Day 23 — July 23, 1996 (Tuesday)
23.07.1996 - 24.07.1996
Up early to try out yet another French shower. They have a button you push and it showers hot water on you for a few minutes and stops. No temperature regulation and it has been too hot for me, but it is a shower. You just keep pushing the button until you are done!
Drove north on the Autoroute to Geneva to get the Swiss chocolate Charles requested. Easy drive, but what a shock when Swiss Customs pulled us over and demanded 175 Francs. The value of the Swiss franc is such that we got 7F in change from a French 200F bill. [It was a year before we discovered the charge was a Swiss highway tax for use of the Autoroute for a year. If you only go for a day, you still pay for a year. The alternative is staying off the autoroute. Since we were already on it, there wasn’t much choice.]
Went on into Geneva and ended up in a large underground parking lot. We recognized the Automatique Caisse as we left. The parking fiasco in Annecy yesterday prepared us well. Took an elevator up to street level and started looking for chocolate. I took a few photos as we wandered, and we finally found a nice chocolate shop. We got chocolate for all the kids and for us, and headed back to get the car. Found “facilities” at a museum and then approached the Automatique Caisse armed with our seven Swiss francs. It worked — we validated our ticket and retrieved our car! There is much to be said for experience.
Drove northeast toward Evian and noting gas was one-third the price as in France, we filled up right before the French border. The drive along Lake Geneva/Leman is very nice. We arrived at Evian to discover it was market day. We explored a bit and went to a salon de thé to get takeout drinks and sandwiches that we ate on a bench beside the lake. [The lake we call Lake Geneva is Lac Leman in France.]
As we finished lunch, the thunderstorm we had been watching move up the lake hit us. The market cleared quickly and we headed for the car. We took the scenic route home, stopping at several supermarchés looking for water (no water in Evian), but they were all closed ‘til 3(!) for lunch. Drove through Annecy and past our campground headed south to drive around Lac Annecy, and finally found an open supermarché and got water. Had a nice drive around the lake and are back at our campground. [On a later trip we discovered that if you take your own bottles, you can get all the Evian water you like for free at a public spring.]
Later — Sat on the beach watching lake and ducks. There were twenty ducks at one time. There had been a few drops of rain earlier so we had the beach nearly to ourselves. I am using the term beach loosely as there is no sand. We have a large grassy field and at each end are some trees that must be over a hundred years old. There are rock steps down into the water and it appears very rocky underwater, but it is labeled a beach and is usually quite crowded and there are a lot of swimmers.
We were under three old trees, so escaped the intermittent sprinkles. Obviously, the weather had turned. Clouds sailed over and a stiff breeze appeared. It was so nice that Ed went up to the snack bar and got a pizza and a bottle of wine so we had a pique-nique under our trees.
After dinner we decided to walk the bicycle road which was obviously also used by the occasional horse. We quickly did our few dishes and headed down the bike highway dodging bikes, joggers and roller skaters. When we came to a residential area, we left the bike path to explore and immediately discovered a wonderful garden. The house was closed up (French houses usually are), but the garden had chickens, a rabbit hutch, well-tended vegetables (a chicken was pecking at a cabbage under the fence) and the fence was covered with berry vines.
We walked to the end of the road and then headed back to camp. Settled in for the night after some more duck watching and were awakened by a rather violent thunderstorm in the middle of the night.