09/02/2010 by etiennefish
On a dark and misty Sunday morning, an hour oh so before daybreak, we went running. We left the relative safety of the well-trod paths of Geneva’s well lit streets, and windy-cold lake side. We stepped off the tram and into the fog, uncertain over the direction. We found the trees, the path, and the small winding trail.
Once off, I exhilarated in the feeling of finally leaving the city behind, and for once was again travelling in the means I love best. It was freedom, pure and simple. At this hour no one was about except for the wildlife we startled as much as they us. We passed trees, fields, and possibly countries, unaware as we were whether or not we were still in Switzerland, or had moved on through to France.
At one point we began an impromptu fox hunt. We startled a fox on the river bank, and he bounded out ahead of us, crossing our path. I thought that would be the last we’d see of him. He must have enjoyed our presence, however, because he came back, bouncing along through the fields to our right, to emerge onto the path in front of us. In this manner, he kept pace with us; or rather we kept pace with him, for at least a mile, probably more. After some minutes, with a quick backward glance, he disappeared back down the river bank. It was a somewhat magical moment.
As we continued, I counted more than 25 herons before I lost track, running along the marshes as we were. The sun had finally come up, and the cold, grey morning set in a countryside dotted with snow, was a perfect backdrop for the majestic birds. 23 km later, we stretched, and dropped, tired onto the padded seats of a warm bus, headed back to the city and its tailored landscape.
I will definitely be back to that trail. Aside from being flat it was the perfect combination of trees, rivers, marshes, farmlands, and vineyards for a morning run.
After the run, I raced home to shower and prepare for the next leg of my Sunday adventure. It was a friend’s birthday and he wanted to spent it at Yverdon-les-Bains, in the baths. Sigh, sounds just like me. After missing a train, leaving people behind, and meeting up with others, our group of four finally congregated together in the small town housing the ancient Roman bath site.
On arrival at the baths, I was a bit surprised. It was outfitted sort of like a huge spa in the back of a hotel-like area. I expected something more, I don’t know, old looking. It was full of a modern elegance, but it was definitely modern. And it was extremely busy. Awesome. So there was this weird changing area, that I think was designed for Swiss efficiency, but in the usual Swiss way, it was most decidedly less efficient.
Let me describe the main baths area. Imagine a huge pool outside with steam rising off it. The view is good but not spectacular, and the water is warm, but not hot. Now imagine sharing this relaxing soaking experience with a few hundred of your new best randomer friends, some of whom are children, and many of whom are learning to swim by kicking water in your face because of the close quarters. I won’t say that it was a bad experience by any means. It really wasn’t, but it was nothing like the many outdoor hot springs I visited as a child. I much prefer those.
Upstairs at the place was much nicer though. While couple-y, it was much quieter, and it included saunas. We hung out in those for awhile, which made me feel a bit like a damp noodle, and was also something that I enjoyed after such a long run that morning. We had a few more soaks in various smaller pools and decided to head towards food. This was good because I was suddenly ravenous.
By the time we got back to Geneva, all my enthusiasm (i.e. energy) for staying awake all night like a rockstar to watch the superbowl was regrettably worn thin. I tried to rally upon arriving back at mine, failed, and tried to rally again an hour later. This is when I ended up texting my friends to say I wouldn’t be making it, and promptly falling asleep. It was probably about 9:30. Oh well. I’m sad I missed the Saints big moment, and I’m even sadder that I wasn’t in New Orleans to celebrate it with everyone, but it should also be pointed out that I can’t even tell you how many points a touchdown is worth, or anything else about the game, so it would have been more for the novelty and solidarity of it than anything else. Sad day. Anyway, Congrats New Orleans, congrats Saints! I’m very sorry to be so far away.