So, I finally got to go back to my favourite place in the world, Cully and the Lavaux wine region on the shores of the Geneva Lake. My parents and I drove from Brussels via Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Germany through the rain (so far it has been quite a miserable summer) and arrived to Switzerland at the Basel border in the evening. We had a nice light dinner at one of the Mövenpick restaurants by the motorway (going back we had a horrible lunch at a French motorway restaurant – to be avoided in the future!) – I had my favourite Swiss sausages (saucisse de veau), mmm.. Unfortunately we didn’t think of stopping at the bright yellow 70’s motorway stop called Pratteln, we used to stop there in the 80’s and I was always excited to look at the motorway from above (it is one of those restaurants which is built as a bridge across the road).
Arriving in Cully, we drove up to the house by the little square – and it looked just like in 2002 when I went there last time. The geraniums are adorning the window sills with the wooden shutters (that my great grandparents helped to paint in the 60’s apparently) and the little bell was still announcing our arrival when opening the front door. The steep stone staircase took us up to the 1st floor and another wooden squeaky one was climbed to reach our hosts’ living quarters. They didn’t look a day older than last time, even though they are soon 77 and 84 years old. We gave them the usual gift of smoked eel from Skåne (they love it) and some Spanish turron (a sweet cake which was O’s gift to them).
The next few days we walked around, ate loads (different kinds of cheese such as gruyère, vacherin de Fribourg, tomme de Savoie, as well as M’s homemade gratin au fenouil [fennel gratin], Swiss Bircher müsli, ratatouille, and fresh croissants au jambon from the local bakery for breakfast – I probably gained at least 2kgs in five days!), drank the local Lavaux wine and just enjoyed the company of our hosts in the evenings. M was happy that I could translate between Swedish and French, but my father annoyed me a few times when he treated me like a translator – I speak ok French but I am not a professional translator and don’t have all the vocabulary for specialised conversations…
It kept raining during the week but we visited Vevey, Gruyère (and ate a cheese fondue despite it being July – it was so cold and rainy that it felt like autumn), and took a cruise with the paddle steamer from Lausanne across the lake and around the Eastern part – Château de Chillon, Montreux, Vevey and back to Lausanne. On Friday we celebrated the recent inscription of the Lavaux region as a UNESCO World Heritage with the locals in the Caveau de vigneron – the local bar that is managed by different winemakers every week. They were serving free wine to celebrate and a small jazz band was playing – and the sun was finally shining!
Lavaux Vineyard Terraces (Switzerland) was inscribed as a cultural landscape that is an outstanding example of centuries-long interaction between people and their environment developed to optimize local resources so as to produce a highly valued wine. (UNESCO web-site)
Afterwards we had filets de perche (perch or abborre in Swedish, it’s a must when by the Geneva Lake!) in le port de Moratel (the local harbour) with M & R – a perfect ending to a great few days. They are great hosts and I hope that I will soon get the opportunity to take O to visit them.
The next day I took the train to Geneva to visit my dear French friend P (actually she’s P No 1, I’m P No 2 and her boyfriend is P No 3!). We spent a relaxed Saturday having lunch, doing some shopping and just chatting. In the evening we had a pic-nic in Parc des Bastions together with some friends (in the end we were FOUR P’s ;-)) – eating P’s tasty Clafoutis aux cérises and drinking champagne to celebrate my birthday in advance.
Hopefully I will be able to go back to Switzerland soon again, it is such a beautiful country!
And for those who were wondering, it is completely alright to travel with the parents, even after the age of 30… We had a good time together, too bad that my brother and my sister couldn’t join us as well! Our memories are funny – it seems like everything we remembered from our Swiss travels, we thought that we did either in 1982 or 1993, which is impossible so my mother promised to check in her old travel logs! However, it is for sure that it is exactly 30 years ago since the three of us went on our first trip to the small Alpine country, in 1977!