Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Gorge Hiking and Prague

Steve and I got back to Switzerland Wednesday after our week in Greece. I am still formulating my thoughts on Greece and will post them soon.

We were supposed to leave Friday to drive to Prague for 5 days. We were both feeling worn out from Greece and decided that we would like to leave Saturday instead of Friday so we could have another day to chill here at my sister's. In addition to that we discovered that our rental car agency did not allow us to take our car to the Czech Republic (common restriction of rental car agencies). This meant that we would have to return our car and rent from another agency that allows their cars in the CZ and there was not a car available with one of those agencies until Saturday.

When I emailed the hotel/apartment company and told them that we would like to check-in a day late they said that they were still going to charge us for the first night because we were changing the reservation under 7 days advance notice. Um, yeah, I JUST BOOKED THE PLACE 5 days ago! So, Steve and I decided that we were just going to stay in Switzerland for the rest of the trip and skip Prague. He really wants to show me Prague but given the car situation and the inflexibility of the rental people we were just as keen on hanging here and not packing up and leaving again.

Okay, no problem I said to the rental company, just cancel the whole reservation.

Side bar- When I was a hotel manager I would never have penalized a guest who was staying for more than three nights for shortening their stay. It's just bad business.

So, a few hours later the rental agency emailed me to say that they had been able to rent the flat for Friday night and if we still wanted to come they wouldn't charge us for that night after all. Um, yeah, whatever, now they realize that loosing one night of a 5 night reservation isn't as bad as loosing the whole thing?

This was enough for Steve to decide that since we could now have the extra day without a penalty he would like to still go to Prague. We are off for the Czech Republic this afternoon!
As much as I liked the idea of a week together here at my sister's I'm glad we're going. Not only has Steve always wanted to show me Prague but we declined to spend more time in Greece on account of our plans for Prague. Nico got to Greece the day before we left and he and Jenny really wanted us to stay longer in Greece. They were taking a long weekend on one of the islands where they had rented a house an Nico's parents were coming and they wanted us to go to. I am already sad that we didn't go to the islands with them and I suppose I would have been really bummed if we ended up not taking the trip that prevented us from having more time with Jenny and Nico. I think they would have been a little bummed too.

Yesterday, Steve went into the office in Lausanne to tie up some loose ends from his work on the project. I set out for a hike in the gorge. Instead of taking our usual path which involves walking down hill a ways on a paved road that leads to an entry area of the gorge (a little path that you have to know is there), I decided to walk uphill to the next small town on the road from here. That took me to the spot where we usually exit the gorge and I start my hike from there. This meant that I would be hiking higher than our normal trip and would get to see new parts of the gorge.

It was an AMAZING hike. I only passed two other people on my whole 2 hours in the forest. I saw several waterfalls and discovered a few areas where I could have managed my way down the bank to sit at the river. I was tempted to do so but not knowing how far I had to go to get out of the forest I thought I better conserve my time. But boy, on a hot day I would have been down in that river!

I usually hike the gorge without my usual work-out music as I enjoy hearing the rush of the river water and all the other forest sounds but yesterday I grabbed the Ipod, hit shuffle and was treated to a fab mix of Gabriel, Dire Straits, Ani DiFranco, David Byrne and more. I couldn't have picked a better mix if I'd tried. The tempos of each song that came on set my pace perfectly. The high tempo songs kept me going and the slower ones came just when I needed them. I kept laughing to myself at how cool the random selection of tunes was for this hike, it was one of those serendipitous things.

I knew that I wanted to hike up to the town of Les Avants. Jenny and Nico's house is about 1,900 ft. elevation and Les Avants is about 4,000. I knew the general direction I needed to go but not the exact way so I was winging it. About an hour into my hike things started looking familiar and at first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me but then I realized that I was hiking the area where my sister took Steve and me for our first gorge hike some 5 years ago! On that trip Jenny drove us up to Les Avants and we hiked down into the gorge to one of the water falls then hiked back up and out. Even coming at the area from a different direction I recognized it, five years later! That is so cool to me.

Once I got above the waterfall and had hiked about another half hour I started wondering how much longer until I found my way out. I think I missed the way my sister took us into the forest on that first hike as I was climbing way longer than what I remember we had hiked to get to the falls back then. I was about an hour and a half into an almost completely uphill hike and by this point I was pretty worn out. After another 15 minutes of going uphill I was very tired and was starting to wonder if I should turn around and try to figure out another way out as I had no idea how much longer I would have to keep hiking up to get out. I hated the idea of turning around and not finding out where the end would be. I was standing at a break in the rise trying to decide what I should do and at that moment, as I was standing there, one of my favorite Dire Straits songs "Brothers in Arms" came on. The first words in the song?
"These mist covered mountains,
are a home now for me".


I told you the shuffle was serendipitous. So... up I went.

I finally hit a road about 15 minutes later, after about 2 hours of hiking. But now, I had another problem. I had no idea which way I should go on the road. I decided to go left which would continue to take me uphill hopefully to Les Avants. After about 10 minutes I didn't seem to be getting anywhere close to a town and not a single car had driven by so I decided that maybe I had hiked up higher than Les Avants and if I turned around and hiked down the road hopefully I would hit the town. About fifteen minutes after that (I had passed the point where I'd exited the forest) I saw a young guy on a moped. I flagged him down and asked him which way to Chernex (where my sister lives) he told me to keep heading the way I was going and that I would hit Glion and that I should take the train from there. Ha, ha, ha. I told him I was walking down not taking the train and that I wanted to hit Les Avants not Glion. He told me that Les Avants was behind me. Grrrrrr, the direction I had started in. So...I turned around again...walking, walking, walking....why didn't I ask that fellow for a ride to Les Avants? I had no idea how long it would take for me to get there. It took about 20 minutes but it seemed like forever.

From Les Avants it was all downhill! It took about 45 minutes to get home from there.

My whole trip was a little over three hours. From what I can tell I hiked about 6 or 7 miles and I went from 1,900 feet elevation to 4,000. Not bad for this girl.

It was an amazing hike. I am going to take Steve on the same route when we get back from Prague. Oh yeah, Prague, I need to go pack.


  1. What a wonderful story, Diane. You made me laugh out loud sitting here reading it.

    Have fun in Prague!