Meghan

Firstly, I’d like to apologize to our ‘followers’ for the delay in posting about our last day in Paris. We have been very busy taking in the sights of the continent.

This morning, we were awaken by the bright sunshine glowing through our hotel window. After a quick breakfast, during which time I stocked up on baguettes and cheese for the road, we hit up the local deli and grocers for some meat and fruits. Next stop, Switzerland.

For anyone planning on taking a trip to any country which they are not familiar with, we highly recommend investing in a GPS system. Pretty sure Ron has praised the wonders of our GPS in previous days. But let me tell you, not only does it make navigating roads and unanticipated construction pleasant, it has probably saved us from frustrations with one another that would have been almost inevitable given the fact that neither of us have patience for not knowing what we are doing.

Getting out of Paris was not as bad as some would think. Once we got on the autoroute, there were very few incidents of slowing down or traffic. The French countryside was beautiful. Thank goodness Ron didn’t stop every time I wanted to take a picture or else we would still be in the French fields.

We crossed into Switzerland as vigilantes. Let me explain. As we came up to the border crossing, we spoke to a border guard who indicated to us to pull over to the side to speak with another man. Given that I have a non-Euro passport, neither Ron nor I thought much of it. When the man finally approached our vehicle, he explained that we had to pay a toll – an autoroute toll – which we have since renamed the tourist tax. Since neither of us could find any reason to give the Swiss government 30euros, we told the man we did not intend on going into Geneva (the city of the border crossing) the officer directed us to a way which we could turn around. This detour happened to require us to get onto the road away from Geneva. Needless to say, we didn’t take the detour back into France. Hence, vigilantes.

We traveled up to the Centre Europeen pour la Research Nucleaire, aka CERN and the house of the Large Hadron Collider, where we saw the outer offices and the time table indicating that we were too late to get a tour of the facility. Next stop was our hotel in Geneva. Navigating the Geneva streets and traffic may end up being the most unpleasant experience of our journey, between construction and poor traffic light timing. We reached the hotel tired and starving.

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Getting out of the car helped our spirits perk up. We walked the couple of blocks from our hotel to Lake Geneva. Tucked away from the main Lake side drive, we dined at a delicious Italian bistro (the Swiss appear to love their Italian bistros) called Chez Lopez. I had fabulous wood fire cooked lasagna covered in cheese and vodka sauce. Delicious!

Our evening was made complete with some ice cream and a moonlit stroll along the lake and city before retiring for some much needed ZZZs.

Ron

A driving day. I really don’t mind driving so long as “This American Life” is on the radio and I know where I am going. Thank goodness for the GPS (or as we have nick-named and genderised her as “GP”).

Paris to Geneva is about a 5 hour drive. Add to that 1 hours to get out of Paris, an accident on the highway backed us up another hour and 2 hours of traffic into Geneva made for a very long driving day indeed.

Driving from one area to the other in Europe is very different. Firstly in respect to the physical roads they weave and sway all through the mountains as though they have a personality where ours back home are just straight; lacking character. The roads here are also in mint condition and the maximum speed limit is 130 km/h.

Saying all of that you would think I favor the European roads however this is not the case. As I have been speaking to the locals here I have been informed about some interesting facts.
The roads are in mint condition because they are well paid for. The “tourist” tax that Meghan mentioned earlier is not a tourist tax at all. Every driver (local or tourist) have to pay a fee to drive the auto route (highway) in Switzerland. If you drive on it once or everyday its 30 Euros for the entire year meaning for the 3 days we are here I have to pay the same rate as the local who drives it 365 days. If you do not have a ticket indicating you have paid then you can be fined 200 Euros.

In France, it’s different (and worse). You pay only when you drive the route (which is great is you only drive locally or don’t have a car). When we entered the auto route out of Paris we received a ticket and when we attempted to leave the auto route coming into Switzerland it was 40 Euros for 1 direction. Thinking about that makes me appreciate North American high ways much more. I can drive from Toronto to Calgary and pay nothing to drive.

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To see all of our pictures, click here.