Thursday, September 25, 2014

On the way to… or from

From various remarks over the past year or so, I realize that what I see as being totally normal  - to the point that I sometimes no longer even “see” it – is for others extraordinary. Today on my trip to the mountains I decided to consciously drive, to knowingly remark upon the beauty of my surroundings: not that it is all beautiful or even all interesting.

The drive is a very leisurely 2 hours from door to door, but today I stopped, took pictures, walked around, try to imagine seeing it all for the first time. It wasn’t a superb day, but also at least wasn’t raining either: a normal day in short.

Along this road (through France for about half of it), there are old wooden chalets, manor houses and small castles even, together with the 50s ugly and the box modern. Scenery is much more entertaining as I pass through fields of hay, corn, some with horses, some with cows then drive along the lake front for some 20 miles: small harbors, new parks, villages of all sizes (and interest). 

School & City hall Sciez

Fish fountain in Publier/Amphion

Evian is along this route and so scenes include the widest point of Lake Leman, the Olympic sized pool with a diving board into the lake that is higher than I ever want to stand on, the Casino, an old bell tower, the spa and the new Hilton (not on this particular road through Evian is the golf course and several very luxurious hotels).

They keep adding to their art work of old wood

The church tower behind an apartment building

There are parts, which are fairly wild, others entirely sleepy-little-village-in-the-sun and yet others new modern bungalows. There are the hidden beaches, the off-the-track churches (every time I drive through one small village I think someday I have to go see the Jean-Jacques Rousseau church – some almost 40 years later, still haven’t).

Fisherman off the "Petite Rive"

New lakefront park in Petite Rive

There is a difference in the feel – and even in the roads – in between France and Switzerland – only the trees, flowers and lake remain the same.

Looking across towards Montreux from St. Gingolph

At the end of the lake a sharp right turn brings me through a transitional valley with the French alps invisible behind the lower pre-alps on the right and the higher peaks of places such as Leysin, Les Diablerets and Villars in Switzerland to the left.  Here also there are winds so usually see hang gliders, real (airplane) gliders (there is a small airport), but today there were also a couple of military jets doing maneuvers. Plenty of water inland as well as I crossed the Rhone twice.

The vineyards at "Evouettes"

Left side mirror

Right side mirror

I had debated stopping off at the spa: Lavey-les-Bains, but in the end just wandered on to Martigny and went to the Giannada Museum instead to see the Renoir exhibition. From there I came across the newly renovated protestant temple where all the windows were changed into stained glass windows by a renowned Swiss artist: Hans Erni – the last of the windows he did at 105! He must be doing something right.

Up to my mountain abode and a short walk to see what’s new – just the setting sun bathing the mountaintop. I could actually see the Matterhorn from the farthest point, but my camera’s batteries decided that they had done enough for the day and quit on me: some memories are meant to just be mental.

End of the day