Escape from the Alps

Back in Nice, where it’s actually less hot than in Annecy or Geneva where there was no air conditioning. I guess my plan for escaping the summer heat was a failure, though Libby and I had a nice time. One day we swam in Lake Annecy and another day we took a boat trip on it. Some great meals as well.

Of course I couldn’t rent a car without some sort of incident. Fortunately, this one involves emotional distress rather than any damage. Read on for the gory details. 

It is supposed to be a 40 minute drive from Annecy to Geneva. Libby and I left around 9 :15 am. We arrived at the airport around 11 after taking several wrong routes that took us 30-40 km out of our way. Fortunately Libby’s flight was at 1 so she had enough time.  

I managed to spend 3 hours driving back and forth cross the Swiss French border, finally returning the car around 2. I could have driven back to Nice in about the same amount of time. 

Geneva is somewhat unique in having an airport in 2 countries. I chose to rent on the French side for several reasons, one of which was a desire to avoid paying 45 Swiss francs (around $50) for s vignette that is required to drive on Swiss highways. The first time Libby and I crossed the Swiss border, I tried to turn back but found myself blocked so I bought the damn vignette. Good thing because I crossed the Swiss border at least 13 more times. 

I kept circling the airport but not finding the French side. Ultimately I decided to return the car to the Swiss side (there is a hertz on each side) but was told that I would have to pay a 300 euro surcharge. The lady told me it was simple and explained the 37 steps I had to follow to find the French side hertz. In fact, everyone I asked said it was simple, including the Swiss border police. But what no one told me was that the road I needed to find was unmarked!

In tears, I tried to get some random guy to drive his car to lead me. He refused. I was about to pay the 300€ and just return it in Switzerland but then I couldn’t find that either. I remembered Abby had once paid a Spanish cabdriver to lead her where she needed to go so when a taxi started honking because I was blocking 2 lanes I asked him to do the same. I followed him to the unmarked road, just before/after the border and gladly gave him 30€ for the help

6 thoughts on “Escape from the Alps

  1. You are so brave to drive a car in Europe ! Without a GPS ? How did you get around ? Anyway did you fly Geneva to Nice ? Rest in Nice.

    • I never figured out how to use the gps that came with the car so I used my google maps app. The problem with all gps is that it gets you close but the last mile is always a bit off. Yes I flew home at 8:30 pm and arrived at 9:20. So 12 hour day of travel for a 40 minute flight.

  2. Yikes! Thankfully, you are back in Nice. Soon you will be in a lovely cool pool where you can get heat relief, no traveling.

  3. What a horror! I think we’ve all driven in loops around airports, but I’ve never heard of having to cross borders. Could there be one of those kafkaesque movies in your experience? You could write the screen play. After all Tom Hanks did Terminal Man. Here’s the sequel——. He gets out of the terminal, but still can’t get away from the airport.

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