Gratitude Friday: Four Hours

Post by Lauren

When we lived in North Carolina and Georgia, we could get to some pretty amazing places in four hours.  In that time, we could visit family in Virginia, check out North Georgia apple orchards, visit some vineyards and catch some NC mountain action.

However, here in Geneva, in four hours driving time, we can find ourselves what seems to be a world away.   We realized this even more when Gabe’s family was here and we did a lot of day trips.  Here are a few examples:

A 3.5 hour train ride or drive can put you in Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn. Just cross your fingers for visibility!

A 4-ish hour drive can put you in the 2nd smallest principality in the world: jet setting luxurious Monaco.

A 3.5 hour drive puts you near Nîmes where you can find evidence of the Roman times - the Pont du Gard aqueduct built in 19 BC and a UNESCO world heritage site.

A 4 hour train ride can put you in the heart of Andermatt where you'll feel like you are in a snow globe....even in April!

A 4ish hour ride can take you to the South of France to gaze on the magnificent cliffs overlooking Cassis.

A 3.5 hour drive can put you in the heart of Arles, France where you can find yourself in the middle of a Van Gogh scene.

A 4-ish hour drive can take you to Nice where you can walk along the beautiful Promenade d'Anglais and watch the sunset.

A four hour train can take you to Milan where you can eat your fill of pasta, gelato and experience the liveliness of Italy alongside of appreciating The Duomo & The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.

A four hour ride can have you in Cannes where the famous film festival takes place each May.

Look for posts in the coming days on each of these places we visited with Gabe’s family.

Until then, I am grateful for our location to be “four hours” from all these magnificent sites and the recovery of my feet so that I could keep up. Thank goodness for the wheelchair!

Geneva’s Old Town Train

Post by Lauren

With my feet out of commission, I had been brainstorming ways to show our most recent guests around Geneva.

Luckily there are three tourist trains in Geneva – one that goes to Old Town, Left Bank, and Right bank.   The Left Bank train became my friend last summer when I didn’t know anyone.  It spoke English and was comforting to hear it pass now and then as I was sitting on the lake front.  Good thing I made friends and didn’t have to the rely on forms of transportation for my social life.

Anyhow, on the day that our crew of 5 arrived from the States, we took the Old Town Train.  This particular one starts at Place du Fusterie and winds around the middle of town for 35 minutes.  It costs 10 francs and passes by the following stops:

The little Geneva tourist train

The Statue of General Dufour

University of Geneva

The Reformation Wall

Palais Enyard

Palais de Justice

Bourg de Four*

L’Hotel de Ville

Statue of Pictet de Rochemont

Bust of Henry Dunant

La Maison Calvin

Calvin’s Auditorium & La Cathedrale St Pierre

La Maison Tavel

Le Musee Rath

Le Grand Théâtre

Le Conservatoire de musique

 

I would rate this train a 5 on a scale of 1 – 10.   It was hard to hear the announcements – they were muffled by the street noise.  Also, the website conflicted with the times that were posted at the entry point causing some confusion.   But for my current condition, a moving vehicle that took us by some Geneva highlights** so that I could fill in commentary was a great thing for us.  If you do have guests or if you are visiting Geneva yourself, email the company for confirmation when and where it will pick up the day you plan to take it.

*I have a friend who lives in Old Town. She detests the Old Town train because of the noise it makes passing her window.  I kind of felt guilty taking it but at least we were going in the middle of the day.

**Our guests asked the baggage guy in the airport what there was to do in Geneva.  He gave them a blank stare and said they’d come to the wrong place for activities.  He did mention Old Town was one thing that they should check out.  Good, glad we had this on the itinerary.

 

 

 

 

All Aboard the Glacier Express!

Post by Lauren

When The Captain and Swiss Miss were visiting, we took the Glacier Express. No, this isn’t the train to Santa’s house….it goes to St. Moritz. Which is sort of like the North Pole, if you think about it, full of wonder, make-believe and furry suits.

The Glacier express is a very nice excursion to do if you are visiting a short time, since it covers a large part of the country of Switzerland. It travels the path in red, below.

Photo credit: The Glacier Express

In its entirety, The Glacier express travels through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges. At altitudes of up to 6500 feet, it cuts through breathtaking mountain passes, glaciers, and by rushing mountain streams. From its windows you can experience a part of nature that has remained untouched. In fact, there is a certain part of the railway that has a UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site, the Rhaetian Railway from Thusis towards Bergun. This was given due to its role in developing access to remote areas in the Swiss Alps as well as how the civil engineering blends seamlessly with the nature surrounding it.

The Glacier Express

The Glacier Express started in 1930, a remarkable feat considering the economic crisis that was happening during that time. It experienced a slow down as well in WW2 as it didn’t run between 1943 and 1946, during the war.

Up until 1982, it could only run during the summer months because the Oberalpass became impassable in winter with snow. In the 1980s, they made improvements in tunnels, allowing it to operate. Since that time, they have upgraded the cars to be equipped with panoramic windows* for tourist’s photo taking and comfort.

One of the many tunnels the Glacier Express travels through

While the Glacier Express isn’t really an express at all (average speed is 20 km/hour), I appreciated the extra time it took to get to our destination due to the beauty of the landscape it traversed.

We would recommend this to those visiting Switzerland. We also hope to check out some of the other scenic trains such as the Golden Pass, or Bernina Express during our time here.

What you should know :
–If you are interested in taking a scenic train, Rick Steves has some great descriptions about the differences on his site.
–If you are visiting, you can take the scenic trains on a Swiss pass or Swiss Flexi pass. Same goes for residents with a day card. For the Glacier express, you must get a reservation for 13 CHF in the winter or 33 CHF in the summer for a seat.
–They serve great meals on the Glacier Express; however picnics are also allowed. We brought an assortment as well as two bottles of wine.

*The large windows created a magnificent view. We were blessed with a lot of sunshine on our journey which was great for us, but made our photos a little worse because of the glare. Sorry.

Guests: How to Ride the TPG (bus/tram)

Post by Lauren

It is likely that we won’t make you ride the public transport by yourself for your first time, but it is good to get a lesson on how it works. Once you know how to buy a ticket and how to go the right direction, it is easy!

Switzerland is so rich they have an Hermes tram

The first thing to know is that you must have a ticket. If you are caught without it, it is something like 100 CHF payable on the spot. If you don’t have 100 CHF, they will walk with you to an ATM.

The second thing is that you do not actually have to show that ticket to anyone unless you are “checked” by a TPG officer (rarely happens). But tuck it in a safe place in case that happens on your journey.

The third thing to know is that you must have change handy to buy a ticket. In Switzerland, everything under a 10 CHF note is in change (see A’s post for the breakdown). If it is not exact change, it gives you a receipt that you can cash in for your change. There are only two offices and the lines are long, so I recommend putting in exact change. Or, you can always give your credit receipts to me as a present.

Here is how to buy a ticket:

Make all your decisions first or some angry Swiss person will get peeved you are taking too long. The Swiss like to buy their ticket right as the train is approaching so that they can maximize the hour, so if you don’t want to get yelled at in French, think about the following:

1. Decide how many separate times you’ll take public transport in the day. If just once or twice, you should just get a ordinary one-hour ticket [A] for 3.50 CHF. If you want to use it a few times, you should get a day ticket so that you can use it all day long.
1. If you are getting a day ticket, check your watch. If its after 9am, you are entitled to a cheaper full day ticket [B] for 8 CHF. If it is before 9am and you still want a regular full day ticket, hit [C] for 10.60 CHF.
2. If you are entitled to a half fare ticket (if you have a half fare card or Swiss Flexi Pass) hit [E] before inserting your money and it will make a reduction. For a one-hour ticket, it becomes 2.50 CHF, 5.60 CHF for a reduced full day and 7.60 for a full day regular.

Then the machine shows you how much you owe, you slip in the change, and voila! out comes your paper ticket. Put it somewhere safe so you can access it if checked.

 

But wait, how do I know where I am going???

You should know the number you want to take by referencing a map, or having us tell you which one to take. The tram runs two ways though so be careful to go the right way. They will be labeled with their end destination. You should reference on a map which direction you want to go, based on where you are. Each tram/bus stop also has the list of stops for each # on a sign that you could look at as well.

Careful that some lines have different destinations to provide frequency during rush hour. For example, the #5 in the northern direction goes to Aeroport usually (the end of the line) but sometimes there is also a #5 Nations. If you are going to the Aeroport (end of the line), don’t get on the Nations #5 or it won’t go far enough.

Here are some others that I know do this:
#12 Palettes and #12 Carouge
#14 Meyrin and #14 Cern
#8 OMS and #8 Appia

What is the difference between a bus and a tram?
They work in effect the same way. You have to hit the red button on the bus to make it stop for you. However, on a tram, it stops every time. You only have to hit the red button to open the doors so that you can exit.

Why do some buses have numbers and some letters?
The numbers travel in town and the letters travel out further into the countryside.

Are there other public transportation methods I can use?
Why yes, you can take the mouettes, the boats. For a one-way, you can buy a ticket simple [D] for 2 CHF that is good for one crossing or riding the bus/tram only 3 stops (usually you ride it more than 3 stops so that is why I didn’t mention it above). Your hour pass or day pass also covers travel on these, if you already have that type of ticket, you are good to go.

Is there anything else I need to know?
Yes….when your stop is approaching, you need to stand up and by the door. If you do not show initiative to exit, the people waiting to get on the tram/bus could end up boxing you in. As the cheerleaders say,” Be aggressive…be be aggressive.”

And…watch your wallet/purse. Pick pocketing is very common in Geneva. Just be smart!

Guests: How to Ride Swiss Trains

Post by Lauren

Swiss Trains are AMAZING. They run on time and get you to pretty much any place in Switzerland.

 

Handy map of Switzerland and its train system: http://www.swisstravelsystem.ch/fileadmin/pdf/STS-GB-M-11-EN-WEB.pdf

Here is some basic information on what approaches to take when buying train tickets:

DISCOUNTS FOR ANYONE:

Half fare card = 150 CHF to obtain – knocks all train / boat / cable-car purchases in half.
*You can just use it to reduce your fare in half
OR
    *Holders of half fare card may purchase day cards for 64 CHF which provide unlimited travel for a whole day on all SBB trains and Post Buses. Day cards after 9am are 48 CHF but can’t be used Sat, Sun or holidays
How it works: you must buy in Switzerland upon arrival. You must have a small passport photo.

Pro: If you are here a long time and are traveling long distances, it could be worth it

Con: It is a year pass, non transferable, and you wouldn’t be able to use it rest of year – unless you visit us again 🙂

DISCOUNTS, ONLY FOR TOURISTS:



Swiss Pass – must buy not in Switzerland at ST offices and travel agents or  www.swisstravelsystem.ch in advance of your trip. Covers all travel on rail, buses and boats and some cable ways. Must validate at airport upon landing in Switzerland. 4 day = 260 CHF, 8 day = 376 CHF, etc. Must be concurrent days. You get 15% discount for 2 adults.

Note: you must validate it to start or you’ll get in trouble

Pro: If you travel every day long distances, this is a good value

Con: Must be used in concurrent days so isn’t a good value if you are resting in cities or in Geneva other days
OR

Swiss Flexi Pass – allows between 3 and 6 days travel within one month. You get 15% discount for 2 adults. On the travel days, you can have free travel on most public transport. On days in between, you can travel for half the fare. You are also entitled to receive a discount on many gondolas, funiculars and mountain trains.
3 days = 249 CHF
4 days = 302 CHF
5 days = 349 CHF
Note: you must validate it for the days you use it

Pro: Makes a lot of sense if you are here for a week and we are traveling a lot in Switzerland
For more, see this: http://www.myswissalps.com/swissflexipass.asp?lang=EN

OR, BUY AS YOU GO

Supersaver single tickets – provide large discounts on selected long distance routes – http://sparbillette.sbb.ch  (limited in number and only 14 days out).
Pro: Good to know about for one-off trips

Con: you can’t book up until 14 days in advance

OR

We can buy as we go on the machines at the train station. You can see timetables and quote trips at:

http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

Pro: flexibility
Con: not as many savings

General Tips:

What is best is to do the math for the individual trips. Example, If you invest in a 150 Half fare card, you can deduct the fares in half, but do the number of trips make up the 150 CHF investment? With the Swiss Flexi pass, are your savings more than adding up the trips? If not, it might be cheaper to buy as you go. Use this URL to quote one-off trips:
http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

Please note that with day passes, Swiss passes and Swiss Flexi passes, you must Validate your ticket in an orange machine, provided on all platforms by inserting the ticket into the slot.

Some things to know about Swiss trains:

-The big train signs that show where to go to catch it always list the end destination. If you are not going to its’ end destination, make sure to note the other stops to confirm it is your train. It will then give you a “Voie” or “Bin” which means the # of the track your train will come on. Sub tips:
-If your destination isn’t listed and its more than 15 minutes until yours departs, don’t assume you are in the wrong place. Trains come through every 10-15 minutes so yours will show up soon if you are the correct Voie.
-Once its time for yours, your board will change. Then the next train that arrives is safe to get on. Also use the clock shown to verify. If its 13:29 (1:29pm), then its too early for the 13:42. If its 13:35-13:40, then this is about the time when it will arrive.

-Take heed to make sure you enter the trains marked 2 if you are in 2nd class. Otherwise, you might be contributing to Switzerland’s economy more than you want. We learned this the hard way.

-They don’t check your ticket to get on the train, but shortly into the trip, someone comes by. You must have all forms of documentation – for example, your ticket plus your half fare card together.

-They have bathrooms

– They do have a drink/food cart and on longer trains, a dining car. However, the food cart doesn’t look appealing and is expensive so consider bringing your own snacks and food (plus a bottle of wine!)

-You do not get assigned seats unless you are going to another country (France, Italy) or riding a scenic train (Glacier Express, Golden Pass, Bernina Express, William Tell). But you might get booted at some point from yours if you are sitting in someone’s who is doing a trip like this.

-If you ride the scenic trains, you need a reservation in addition to your ticket. We can help you get that at the station.

-You can generally get off in a city that looks appealing for a few hours, and hop on a later train to your destination

Bon voyage!

 

Getting Around in Zermatt

Post by Lauren

Even though we have lived in Europe 8 months now, I still love being exposed to new things. One is the difference in transportation. This was really prevalent during our trip to Zermatt so wanted to share the many ways to “get around”.

In Zermatt, you can get around by sleigh…..

 

If that’s not your cup of tea, a bus is another way.

If you want, you can go on the roads with your bike…..

Or riding a toboggan is an option if you are a little tyke.

You can do some nordic walking with some sticks and your feet.

Or you could just be pushed in your stroller down the middle of the street.

You can ascent to the top of the mountain in a little telecabin

But if you brought a rollerboard in the snow, an easy time is something you ain’t havin’

You can get a cart to push your luggage in the snow,

Or simply use your spare sled when you have lots of stuff on the go.

 

When in doubt, feel free to ski down the avenue.

These guys will fill you up with whiskey if you happen to get askew.

If you want, you can take Grampi’s electric taxi to get to your place.

And you know that the train will always have plenty of space!

Helicopters* will take you far.

But whatever you do, you can’t take a car!


*Helicopter photo courtesy of Freshly squeezed events. You know I didn’t take it because we never saw the Matterhorn

Discovering Geneva: Bel-Air

Post by Lauren

Today’s post is going to cover an area in Geneva known as Bel-Air.

I know I got you all excited by my recently celebrity post, but I hate to inform you that Will Smith does not live in our Bel-Air.

Nope; Will Smith is not in our Bel-Air

Bel-Air is an area in the centre ville that serves as a major hub for the TPG transportation system. It actually even has two stations, regular Bel-Air and Bel-Air Cité.

It was recently made an even larger hub and there are a lot of folks who are angry about how the new system works. For more on this, and why it might not have been smart to build a hub on a bridge, see Schwingen in Switzerland.

Bel-Air hub

However, before this bridge / island was a highly debated tram stop, was actually part of the Geneva fortifications. On the map we introduced on Tuesday’s Old Town post, you can see an island in the middle of the two banks. This is Tour d’île / Bel Air.

This island/bridge is one of the reasons why Geneva was so coveted. This bridge was the only route over the Rhone in olden times. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar actually made the trip to Geneva to destroy the bridge so that the Helvetians couldn’t advance.

Later, in the 13th Century, it had been rebuilt and there was a chateau / castle built to help in the defense against the Duchy of Savoy and protect this crucial passageway to France.

During this time, the island also became a market. Butchers built their shops so the blood could run directly into the Rhone.

During Reformation times, the chateau was converted into a prison.

After surviving multiple fires, the bridge finally burned down in 1677. Only the clock tower (seen in the top photos) survived. My french professor at UNIGE said that the reason it is called Bel Air as when everything burned down, the air smelled a lot better since there was no longer a rotting meat stench. I’m glad as I spend a lot of time there connecting trams these days.

Bel-Air

 

With or without a fresh prince, now you know a little bit more about our Bel-Air.

The day I almost cried over snow chains

Post by Lauren

We are going skiing today. Luckily, we already had snow tires. In Switzerland, you have to switch out your tires twice a year. So everyone owns two sets – a summer and winter. It seemed fair to me, but friend S pointed out that he grew up in Michigan where it snows just as much as Switzerland and they weren’t required to have snow tires or snow chains. Good point. I am sure that someone in the Swiss government has a friend in the tire business who has earned a fortune.

We are lucky that through the arrangement with Gabe’s company, they provide a place for us to keep our extra set of tires. Gabe takes the car there, they swap ‘em out, and we are good to go. This all happens in quasi-Franglish but its relatively easy for us.

We have other friends who have had to do the swap themselves – on the street – and figure out how to store the tires in their tiny cave. What a pain!

We thought we were ready with our snow tire ownership, but recently were told that we may need snow chains to drive up to the ski resorts. The women’s club has a ski group and they require all volunteer drivers to have a set in the cars at all times. We also have some friends who haven’t needed them so far, but others advised them that they hear its required. Apparently, as the snows increase they do checks to make sure you have them.

Simple enough. Just go buy some chains. Gabe was away in Belgium all week and wasn’t set to return until late last night. So we chatted on the phone Thursday night about what to do and Google searched how to select snow chains. We learned you just need to note the numbers on the tire to know which you need.

I started my chain adventure in the morning at MParc. I can take a tram then a bus to get there. MigrosParc is like the Walmart of Switzerland. Except its not. You can’t find everything you need. You can also be damn sure you are not going to get the lowest price. But it is the only thing comparable to the US “one stop shop” since they have a grocery store, home store, appliance store, ski store and a sports store in one parking lot. They also happen to have a Migros DIY+Garden there.

I didn’t have a hard time finding the chains:

Snow chain aisle

However, I couldn’t understand how my tire numbers translated to a package. I searched for a sales associate. I finally found one. “Bonjour! J’ai une BMW X3. Je voudrais chaînes à neige, sîl-vous-plait.” And I thrust forward my little paper. He took me to a little chart nearby.

“Deux cent cinq soixante cinq….hmmmm. Pas possible!”

“Pas possible?”

“Trop grande, madame!”

Okay, MParc didn’t have our size. I had heard that Jumbo might have them too. I knew that Tram 14 got there. I connected on Bus 21 then Tram 12, then to Tram 14. An hour later, when I was almost there, i realized my stop wasn’t listed. I had taken a Tram 14 with a different deviation than my destination. Crap. I hopped off and waited for the next CERN train which was scheduled for 8 minutes. A tram arrived and I hopped on. I glanced up and saw that I had hopped on the same stupid tram that didn’t go my direction. So I got off the next stop, waited, trammed backwards and waited again for the CERN tram. What a rookie mistake.

Wrong Tram

Right Tram

30 minutes later, I got off at the correct stop and walked the rainy 10 minutes down the side path to the entrance of Jumbo DIY.

This time, I found the chains and the chart myself. I grabbed a pack of 80’s – what it said I needed from the chart with a 205-65. However, I saw an associate nearby and asked him and showed him the package I’d selected to get his confirmation that was right.

“Non,” and he lead me back. “Deux cent cinq soixante cinq….hmmmm. Pas possible!”

“Trop grande?” I asked. “Oui,” he replied.

I walked back to the tram. This time 15 minutes until the next one back to town. I was freezing. I didn’t wear enough clothes for a 3 hour tour.

Okay, I photoshopped this hand photo. But it was how it felt out there!

 

I got the brilliant idea to go to the BMW dealership. I found it and figured out the best way to get there on public transport. Go iPhone!

I arrived and was greeted. Apparently, I didn’t look like a BMW shopper in my yoga clothes.

J’ai une BMW X3. Je voudrais chaînes à neige, sîl-vous-plait.”

“Oui. Le département des pièces s’ouvre en une heure.”

I looked down. It was lunch time. Momentarily forgot that retail takes lunch breaks here. “Oui. Je reviendrai.”

After the post-Jumbo freeze and walk, I was getting light-headed. I hadn’t eaten for a long time and I was still a little weak from my misadventures with Cambodian food. It was a lucky turn of fate that I was nearby another store. And that this store had a food cart out front. Double luck.

We don’t have any budget for eating out this month (we spent it all in Thailand) but I had no choice but to wolf down a delicious 10 franc panini. And it was so nice to be warm and dry in the store for 45 minutes. Got lots of looks. Apparently not dressed appropriately for shopping.

And I returned to BMW an hour later. I walked upstairs. One door locked. The other door opened and I stepped into….a supply closet. I actually looked in it it for chains but only folders and office supplies.

Back downstairs. Guy just wasn’t back yet.

Waited some more. Finally a man came to open it and I went into my spiel.

“Oui. Quand la voulez-vous?”

“Demain” (Tomorrow)

“Pas possible. Lundi – c’est possible.”

He saw the distraught look on my face. He handed me a slip of paper with an address and said “Peut-être….avez-vous conduit?”

“Non – j’ai pris le tram.”

“C’est loin. 3-4 kilometres.”

I was getting desperate, “C’est possible de marcher?”

He frowned. “C’est loin”

I pulled out my iPhone. He said it was too far to walk but I wasn’t going to go home if there was even the slightest chance of this size existing in the canton of Geneva.

So, I walked. 4 kilometers. In the snow and rain. Along a highway.

I walked so far that I passed a train station. But finally I reached my destination. The door was locked. At this point I almost cried. Then, I found another entrance with a sign. They were just closed for lunch. I waited.

The doors finally opened. A young man met me. I think they’d been watching me outside shivering. I did my spiel. He led me back to his desk, consulted a notebook and said. “Oui – quatre-vingt huit franc.” (88 CHF, about $100)

“Oui ????i!!!” I exclaimed. I tried to tell myself not to get excited until he produced the goods.

He came back with one box. I did sign language to try to determine how many were in a box. Two came in a box. A set. “J’ai quatre tyres.” I said. He laughed. Apparently they only had one set to sell me.

Five hours, 14 bus/tram connections, and a hike later, we now have chains for half our car. I desperately hope this is going to be good enough.

Going to the foot doctor: Part Deux

Post by Lauren

One of my favorite stories to date about ex-pat life is trying to go to the doctor and actually going ending up at the pedicurist. I bet you are wondering what happened with that?

I did find and visited a surgeon who spoke English but later got some discouraging feedback so I wasn’t too thrilled about going under the knife with this guy.

I was referred to a holistic doctor in hopes that maybe we could try some orthopedic therapy to alleviate pain and possible prevent surgery.

I tried to go to her last Monday. It was the first day of the new TPG schedule (public transport system). Let’s just say it was catastrophic. This doctor operates out of her house in the middle of nowhere. The connecting bus I was supposed to ride into the countryside for 52 minutes showed up 35 minutes late. In the torrential rain. Once I knew I was going to be late, I called and left a message in broken French. As soon as I boarded the bus going to the middle of nowhere, she called back. And informed me I simply couldn’t come tardy…she had another patient. Great, I was already headed to nowhere. By the time I got back on the reverse bus ( that only runs once an hour ) and made my connection home, it had been 3 hours and 15 minutes. In the rain, for nothing. Let’s just say, it wasn’t a good day for me. I hate being late and also disappointing people. I also don’t like rain. It was a trifecta of bad. This is what it looked like*:

After receiving a scolding of a missed appointment and asking if I could actually show up this time, I made another appointment. I made it at 1:30pm so I was less likely to be delayed by rush hour or whatever TPG horror there was in store for me. I left a whole hour earlier to catch the early country bus out of fear of the TPG being screwy.

After my 75 minute journey on the bus, I hit the signal for stop. The bus driver didn’t hear it and dropped me off at the next stop. It was over a mile past my stop. Those who follow me on Facebook who that this has happened before. I had complained about back-tracking 15 minutes in the rain that time. But I didn’t know, it could get worse. This is what it looked like**:

It was curvy and there were no sidewalks. I almost got hit 3 times. Honked at five. An old man pulled over and told me in French to please get out of the snow and get inside his car. He looked harmless but I decided the snowy country roads were better.

By the time I walked 45 minutes backwards on the side of the road, I had soaked shoes, but made it by 1:30. Thank goodness. Couldn’t take a lecture this time.

She was really nice. She did a treatment but concluded that I need surgery based on how the arthritis has progressed. Good. I already had another surgeon appointment in 8 weeks. He supposedly is the best and it took me 3 months to get the appointment. Let’s hope so. I will plan for nothing short of entertaining.

*The sad Lauren photo isn’t really from the doctor appointment. It was taken at the Boston College game about 3 years ago after we lost and Ferdinand & Isabella made me rush the field with them at their alma mater. It’s the only picture I know where I have a frowny face.

**After the fact, I came home and looked up where I walked from. It was less than 1 km from the border of France. Good thing I didn’t go over…I didn’t have my passport on a routine doctor’s visit.

 

Our little yellow boats: the mouettes

Post by Lauren

I just adore Geneva’s transport system. The TPG (public transportation) has a really handy site where you can map your trips. I use this site or the app 3-4 times a day to check up on schedules and waiting times. Frequently, if I need to make a short trip to the other side of the lake, it will suggest one of the water boats. They can be the quickest way to get across the lake due to heavy Mont Blanc bridge traffic. And they are so adorable.

While they are the most affordable way to get out on the water in Geneva, don’t be fooled – the mouettes are all business. They’ll zip you along under the bridges and across the other side in 5 minutes flat. You may need to go back and forth a few times to get the true lake experience!

But, no fear, you can ride them unlimited amount in an hour for 3 francs, or 2 francs for one way. If you have a TPG pass for the day, month or year, they are free!

If you visit, I promise we can go on a ride!