Leaving city life behind, we started our journey to Annecy with our morning song, “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates. Morning songs are a tradition on Westcoast Connection adventures. Long after the trip is over, the morning song will instantly bring back memories of our grand tour through Europe, the sights we saw, food we ate, and most importantly the travel companions that turned into life-long friends. It could not have been more obvious that we were no longer in Paris as we drove by beautiful fields and forests. “Oohs” and “aahs” could be heard throughout the bus as we passed looming mountains and spotted snow-capped peaks.
That evening we strolled across the cobblestone streets of Annecy. Many of our trip members commented that Annecy looked just like a mini-version of Venice with the canal running through town. For dinner we indulged in fondue, crepes, steak and fries, and a Savoyard specialty called tartiflette (potatoes, onions and a lot of melted cheese). The following morning we enjoyed a scenic bike ride along Lake Annecy. The lake is the second largest in Europe and reportedly the cleanest due to strict environmental regulations. Sunbathers and paddle-boaters dotted the almost clear lake as locals and travellers alike took in the beautiful sunny day.
Our last day in Annecy was spent on the river Isere white water rafting. White water rafting was one of the most highly anticipated activity on our itinerary, and by the smiles and laughter, it exceeded our expectations. Our trip members unanimously raved about how great the experience was. Of course, we must give credit to our amazing rafting guides who kept us laughing the whole time.
After three lovely nights in Annecy, we made our way to Switzerland where we have been for the past two days. Nestled in mountains of the Swiss Alps is the town of Zermatt—population 5500—our fourth destination. Breathing in the fresh Alpine air, we had a chance to explore the fairly quiet town. Zermatt is a car-free paradise, where only small electric taxis are allowed on the roads; a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Paris and London. Our hotel is in a prime location, as just a short walk from the front steps are famed attractions such as the inspiring Matterhorn. Trip members learned just how quirky this little town is as they watched goat herds led by shepherds take their daily walk through town.
The next morning, our trip members had the choice of either skiing/snowboarding or taking the gondola up the mountainside for breathtaking views. Our skiers had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski/board the Swiss Alps and they appreciated every moment. The conditions on the mountains were perfect and trip members returned invigorated and ready to explore Zermatt one last time.
Our non-skiers enjoyed the relaxing gondola ride to the top of the mountains for a view of the Matterhorn. We were able to snap postcard-worthy photos of the mountain peak. At the top, trip members sipped on hot chocolate, ate delicious potato breakfast treats and watched skiers zigzag down the mountain before heading into the ice palace. In the ice palace, trip members could explore the different caves that held ice sculptures in them, take photos on the kings throne, run around in crowns and enjoy the thrill of a mini ice slide. On the ride town, we were lucky enough to be in the same gondola as the U. S. ski team! What a lucky coincidence for the ski fans among us.
After a four-day reprieve in the small towns of Annecy and Zermatt, we are ready to leave behind fondue, croissants, and mountains to make our way to pizza, pasta and gondola rides in our first Italian stop, Venice.
The Westcoast Blogger