Saturday, November 04, 2006

Carpeying the Diem

Well, it's time for another post after a brief break, which I attribute to tiredness due to quite a few late nights, and also a fair bit of exercise, but I think mostly due to my lack of routine. College hours are so few and sporadic that it's impossible to have a set time to go to sleep in the evenings. This makes for quite a lot of sleeping and free time, which is great; but also leads to the occasional late night with a reasonably early morning the next day. It's going to be difficult to get out of this habit.

I'm quite proud of myself; I actually managed to get up the next morning after my last post and go to Sion; a town about two hours from Geneva. It's the first time I've really gone anywhere on my own, and while it's great to have company most of the time, there's definitely something to be said for heading off on your own. The sense of adventure, and the ability to do exactly what you want to do is pretty liberating. I woke up on time the next morning, after a very short night's sleep. I'm suprised I woke up at all, to be honest. I'm more suprised that I managed to stay awake for the whole of what turned out to be a fairly energetic day! I was hoping to get the train at around half seven, this however turned out to be impossible. Even though I had prepared a little bit the night before, everything takes longer than I expect. I bought a 1/2 price card for a year at the train station, which does exactly what is says on the tin: all fares for trains within Switzerland are half price, and in addition to this it allows you to buy a 'day card', which in some cases makes your travel even cheaper again. I'm gambling on this giving me incentive to travel as much as possible throughout Switzerland, as well as saving me money in the long-term.

So I think I eventually got off at about half-nine or so; the journey was two hours long and pretty spectacular. The train follows Lake Geneva for most of the trip, and once we were past Lausanne the infamous (and annoying) fog that shrouds the lake further to the west started to dissapate, giving me the best views I've seen since arriving in Switzerland. The train journey was really relaxing - thankfully it wasn't too full. I read some of 'The Time Machine'; cumpulsory reading for one of my seminars at the beginning of the journey, but once we reached Vevey I had to put down the book, switch on my Ipod and turn my attention to the spectacular scenery unfolding before me, as we hurtled on towards the final destination. To the right were views stretching over the lake of the craggy, atmospheric peaks of the Vadois Alps; and on my left were acres of yellow and red vinyards tumbling down the lower hills lining the lake:

I arrived in Sion about 11 O' Clock. It's a pretty town, it's in a valley surrounded by the Alps; they're not too high around there but you can see some tantalising glimpses of the higher, snow-capped peaks in the distance. The highlight has to be the two hills upon which Medieval castles are perched:

I went to the tourist office and asked them about walking in the area. They gave me a leaflet of some walks alongside the many 'bisses' surrounding Sion. A bisse is like a trench filled with water coming from mountains; they're used to irrigate the Vinyards that surround the town on all sides. I picked one that led to St. Leonard, a village a couple of Kilometres away. It took me a long time to find the starting-point of the walk, mainly due to my impatience and poor map-reading skills. Eventually I set off, and had to walk up a steep hill to start off with, giving me amazing views of the surrounding vinyards and mountains:

I was expecting the rest of the walk to be as steep - I was pleasantly suprised however. The 'bisse' is designed so that the water flows through it at a slow and steady rate, which means that it is a very gentle incline the whole way up the hill. Most of the time I didn't even realise I was climbing higher. It was quite literally just a 'stroll' for most of the way. Because I was relaxed, I could spend more time taking photos - one of the main reasons I wanted to go in the first place.

The intensely beautiful scenery near Sion

The Bisse is the ditch on the left. There's an impressive network of the things cris-crossing the hills in every direction.

I must admit - I'm a sucker for the mountains!

About four easy hours later I ended up in St. Leonard, the end point of my walk. I was quite proud, I didn't even get lost once! My legs were pretty weary at this stage, and I was very grateful for the train ride home - luckily I arrived just in time for the hourly train back to Sion.

I had developed a craving to be up in the snowy mountains which I could see in the distance while on my walk, and in a moment of madness I bought a train ticket to Brig, which I knew had a cable car running up to a fairly respectable height. However, as soon as I had bought my ticket, reason came upon me and I realised that it would be getting dark in about an hour! I stood at the platform, and coincidentially the train home, and the train to Brig were right beside each other. I debated it for a while, and ended up taking the sensible option and hopping on the train back home. It may have been a waste of a ticket, but I'm glad I did it. Next time perhaps!

I think I'll end here, because, wait for it...I've got another trip planned for the morning! I'm going to get the value out of my 1/2 price card if it kills me - so at about seven tommorow morning I'm going to head off to Interlaken, for what I hope will be a memorable experience. Wish me luck again! Today we went to Lausanne, (which was fantastic, but my account of it will have to wait for another day) so I'm probably a bit mad to want to head off again so soon, but, y'know, sieze the day and all that. One last picture before that though (sorry, I couldn't resist):