What about Geneva?

Pedestrian Bridge across the Rhone River

Pedestrian Bridge across the Rhone River

We rely on several guide books and, of course, the internet’s resources when we travel, but we also use our instincts. The Rick Steves Switzerland guide barely mentions Geneva. In fact, he advises one to “skip the big, dull city of Geneva” and use Lausanne as your base town. I disagree—and I’m glad we decided to spend some time in Switzerland’s “smallest of big cities”.

Anyone who flies into Geneva should make a point of staying at least one or two nights in this pleasant and walkable city. It’s very easy to take the modern and efficient train for a ten minute ride to the main train station in Geneva. There are plenty of decent hotels close to the station or, one could take a bus or taxi for a short ride to the more upscale hotels along the lake. We found a basic, but very clean hotel across the street from the train station and found it easy to walk everywhere. Continue reading

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Around Mont Blanc

Sunset View

Sunset View

Although the Matterhorn is the most famous peak in Switzerland, we were closer to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. This majestic peak is 4,810 meters (15,781 ft.) above sea level in the Graian Alps that border both Italy and France. It’s nestled among several other impressive mountains that are only a one hour and forty-five minute drive from Morges. While walking our boardwalk along Lake Geneva, we can often spot Mont Blanc, across the lake behind Èvian-les-Bains, France. So, we were watching the weather reports for a perfect day to get up there for a hike.

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En Velo—Biking along Lake Geneva

Vineyards & Views

Vineyards & Views

Lake Geneva, or Lac Léman, as it is often called here in Switzerland, is one of Europe’s largest lakes. Located in southwestern Switzerland, Lake Geneva also borders France and is surrounded by the majestic Chablais Alps on the southern side and the Bernese Alps on its eastern end. It’s possible to ride the lake’s 112 miles in one day, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are too many beautiful towns and parks to visit along the way. Continue reading

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A Few Day Hikes near Lake Geneva

Bisse Walls

Hike near Sion

For our first week in Switzerland, we thought we’d start out with a few easy hikes near our base town of Morges. Located on Lake Geneva, in the southwestern part of Switzerland, Morges is close to many scenic hiking areas. The biggest challenge is deciding on which area you want to explore.

Chateau at La Sarraz

Chateau at La Sarraz

For our first hike, we decided to venture near the Jura Mountains, which are just a bit north of Morges. With our home exchange, we have the use of a car, which is very convenient for quick day trips into the countryside. In less than one hour, we arrived at the small town of La Sarraz, where we could hop the train to the start of our hike in Romainmôntier. We boarded the train with other hikers and bikers on a splendid sunny Sunday morning. Continue reading

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On the Road Again, thanks to Home Exchange

Geneva

Geneva

This blog is mostly about travels in Italy, which is my favorite place to be. But when an opportunity to visit Switzerland came our way, we couldn’t resist. We had joined the Home Exchange community for some short trips in the U.S. then we got a nice offer from Morges, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva.

Morges, Switzerland

Morges, Switzerland

If you become addicted to travel as we have, you start to seek out ways to economize on your adventures. We started staying in apartments instead of hotels, which was always less expensive. We not only saved on the cost of lodging, but we also saved on meals that we could cook at home. We usually found a place with a washing machine, which was also very convenient when traveling. Continue reading

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Visiting San Diego—Without a Car

 

The Ferry stop at Coronado

The Ferry stop at Coronado

I was born and raised in San Diego, California, but a recent trip was the first time I explored this city without a car. The birthplace of California, and the second largest city spreads out quite a bit —to over 72 square miles. With a less than perfect bus system, it was almost necessary to have a car in order to get around. But finally, there’s a better way to explore this beautiful coastal city. It’s not perfect, but the San Diego Trolley covers a lot of important sites. Here’s how you can visit San Diego without being stuck (too much) on the freeway. Continue reading

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10 Reasons to visit Bellingham in the Summertime

Mt. Baker & Bellingham Bay

Mt. Baker & Bellingham Bay

My hometown of Bellingham is one of the best places to spend the summer. The days are long—more than 16 hours of sunlight—without bugs or humidity. The temperatures are perfect for exploring Bellingham Bay, hanging out in town or hiking in the mountains. Here’s my list of favorites:

Gato Verde at Vendovi Island

Gato Verde at Vendovi Island

1. Bellingham Bay
There are plenty of options for spending time on Bellingham Bay and the nearby San Juan Islands. Gato Verde, a 40 foot diesel hybrid Catamaran is one of my favorites. You can choose a sunset cruise or charter it for longer trips. Skipper, Todd Shuster makes any trip fun with his knowledge of nature and the island ecology.

You can also go Whale Watching with a variety of companies. During the summer, pods of Orca whales can usually be found on the west side of San Juan Island. San Juan Cruises includes a nice stop at Friday Harbor midway. It’s also easy to rent kayaks and other small boats at the Community Boating Center for a more adventurous trip on the bay. Continue reading

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