Since my last post, I’ve had a birthday – number 47 to be exact. As is my usual birthday habit, I decided to take a long weekend and explore somewhere new – the last few years I’ve been to Stockholm, Ghent, and Barcelona. This year, another adventure beckoned.
I have known Swiss-S for about 15 years – we worked together in Melbourne and have ridden the rollercoaster of expat life in London at overlapping points in time. A couple of years ago, I watched him exchange I-do’s with Prosecco-G in a small Belgian village and now they live in Geneva with rescue dog, R. At his 40th birthday drinks do earlier this year (Swiss-S that is, not R), we agreed to ‘make a plan’ so at a dark and excruciatingly early hour last Saturday, I boarded a plane for Geneva. Here’s how things went down.
After a quick trip from the airport on the Swiss-ly efficient and air-conditioned train (it’s about the only air-conditioned thing in Geneva), we had a hello ‘coffee and chat’ before Swiss-S and I wandered down to the lake.
An aaaw-dorable local family takes a dip
Next we headed to the Old Town where we climbed the 150-odd steps to enjoy the views from the South Tower of St Peter’s Cathedral…
…and then climbed down and back up the North Tower to make sure we hadn’t missed anything.
View from the South Tower
The largest and oldest of the seven bells
We also visited the archaeological exhibition beneath the cathedral – I know it’s not for everyone but I’m fascinated by old stones and stuff.
Old monk’s cell beneath St Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva – must have been a small monk.
After such exertion, it was time for a pick-me-up so we headed to a rooftop bar to check out the view again before heading further around the lake to pay homage to the Jet d’Eau with a dash along the old stone pier beneath its spray.
Evening number one started out with a drinks cruise on the lake, a very pleasant way to enjoy the warm weather, clean air and magnificent views. Each ticket included two drinks and at first, we got a bit excited when we saw that cocktails were included.
They may look harmless (as well as cheap) but after one, we realised that these were pure alcohol (there was no mixer included in that one glass!). Sensible Swiss-S purchased a bottle of something soft with our second round so we didn’t end up pie-eyed on pouches. It probably goes without saying that we were really ready for dinner by the time we disembarked.
Day two took an international turn with a trip into France to Chamonix. Our first order of business was a trip up, up, up the mountain (two cable cars and an elevator) to Aiguille du Midi to admire the panoramic views of Mont Blanc.
This is a picture of the information board showing the view from the lookout…
…and this is what we saw.
‘Limited’ visibility – don’t worry, we were warned when we bought our tickets.
Nevertheless, we rejoiced in the snow…
It was actually snowing as we stood there – but it had to be done.
…stepped out into the void…
You can just make out the cliff face beneath our feet. It must be super freaky when you can see everything below.
…and had a rather pleasant lunch at the highest restaurant in Europe.
In the afternoon we took the train up another mountain to see the glacier and visit the ice cave…
View from the train – just awesome
You can see the glacier end curving in between the mountains
This sign marks where the glacier was in 2005. Makes you realise how much it has melted as you can’t see it at all. (This was about a third of the way down to the Ice Caves)
Did I mention that there are 430 steps down to the ice caves? Oh yes, and that means 430 steps back up. After yesterday’s cathedral climb and a morning at altitude, we were completely done in when we finished here – a crepe and coffee pick-me-up was essential before the 90 minute drive home. Lucky for us we also found one of Prosecco-G’s mixed CDs to keep us entertained on the road.
Evening number two proved rather festive with a boozy barbecue at the apartment. And at midnight, my big day arrived with a ‘happy birthday’ and a few surprises from my fabulous hosts.
A creative 47 (There are seven meringues)
Swiss birthday booty with a Swiss-S story behind every one
After all the food, fresh air and alcohol, it will probably come as no surprise to you that I slept very well that night.
August 1st is Switzerland’s National Day (nice of them to do this for my birthday, wouldn’t you say?) and with a festive feeling still in the air, we all piled into Prosecco-G’s Beetle and headed to a local winery for brunch. I had raclette (among other things) – it was delicious!
The afternoon was spent driving around the area, admiring the scenery and making the most of the warm sunny weather.
Once back in town again, it was an ice-cream by the lake with Swiss-S and R to cap off a chokkas weekend. Then there was just enough time to pack, freshen up and head to the airport.
So that was my sensational Swiss celebration – full of fresh air, glorious scenery and plenty of laughs and good times with my fabulous friends. Not a bad way to birthday, I’d say.
Wonder what I’ll get up to next year?