Saturday, September 14, 2013

On the 10th Day, They Flew...

August 18 - Geneva - to - Chicago

(Note: Pics here will be miscellaneous pictures from the stuff we uploaded - you haven't seen these yet!!)

Listening to the a.m. news. Who knew? Today is the New Year if you practice Zoroastrainism... The religion founded by the prophet Zorathustra. Apparently, you must be born into this religion, you can't convert. They had a nice piece on it on the BBC morning broadcast. Seems like a very peace-loving bunch. 
Trusty "Mildred" -- BMW Urban

Our last day here. There's a haze on the mountain. I'm on my second cup of tea in our room, looking out the window. It's the Holiday Inn Express in Geneva, spitting distance from the airport. Nothing fancy, but serviceable and it made an excellent "home base" for the past 4 days. 

Out our window, it's not terribly exciting close-up. There's a train track. Just on the other side of the track is a small grey brick house with one window we can see. That window is bordered by a barn-red set of shutters. and the house looks like it's got an old slate roof on top, in dark brown. It's surrounded by lots of big trees, but we can see a little stone outbuilding and there's a table in the back. It's got a red-checked tablecloth, just like you'd see in your typical bistro, and there are 6 chairs canted along the sides of the table to keep the cloth on - looks like they've used it frequently for suppers outside. Cozy, but a bit too close to the tracks for me!
The "infinity edge" pool at Eze - overlooks Med

Directly out the window, we can see a lot of high-rise buildings decorated with large blocks of color - one has a huge swath of yellow, one has brick red, etc. Kind of bringing a little pop to otherwise institutional-looking buildings; not keeping them just that stark concrete-grey. And it looks like we can see Mt. Blanc. It truly does dominate the area, even though we're pretty far from it - that's the only reason I believe it's Mt. Blanc - anything else would be too small. 

The sun is touching the mountain, and those mountains closer to us are still in the shade. Not a horrible view for an inexpensive hotel! We'll leave for the airport about 9 a.m. local time, clean out Mildred and say goodbye to her, and get our money exchanged back into US currency. We did use our credit card a lot more than we thought, but honestly didn't buy much. We have to visit customs, then a plane flight where we actually GAIN 7 hours. The wonders of the dateline, right?
Olives in Eze

Overall, it seems that the various cities we've seen are more aware of, and use "green" technology. Lots of solar panels not only on businesses, but on private homes. Recycle bins located prominently alongside streets. However, unpleasantly, there are also refuse bins located outside some restaurants...not what you want for a dining experience, in my opinion! The really available and reasonable local transportation system is good; even if you don't read the language, the maps are clear enough for the most part, and you can find your way. There are lots of bike lanes, rental bikes (where Ritchie D. got the idea for Chicago's "Divvy" program), and the cars are mostly smaller.

One feature of the cars, at least for Mildred: when you're at a stop sign, they "go to sleep." They go into an econo-mode and when you let off the brake, there's a little "jump" as the revs come back up. It's a little weird. 

Dismay at all the graffiti - not even the good Bancsy stuff you'd see in London, but just gang-ish slogans and that sort of stuff. Even in the rural areas. They really go pretty far out to deface a barn. 

People walk. A lot. More than we do, for sure. Yes, everything's more packed together, but even if you might think they'd hop a bus, I saw lots of folks on their way home from work, carrying a market bag and hustling down the street heading home. 

Yesterday, in Annecy, the "restaurant row" theme was plentiful in the old section. Actually cheek-to-jowl - you take 1 step from one table and you're likely to be in the next restaurant! Check out the link I posted for the live performance of the amazing street musician. 

In the canals in town: you could see the bottom!! You can't say that at home. You can
Silencing Victor Hugo in Lyon
probably walk on our canals with the amount of refuse and pollution! 

Impression of Geneva: At least the area we were in was busy and slightly grubby. Granted, we're at an airport hotel, and there's no un-congested way to get anywhere, but it's really, REALLY easy to screw up and not be pointed in the direction you wanted to go. Luckily, Mildred was extremely adaptable, and not once did she suggest that we "make a legal U-turn" in the middle of town! We've been through the downtown several times; not a tourist area but not anywhere appealing anyway. Definitely found the "working" section of town. Good for people-watching but the traffic was insane. 

Translating speeds from km/hr to mph is not my strong suit, but it seems as if we were moving FAST compared to what we do at home. On the "motorways" (as opposed to "highways") we were hitting the limit of 130 km/h (about 75-ish mph) and still have people fly by you as if you were standing still. Normally, it was 100-110 (about 60-ish?) and that held true in the tunnels, too. On the mountain roads, we usually were at 70-90 (about 55-ish) but Hubby said that a few of those turns were "posted speed limits WAY too fast" and he's used to driving in mountains! You can tell who is and who isn't, that's for sure. When they're zipping along and cutting lanes, they usually haven't a clue - or they have a death wish! The ones who know what they're doing slow down in spite of the posted signs, and they stay in their lanes!

The speed signs will say "130" but there's usually a graphic above them with a rain cloud and "110" - and they post signs telling you that you're on video. You don't see many cops - but we did see the speed changes on-the-fly as traffic situations changed. It's very interesting. On the off-ramps there are usually 3 speed changes in quick order, not like our "45 mph" sign. 

Wondering how Hubby will adjust to the big green Ginger, the Ford Explorer after tiny little Mildred the BMW Urban! 
Some of the 700+ steps in Lyon

10:02 a.m. - Said goodbye to Mildred and navigated customs and security. Whew - the rental folks already had her damaged headlight on their records! In the airport, you don't have to remove your shoes. No full body scan, but I was pulled aside - my Medic Alert bracelet or the screw in my thumb must have set something off. I was actually frisked by a very nice female officer, showed her the scar and bracelet and she waved me through. We board about noon.

11:25 a.m. - on the lane. Exit row over the wings. More leg room than I have leg! I can't even prop my legs against the bulkhead because I'm too short. Still astounded at people trying to shove big bags into tiny overhead spaces. You really have to check the bags, people!!! 

2 p.m. Geneva time - about 7 a.m.(ish) Chicago time: What culinary genius decided that chicken and green beans as a main course needed a cold green bean salad??? Not a horrid meal; just an odd combo. We're trying SIL's "no jet lag" pills. We forgot about them coming over. I hope they work. 

3:10 p.m. - Nuts. My Kindle ran out of juice... Glad I have knitting. We're about half-way through this leg (we land in Montreal before we get to Chicago). The flight from Montreal to Chicago should be swift. 

Geneva to Montreal is about 3800 miles. Montreal to Chicago is about 800 miles. It's -72.4*outside, according to the display. Brrrrrr. 

There was a smaller jet that just whizzed past us off the left wing. Hubby took pics - it's really odd to see one that close. 

We landed (THUD) in Montreal, got off, walked half-way to Toronto, check passports and then we had to be interviewed by Customs. I bought some lavender in Provence and they "hit" my bag. Only trouble was: it wasn't my bag that got pulled up. It was Hubby's. I must have had an honest face -- the customs guy x-rayed Hubby's bag and just let us through. 

Eating "dinner" because my watch (which I didn't change from Geneva time) says it's 9 p.m.
Long haired cows in Reichenbach
even though in Chicago, it's only 2:15 p.m. We have a 2-hour layover here, then we board for Chicago. 

Lucky me: got wanded again by security. It seems to be my fate, I guess. In Montreal, they had Hubby remove my Medic-Alert. They then decided it was because I was holding my passport and the electronics in the passport were setting off the buzzer. They let me through anyway. I must have looked harmless...and jet-lagged!

5:15 p.m. Chicago time: on the puddle-jumper to O'Hare. It's starting to hit me that I have been awake a VERY long time; considering my body is still on Geneva time. We've got about an hour to go till we land. Had some tea; want to try to get my body clock regulated.

Funny airport story: we get off the plane from Geneva and this little old French lady gets off. We sit in customs. The little old French lady is there. We go through customs, get something to eat and go to the gate. Yep, Little Old French Lady. As Hubby goes to get a candy bar, she and I have an entire conversation about the flight from Geneva to Montreal, the customs situation, and how she's visiting her daughter down at U of I... and she's speaking French - I'm speaking English. Did you ever have one of those experiences?? Turns out she's on this same flight, obviously, and she was a few rows ahead of us. As we left, we hoped that enough Air Canada folks would be around to make sure she got to meet whoever she was meeting. 

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but what did surprise me was that we saw NO wildlife in the mountains. The one marmot that was visible, I couldn't see because I was in the middle of the gondola going up the mountain! Only saw the birds. Hubby says it's because of all the people. The wildlife came out early and left before the humans started to arrive.

7:30 p.m.:  HOME!!! Hubby survived driving Big Ginger the Explorer, we came in and were MOBBED by the dogs. 

Mail's stacked up; dogs excited; plants are dry. And I'm bushed. 
Dandelion on Le Brevent - Chamonix

POST-SCRIPT: MEDICATION STORY... So my sister did a phenomenal job saving my rear end when I miscounted my heart meds. She went to Fed Ex, got about half-a-ream of paperwork done, we coordinated where to send the package, and tried to get one of the cardiologists to write a justification of need in case the package got held up somewhere along the line... And she was telling her doc this saga.

The doc looks at her and says, "Why did you do that??" Sis says, 'Because that's the procedure and Doc X never called me back - the jerk.' 

Her doc says, "All your sister had to do was show up at a local hospital's ER with the prescription bottle. They know what the medication is. They'd have filled it for her at no charge."  

Sis says, "Where were YOU when I was trying to get all this done???" 

On a fun note, see the pics - they're kind of random, but I figured everyone would like to see Mildred after all I told you about her. The infinity pool was fantastic. Did you click on Victor Hugo to see his surprise? And look -- even on the top of a mountain, there's a dandelion! 

Looking at the journal now... I have about 1/2 the journal left. Guess we have to go on another trip so I can fill it up, right? 

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