1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia – Switzerland (Part 6)

It was a bit tough for us to leave Varese, as we were leaving a great Alfa Romeo car rebuilding experience and our good friends, Enrico and Mario.

We pushed on to Lausanne, Switzerland, where Aey and I had 3 different sets of friends.  Amazingly, these 3 different unrelated sets of friends and us all had one thing in common – Bangkok.  We did not do a grand tour of Switzerland, we just stopped in Lausanne and focused on catching up with friends.

First, after a great few days in Switzerland, and a lot of photos, it is good to get organised with an outline.  This is what we will cover:

  • The Ferry across Lake Maggiore (Italy)
  • Driving in Switzerland, climbing up and over the Alps.
  • Hotel du Mont Blanc.  View of Lake Genève and Mont Blanc.
    • Parking
    • Swimming
    • Exploring the neighbourhood
  • Friends:
    • Vanessa and Antonio
    • Anthony and Petch
    • Etienne!
  • Goodbye Switzerland

Before we start the trip to Switzerland, if you want to see the other posts, here they are:

1966 Alfa Romeo – Road Trip
1966 Alfa Romeo – Vesuvius and Pomepii
1966 Alfa Romeo – Perugia
1966 Alfa Romeo – Pisa & Manarola
1966 Alfa Romeo – Varese, Italy

Here is a map to remind you where Lausanne, Switzerland is located.

Map - Varese, Italy to Lausanne, Switzerland.

Map – Varese, Italy to Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Ferry across Lake Maggiore (Italy)

People would ask “What route did you take from Italy to Switzerland?”.  They were expecting things like Gotthard Base Tunnel, Great St Bernard Pass, Grimsel Pass or the Simplon Pass.  We would say “We came from Varese and we took the ferry to Switzerland”.  This always created a confused look.  Seems that few know there is a ferry that crosses Lake Maggiore (Italy), and just a few minutes after you get off the ferry, the Swiss border appears.

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The ferry was a great and memorable start to our trip.  It only costs 14 Euros too!

First in line to board the ferry.

First in line to board the ferry.

All aboard! Alfa climbs on board the ferry across Lake Maggiore.

All aboard! Alfa climbs on board the ferry across Lake Maggiore.

We were first in line, but not aggressive enough to beat the Italians on board.

We were first in line, but not aggressive enough to beat the Italians on board.

So cool.

So cool.  Pretty woman.

Nice view.

Nice view.

Artist on board - Jake kept a journal and drew a lot of pictures.

Artist on board – Jake kept a journal and drew a lot of pictures.

Getting off the ferry.

Getting off the ferry.

The mountain pass we used was the Simplon Pass, as it was relatively low at 2009 meters (6600 feet).  There are much taller passes, but we are in a 51-year-old car with new brakes and untested electronic distributor.  Nervous wife and 7-year-old needed a great experience – not a scary experience.

You tell me, did we have a nice drive?  See photos, below:

On the road again..... #2. Singing 'Puff the magic dragon...' with Jake.

On the road again. Singing ‘Puff the magic dragon…’ with Jake.

Look at my new toy. My iPhone talking to me engine distributor. RPM, spark advance, vacuum, and more on my phone.

Look at my new toy. My iPhone talking to me engine distributor. RPM, spark advance, vacuum, and more on my phone.

Look at my new toy #2. Modern engine performance display on this old dashboard.

Look at my new toy #2. Modern engine performance display on this old dashboard.

Just entered Switzerland, starting to climb the Alps.

Just entered Switzerland, starting to climb the Alps.

Nice roads, great scenery, and many many tunnels.

Nice roads, great scenery, and many many tunnels.

Stunning views are everywhere #2.

‘Take a load off, Fanny. Take a load for free. Take a load off, Fanny. And you put the load right on me.’ – The Band.

Snow capped Alps.

Snow capped Alps.

Stunning views are everywhere.

Stunning views are everywhere.

Creative use of luggage and a rubber band for an improvised tripod.

Creative use of luggage and a rubber band for an improvised tripod.

Photo resulting from improvised tripod. Heaven.

Photo resulting from improvised tripod. Heaven.

Cute kid.

Cute kid.

Fresh air, perfect temperature, breeze, and stunning views everywhere.

Fresh air, perfect temperature, breeze, and stunning views everywhere.

Stunning.

Stunning.

Hotel du Mont Blanc.  View of Lake Genève and Mont Blanc.

Lausanne is famous and beautiful.  We stayed in a small seaside village about 15km (10 miles) away, called Morges.  We expected little, and we found it to be amazing.   Old streets, no tall buildings, plenty of old architecture and walking streets, and right on Lake Genève.

Because we did not know when the Alfa Romeo was going to be ready (repairs in Varese), we could not book hotels or make plans further than 12-24 hours in advance.  We searched on Booking.com for a cost-effective place to stay anywhere in the Lausanne area, but there was very little last minute choices.

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Aey and I just picked almost at random, the Hotel du Mont Blanc.  It looked not very good on the reservation website.  I was apologising on the drive to Switzerland that I was sorry for the car repairs being unpredictable and not being able to plan, so we may need to suffer in Lausanne with a crummy last-minute room.  We were shocked as we turned the corner down the seaside street in Morges, and discovered the Mont Blanc hotel was one of the most prime and famous properties in the area.  We were really happy and excited. The hotel was great, and was very beautiful – you could even say ‘artistic’.  It was less than 20 meters from the front door to the Lake, with a view of Mont Blanc.

The front door of Hotel du Mont Blanc.

The front door of Hotel du Mont Blanc.

The view from our room in the Mont Blanc Hotel, Morges, Switzerland.

The view from our room in the Mont Blanc Hotel, Morges, Switzerland.

Parking was on street.  No problem with me.  Switzerland is super safe and everyone is very considerate.  I parked 30-50 meters from the hotel.

Parking in Morges, Switzerland. The ice cream vendor kept an eye on it.

Parking in Morges, Switzerland. The ice cream vendor kept an eye on it.

Parking in Morges #2. Nice view of Lake Geneva.

Parking in Morges #2. Nice view of Lake Geneva.

Aey and Jake took in a little exploring, right in front of the hotel.

I loved these tourist telescopes as a kid. This one has a view of Mont Blanc!!

I loved these tourist telescopes as a kid. This one has a view of Mont Blanc!!

Jake drawing pictures in his notebook.

Jake drawing pictures in his notebook.

All water in Switzerland is clean. Very clean.  Lake Genève was a perfect swimming pool for Jake, as the temperature was very hot for Switzerland, 28C (86F) on the day we arrived, but with the evening rapidly cooling off to 15C (60F) in the evening.  Take a dip in the lake, and then dry in the sun for a few minutes, and change clothes in the hotel room.

Jake taking a dip in Lake Geneva. Take shoes and shirt off and jump in. Life as it should be.

Jake taking a dip in Lake Geneva. Take shoes and shirt off and jump in. Life as it should be.

After a swim in Lake Geneva, we walk across the street for a clothes change at the hotel.

After a swim in Lake Geneva, we walk across the street for a clothes change at the hotel.

The Hotel du Mont Blanc is 20 meters (65 feet) from Lake Genève.  A park is directly in front of the hotel.  There is a boat marina full of sailboats next to the hotel.  Picturesque.  Behind the hotel is the oldest part of the town, and it has been pedestrianised (no cars).  On Saturday mornings, it gets turned into a market, with fresh vegetables, coffee shops spilling into the streets and great musicians.

Directly behind the Mont Blanc hotel is a nice walking street.

Directly behind the Mont Blanc hotel is a nice walking street.

Directly behind the Mont Blanc, the walking street turns into a Saturday morning market.

Directly behind the Mont Blanc, the walking street turns into a Saturday morning market.

Small alley in Morges.

Small alley in Morges.

Friends

We have 3 different sets of friends in Switzerland, and amazingly all live very close to Lausanne.  The 2 couples lived in Bangkok, and Etienne was such a frequent visitor that we probably saw him as much or more than friends that lived in Bangkok!  Antonio and Vanessa have kids the same age as Jake.  Anthony and Petch, have 2 kids but are a little older.  I will share some photos, and of course, the Alfa Romeo is a central character in this story.

Anthony and Petch:  Anthony was my first friend in Europe when we met over 25 years ago.  We both lived in Bangkok at the same time.  He moved to Switzerland, I stayed in Bangkok.

This pair goes way back. Great reunion.

This pair goes way back. Great reunion.

Out for some Thai food with Anthony, Max and Petch.

Out for some Thai food with Anthony, Max and Petch.

Vanessa and Antonio: Vanessa and Aey were pregnant at the same time, so they took classes together.  Very special friends.

The Crew In Morges.

The Crew In Morges.

Kids are attracted to this car, smiles all around.

Kids are attracted to this car, smiles all around.

Ideal playground.

Ideal playground.

Playing in a local creek.

Playing in a local creek.

Plenty of mother nature everywhere you look.

Plenty of mother nature everywhere you look.

Where is Jake?

Where is Jake?

Fairy tale scenes are everywhere in Switzerland.

Fairy tale scenes are everywhere in Switzerland.  Thanks to cameraman Antonio.

Good friends in a little car in the countryside.

Good friends in a little car in the countryside.

Etienne: In our former lives, Etienne and I worked together and become great friends.  We travelled all over the world together.  I owe him a lot for what he taught me.

Old pals. We always like a hanging out with Etienne.

Old pals. We always like a hanging out with Etienne.

Etienne took us out and showed us some wonderful sites.

Etienne took us out and showed us some wonderful sites.

Goodbye Switzerland

It was tough saying goodbye to old friends. Really tough. Enough said.

I will leave you with a photo of the Alfa Romeo in front of the Hotel du Mont Blanc on a rainy Monday morning, as we have a long drive to Germany to see Aey’s sister and some cousins in Darmstadt, Germany.

Leaving the Hotel du Mont Blanc In the rain. Fir our mood perfectly.

Leaving the Hotel du Mont Blanc In the rain. The weather fits our mood perfectly.  Sad to go.

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