Remember that time when I won a free all-expenses paid trip to the French Alps courtesy of Evian Water?
Well, I decided to spend my Christmas holidays hopping between Switzerland and France, exploring the beautiful cities of Evian and Geneva.
Lost in Translation
After a very quick transfer in Paris on Air France, we landed in Geneva airport, unfortunately for us, our luggage did not. One of the first times in years I’ve checked a bag and they lose it (thanks Air France!) We found our driver and tried to explain to him our dilemma (small language barrier but l was able to use my 8th grade French skills and some very childish hand gestures to fill him in on the saga). We waited for the next flight to arrive which was sure to have our beloved baggage. Anxiously stalked the carousel of gloom and Shone’s bag graciously made an appearance, and of course mine did not. After a few tears and a very empathetic baggage clerk, we decided to just go on and head to the hotel in Evian and await my luggage to be delivered later than afternoon.
The Source – Tour of the Evian Factory
Freshened up a bit and we heard off to the Evian factory. Now, I’m not sure why I had high expectations for a production plant; being that I’ve worked in those plants before. Forklifts, floor taped trails, conveyor belts and corrugated boxes. That’s it. That’s about all. So in gest, the Evian plant was really nothing special, although we did get some free water (clutch!), some post its and a history of how Evian came to be. Oh and Shone fed her addiction with the Evian thermal sprays.
Back to the hotel and *pause for praise break* my luggage had arrived! Devoured some yummy Spanish hams and cheeses paired with some delicious local wine. We are of course in the land of winnnneeeeeee & cheeessssseeee. So we indulged. Still a bit rainy and wet, we held off on venturing outdoors and called it a night early…. Read: red wine + jet lag = FAIL.
Up in the Air
The next days we got up well before the sun to head off to Sanaan, Switzerland to meet for our hot air balloon adventure! The ride itself was magical. From lift off, to hovering above the villages of Interlaken, Thun, and Gstaad, to rising just above the snow capped glaciers, plateaus, and peaks. Yea, it was cold and yes it was beautiful. It’s insanely peaceful and quiet. After almost 2 hours in the sky, we were glad to be back on the ground.
We landed on a private landing area right in the heart of Thun and had a nice landing cocktail with some of the locals who were amazed that a flying contraption carrying two little black girls had managed to land in their quiet village. Guess they had never seen The Wiz Live eh?
After the ballooning experience, we were eager to check out the Christmas markets in the Bern city center. A little mulled wine, some fresh made gingerbread, and 2 street brats later we were back on the train headed towards Geneva. We (not so quickly) grabbed the ferry across the lake that took us back into Evian. Another great day down, we enjoyed dinner and drinks in the hotel.
It Takes A Village of Trolls?
Our next and last full day would be dedicated to exploring the charming ville d’Evian! So as we explored we quickly learned that Evian is known as the village des Flottins, which translates to Village of the Driftwood People. All over the town there are huge (and some very menacing and scary looking) sculptures made out of driftwood.
Legend has it that Santa Claus was conducting a practice flight and had to make an emergency landing in Lake Geneva. These magical creatures quickly ran out to help Santa and the reindeers to safety. Without shelter for the night, the Flottins built their guests a small home out of driftwood. Very grateful, Santa and his reindeers pay a visit to Evian every year. (Read more on the Legend of the Driftwood People here). Cute story… but looking at some of these sculptures I’m pretty sure Santa might come back out of fear or extortion.. just saying…
Trip of a Lifetime
Overall, the trip was amazing! A visit to a few new cities, a gorgeous hotel, finally exploring with a friend instead of being solo (thanks Shone!) and feeling the Christmas spirit away from the sand pit. There’s still more of Geneva to see, so I will be back!!!
Check out the video from our Hot Air Ballooning Trip:
Disclosure: This trip was complimentary courtesy of Evian Middle East office, yet in no what influenced my opinions.