July 11, 2016
Both of us had the cold (or flu?) today, so we didn’t get up until 9 am. But today was a train-riding day so it didn’t matter. After our breakfast of tea and cookies we checked out of the hotel—the desk clerk wasn’t happy about last night’s soccer game—and headed for the train station to buy tickets to go to Sion in Switzerland.
We stood in line for a ticket agent because our routing was a bit complicated, being partially in France and partially in Switzerland. First the French part: we could have had an over-60 discount but today there was a 40% promotional discount so we got that instead. And then we told him that we had Swiss half-fare cards, but that wasn’t one of the discount codes in the SNCF system so he tried to work around that. In the end we paid some reasonable amount of money for our tickets. Fortunately Rosemary checked them and noticed we only had one ticket instead of two for the Swiss part, so we had to go back and buy the second ticket.
Our first train, from Annecy to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, left 10 minutes late but the driver made up that time and we made the connection to the train through Chamonix to Vallorcine. By now we were well familiar with that route! Then we connected to the Swiss train which went down the valley to Martigny; it was more a gorge than a valley and both the villages and the train clung to the slope high above the river. At Martigny we caught the connecting train with seconds to spare and very soon we were in Sion.
From the station in Sion we could see the hostel, so it was easy to find. Check-in time was not until 5 pm, but luckily it was open so we could sit inside and read our books. When we checked in we were given the choice of the twin room we had booked or a 4-bed room which was on the other side of the hostel, away from the train station. It turned out that was a good choice.
Today was laundry day, so our room was soon festooned with damp clothing. The hostel could provide dinner for only CHF 17.50 each, a very reasonable price in Switzerland, so we signed up for that. We got a three-course meal consisting of salad, veggie Thai noodles, and apricot with apricot ice cream. All very good and so handy that we didn’t need to go out to a restaurant.
After dinner we went out for a short walk, but the hostel is in an industrial area so there are things like tire shops and paint warehouses. But there were also some nice vegetable gardens. We spent some time on our return chatting with three of the other guests.
The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good for tomorrow and at about 9:45 pm it started to rain. That was welcome because it would cool the temperature down, but we hoped it would be finished by tomorrow morning.
July 12, 2016
We got up before 8:30 am this morning, but only because the breakfast buffet ended at 9 am. The buffet was pretty good and we weren’t just eating leftovers. It had rained quite a bit during the night but by now it had stopped, so we hoped to be able to go for a walk without getting wet.
Although rain was predicted for later in the day, after breakfast we headed out to the Old Town of Sion. Following the walking route on the town map we’d got from the hostel, we went by historic churches and old buildings on the way to the castles. Some of the old buildings date back nearly a thousand years, and most of the people who built them seemed to be bishops and cardinals. The only exception we noticed was Georges Supersaxo, who was described as “homme politique”.
The rain started lightly as we climbed the narrow cobbled road up the hill, and by the time we got to the junction between the two castles it was raining quite hard. The clouds were getting lower, too, so by the time we climbed up to the Basilique de Valère our views down over Sion were very poor. We were too early to go into the castle so rather than wait we headed back down to the hostel, stopping at a patisserie to buy quiches and apple turnovers for our lunch.
We heated the quiches in the microwave and made some tea to go with our lunch; the quiches were nice and filling but a bit salty for our taste. The rain continued all afternoon so we spent the afternoon watching the Tour de France stage on TV, although it definitely wasn’t one of the more interesting stages. But by 5 pm the weather outside had improved, so we went out for another walk around the Old Town.
Dinner tonight was salad, sausage, zucchini, and rösti with watermelon for dessert. Tomorrow we would be heading to Zermatt, as per our original plan, so hopefully the weather will be better there.