Having been somewhat disappointed with our lack of pictures from the old part of Annecy yesterday evening, the first order of business as we rolled out of our campsite this morning was to roll through the old town in hopes that we might get some pictures that I could live with. When we arrived to the castle, though, we were surprised to find an open market lining the old cobblestone streets along the river.
The market did not appeal to us, as it was primarily art and “trash and trinkets”, as Bree so eloquently put it. While we are interested in art, traveling by bicycle makes such purchases unreasonable. The various booths got in the way of shot that I had wanted, though we got a few other shots that made the trip back through the old town worthwhile.
After a quick snack of a fresh croissant which was still hot and pain au chocolat (which, by the way, is not nearly as good as a plain old croissant), we set headed northbound out of Annecy toward Geneve, Switzerland.
The road out of Annecy was horrible. While the old section of Annecy is beautiful, if not a little busy, the roads in the city have not proved enjoyable. The traffic is very erratic, and the patience and respect for order we have come to enjoy in France is not prevalent in the winding streets. We made it, though, and after some creative manual routing (the GPS always wants us to go up a hill), the busy city fell away to hillside farmland, interspersed with busy roads.
We had a fairly uneventful but pretty ride, except for a sweet castle-fied suspension bridge meant for bikes and pedestrians. It was far enough above the gorge to make me a little dizzy looking down into the heavily forested ravine, and Bree was equally nervous.
After the bridge we climbed a little more into a nasty headwind making very slow time. Suddenly, we were met by a shop with all sorts of Christmas and Santa decorations. Adjacent to the shop we were surprised by a sign labeling the col, or pass. Sweet! Any time you see such a sign, you know the climbing is over and we could see Lake Geneve aat the bottom. We were expecting a long, slow climb all of the way across the border, so to reach this pass 15 km before the end of our ride was very welcome.
I froze on the way down in the cold wind, presumably left over from yesterday’s storm, though the quick speeds made it worth it. We passed some hayfields that were being cut down. The cutting must have been stirring up the rodent population since these birds were swarming and diving around the tractor.
Before we knew it, we were in Geneve, Switzerland. Despite a fair bit of searching, we didn’t even see a border crossing – kind of weird. You would think that leaving the European Union would generate some sort of fanfare or at least a “Welcome to Switzerland” sign. We were a bit confused as we entered the city because we weren’t sure whether we were even offically in Switzerland. Everyone was still speaking French but the prices for things were posted in Francs, and we had never seen a sign indicating exactly where we were at all.
Geneve is a clean, lively city with a fair bit of traffic to go with it. We stopped at a McDonald’s for internet, which failed. As with Italy, we need a phone number. The Starbucks across the street, however, allowed us open access where we caught up on email and posted our latest blog posts. We even met an former cycle tourist who was curious about our trip. They seem to be few and far between, but they are out there and we occasionally run into them!
Before showing up to the campground, we went grocery shopping. I played a game called “find anything under three Swiss Francs”. While it was possible, it was tough, I am trying not to judge Switzerland by how busy it is and by the and high prices of this resort town. I suppose that I had the same reaction in France when we arrived in the Riviera as we left Italy. In a few days, I can form an opinion about Switzerland- but for now, we will stay on the beautiful shore of Lake Geneva at our campground a few kilometers out of the city. Hopefully a day or two of rest will help Bree’s legs and back recover from our grueling tour through the French Alps.