Sunday, September 7, 2014

Switzerland: Geneva with Kara's Parents and Scott and Kirsi Porter

We flew to Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday, August 21st.  We left Stockholm at 2:35 pm and arrived in Geneva at 5:15 pm.  We had a great view of the Alps from the plane as we slowly descended waiting for our turn to land.  We flew over Lake Geneva as well and it was really pretty.
When we landed in Geneva we picked up the rental car.  I was supposed to drive the rental car and I was really looking forward to it.  I love driving and I especially love driving a stick and since most rental cars in Europe are sticks this would have been perfect but 15 minutes before we got to the airport in Stockholm I realized I left my license at the apartment.  I asked Jake if he had his and he didn't so I turned to my dad and asked him and he did.  So he was officially the chauffeur for the trip.  He was bummed because he wanted to look at the scenery and I was bummed because I wanted to drive but thankfully we were traveling with our parents.  I am not sure what Jake and I would have done had we booked a rental car for just the two of us and we both forgot our licenses at home.  I even had it on my packing spreadsheet and it was checked off.  Not sure what happened.  (Yes, my name is Kara Janzen and I use a spreadsheet when I pack.)

We were able to stay with Scott and Kirsi Porter in Nyon, Switzerland which is about 30 minutes from Geneva.  Scott and Kirsi have been living in Geneva the last 3 years but they are getting ready to move back to Wichita this month.  They lived next door to us when I was a little girl in our first house in Wichita.  We stayed in touch with them after they moved to a new house.  When Piritta (Perry) was born my mom watched her for about 11 years or so.  Right before my parents left for their two week Europe trip Perry had just spent a month with them at their house while she was back in Wichita since Scott and Kirsi weren't there yet.

We were hoping it would work to visit Scott and Kirsi sometime while we were living in Stockholm and then when my parents decided to visit us we thought that it was the perfect time to get together.  We spent the evening catching up and enjoying a wonderful, home cooked meal that Scott prepared.
This was in the bedroom where Jake and I stayed.  I instantly remembered it from Scott and Kirsi's house growing up.  I loved it then and I still do.  It just reminds me of all the time I spent playing with Mick and Brio.

On Friday morning we drove from Nyon to Geneva to explore the city with Scott.  We parked our car under the huge lake we flew over the day before, which was a little unnerving but we didn't notice any water leaks :).
 They were setting up for a bike race to finish right by the water and we found this sign.  I often wonder where I can get an emergency massage :).
Clock made out of flowers.  It changes throughout the year.
We walked to the top of a hill to see Saint Pierre's Cathedral.  This is a chapel that is connected to the cathedral.

 The view from one of the towers in Saint Pierre's Cathedral.

Next, we stopped by Maison Tavel which was a home built in 1303 and is now a museum.  
We headed to get a closer look at the water jet on the lake that you can see in the pictures from the top of the cathedral.
 We decided since it was pretty warm and sunny and the wind wasn't too bad we would run under the water even though we might get a little wet.

My mom and me running under the water.
This is the view from the other side.  Then the wind started to change and the water started creeping closer and closer to us.  We all started to panic trying to figure out how to get back without getting soaked.  Mom and I decided to put on our rain coats and then when the wind started to back down we all took off for the other side.
We got pretty wet on the way back.  We were also amazed that they didn't have railings or anything along the walkway.  Seems like in Europe either (a) people are smarter and therefore don't need as many safety measures in place so they don't get hurt or (b) they don't sue at the drop of a hat like they do in the US so they don't need as many railings or warnings.
After we were back on the other side of the water jet we saw this sign.  The sign we purposefully passed on our way under the jet so we could get a better picture without this ugly sign.  It says "The wind can change direction quickly and push the fountain's water back on the jetty, making it slippery or even cutting your way back."  Guess we should have read the sign the first time.  Oops.

We grabbed some sandwiches for lunch and then headed back to Nyon.
Once we got back to Nyon we walked by the castle and then down to the water to buy ferry tickets.  We crossed Lake Geneva to explore Yvoire, France.  The 20 minute boat ride was beautiful.  It was sunny, pretty warm and just gorgeous.

Our first order of business once we got to Yvoire was ice cream!  Then we headed towards the water. 

A little side note: Switzerland is a little confusing because the country has four official languages.  They speak Swiss German and French primarily but they also speak Italian and a small percentage speaks Romansh but the whole country uses Swiss francs for money.  In Geneva they speak French so when we crossed over to Yvoire, France they were obviously still speaking French but they use Euros instead of Swiss francs.  It was a little confusing to keep all of the languages and currencies straight but we figured it out.

My mom put her feet in but Jake decided to get in completely!  (Can I just say my husband is hot?  This is now my desktop wallpaper.)

After Jake's quick dip we walked around the old town part of Yvoire and I found the perfect key chain.  Any guesses what might be on the key chain?  A squirrel of course!  But I didn't have any cash so I went to find an atm and went back for the key chain.  We walked around for about 10 more minutes when we took this next picture.
Right after this picture I realized I lost my Vivofit watch that counts my steps.  I started to panic and look around because sometimes it falls off if I'm putting on a coat or my backpack but I usually feel it.  I retraced my steps and went back to the atm and the keychain store and didn't find it :(.  So after getting lots of crap for not remembering my driver's license now I've lost my watch.  What is happening? I was so sad and lost because I had no idea what time it was and I really liked knowing how many steps we had each day.  By this point in the day we had already walked 14,000 steps which helped me feel less guilty the ice cream we had earlier.

They have lots of fountains in Switzerland (and I guess in Yvoire too) that are safe to drink out of so we stopped for a quick drink.

We took the ferry back to Nyon and walked by the castle again on our way back to Scott and Kirsi's house.
Jake heard that the clocks on Swiss train platforms run a little bit differently than most clocks.  The second hand pauses at 00:00 for about a two seconds and then the minute hand snaps to the next minute instead of slowly moving towards it over the course of 60 seconds.  So we stopped by to watch it.  I added a short video so you can see it change if you'd like.
The picture below might just look like an apartment building but I took it to show you what the windows and blinds are like in Switzerland.  Windows tilt in at the top but they can also swing open like a door.  They don't have screens on them, just like our windows in Stockholm.  The thing I really like are the blinds or shutters.  They are on the outside of the window.  You can let them down and leave gaps between them to let light in or if you let them all the way down they stack on top of each other to block out all of the light.  I think they are pretty awesome.
Scott and Kirsi made dinner for us again and it was delicious.
The next morning all six of us headed to the Cailler Chocolate Factory.  The tour was about 50 minutes long telling the history of Cailler and how they make their chocolate.
The end of the tour was my favorite, the tasting room.  You can try as many of their chocolates as you'd like.  Scott and Kirsi told us about it and warned us to pace ourselves.  Jake and I split most of the chocolates at the beginning and we only ate the dark chocolate ones.  The very last station had all the really good dark chocolate.  I wish they would have spread them out a little but we managed to get enough without over doing it and at that point we stopped splitting them in half :).
Our next stop was Gruyères, Switzerland.  It was such a cute little town.  We parked at the bottom of a hill and walked up to the town.  We walked through the town and around the castle before stopping for lunch.

We had fondue for lunch. It was good but it was a very heavy lunch. Each couple order fondue and pizza and then shared the two. Scott and Kirsi had fondue with champagne and the rest of us just had regular fondue with Gruyere cheese. My mom and I preferred the one with champagne - which could be the only time in my life I've preferred something with alcohol :).
The fondue was served with bread and potatoes.  All of us got the same pizza that had an egg on top which was a little strange but the pizza was really good.

I loved all the fountains and window boxes full of flowers.

We realized once we were back at Scott and Kirsi's that my parents couldn't find the hat they purchased right before we left Gruyere.  We looked in both cars multiple times and couldn't find it.  So far on this trip we have had a forgotten driver's license, a lost watch and a misplaced hat.  At this point I was worried about the rest of our trip.

After we looked for the hat we went for a walk to work off some of the chocolate and fondue before dinner. 
We walked by a vineyard and saw lots of perfectly groomed hedges.  We had another amazing dinner that Scott prepared.  We had cucumber soup, salad, chicken and rice.  After dinner we played Catchphrase which is probably one of my favorite games.  It was so much fun and we laughed a lot! A couple of people kept sneaking in clues about my lack of driver's license but I'm trying to forget that part :).

It was so nice being able to go to a home at the end of the day and have a home cooked meal instead of rushing to another restaurant and then back to a hotel.  I think all vacations should have a homemade meal and a game at the end of the night but that might be wishful thinking.
The next morning we were on our way to Interlaken, Switzerland with a stop in Bern on the way.  We really appreciated Scott and Kirsi's hospitality.  It was so much fun catching up with them and the home cooked meals at the end of each day were amazing!  Thanks again Scott and Kirsi!

If you missed reading about my parents first few days in Stockholm before our time in Switzerland read about those here.  Check back again to read about the rest of our time in Switzerland.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...