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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Longest Day 12-13 August 2014

here I will chronicle our trip to France to partake in the Raid Alpine cycling tour

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Bike:  Went nowhere really
Did an hour and a half on the trainer…  Judi Ran 5 miles or so

Car: I didn't drive mine but was involved in an accident anyway…  parked on the street where my neighbor backed into it… smashed rear bumper…. then Judi drove us to the airport.

Airplanes: the flight to DC was uneventful… but crowded.  the flight from DC to Geneva was long…  made longer by delays leaving DC (an hour or so waiting for a storm to pass) then an 8 hour flight…  through the night…  we bought a bottle of wine in the DC airport and sipped on that while we Watched the in flight TV for a bit…  Judi is small enough to lie down and curl up on an airplane seat and a half…  I just dozed sitting up.

with aching ass and sleepy eyes we arrived in Geneva…  waited in line for 30 minutes or so to pass through customs…  that complete we entered the terminal to search for our checked bag…  the carousel was basically right in front of us and our bag was circling it waiting our arrival. I thought to myself "this international travel bit is a snap"

Train: We knew the train was free…  from the airport to the central station at least…  what we didn't know was if we needed a ticket or not.  I thought that we should just get on the train without a ticket…  After much discussion…  looking around…  asking around we ended up being given a free ticket (that we should have and could have gotten ourselves in baggage claim) and buying a ticket from a vending machine for 3 euro.  We were not asked for a ticket…

Geneva:  once we were in the city proper it was mid-morning.  We really had but two things on or to do list in Geneva which was good since we needed to arrange for and negotiate travel to Thonon-les-bains as well.  This is a good place to pause and reflect on how dependent we have brome on having the internet in our pocket..  and even more so when traveling with our 3G/4G iPads which we both have and take almost everywhere.  We sat in a cafe in Geneva unable to reach the internet and unsure where the bike shop and museum we wanted to visit were located.  I paid $5 for 30 minutes of WiFi so we could get our bearings temporarily then we struck out to find our first destination Bike Switzerland.  With my keen sense of direction we left the station on a heading that would intersect the road where the bike shop was… After 30 minutes or so walking arounf=d in the rain dragging our duffel bag Judi figured out that we were on the wrong side of the train station and as we passed back through we found a locker where we could stow our gear.  
we saw this sign in Geneva - Grover obviously got lost there too

Free of 50 pounds of gear we set off on the other side of the depot and within 10 minutes were standing in a tiny overcrowded bike shop run by and affable Brit.  We bought a couple of things and headed on our way.  We found and successfully ordered and paid for lunch…  Wait…  let me clarify something here… I was tired…  and without language skills…  and basically shut down.  Judi got us lunch then decided that the museum was more than we needed to bother with…  She then talked to the right people in the station, got itinerary and tickets for passage to Thonon while I just followed along.

Trains part Deux:  the next leg of our journey was to travel to Lausanne by train (about 30 miles away).  Judi had gotten our tickets so all there was to do was to await the 1342 train to Lausanne.  A train pulled in at about 1325 and we felt certain that ours would be along shortly…  we just sat and relaxed a bit…  and so it seems did the train.  At 1341 we had the epiphany that the train we had been waiting on and the one in front of us were the same… we quickly grabbed our gear and just barely made the train…

Subway:  once we reached Lausanne..  we needed to take the subway down to the Lake…  Finding it took a bit of looking around.. but…  once we got on we just basically rode it to the end of the line.
our reflection in the subway door

The Boat:  I cannot stress enough how important selecting the correct travel companion can be.

When we exited the Subway terminal the only thing to do was to aim ourselves towards Lake Geneva and search out Pier S2 where we were to board our craft.  Upon arrival we were informed by one of the gentlemen in the sailor type outfits, in clear but broken English, that our boat was not going to leave at 1503 as scheduled in fact the boat might not leave ever again.  We were told to check back at 1530 to see if the weather had cleared.  It was windy…  and storm clouds surrounded us… Not being an expert…  and really in no position to argue at all…  We turned and walked away seeking some shelter from the wind for an hour or so.  Despite the fact that we had now been traveling for 24 hours and were mentally and physically exhausted…  Neither of us were mad…  Nobody whined…  or cried…  we just sat in the tiny terminal and read for a while…  then had a brief discussion of how we might deal with a boat that never travelled across Lake Geneva to France again.
the wind and waves on Lake Geneva
at 1530 we walked up to and boarded a boat…  winds were still high and we could see storms in the mountains…  We were never asked for a ticket (or were we on the subway) and soon the boat tooted it's horn and left the dock…  before I dozed off I heard the word "Thonon" amidst an outburst of French over the PA system.

Pedestrian:  Taking France by foot.

off the boat and into France…  no customs…  nothing…  the first thing we noticed was a Credit Agricole sign and I took out 80 Euro…  While I completed my transaction  Judi found an tourist information booth where she got directions.  Our hotel was just a half mile away…  up an 18 percent grade.  With my last bit of strength I hauled our junk up the hill.

Check-in at the hotel was a breeze…  finding a restaurant for dinner was not.  We went to two different places (many were closed) one informed us that it was Wednesday (leaving us to assume that they did not serve dinner on Wednesday) and the other place (where they served us a nice glass of wine) said that they only serve lunch.

After a bit of discussion we arrived at a plan..  We hit the Carrefour(supermarket) bought wine, cheese, bread, etc and returned to our room and enjoyed a nice feast…  oh so thankful to be immobile.

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