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.
- 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:
Here is a map to remind you where Lausanne, Switzerland is located.
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!
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:
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.
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.
Aey and Jake took in a little exploring, right in front of the hotel.
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.
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.
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.
Vanessa and Antonio: Vanessa and Aey were pregnant at the same time, so they took classes together. Very special friends.
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.
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.
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