Day 49 – Aigle to Villeneuve-Vevey/Lausanne (Lake Geneva)
We were up early, but the hotel staff was not. The lobby was dark when we tried to collect our ‘breakfast included’ at 0630. We waited awhile and finally gave up and grabbed a coffee and croissant near the rail station. No train this morning though. We’re on Plan A and the path just happens to pass the station on its way out of town. Today we are heading to Lake Geneva. We’ve been to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, but never this particular Lake Geneva and we wanted to see how it compared.
This was a different kind of day. Our walk to Villeneuve was short and mostly along bicycle paths along highways. In Villeneuve, we would catch the ferry across the lake with a stop at Vevey. Why a ferry? Because the pilgrims of old did not walk if a ferry was available. Why walk when you can ride? Luckily, there was a ferry (several of them) available for us … and about 100 other people.
We waited at the pier in Villeneuve, basking in the morning sun while nursing a cappuccino and gazing out over Lake Geneva. Swans and coots and ducks cruised by at a leisurely pace. Everyone seemed to be enjoying a perfect, sultry summer morning .Sometimes life is good and sometimes it’s even better.
Our ferry, La Suisse, docked on time and we boarded quickly. The ferries run regularly for locals and tourists and stop at several ports along the lake. We passed close to the island castle of Château de Chillon, on the way to Montreux.
We decided to spend the night in Vevey and continue on to Lausanne in the morning. It’s a classy place with a vibrant, touristy lakeside appeal. Lots of famous people live and have lived here … Shania Twain, Phil Collins, Freddie Mercury, Graham Greene, but the most famous resident was Charlie Chaplin. There’s even a statue dedicated to him along the lakeside walk, Vevey Marché.
There was also, inexplicably, a large fork, the Fork of Vevey, standing at attention a few yards off the shore. According to Wiki, ‘Fork of Vevey is an 8-metre-tall (26 ft), 1.3-metre-wide (4.3 ft) stainless steel fork on the shore of Lake Geneva in Vevey, Switzerland. Fork of Vevey is a part of the Alimentarium, a Vevey-based museum with a permanent exhibition on food and Nestlé's history.’
We stayed at Vevey House, the most reasonably priced hotel in the area. We paid ~$100/night for a small (albeit clean) room with twin beds, a shared bath, no TV, no toiletries, no breakfast … but adequate wifi and felt it was a bargain compared to what else was available.
Day 49 – Aigle – Villeneuve-Vevey/Lausanne (ferry) - No pilgrims today
9.79 miles walked / 22,764 steps
Leg distance: 7.0 miles / 607 miles to Canterbury
Day 50 – Vevey/Lausanne to Bavois (Charvonay)
We made our way to Lausanne in early morning and, began a particularly long leg to Charvonay. It took us a long while just to get out of Lausanne. There were several steep hills which only got us as far as the Cathedral which I wanted to visit, so we made a detour to get there. As luck would have it, the Cathedral was closed, but a kindly church lady let us wander around for few minutes. It’s a beautiful Gothic building, especially the south side entrance door. It has an interesting history in that it was consecrated as a Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne by Pope Gregory X in 1275. In 1536, after the Protestant Reformation, it became a Protestant cathedral. Check out the photos below especially some of the detail of the south side entrance door.
An interesting bit of trivia … ‘Since 1405 until the present day without interruption, the city of Lausanne has maintained a lookout in the Cathedral bell tower. The lookout announces the time by yelling the hour from 10 pm to 2 am, 365 days a year. The lookout cries the hour to each cardinal direction. The original purpose of the lookout was to provide a warning in case of fire though it has now become a traditional function. Since 2002, the official lookout is Renato Häus.’ Who knew?
It ended up being a long, long, hot day. We were up in the forests along wooded paths, then on bike trails and footpaths through fields. Beyond long, however, it was a ‘people’ day. We met Vera Fabrio in La Mont. This sweet 88-year-old Croatian woman was out for her daily walk and having trouble trying to get up from her park bench. We offered assistance and she accepted and asked if we’d like to have a cup of coffee with her. We accepted and helped her to the local coffee shop for some coffee and an amiable chat.
David uses our iPhone for Maps.me and the Via Francigena route map. We were running out of power and looking for a place to plug in without much success. We finally spotted a tiny railroad station in Etagnieres and sure enough, there was a power outlet available. While waiting for a charge-up, Mario arrived. A transplanted Italian, we conversed in Engli-talian/French. When he learned we were Americans walking from Rome, he was elated. He pulled a cold beer from his sack and offered it to us. It was hot and we were tired and it hit the spot. Then he dashed out the door to catch his train.
A few miles later down the path, we were filling up our water bottles in a fountain in Oulens. Francois saw us and cautioned us that the water was not good. He led us to his house across the road and let us fill our bottles there. We chatted more and he invited us in for coffee. We politely declined, having already dawdled sufficiently, we needed to make several more miles before the day’s end.
We finally made out way to Charvonay and the Hotel de la Gare … yes, right next to the train station. It, too, was pricey for twin beds and no working wifi. It was a place that needed some TLC. The lights didn’t always work, the shower fixture was broken, the toilet rocked, it was hot and stuffy and freight trains went by … all night long.
Day 50 – Vevey/Lausanne – Bavois (Charvonay)
20.58 miles walked / 47, 856 steps – a new record!
Leg distance: 15 miles / 585 miles to Canterbury
Up next? We’re at the French border. France, here we come!