France & Switzerland - Alps Trip - Feb. 16 - 21

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February 21st 2007
Published: March 4th 2007
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We decided to take a trip to Switzerland because we wanted to check out the Alps during the winter and maybe do a little bit of skiing. We also found a good deal on a flight to Geneva with Easyjet and it was my birthday weekend, so I figured I could get Lindsay to go anywhere I wanted to. After checking into hotel prices in downtown Geneva, we decided it wasn’t worth selling any of our organs to stay there, and so we stayed in Annecy, France, which was about 45 minutes away by car.

We picked up our rental car on the morning of the 17th at the Geneva airport. We got to Annecy later that morning and it turned out to be a really fun little town. It’s located very close to the Alps, so there are mountains around the town and a lake with a really clear river running through the center of town. Annecy is also small, so it was really easy to get around on foot to the restaurants, shops, and sights in the old town.

After spending the first afternoon and evening in Annecy, we drove to Chamonix the next day. Chamonix is located near Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, and it is really famous for skiing and winter sports. Supposedly it is the #3 most visited natural attraction in the world. I guess it comes after the Grand Canyon and the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California. In Chamonix we took a rack & rail train straight up one of the nearby mountains to check out the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. We didn’t have a whole lot of time up there because due to global warming the glacier was going to melt later that afternoon (just kidding, not until next week), but the mountain scenery was gorgeous and they even had a short tunnel carved into the glacier. The blue ice was fun to see up close and you could even get your picture taken with a St. Bernard inside the glacier, which we passed on.

The theme for the trip was cheese. We had packages of Swiss cheese as car snacks (they just call it cheese there), and enjoyed some of the local dishes including a potatoes au gratin kind of dish called tartiflette, cheesy French onion soup (they just call it onion soup), and fondue, which we had for my birthday dinner. This was the first time either of us had ever had real French fondue and it was very deliciously cheesy with bread and sliced deli meats. We somehow finished off an entire fondue pot of molten cheese and didn’t even feel that bad afterwards. It was very good and I’m sure fat and cholesterol free.

On Monday, Feb. 19th, we drove back to Chamonix and I skied during the morning while Lindsay did her translation work at an internet café in town. Lindsay was thinking about skiing but decided she didn’t care enough about skiing to spend any money and/or risk breaking any bones. The skiing was pretty fun. I was one of the first people on the runs that morning, so the snow was really nice and there were nice views to the Alps across the way.

On the last day of the trip, we drove back up to Switzerland and spent a few hours in Geneva. There wasn’t a whole lot we wanted to do there, and so we moved on pretty quickly to visit a smaller, more charming town, Lausanne. We did a walking tour in Lausanne and stopped at a grocery store along the way. The produce selection was incredible (every single tomato was exactly the same size and perfect color red and they were all stacked up perfectly) and it’s always fun to see how foods and brands differ compared to Portugal or the U.S.

Driving in Switzerland felt similar to driving in the States in some ways. There were really nice cars, English radio stations, and the section we drove on was pretty flat, so we could have been in Central California or the Midwest if you ignored the Alps off in the distance.

- Jason

Additional photos below
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Driving in zurich and parking
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