We set off early today to catch the La Suisse for a cruise on Lake Geneva. This old paddle steamer was built the same year as Christine's parents were born, 1910. It is most reminiscent of the Clyde steamers with which I grew up in Dunoon, Scotland in the 1950s. It had first and second class accommodation, a large dining room set with silver and glassware and an exposed, revolving cam and piston engine. It is one of several maintained by the Swiss national transport system and has the added benefit of being included in our Eurorail Pass.
Our intention had been to go as far as Lausanne, but on boarding we discovered that if we stayed on La Suisse we could go all the way past Montreux AND dine on the ship, so that was our revised plan, despite a gentleman from Birmingham trying to persuade us to hop from boat to boat and see some of the towns closer by. In this conversation a young lady asked us to take her picture. I assumed from her command of English that she, too, was from the United Kingdom, and was astounded to learn she was from Romania, only to be further dumbfounded to hear her speaking fluent French to another family. Unfortunately our command of languages is most provincial. Yesterday, however, I did carry on a brief conversation wholly in French. I am not sure if the lady mistook me for a Francophone or if she just could not speak English and tolerated my French!
We were also assisted by a German speaking Swiss gentleman when we could not find anyone in attendance at the refreshment counter. He complained bitterly about the French lack of service. The ship is Swiss, but the crew are French. He was not complimentary about their attitude and warned us not to tip them! He said that his mother had taught him Swiss German, the language of Heaven, because it takes an eternity to learn it! After he had got us the service we required, he said, "'Ask and ye shall receive', at least that is what my Bible says." We assured him that ours said that too. To which he responded that it was good we had the same Book.
We set sail in a cool mist which blocked out much of the background and all of the mountains. As the day progressed the mist cleared somewhat and the warmth of the last few days made its presence felt. It was most relaxing to sit back and watch the scenery slide by. The boat crisscrossed the lake, visiting French, as well as Swiss towns. Many chateaux were visible from the water, together with their vineyards and wineries. Swiss wines are not well known, as their export is limited, but the ones we have tasted are very good - a nice smooth flavour. Visiting the docks of the towns we stopped at and seeing a little of them makes one want to return and get to know them better. We stopped at many places, but the more notable ones were Evian - yes, that Evian - from where all the water comes; Lausanne, of Olympic fame; Montreux, a resort for the rich and famous of yesteryear. She seems to be wearing well, and appeared to be very busy as we passed on the way home.
After we left France and entered Switzerland for the last time on our return journey, we had a very satisfying dinner and spent the final hour on the deck enjoying the coolness descending with the sun. A short walk returned us to our hotel, rather less tired than on previous occasions.
Tomorrow, on to Villefranche-sur-Mer, via Lyon and Nice.