This post was inspired by the NZBloggers #BlogGreatness challenge. Every week, bloggers are tasked with writing about a predetermined topic. This week’s prompt is ‘Neutral’. You can check out other blogs on the subject here.
In early 2011, when I was on exchange in Lyon, France, I was invited to spend the weekend at the family home of my then-flatmate, Nawel. She was from a beautiful town called Evian-les-Bains – famous for the bottled water – on the shores of Lac Leman.
What I didn’t immediately realise at the time is that Lac Leman is French for Lake Geneva. On Sunday morning Nawel casually suggested we take a drive to Switzerland, in the same way one would suggest going downtown for a cup of coffee or the like. To a young girl from borderless New Zealand, the idea of taking a day trip to a different country was mind-blowingly awesome.
I’ll never forget that Sunday drive. Nawel and her friend chitchatted in French while I stared in wonder out of the window as we drove through quaint little lakeside towns. We stopped at a few tourist spots along the way, wandering through cobblestoned streets, with me snapping photos every few seconds. The girls found it amusing – this was normal to them, their home, and here I was in utter awe every time the lake came into view.
The drive to Geneva from Evian-les-Bains takes about an hour if you travel non-stop. Many people on the French side of the border commute to Switzerland for work. Imagine that – sleeping in one country, working in another.
I don’t remember crossing the border – there were no signs that I could see. One minute we were in France, the next in Switzerland, as simple as that.
Once we arrived in Geneva the girls wanted to show me all of the expensive watchmaking shops and fashion houses, but all I wanted to do was be outside, near the beautiful lake. I am always drawn to water and Lac Leman was particularly calming, especially as the sun set on the beautiful Genevan buildings.
It was on the shores of Lake Geneva where I realised how beautiful and diverse the world really is. All my life I had been told how lucky I was to live in New Zealand, so much so that I naively thought nowhere else could quite measure up to our natural beauty. Yet there I was, almost moved to tears by the view of the French Alps in the distance. I thought, “I could live here”. My imagination was running wild thinking about all the people who were lucky enough to call this place home.
Now when I visit somewhere beautiful, I often think of Lake Geneva, and marvel at how many places are yet to take my breath away.
Words can’t really do this place justice, so follow my journey via photos. A beautiful drive should you one day get the chance. Incredibly grateful I had the chance to experience it.