Our return to the boat and the commencement of our cruising has been severely delayed due to The London Marathon but at last we pack up and to Charles immense relief we take our flight to Lyon on the 26th April arriving by train into Roanne early evening. Kev picks us up from the station and after a quick check of the boat we enjoy a lovely meal with Debbie and Kev on their boat.
We are not moving for a while and have quite a long list of jobs that need doing. The problem is on sunny days neither of us have any enthusiasm and find ourselves sitting on the deck admiring our new table and chairs.
I have decided to engage in an on line coach to help me with my running so enjoy my new training programme – I am only running four times a week but its all about quality and not quantity. The runs are tougher and at the moment faster but I’m loving the change and having to ‘report’ back to someone is also an incentive. It also means Charles and I can enjoy cycling together and take a lovely ride along the canal to Briennan where we enjoy a spot of lunch before cycling back.
We enjoy drinks with Steve and Lynda from Lyneve before they leave port and it is slightly strange seeing the port slowly empty. We also join the remaining boaters on the usual Thursday evening drinks at the nearby L’Authentique restaurant.
On Thursday the 24th May we have an early start taking the train to Geneva to meet up with Ann (Charles sister) and her husband Peter. Ann is working so we quickly drop the bags off and set about exploring the city with Peter.
The transport system is excellent and after buying a week pass we can travel on train, tram, bus and waterbus. Its not long before the heat gets to us and we need to stop for a beer break!! oh and a crêpe……
On Friday Peter, Charles and I wander around the old part of the city and visit Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Built between 1150 and 1230 with Romanesque and Gothic features as well as a neoclassical monumental porch. Since 1536 through Jean Calvins influence this church changed from being Catholic to Protestant so with the advent of the Reformation it has been one of the main places of worship of the Protestant Church of Geneva.
Buying a picnic we take a bus to Hermance with its population of just over 1000 people of which 28% are foreign nationals. In 1981 it became part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites responsible for protection of nature and culture. It is very pretty with many wooden homes, a few restaurants together with an un-manned border between France and Switzerland. The views across the lake are breathtaking which is enhanced by having such a sunny day.
In the evening we meet up with Ann and some of her colleagues from the UN Human Rights Committee for Children before enjoying a lovely meal at the Cottage Cafe situated in a small park overlooking the lake. To be honest nearly everything overlooks the lake – it is rather big…….
On Saturday we all take the train to Satigny to enjoy Geneva’s Caves Ouvertes – when many of the vineyards open their doors providing wine tasting, entertainment and food. We have a lovely time walking around the area and stopping every now and then to try another wine.
We pay £10 for a glass which we keep and then can try as many (or as few) glasses of wine as we wish. Geneva is the third largest wine producer in Switzerland and produces more than 11 million litres of wine a year.
On Sunday we enjoy walking around the Botanical Gardens with its double decker funky looking carousel – I am yearning to have a ride but sadly it is only for small children. We visit The United Nations Office which is the second largest of the four major office sites of the United Nations (New York being the biggest of course!!) constructed between 1929 and 1938 and expanded in early 1950s and 1960s to host meetings and programmes for Trade, Commerce, Human Rights.
Visible from the Palace of Nations Ambassadors’ Court stands the ‘Broken Chair’ made of Douglas fir wood by artist Daniel Berset. Standing on three legs the fourth appears to have been violently blown off as if by an explosive charge – a way of showing that even mutilated victims of war violence are still standing tall with dignity.
The Broken Chair symbolises strength, imbalance and stability, violence and dignity. Its presence allows everyone to reflect on their responsibility to refuse the unacceptable and to act.
Our short visit is concluded by sharing a cheese fondue which should be a mandatory experience when visiting Switzerland. I also need to report that Toblerones do not taste any different than when bought elsewhere but I had to try…..