Monday, December 3, 2012

Switzerland - Borderlands to Lac Leman

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Enney, Gruyere Valley. Photo credit: Wikipedia
60 miles - Wednesday, September 21

The day dawned with grey skies, but fortunately the wetness cleared. We remained optimistic, keeping an eye on the sky as we descended through the Gruyere Valley. Because of Switzerland’s dense population—and unlike other European countries that we pedaled through—houses fill the space between villages. Their brown chalet style, with red or green shutters and window boxes overflowing with flowers is far from unsightly. I have yet to spot an ugly Swiss home. Some even display old English-style writing beneath the eaves.

Lunch on the road in the Guyere Valley
would not be complete without
a hunk of this flavorful cheese.
Photo credit: Specialty Cheeses
Shortly after leaving the hostel we crossed into French Switzerland. The border is a rock monument between German speaking Gstaad and French speaking Rougemont. It’s comforting to communicate in our limited French again.

It’s a relief in more ways than one. As pleasant as the Swiss German people have been, there is a brazen side to their personalities that I find trying, as if there’s only one way to do things. It’s evident in our daily existence; standing in line at a bakery or grocery check-out, the stone-faced cashier staring, pointing to the register for our total. Sometimes we hold out coins in our hands for the attendant to take the correct amount; they reluctantly pick through, always with a sigh. The disquiet extends to German cycle tourists also. They set up tents, often in the next site in a vacant campground—all without acknowledging our similar modes of travel.

After a long day on the road, past Bulle and the back roads by Saint Marten, skirting busy Lausanne, we pedal near Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). It’s warmer; the sky is clearing, and the expensive (23 Francs) campground in Morges is right on the shore.  I don’t need to huddle inside the warmth of my sleeping bag directly after dinner. We stroll in town, through a waterfront park, admiring moored sailboats. A men’s soccer game captures our attention for a while. Swans and ducks paddle the water’s edge. Andy and I are momentarily frightened by an occasional heron flapping it's broad angular wings from nearby boulders, but then we laugh, delighted to be near a large body of water much like the Lake Champlain of our youth. It’s a calming presence.

Morges harbor. Photo credit: Switzerland Trips

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