We left Venice early in the morning to start a major day of travel. We took a vaparetto to the train station, and took a train first from Venice to Milan, then Milan to Geneva, Switzerland.
Most of the train trip I spent like this:
Fortunately, I woke up a few times to catch some of the beautiful scenery. Our views were of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva.
Once we arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, we waited a few hours for the next bus that would take us to Annecy, France.
We walked around Geneva for a bit. I found it to be incredibly clean and diverse. I wish we could have spent more time there, but it just did not work out with the other cities we were traveling to.
When we finally arrived in Annecy, France, it was raining and a bit of a culture shock. Even though it was logical, it was still jarring to switch from Italian to French, and try to figure out how to contact and meet our next host. After about a confusing hour, we figured it out and settled in to our next apartment.
I am embarrassed to say that I did not practice as much French, as I should have. I only knew the basic pleasantries, and in Annecy and the next city we visited, Beaune, very few people spoke English. Fortunately, my husband practiced quite a bit before the trip, and he was able to get us around.
We settled in to our (spacious!) apartment and after washing the day of travel off of us, we set out to find dinner in our new city.
Annecy looked like it was straight out of a storybook. The town was incredibly charming and must have been the inspiration behind the little town Belle sings about, in Beauty and the Beast.
Dinner that night was another culture shock. I barely understood the menu and saw pretty much no vegan options. France proved to be much more of a challenge in finding things to eat (until we arrived in Paris). However, the wine was AMAZING. We had a grapefruit wine seasoned with rose.
Dinner was a basil tomato crumble, with salad and sorbet. It was the safest thing on the menu, but I can honestly do not know if it was 100% vegan. We definitely tried the best we could, throughout France, but it was a very BIG challenge, especially with our lack of language skills and desire to not be difficult tourists.
Most dishes were laden with cheese and meat. For example, this was our friend’s meal. I think it contained bacon and potatoes, swimming in cheese. According to her, it was absolutely delicious.
We were pretty exhausted after our day of travel and culture shock, so we walked back through the cute city and turned in early for the night.
The next morning, I woke up early and was able to get in some good yoga time. Fortunately, this apartment had the space that allowed me to do that, without disturbing everyone else’s sleep.
Once everyone was up, we decided to walk to the local market, and get some picnic supplies. This was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip. We bought delicious food and wine, and enjoyed a picnic right along Lake Annecy (only a 10 minute walk from our apartment), with views of the Alps. It was another “I can’t believe where we are” moment.
We continued to walk around and explore the city, and eventually decided to head back to the apartment for a nap (my favorite!).
In the evening, we found a place to have dinner pretty close to our apartment (we were situated in a very central portion of the city.)
For dinner, we found virtually nothing on the menu, and ordered our first, of MANY rounds, of salad and French fries.
After dinner, we set out to see the city at night. We found a local band playing and plopped down to enjoy them.
Annecy had a wonderful community like feel. There did not seem to be many tourists while we were there and it felt nice to be amongst the friendly locals and absorb their culture.
The next day, I woke up early, to go for a run along beautiful Lake Annecy. I only did 3 miles, but there was no way I could miss the opportunity to run in such a gorgeous location.
Our plan for the day was to rent bikes and take a ride around Lake Annecy, picnic and ride back. We loaded up on more essentials at the market and were on our way.
The bike ride was another of my favorites of the trip. The views were absolutely breathtaking and we were able to see so many charming lakeside homes, with luscious gardens.
Our destination was at the other side of the lake, just over ten miles. After the long ride, we were so ready for our picnic and dug into our food; baguette, sundried tomatoes, THE best mustard, tabouli, olives, fig spread and hummus.
The ride back was just as amazing and we arrived back hours later having ridden just over twenty miles.
We went back to the main street that our apartment was on and hopped around cafes, people watched, and talked about our observations and the things we were learning. These are some of my favorite moments when traveling. I love sitting down to take it all in and reflect on what I am learning from being in a new culture. I always find that some of my current views are challenged and I learn so much by just sitting and observing.
The next morning, we were set to leave Annecy. Luckily, the fresh market was occurring, just outside our apartment and we were able to load up on provisions for our train trip to Beaune.
This market absolutely blew me away. It stretched on and on and was filled with so many beautiful fruits and vegetables, fresh olives and amazing spreads. We found out this market occurs THREE times per week! I would give just about anything to have something comparable where I live.
We purchased this sun-dried tomato tapenade, accompanied with a white wine artichoke spread. Those paired so well with a baguette, during our travel time.
I could have easily stayed longer. I absolutely loved Annecy! I adored how easy it was to be active in the city. There was a well established running and bike trail, that runs right alongside the lake with the stunning views.
Alas, it was time to move on. We headed to the train station to make our way to Beaune…