Here's the story of how our adventure came to be.
Stacy and I were supposed to go to Munich in May, and that trip fell through between the various scheduling conflicts with work and birthdays and Mother's Day. Rescheduled for a seemingly random weekend in June.
Initially, the loads to Munich looked good. And of course I was all about it; there's so much more to explore in Bavaria. Wisely, we opted to wait to list standby and book hotels until we saw just how open the flights were (gotta be able to get there AND back). Weather was awful in EWR and Munich was looking less and less like an option. But the loads to Geneva were just fine.
We listed about two hours prior to departure, hung up our work skirts at my little cubicle, ran to the terminal and went to Switzerland.
Sitting next to each other on the way over, we decided to take the train to Lyon, France. It's about an hour and a half, two hours away, French, and sounds like a good idea when the country that you're landing in is quite expensive. We barely slept on the flight over, and headed straight to the train station and to wait about twenty minutes in line only to be reminded that there's a strike in France; perhaps there's a bus? The ticket lady was very nice. I didn't realize that the blast on our company intranet about aforementioned strike was applicable. Our jaws dropped, we went to the lady's room to regroup and over cappuccino and croissant, we made decisions. Yes, let's to to Lyon. How? Rent a car? Okay. But if we're paying for a car, where else are we going? Torino? Yes. Scoped out various hotels, and we were off within an hour.
The rental car lady was highly amused with our hilariously sleep deprived selves; so much so that she gave us GPS for 1/2 the price. And without GPS Jane, I'm not so sure we could have done it. Black Ford Max, manual transmission, with these fancy sliding doors that when opened, the entire car was open; like there was no door jam between the front and rear. Sweet ride for a weekend jaunt traipsing around the Alps.
Get in the car, drive to Lyon. We had a car. In a city. (You have a baby. In a bar.) Stacy successfully parallel parked and with an hour on the meter, we ran to Starbucks to siphon free wifi to book one of the most amazing hotels I've stayed at, that offers parking. Got the car, checked into our amazing hotel room, and wondered around the city.
It was incredible.
Crêpes and coffee. Churches. A turn of the century cable car to the basilica at the top of the hill, next to the mini Eiffel Tower. A glass of rosé. Dinner at a casual, local French place. We ordered two salads: one with artichoke hearts and green beans, the other with a poached egg, freshly made croutons, and bacon crumbles, but real bacon. We split a steak with morel mushroom sauce. And an apple tart. Absolutely to die for. Walked around a bit, people watching the locals enjoying their Friday night.
Woke up the next morning, packed up, went out to breakfast where I fell in love with a lemon tart; it was just meant to be. And then we started making moves through the French country side to Italy.
The drive was awe-inspiring. Small villages, cows everywhere, snow capped mountains, para gliders, and miles of 40€ tunnels. I now have a new appreciation and understanding of driving and buying gas in the Europe.
Rolled up into the backside of Torino and began to question this decision. It was a bit intense getting into town; and I guess that was part of the issue. Torino is Italy's fourth largest city and is far from a quaint town. Once we found a hotel we researched the night before, sat in the lobby with a glass of wine and booked a room there, the attitude and mood began to shift. And skyrocketed once we went out to dinner.
Italy is always worth it. Red wine, pasta, gelato. I can't even begin to describe the flavors of everything I experienced. We had Piedmontese ravioli - one dish was stuffed with meat and the other was red sauce with eggplant and cheese. At midnight, the town was still hopping so we went for a walk. Italy is always worth it.
The next morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed early to make it to the free hotel breakfast, and I'm glad we did. It was about 90 degrees out; we started walking around. We kept hydrated and in awe of the architecture and simple beauty and joy of it all. Eventually we found a pizza place and it was as if my whole life, I had been waiting to eat this pizza. Literally, with tears of joy, did we eat and enjoy. It wasn't just the food, but the food in Italy. The job, our lifestyle, and the awareness that we get to live. And that was before we saw the shroud.
As we were making our way back to the car to leave, Stacy said she wanted to go into an Italian church. We passed a few, but walked into the one across from the hotel. We lit a candle in the back right side and walked up towards the alter. I sat before the crucifix for a minute before I turned around and realized I had my back to the Shroud of Turin. Bazinga. Of all the churches in the town, we happened to wonder into the one that houses the shroud. What.
The ridiculousness was only exacerbated by the drive back to Geneva through the alps, and through, literally, Mont Blanc. We saw glaciers, and ski towns and alpine streams and rivers and waterfalls. It was everything I'd always known it would be, but better. There, and in the moment, and to have felt so fulfilled... I don't know what else I can tell you besides you should go and see it all and do it all for yourself.
Rolled into Geneva later than originally anticipated at 8:30. I ate fondue for the first time! Stacy loved it; she loves cheese. We got to see the lake; we were on the other side from the crew hotel. Before we knew it, it was 10:30, and we still had to return the car. After all that nonsense, getting showered and cleaned up to sit on the plane for 9 hours, we may have crawled into bed at 12:45. 6 am wake up call and then back home.
It was one of those adventures that I will hold in my heart for all time. Like going to Germany by myself (all three times), learning to surf in Hawaii, or skiing Altair on a layover. Oktoberfest. Driving in Athens. The sound of settling into blissful contentment.