ItineraryIn August 2014, John and Lorraine (old friends of ours from graduate school days) and us decided to go on a hut-to-hut adventure in the Swiss Alps. The planning of the trip was pretty daunting at the beginning. But after getting acquainted with the Swiss transportation system and hiking trails, we settled on and itinerary of hut-to-hotel and hotel-to-hut which less strenuous than doing hut-to-hut. In fact, we planned the trip so that we can bail out easily if we get into trouble. But that still means we have to carry our entire luggage all the time during the hikes (about 20-25 pounds).
We started off in Geneva, then went to hikes to two huts around Zinal in Val (Valley) d'Anniviers and Val de Moiry. Then we spent a couple of days in Interlaken so that we can do laundry and eat restaurant food. After that we went to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen for more hikes, with fantastic views of the world famous Eiger, Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch before going back to Geneva and home.
GenevaDavid and Sally flew to Geneva, arriving Wednesday morning. We had a few hours before John and Lorraine would join us, so we walked to Lac Geneva, the source of the Rhone River that flows into France. We walked into an old section of town that included the cathedral, and ate lunch at a creperie next to it. Then we took a water taxi (ferry) across the lake, which is fairly narrow here. (In Switzerland, free passes for local transportation, including water taxis, are given to hotel guests. This includes our stays in the mountain huts). On the far side of the lake, we walked along a shoreline park, passing the famous 400-foot fountain (Jet d'Eau) on a little peninsula jutting into the lake. We continued through an old part of town that seemed to have an archaeological dig at St.Pierre Geneve church, then back to our hotel to meet L & J.
(L) Cathedral in Old Town (R) Jet d'Eau in Lake Geneva
(L) Colorful water taxis ferrying passengers across the Lake (R) In Geneva
The next day we walked to the Schtroumph (Smurf) Buildings, several apartment buildings with whimsical décor designed by three local architects.
Subway systems in Europe are easy to navigate. However there is no subway in Geneva, and so we have to rely on the bus system (much harder to navigate than subways). To find our way to the United Nations complex, Lorraine enlisted the help of a young Asian Indian woman who was happy to play tour guide, telling us which bus to take. She works for the World Health Organization at UN and seemed sorry she could not ditch her job for the day to show us around. Before heading off to work, she recommended for dinner, the Cottage Café, next to the Duke of Brunswick Park near the waterfront.Brunswick Park is a small "postage stamp" park with an ornate structure which looks like the top of a cathedral. There appears to be a sarcophagi in it. We tried, but failed, to find out what this park is about. All we could find was a plague at the four corners of the park, stating the rules for using the park, like not sleeping, etc. How Swiss can you get!
(L) Brunswick Park (R) John in front of the Red Cross Headquarter
We walked through the fountains in front of the UN building and then around parts of the International Red Cross building a half mile further. The latter is of particular interest to John since he volunteers at the Red Cross back in Seattle. Back near the cathedral, we listened to a concert of piano and violin sonatas – Brahms, Mozart and Beethoven – at Evangelical Lutheran Church.
We took a bus to the Musee Patek Philippe – a multistory monument to the long history of this company’s elegant watches. There were historical exhibits (every watch made by this company was assigned a number and is recorded in a giant ledger) and exhibits of astoundingly varied and beautiful watches. We were disappointed by the video – it did not explain how the gear mechanisms of a watch work.
We waited to be seated at the Cottage Café. A flock of well-dressed young people was celebrating; it turned out they were all from a law firm. The menu was Mediterranean tapas – eggplant, fish, zucchini stuffed with lamb. We had local beer, as we did every night of our trip. Our waiter was cheerful and attentive, bringing us an umbrella when the wind blew up, thunder rumbled and clouds darkened and rain threatened.
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