It has been almost a month since I posted to this blog. I usually love writing up blog posts when traveling, but this trip has been more active than most and in the evenings I have been super lazy. So, a summary of the trip since the last summary.
The Cotswolds Were Heavenly
We spent a month in the Cotswolds and it was incredible. Perhaps the best England vacation we have ever had. We have never traveled to England in summer before (I don’t know why – it is a great time to go there!) and we experienced a side of England we had never seen – a warm and sunny side. We walked/hiked nearly every day, starting out the month doing shorter 2 – 3 hour walks and working up to 5 – 6 hour walks.
We had some good visits with friends. We explored villages, visited churches, saw more Norman doorways than I ever thought existed. Revisited favorite villages.
Our first cottage was near Burford, which is a great town that we had stayed near before. Our second cottage was near Stow-on-the-Wold, which we had not spent much time in. Stow is a great town – and the hiking in this area is fantastic. There are two good farm shops in the area – Daylesford Organic Farm near Adelstrop and Cotswolds Farm Shop just west of Stow. And Greedys, a fish and chip shop in Stow, has the best chips! We enjoyed going into Stow for groceries, the newspaper, etc. The Tesco on the edge of Stow is open until midnight (except Sunday when it closes earlier) which is amazingly convenient. Plus they sell those “Gu” and “Fru” desserts that we usually only find at Waitrose (thank you Jonathan for introducing us to them!).
The cottages we had were not perfect. The kitchen in the first one was not good, but was great in the second one (we cook most of our meals). But the second cottage had a damp doggy smell in the living room that made it not be a room you wanted to hang out in. Luckily the weather was fantastic and we sat out in the garden that was right on the River Windrush. The hikes were good from the Burford cottage but even better from the Naunton cottage – the Wardens Way passed by our cottage and several other long distance trails went nearby. We could just pick up our Ordnance Survey map and head out straight from the cottage and go walking for hours.
We revisited Winchcombe where we spent a month in 2004. Sue who runs The Old Tea Room remembered us when we dropped in a couple of times for breakfast or for an after-hike tea and cake.
The whole month was fantastic. I took hundreds of photos and kept notes so I can update Cotswolder. We even met owners of two other vacation rentals in the area, plus Tim Harrison who does car tours (Tour the Cotswolds). More about all that in more detail later. I did half the driving and now consider myself a pretty good England driver (but still nervous driving through Stroud where the streets are fast and there are too many parked cars taking up my lane!).
And Switzerland is Wonderful
We flew from Heathrow to Geneva, picked up a rental car, and drove about 20 minutes to Nyon, an historic town on Lake Geneva (Roman ruins). My friend Wendy had recommended this as a good place for one night and she was right. We had a hotel room looking right onto the lake and the French Alps on the other side. It was a busy Friday night and dinner took about three times as long as it should have, but everything else was great. In the morning we found a great food market going on and stocked up on local, organic vegetables.
Then we drove to our chalet apartment in the Valais. We have stayed nearby a few times, but have never been to Nendaz. The drive up was exciting with a good road winding up the hill at what seemed to be a 45 degree slope with a sheer dropoff on the side. By the time we reached the Interhome office in Nendaz I was pretty freaked because the whole town seems to be perched on a steep slope way up above the Rhone Valley. But you get used to it pretty quick.
Nendaz is a wonderful town with lots of shops and restaurants. Everyone is very friendly! They speak French here which is good because Steve speaks French well (I think he does, but he will say that he doesn’t). There is one gondola in town taking you up to a higher level hiking area, and several others in nearby villages. There are a lot of trails right from town.
And then there are the Bisses (read more on the Nendaz site). These are ancient man-made waterways, similar to our acequias in New Mexico, that bring water from high up in the Alps to the farm lands below. Many of them still have water in them and there are a series of trails where you walk along the Bisses. We did a long hike on two Bisses on Sunday and there were a lot of people out walking. The hikes are mostly through forest and are good for hot, sunny days. Some have great views. Sort of like walking beside small canals, but without the boats. (I relate everything to traveling in England.)
Our chalet apartment is fantastic. Thank you Ivona and Interhome for recommending that we try Nendaz and helping me pick out a great rental! We have the top two floors of a new wooden chalet. We have two balconies, both looking north to the Rhone Valley and Sion below, and across to the mountains. We can see some of the same mountains, but from the other side, that we looked at from Leysin two summers ago. The apartment is beautifully furnished, very comfortable, spotlessly clean and the kitchen is great. It is a bit of a narrow and steep road to get to it, but you can’t have everything.
I think we wore ourselves out a bit in England because we went hiking nearly every day, not wanting to waste the good weather. The good weather is continuing here, but we took a few days away from hiking this week and yesterday had a day where we just hung out and looked at our views or read – and watched the Michael Jackson memorial on Swiss TV – they talked over everything in French :).
I am also spending a bit of time trying to figure out where to spend our last two weeks in July before we head home. I am still considering a last week in England, but probably we will pick two places in Switzerland and have a week in each. Current candidates are Grindelwald and Champex. I think we will drive to Champex tomorrow (just an hour away) and maybe Verbier to see if the hiking looks good. Then it will be back to hiking in Nendaz – still a lot to do here.
The short version – fantastic trip, very relaxed, everything great! If I was not so lazy, I would attach my hard drive and upload a photo – but I am too lazy.