Monday, December 10, 2012

Switzerland - Ripe Vineyards and Views

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Endless vineyards along Lake Geneva.

25 miles - Thursday, September 22

We hung out in the campsite for the better part of the morning, enjoying the warmth and solitude.  Andy and I had only a few miles to pedal before arriving in Borex, Katty and Martin’s town. We presumed they both worked and had received our postcard, so it seemed impolite to show up before late afternoon.

Andy and I eventually set out, following a bike route along Highway 1, the closest road to Lake Geneva. The water shone a dull blue in the haze; the surface rippled, whipped by a blessed tailwind.  With indoor life teasing us onward, hugs from an old friend, meeting her husband and young daughter for the first time – the miles in the saddle promised a sweet ending.

We lunched in a tiny village on a hill under a large oak tree, surrounded by grape vines. Andy and I munched a day old baguette. Nearby, a Saint Bernard strained his leash. He longingly eyed us – no doubt because of the food.  He was lanky, thin and muscular, unlike the portly variety seen in the U.S. When I finished, I went over to pet him. He liked my shoes and rolled over, bracing mighty front paws on my leg. He posed in that stance until Andy tried to take his picture. What a lovable creature. Then he lay on his side, holding one fore and hind leg in the air. I scratched his dirty belly. When I finally left him, I noticed that my black pants were covered in dog hair and grime. Poor dog needed a bath. And hopefully, I’d be doing some clean-up of my own.

A friendly Saint Bernard.
After lunch we continued on a narrow back road, cruising by sweet smelling apple and pear orchards, but for the most part through vineyards in harvest. Green netting protected the plump grapes from hungry birds. Wagons park beside the road, mounded with grapes. Row after row stretched downhill toward the lake, while uphill it’s a pleasing extension of more of the same endless, beautiful vines arching to higher villages. We were completely surrounded by grapes. The tanned pickers greet us with smiles and a friendly “Bonjour!”

Eventually we meander back to Highway 1, riding a separate bicycle lane into Nyon. From this lakeside city we turn inland to Borex. The community’s population hovers at 800. It’s located in a valley that rises up to the Juras, a 6,000 foot mountain range, shared by Switzerland and France. By way of three inquiries: at a post office, a store, and someone outside a home, we arrive at Katy and Martin’s residence, one of 8 connected houses, reminding me of condominiums.

A Philippino woman was taking care of blonde-haired Annabelle, who bore a smashing resemblance to Katty. It was a bit awkward with our limited French, but she expected our visit, so we made ourselves comfortable in the sun on the patio.  We’d been looking forward to reading our mail. Katty’s address was the first fixed place on our itinerary where family and friends could get in touch with us. Annabelle’s caregiver showed us our pile of mail and we spent an hour in delightful reverie.

Katty arrived first, then Martin, her tall, handsome husband. He has the large forehead of a European with intense blue eyes. His family is from the German speaking part of Switzerland, but moved to California when Martin was 7 years old. He spent 20 years in the States, and thus he surprisingly speaks like Andy and me without a trace of European accent. The two met while working at Proctor and Gamble in Geneva, where Katty is still employed, though Martin has since moved to an engineer’s position at a tobacco company.

Their home is comfortable. Our bikes are stowed in an unlocked garage below the house. It’s a safe place. The houses are nestled between a farm and a few buildings in central Borex.

1 comment:

  1. What a relief to stay in a house after all that camping! It would drive me bonkers!


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