This morning the alarm sounded at 5:30am and honestly I was already awake. We both share in the writing of this blog, but by that single statement, those that know us have already correctly guessed that this is Mark writing.
Morning Update Day44
We did the daily routine of dressing and packing as quietly as we could knowing that the other guests in the hotel would not yet be awake. Checking the forecast when we stepped outside it would be in the 40’sF (eat your heart out family in the sweltering south -haha) and Allison whipped out her gloves for the first time this trip.
From the start we knew this was going to be a “different” kind of day. For starters we were going to be entering SWITZERLAND! Yay! Secondly we were going to be going downhill most of the day. That was going to be odd.
Thirdly we literally had no idea where we were going to stop for the night – neither lodging nor even the town. South was our direction but we’d had no luck up to that point finding an opening or more accurately getting a response from people.
So we headed off knowing that we still had our tent if thing didn’t look promising by the early afternoon.
The first part of the day was spent walking through the last small ski villages in southern France. Grassy ski slopes were dotted about as well as hibernating ski school buildings and ski rental shops. This area must be hopping in the winter.
Then came the big event, we strolled down a nondescript street that became a cinder path and suddenly we came to the heavily armed and manned Swiss border full of tank traps, inspection stations, custom and immigration agents waiting to pounce on two unsuspecting pilgrims.
Crossing the border
Well, actually it was about the opposite of that. At the border was an informational placard telling the history of the border and two steles to mark the division of the two countries. Not a soul was around so we crossed the border unnoticed except by a cow in a nearby field.
Next we heard some chanting, or was it hollering, or perhaps? What we heard was hard to describe. A mans voice in the distance was repeating a tone loud and clear but irregular. Between phrases there was a banging noise that was rather harsh and unpleasant.
As we drew closer we began to suspect that this was no chant or holler, but rather a rhythmic call by a farmer to his cows. The banging noise was a wooden spoon on an old pail. This farmer was coaxing his herd out of the barn, down the street and into the field. He’d blocked our advance by a thin rope and of course the string of cows. As he passed he bid us welcome and bon marchez. Our only remaining obstacle was the large carpet of recently laid cow manure across the street. Folks, let’s just say, there was no way to avoid it.
Being in Switzerland took some getting used to. Gone were our familiar VF signs and the red and white stripe. In there place were a myriad of signs for various trails and paths all with times instead of distances posted. We did however find our path marker.
Emerging over a hill we were both surprised to see the outline of the Alps in front or us. “Surprised” is not really the best word. When I saw them I was both shocked and terrified at their size. A shiver literally ran down my back at the enormity of the range so clearly in front of us. It stopped me in my tracks.
After walking along a beautiful but steep revine following the river, we followed a cinder and hard packed clay path through forests that were peaceful and cool. Here we stopped for lunch and decided to get serious about a plan for tonight’s lodging. We tried a few numbers, again to no avail. We then noticed a posting for a farm guest house in the village of Dizy 2km off the prescribed path.
One quick call later and we’d nailed lodging, and dinner at a family farm. BINGO.
Our 28km walk for the day ended with a steeply downhill stretch just before the town of La Sarraz followed by a climb back up into Dizy.
The farm reminds Allison of her grandparents farm in PEI. The sell a lot of produce at a roadside stand in front of the house and of course they have cows. The house seems to be a revolving door of friends and family as well as farm hands.
Postscript: I don’t often brag about any one accommodation. Most have all been wonderful and our hosts have been awesome. But if you are in the area, you HAVE to take this small detour and make this Ferme (Gite de la Venoge) in Dizy stopping point. Great, and I really mean Great, home cooking.