CERN and the Pays de Gex

We’ve arrived at CERN and are staying at the CERN hostel, in a small room with a plastic one-piece bathroom. Today I cycled 70 km, including two trips to the airport train station to organize tomorrow’s departure on an evening train. It helps to bring all necessary documents with you, hence the second trip.

Between these two errands, I pedalled to Ferney-Voltaire where we lived from 1990-93, and on toward Gex at the base of the Jura. Gex is in France, while CERN is in Switzerland, so my scenic route took me across the border three times. As I rode through Collex-Bossy on the Swiss side, I remembered taking Louise, John, and friends of theirs to the apple fram to watch juice being made with a huge traditional cider press.

After a bite in Gex, I rode along the base of the Jura, through Echenevex where Louise rode ponies, and past the Source de L’Allondon where a major Rhone tributary emerges from the porous limestone Jura. Many marked scenic bike routes and paved commuter-friendly bike paths seem to have appeared since we lived here. I did this wander in idyllic autumn weather, with newly fallen acorns snapping under my tires. Poor Chris was working.

Back at CERN, we have reconfigured all our belongings in preparation for boarding the train. The bikes are only minimally disassembled (in contrast to the major work of boxing for the plane journey) and placed in the Swiss Railway regulation VeloPlus bags which allow us to take the bikes even onto fast trains.

Yesterday, arriving after 24 hours of plane travel, we were met at the airport by a gallant Russian colleague of Chris’s, who presented me with a rose and who wouldn’t let me carry my own bags. Tomorrow, we’ll be taken to the train station for our departure to Vienna by another kind Russian, who has convenient use of a CERN van. This help with logistics is a real bonus. We should arrive in Vienna at 8:00 a.m. reasonably well rested, after a night in a couchette.

Who knows, the next post may be from Hungary or beyond.


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