Monday 6 October.
We are in Switzerland !
We left the Formula 1 at 7:30 am having had a good breakfast in the room. It was a bit misty but the rain had stopped and it looked like it was going to be fine. The walk into the town centre took half an hour and Moira stocked up with bread and milk at a Spar. Through the town the guide book gave the names of the streets we should be on but it didn't help as they don't seem to put the name plates on the main streets just side ones.
We took it that we were going straight and spotted a road sign saying 'Suisse', that was the way. It was when we got out of town and the pavement finished and it became in places a dual carriageway. There was a section for cyclists which we used but the traffic was still close. We were supposed to be on the D57 until the junction with the D6 a minor road. I took it that it would only be a short distance but when the cycle section disappeared and we were then dodging the traffic by jumping into the grass verge. I thought we must have gone wrong somewhere and the route shouldn't be this way but on the left was a war memorial that we were to look out for and ahead was the village of La Cluse et Mijoux, so we were heading the right way. Through the village of La Cluse et Mijoux we had a pavement again and the village was well strung out.
One joy on this section was the Chateau de Joux, a 1000 year old castle perched high on a hill overlooking the area. With the mist still swirling around the hill it was a perfect fairy tale setting. There was now just about a kilometre left on the D57 and at last we reached the D6 junction. There was a bus shelter at the corner and we celebrated with a cup of coffee and a biscuit.
The D6 wasn't quite as busy but it wasn't a minor road and did it climb. We had about 270 m to climb today to reach the height of 1108 m at the Swiss border and we did most of that climbing up this twisting winding steadily ascending road. Near the top we had some relief from traffic when we diverted through Les Petit Fourgs, a quiet village as a short cut. When we emerged back to the D6 it was only a short distance before we entered another long straggling town, Les Fourgs. It was a ski resort and later we would see the ski schools and basic ski-lifts going up to the slopes. In the centre of the town was the Tourist Info and it was open. I got the woman to stamp our credentials, she was very helpful and gave me a map of the VF route locally and an accommodation list. I gave her one of our cards and she pinned it with other VF information that was on a notice board.
After a short rest we continued through the town and near the end there was a tempting bus shelter that we couldn't resist, we stopped for lunch. Now we were definitely at 'Munro' levels it was getting cold, especially the wind but when sheltered the sun was very warm, in the bus shelter with the sun steaming in it was very comfortable. All we had left to eat was bread and cheese, a biscuit and tea. Moira had bought some of the supermarkets own blend of tea but it was very weak. On the go again it was now just 2 km to the border but it could have been anywhere. There were no indications that we were approaching an other country or passport control or customs. When we arrived there was an old customs building but it was closed. Nobody stopped us and the only indication that we had arrived in Switzerland was a Swiss flag flapping in the breeze. There was a bar which also had a sign that it was a money exchange, but it was Monday and it was closed.
We had another 5 minute rest then set off again in a new country. A short distance along the road a sign for the VF, called route 70 in Switzerland pointed to the left down a track and said L'Auberson where we were heading. We took that route mainly to get off the road but we had to backtrack when the path became a ploughed field. It wasn't very far to L'Auberson and as we turned a bend the village stretched out before us. This was definitely Switzerland with high hills wooded half way up with pine and emerald green fields, straight out of the 'Sound of Music', though that was in Austria. The village was another place that stretched for some distance along either side on the main road. There were some shops but closed, it was Monday ?
Our accommodation was at the far end of the town, Centre Chrétien la Grande, a hotel for Christian groups. The guy in charge spoke English and after documentation showed us to our room. It was very nice and en suite. I asked about eating, their kitchen was closed, well it was Monday, but there was a shop further along the road that opened today. While I had a shower Moira went to investigate. It was only a boulangerie and expensive, she just got a couple of rolls. We have a packet of soup, the rolls, some bread left, cheese, jam and biscuits, so we won't starve.
After showering we went downstairs and had a cup of coffee, that was supplied in the lounge. The WiFi was good and Moira spent the rest of the afternoon researching places to stay over the next few days. Switzerland is very very expensive for hotels and even youth hostels and backpackers aren't cheap. We are just going to have to take it on the chin and pay the exorbitant prices until we reach Italy. The two places that looked reasonable, a religious retreat and a hotel in a village before Lousanne, we asked the lady in the office to phone for us. She was very obliging but as we have become accustomed the telephone numbers in our book and on accommodation lists there was no reply. Either these are old numbers or people have done way with their land lines and just using mobiles. She will try again later, she promised.
One of the guests started playing the piano in the lounge, it sounded tuneless and very loud, we couldn't hear ourselves think. We went upstairs but there lost the WiFi signal. We had our soup etc and read the newspaper, we could still hear the thump, thump of the piano. Later, I don't know if it was somebody different but the mood of the music changed to some nice cool and quiet jazz, which was much more relaxing. We got to sleep about 9:30 pm and it was peaceful except for the pitter-patter of rain of the window pain.