After retrieving my mom from Geneva Airport this morning, we took a drive to Chateau de Chillon on the Swiss side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). The drive to the airport was itself a small adventure since we were studiously attempting to avoid the Swiss highways to get to our destination. Why would we avoid the Swiss highways, you justifiably ask. The Swiss have implemented a toll-free highway system, which sounds great in theory. Except if you’re just visiting Because in order to use the Swiss highways, you need to buy a special permit, which costs about $40/year. That’s fine if you’re spending your entire vacation exploring Switzerland. But kind of expensive if you’re just a day-tripper, like us.
Following the smaller roads was no easy task. They were filled with traffic as we crossed the border into Switzerland and approached the airport (I guess we’re not the only ones who think the highway rule is highway robbery). My mother’s flight had already arrived, and I was getting anxious. The traffic was at a dead stop in front of us. I forced my husband, who was driving, to get on the highway even though we hadn’t purchased the right to be driving on the highway. We made it to the airport without incident and I bought the silly permit at the airport customs desk so that we could make our way to this renowned chateau without having to compete against the cows lingering on the side of the country roads. The cows would have surely won the race.
After a leisurely drive, we made it to the beautiful (yet spooky) Chateau de Chillon, which is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Geneva.
It started to rain just as we entered the courtyard. But no matter. The downpour added atmosphere to this perfect medieval castle! Chloe was a cranky pants, having not slept well the night before. She didn’t appreciate the ambiance at all and was bored. She reluctantly admitted to liking the latrines (pictured below), but what 10-year old kid wouldn’t like the latrines?
Yes, you would sit your medieval ass on this open seat and let the piss and crap fall down to the ground, which is at least 50-75 feet below. Heaven help the poor sot who found himself standing underneath one of those holes. The latrine in the photo above was for the sole benefit of the Count of Savoy, who lived in the castle. The riff-raff weren’t entitled to such luxury.
Sophie and I enjoyed exploring the chateau together; I freely admit that I ran away from cranky-pants Chloe at the earliest opportunity, knowing full well that my five-year old would LOVE discovering all of the hidden corners of this place. And indeed, the two of us had a terrific time.
We then continued our circuit of Lake Geneva, making our way back towards Annecy via Evian-les-Bains, the home of Evian water and Evian dancing babies. We ate lunch in the same cafe across the street from the casino where I found several hundred dollars in cash in the women’s restroom about 20 years ago. There was no money to be found today, but we had a nice meal and a leisurely walk around town and the lakefront.
We finally made it back to Annecy in time for dinner. I drove home – the amount of traffic at rush hour in the middle of nowhere never ceases to amaze me – and am proud to say that I only stalled the car once.