travel. That being said, I was happy my cycling friends were agreeable to taking the clockwise yet more hilly, slightly longer, a lot less-traveled, scenic Route 50.
Our biggest mistake, and I know better, was to leave Geneva without any snack food. We started feeling hungry just past noon with no food in sight. After almost two more hours of cycling we found a cafe/restaurant . After locking our bikes to the fence by the cafe and walking inside and waiting for the waitress to appear, she curtly informed us “Je suis domage” (she didn’t really appear that “sad/sorry”), but “tu peu ne pas mange’” (you can’t eat). Yep, we’d arrived after the restaurant-serving-food time of 11:30 – 1:30.
I still wasn’t too worried because I’d seen a grocery store nearby. We walked across a parking lot only to find a darkened store and with a sign over the door “ferme’.” The hours of operation included a nice “nap time” from 12:15 – 15:30 pm. “Quelle domage!” (It really was sad.)
As things always have a way of working out for the best, it turns out that Nyon was only a few kilometers further down the road. We found delicious made-to-order sandwiches for a fraction of the price of the “plat du jour” at the sad-but-not-really cafe from above.
Day 2 – Nyon to Lausanne – 43 km
Today we cycled through a large patchwork of vineyards carved out of the side of steeps hills overlooking Lake Geneva. The many swarms of fruit-flies feasting on the nearly ripe grapes stuck to our sunglasses and sweaty faces as we cycled by. Although a nuisance, they were also a reminder of grape harvest season which, in turn, means wine-making season, which led me to thinking about wine for dinner and trying to remember the local names of some of the vineyards so I could try something local.
A swimming break for Alex and Emily and a reading break for me, followed by a picnic, a long stop at Morges for ice cream and a walk around town put us in the super lazy, relaxed mode. We’d lingered because we’d assumed the final 12 kilometers to Lausanne would be a breeze…
Let’s just say, I’d never been so happy to finally arrive at our destination, the city center of Lausanne. However, unlike many of the towns we’d visited along Lake Geneva, the city center is about 250 meters up a VERY steep hill. That coupled with the late afternoon, hottest part of the day made me feel like I’d just crossed the Arabian dessert and was crawling to an oasis. Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I was unexpectedly tired (and probably dehydrated) and didn’t think I’d be able to take off my cycling shoes, let alone carry my panniers up to the room.
It was time for a “night at home” where I consumed 6 bike bottles of water, a large tomato juice, a small pizza and a plate of very salty spaghetti before calling it a night.
Day 3 – Lausanne to Leysin – 30 km cycling plus a ferry ride, plus a train ride.
All of us were a little tired today, so I think we were all secretly happy when a spoke broke on Alex’s rear wheel. (This is the first rental bike issue…) Luckily it was only 7 km to the next town, Vevey, which has a nice bicycle repair shop. A couple of hours later, we were ready to roll….our bikes onto a ferry boat to enjoy a scenic journey on the lake from a different perspective and with much less energy expended: beautiful hills, vineyards, castles, and a very modern elevated highway nestled along Lake Geneva.
We disembarked at Chateau de Chillon and biked 12 kilometers to Aigle where we enjoyed a cold beer while waiting for the cog train to take us the remaining 800 meters almost straight up the mountain to Leysin. We all agreed that we were SO glad we took the train and we will have NO regrets when we will enjoy the super fun downhill.
I’m typing today’s post from the veranda of Les Airelles Bed and Breakfast overlooking Mont Blanc and many other peaks and glaciers that I can’t name. I’m also peering down on several very expensive (80,000 Swiss Francs per year according to the B&B owner) Swiss Boarding schools.
This was the perfect place to enjoy Swiss fondue and raclette for dinner last night. “Fondue” and “raclette” both mean a lot of cheese but the fondue is in a pot and the raclette is somehow browned and warmed on a grill. We dipped bread, gherkins, onions and potatoes in our cheese.
Leysin is the perfect place to enjoy cool mountain air, warm tasty fondue, and snow-capped peaks and glaciers.