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.
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.
On this trip to the beautiful, but expensive country of Switzerland, we’re sure glad we used Home Exchange. Here’s how it works:
Although there is a cost for signing up, after that, there are no fees. We’ve done two exchanges, and in both cases, we’ve agreed to exchange our homes and our cars. We even allow our guest to use our bikes. All of this is negotiable. The website provides advice and forms for creating agreements about each item. In both cases, we wrote emails and communicated by Skype a lot before the actual exchange. Good communication is the key.
So, now we are based in Morges located in the French speaking part of Switzerland between Geneva and Lausanne. It’s a small and quaint town which provides a great base for exploring most of Switzerland. Our condo is walking distance from the town center, which has a pleasant, pedestrian-only area full of fun shops and restaurants. The farmers’ market is every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Besides fresh fruit and vegetables, we can find excellent breads, cheeses, fish and meats. The only thing missing from Morges is a good gelato shop!
The popular walkway along the lake is famous for the lovely flowers that line the wide walkway. In the spring, you can enjoy tulips, but right now, it’s full of colorful dahlias of all sizes and shapes. When the clouds aren’t hiding the nearby Alps, you can spot the majestic Mont Blanc among the many high peaks. An efficient boating company takes you to all parts of Lake Geneva, including Montreux or Evian, France.
Morges is conveniently located on the train line that connects Geneva with many other cities. With Switzerland’s modern and efficient rail system, you can reach any city within three hours. From nearby Lausanne, there’s a smaller rail line that takes us up towards the Jura Mountains and hundreds of hiking and biking trails. Bikes are allowed on most of the trains and we often see people just wheel them on. There’s a small charge for bicycles, but on the weekends, certain trains are full of happy cyclists on their way to the countryside.
Although we had heard that Switzerland was expensive, it’s not easy paying such high prices for common things such as coffee or a sandwich. Everything seems to be about double of what we pay in the U.S. A pizza can cost from 20-26 dollars. A single espresso is $3.50 to $4, even in the smaller towns in the countryside. It makes you think twice about eating out. The only item that seems pretty reasonable (and worth the price) is their beer.
But the hiking trails are free. So, if you enjoy being out in nature and exploring the countryside, Switzerland has a lot to offer. You can reach almost any hiking area using the train and bus system. Although the trains aren’t cheap, there are many types of passes that make traveling more economical. During the month of August, they are offering an all day pass for anywhere in Switzerland for $49 per person. There are also regional passes that provide discounts for the trains, funiculars, busses and boats.
We’ve just started to explore the trails near Morges. We have hundreds of trails for hiking and biking in the nearby Jura Mountains. If we head east, there are several different valleys that border the Alps. With the efficient Swiss Railway System, we can take several different trips up higher in the Alps.
Stay tuned for more posts on our day hikes and explorations.