Ron

By far my favorite day. We awoke in Geneva Switzerland and enjoyed our complimentary breakfast. After getting ready we set out for Pontarlier which borders Switzerland and France. This was the location my Grandfather had brought my Grandmother many times.
Leaving Geneva you drive along Lake Geneva until reaching the top. The lake is beautiful to say the least and once we arrived at the top we had lunch in a town called Morges. There was a market taking place and Meghan bought a very fancy necklace.

We left Morges and traveled North to the French border. The road we took was very important to me. On a random side road in a town I could not remember was a tree that bore my Granddads hand carving. Granddad brought me to the tree every time I came with him. There is a picture of him at it below. He chizzled into the tree “Geoff and Dilys” with all the dates they had visited the tree. More about that in a minute.

When heading to the border there is specific route to travel to see this tree and I could not recall how to get to that route. I was only familiar with the route on the way back from Pontarlier to Geneva. We drove 60 kms to Pontarlier and every time I saw a layby (picnic area on the side of the road) I would get excited and antsy. None of those laybys were not the right spot.

We made it to Pontarlier and found the hotel my Grandfather had been many times. There is a woman owner who knows my Granddad well. Many a year he would travel there and he and this woman would have conversations trying to understand each other. Geoff in English and she in French. She told us later that they often resorted to picture drawing.

When we arrived in the afternoon she was there and she remembered me (as I had been there 3 times before with Granddad). I so wished Granddad could have been there as Meghan and the owner spoke so gracefully to each other. It almost brought me to tears as this lady, whom I thought at times was annoyed with my Granddads broken attempts to speak French with her came to life and was so happy to talk about my Grandfathers trips and time together.

I informed her of his passing and she poured us a drink at the bar. There we sat and Meghan translated for us as we shared about each others lives.
After the visit we departed for the town. The town has 2 historic Castles that sit on top of the mountains overlooking the entrance into the town.

We ventured to the top of the 1 of the castles. In the town we stocked up on French wine (6 bottles) and food. We left the city and traveled back down towards Switzerland in order to find this tree.

There is a town called Valorabe which has a stream running through it. I think it is one of the nicest pictures I have ever taken and I knew it was on the route back. When we entered the town Meghan was ready to pounce with her Ninja Photography skills. She took a picture of every angle of this stream. They look fantastic!!!

Shortly after Valorabe is the location of my Granddads tree. I arrived very excited and then very disappointed. In the area of trees where it should have been were about 6 tree stubs. It had been cut down and quite recently it appeared. I don’t know what is was about the tree but seeing it gone was like the last physical thing I had of Granddad. It was just another painful reminder. I was glad to make it all the way back there though.

We left and started our 3 hour drive to Wattwil Switzerland. Wattwil is in the middle of no-where. I love it here.

Meghan

Another beautiful, sunshiny day. We hit the road mid-morning headed for … I have no idea. All I know is that our ultimate destination was outside of Zurich. The in-between was in Ron’s hands.

The drive was filled with incredible sights and unbelievable views of the mountains over looking Lake Geneva. We stopped in the village surrounding Chateau Morges. The beautiful Saturday weather welcomed both locals and tourists to the waterfront market place. Wandering, we came across a number of vendors, one of which had beautifully crafted silver jewelry which he had designed. His charming salesmanship and a gorgeous necklace both won me over. After a bite to eat at the waters edge, we hit the road to Pontarlier. Once in Pontarlier, I was very happy that Ron recognized the proprietor of the hotel which was often visited by his grandfather over the past 20 odd years.

She was not in the least bit capable of speaking English. I translated for Ron and her as they reminisced about their memories of Grand-dad. I felt like an intruder in their memories and privileged that I was able to participate in the conversation, even if it was just as a communicative aid. I’m very happy she showed up to the Hotel early today.

Before wandering back into Switzerland, we explored the Chateau de Pontarlier which served as a fort in the 14th and 15th century as well as a stronghold against the Nazi invasion of France during the early years of the second World War.

We headed back toward Lusanne, Switzerland, on the hunt for Grand-dad’s tree. On the way, we stumbled across the most beautiful view in the southern region of Switzerland. I took a few pictures…surprise surprise  The next hour was dedicated to locating the memory tree…Ron describes this part of our day far better than I ever could.

We finally made it to Wattwil, the small town in which the Frohmader villa is located. We were both very happy to finally reach our destination. We were greeted by the Frohmader’s neighbor and friend, Paul. He showed us what was to be our quarters for the next few days. This included a brief history lesson about the Frohmader clan and their relationship with Paul’s family over the years. The lesson gave way to the short walk to the pub for several pints and great conversation with the locals, with the Switzerland v. Italia football game filling the background.

From the sounds of it, the arrival of the Canadians was quite the news. We were introduced to the pub’s manager and granted full access to nearly limitless pints. Wilkommen to Wattwil!