This morning started slightly later than yesterday, at 6:30am. I have no idea why the two I was sleeping with didn’t want to sleep until lunchtime, I certainly did, but they were raring to go by 7.
We wanted to be on the road at 9 am, because we were going to have to drive for 5-6 hours. Toilet and leg-stretching stops would add at least another 2 hours to our day, and we wanted to get to Geneva before it got dark.
As it was, we didn’t get out of the hotel until 10am. DH had to get the car out of the Hotel’s garage and drive around the streets of Reims looking for somewhere to park. Then he had to get the roof box on the car, and get back to the hotel for the bags. I was secretly glad he’d volunteered for this task, I hate driving in towns on the continent and would probably have ended up crying as I drove round in circles on the quest for a space. When we are all together, I do usually end up driving into and out of cities, as I need DH to navigate and remind me to stay in the right lane and go around roundabouts anticlockwise.
True to form, we were on the Motorway for only a short period of time before we realised we were going to have to find some fuel. When in France, we drive on the Peages, so petrol stations are a frequent occurrence in the Aires that dot the toll roads. We winced as we filled up the tank. Our people carrier is a bit of a beast and petrol is one of the major expenses of a holiday like this.
We stopped for lunch a little after 12 at Aire De Perrogney and lined up with hundreds of other people for the worlds worst chips and hamburger. We always forget that the hamburger comes without the bun in France. This is a shame for DS as it’s the only bit he will eat, but he filled up on some sort of cake, so was in no danger of starving.
The most exciting part of lunch, apart from the girls arguing over a game of Dobble and earning some dirty looks from the French family at the next table, was discovering there was a geocache nearby. So once we’d finished eating, we all traipsed through a scruffy bit of blackberry at the far point of the Aire, and found ourselves in a small clearing with a clearly astonished dog walker. Geocaching is supposed to be a stealthy activity, and you are not meant to alert ‘muggles’ to what you are doing, but the poor woman couldn’t help but notice our 4 kids racing screaming over to where the cache was hidden, then performing a rather jubilant dance of discovery.
For the second leg of our journey, we put a DVD on and DS fell asleep. This was good as he needed to catch up on some shuteye, but bad because he’s lying beside me now, playing with his trains and kicking me in the head.
We also experienced the extreme mixture of satisfaction and sympathy that comes from encountering a 2 mile traffic jam on the other side of the motorway. This kind of thing is common enough on the M25 but when you are paying 40 Euros to use a road, you want it to be as free moving as possible.
As we moved down the country, we noticed the landscape changing from flat with occasional outbreaks of wind turbines, to patches of woodland dotted with fields full of sunflowers. We are travelling a week or two earlier than we normally do, so I’ve finally got to see the sunflower fields in full colour. Usually, by the time we pass through them, they are dry and brown.
Closer to the Swiss border, the scenery changes again and becomes mountainous. This is the prettiest part of the journey, all chalets and green pastures, rocky cliffs, viaducts and tunnels. Then we passed over the border and were immersed in a route through the slightly scummy centre of Geneva.
Our hotel is just outside the town centre, and surrounded by high rises. It’s noisy, even with the windows shut. We have two family rooms; two lots of interconnected suites. DS is in with me, we have 2 single beds and wrongly, DD2 has an entire double bed to herself. We got here around 5, unloaded the car, squabbled about who was having what room, then walked down to the lake front.
We stopped at a little playground on the way, in the grounds of a school, then continued to the water where we found a huge statue of a horse and a naked man, both with rather realistic genitalia. The girls were delighted and ran around pointing and shrieking, and daring each other to touch ‘it’.
Once the hilarity of it had worn off, we made our way down to some fair ground rides and watched people more daring than us get their monies worth.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel for a bath and room service. The kids discovered hot air rising from a grill in the pavement and as none of them wore dresses a la Miss Monroe, they had to use their hair instead.
Tomorrow we are heading for Saas Fee, and our first week with Esprit.
It’s only 3 hours away, so we may poke around Geneva a bit more before we leave. We have to find somewhere to eat breakfast first, as the hotel was going to charge us £30/head!On the plus side, check out isn’t until noon, so I’m hoping for a bit of a lie in.
But between the street noise and the kids, I know I’m extremely unlikely to get one.