Monday, 10 October 2016

The Venice of the Alps

Jk, so I'm not in Italy, but I hope to find myself there in the very near future. "The Venice of the Alps" refers to the quaint ville of Annecy, about an hour and 45 minutes north of where I am in Grenoble, leaving Annecy just a short 35 km from Geneva, Switzerland (also on the list of  future travels). For a quick geography lesson- look no further.  If you have never traveled outside of North America or to Europe, you might have a hard time understanding the geography of just exactly how close each country is to one another; and with no borders between countries of the Schengan area (which includes 26 of the 28 countries of the EU) it makes it incredibly easy to freely travel throughout Europe. As you can see below the Rhone-Alpes region of France borders southwestern Switzerland and nothwestern Italy, making Grenoble a very central home base for traveling into eastern Europe. 

Now back to the star of this blog entry, Annecy. Annecy gets its rep from the waterways that flow throughout the city, similar to Venice (so I've heard).

Upon arriving at the train station in Annecy, we suddenly found ourselves among a large large crowd of people. Having the preconception that Annecy was "some quaint town with not much to do" we were slightly confused as to what all the commotion was at 9 am on a Saturday morning.

We toured the lake (Lac d'Annecy) before heading into the crowd.  The lake was one of the clearest bodies of water I have ever seen (reminded me of seeing the waters of Lake Huron during my hike of the Bruce Peninsula in Tobermory) and we were quick to find some (not so little) aquatic friends.

This little guy had his feathers in a ruffle the whole time as he followed me along the boardwalk!

"The crowd" was soon to be determined as a lovely Saturday morning market, with vendors- baked goods, wood carvings, jewelry, and oh, costumes? Not your typical Saturday morning market, but it oddly reminded us of home (St. Jacob's Market, enough said). A number of the vendors were dressed in what I would describe as traditional Amish clothing- and at first we were genuinely confused if these were costumes or not (the played the part very well- men, women and children alike!). We later discovered that we had landed smack dab in the middle of what was named "Retour des Alpages a Annecy- Defile Cortege Parade, Spectacle, Fete Locale", essentially translated as a traditional folklore festival featuring local vendors, music and a parade throughout the city.  Pretty good planing on our part I'd say!

I truly played tourist that day (I mean come on, how could you not), and captured a number of shots that will help to soak in the culture first-hand. The following series of photos explain much better than my words ever could, what we experienced that day (after all a picture is worth a thousand words, isn't it?).

Entrance to the festival at right

Quebecois vendor- only regret is not buying any maple syrup...
Some local Raclette being sold- how French is this though?

After soaking in the culture of the festivities in town, we decided to head back towards the lake, where we hoped on a boat for a tour around the lake.  I was in awe to see a few brave wake boarders out on the lake, which obviously made me think of none other than Muskoka, a favorite summer spot. The boat tour was relaxing to say the least, I think between the five of us we all took turns taking a little snooze (much needed after we scarfed down our Tartiflette, as seen in the picture above - a local dish involving potatoes, cheese, a ham/bacon-like meat, and more cheese).

My favorite part of the day was the live music- I mean not the kind I listen to on Spotify exactly- but something real and cultural. If we want to feel apart of a culture, give their music a listen- it's usually a good taste of culture. We were stopped here for a good 10 minutes watching a group of people off the street coordinate this dance together.  After I stopped filming, three more pairs of passer-byers had joined in. Check out the following vid:

Annecy was a lovely way to spend Thanksgiving weekend abroad and I couldn't be more thankful that I had these Canadians to share it with.

Vin chaud for 2 euro?? yes please!

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