I’m a little slow getting this post up but we’ve been busy discovering a couple of new countries and squeezing in some family time!

So, what did September look like?

 

Celebrating one year of travel on the beach in Devon with Prosecco and guacamole.

Celebrating one year of travel on the beach in Devon with Prosecco and guacamole!

 

Devon, England’s South Coast

We began September at a house sit in Devon, England.  Two weeks in an amazing house in a quaint little village by the sea.  We even had use of a beach hut!  All for the price of looking after 5 (yep, 5!) sweet little cats.

Budleigh Salterton was the perfect spot to catch our breath after a whirlwind trip around England visiting friends and family throughout August.  It’s situated at the west end of the Jurassic Coast and on the mouth of the River Otter.  This means beautiful scenery and miles of walking trails.
Man sitting on a beach chair outside a beach hut in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England

We walked along the coastal path to Sidmouth in the east, Exmouth in the west and Otterton up the river.

Turquoise water, orange cliffs and sand. View from clifftop in Devon.

Views along the Southwest Coastal Path

We spent as much time as possible taking advantage of the beach hut.  Even when the weather didn’t cooperate!

Sitting on the beach with winter clothes and a cup of coffee.

Keeping warm with blankets and hot drinks in the beach hut.

Our biggest day trip was taking the bus into Exeter.  This is a really nice city that is worth the visit.  We took a walking tour and discovered some of the oldest parts as well as the newest although we still have more we could discover.  Next time.

Two cats in a garden cuddled up together.

Bunnie and Mooney: always found cuddled together in the garden!


The cats were great, one would sleep with us and night, another would come in for morning cuddles and the others were pretty independent.  The homeowners had a beautiful garden that required more work than the cats!

 

Boat Life

When we had to (sadly) leave Devon, our next stop was a short visit to my brother and sister-in-law.  They had a pretty fully house so we got to stay on their boat on the River Thames!  The sacrifices we make 😉

Terry leading a boat by a rope through a lock in England, River Thames.

Terry helping us through a lock system on the Thames.

My uncle and his wife were in town for a wedding so Sunday was the perfect day for a river cruise followed by a drink and dinner in Eton.

Family reunion over a drink in Maidenhead

Perfect day for a boat ride! Catching up with family over a drink in Maidenhead.

 

Housesitting in Geneva

Bright and early on a Monday morning we hopped on a flight from London Luton to Geneva, Switzerland for another house sit we had booked.  After taking the train into the city centre, we met our new host and immediately hopped on a bus to France.  I love Europe!

Cheese and meat board with a glass of wine.

Hello, Europe! Cheese, meat, bread and wine for lunch.

While the house was technically in France, it was just a 10 minute drive from the Swiss border and in the foothills of the Jura Mountains.  With a car included, it was a great area to explore!

The cats, Fatpuss and Grimth, were both old, lazy and content with spending their days sleeping.  We had a great time looking after them and enjoying their rather entertaining personalities, but it also gave us a fair bit of freedom.

Cats Housesitting - collage of sleeping cats

These cats LOVE their sleep!

Annecy, France

Our first bigger day trip was to Annecy which is a town on a lake in the French Alps known as the Venice of France.  It is undoubtedly one of the most stunning places we’ve ever seen.
Yellow flowers in the foreground with Lake Annecy and Alp mountains in the background

The lake is a beautiful turquoise and surrounded by mountains.  The town has a cute medieval core with canals winding along beside its flower-filled streets and even a little castle on an island.
Canals running through the streets of medieval Annecy, France. Castle on island.

We took a lunch (meat, cheese and bread – very European) with us to eat in the lakefront park and avoided the overpriced tourist cafes and would definitely recommend that.

Small boats along a canal under trees with a bridge at the end.

Looking to the Pont des Amours (Bridge of Love) in the Gardens of Europe.

There are loads of watersport and hiking options around the lake but with time running out before feline dinnertime, we drove to the nearby gorge I’d read about online.
Sailboats, kayaks and others on Lake Annecy, turquoise waters backed by mountains.

Les Gorges du Fier is impressive but comes with a price tag to enter at €5.70 each.  Due to occasional flooding, it is not possible to explore the gorge freely but there is a walkway that has been constructed half way up the wall.  While it is an amazing place, it was a bit too ‘sterilized’ for us (and we’re never fans of entry fees!).  Still, it’s worth a visit for sure.

A wooden boardwalk raised high in a narrow gorge.

Walking through the gorge on the constructed platform high above the ground.

Gruyères, Switzerland

Our other big day trip was to Gruyeres, home of the famous cheese.  This small town is nestled on a hill in the Swiss Alps with a castle dominating the skyline.  We wandered the streets, checked out the views from the castle, and nearly fainted at the prices for fondue.
Part of a castle wall and turret in Gruyeres Switzerland with mountains behind.

Foodies among you will be shaking your heads that we didn’t throw the budget out the window to taste the most classic Swiss dish in what is considered by many the best place for it.  That was our plan but we just couldn’t convince ourselves to pay nearly $100 for some melted cheese!  We definitely didn’t drive to the next town and have McDonalds…

Near to Gruyeres is another gorge that I stumbled across while looking on the map.  This one is free with a hiking trail that winds its way through the ravine, criss-crossing the river a number of times.  At the far end, we discovered a large dam on a picturesque lake.
Clear water running through a deep, rocky gorge in Switzerland.

If you’re wanting to walk through a gorge we would recommend this one.  Although it’s not as steep or as narrow, it is a more enjoyable walk (and did we say it’s free?).

Blue lake with a dam at one end and mountains at the other end.

The dam and reservoir at the end of the gorge hike.

On our drive home, we stopped in Montreux. Parking had us driving right through town and out the other side but we walked back towards the city along a lovely lakefront promenade. The scenery here is amazing with vineyards covering the foothills but the showstopper is Chateau Chillon.
Chateau Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland

The Local Area

Aside from our three bigger day trips, we were able to explore the local area a little too.  Ferney-Voltaire is a great little town just on the French side of the border with a traditional Saturday market.  While prices are a little steep, it’s a great place to wander.  We bought a couple of things and then took ourselves over the border to Lake Geneva for a picnic lunch.
Picture collage of food and flowers for sale at Ferney-Voltaire French market

The Jura Mountains are a hiker’s dream.  We explored a couple of hiking trails and a ski resort.  Unfortunately, the summer luge was closed as that sounded like a lot of fun.  The day we hiked was a little overcast so we didn’t get the amazing stunning views of the Alps and Mont Blanc that are possible here.

Terry standing on a mountain top looking across Lake Geneva to the Alps mountains.

A cloudy but still beautiful view across Lake Geneva to the Alps.

Geneva, Switzerland

We took the bus into Geneva for a day as well.  Perhaps the ridiculous winds prevented us from fully enjoying it but, to be honest, we just couldn’t get too excited about it.  Our walking tour was informative, perhaps a little too much, and took us around the major areas.  There is a cute medieval centre, plenty of monuments and boatloads of museums.  But it was cold.  And expensive.  And just lacked . . . something for us.
A tree lined boulevard in a park in Geneva.

Meeting Friends in Bern

Bizarrely, friends of ours from Canada happened to book a vacation in Switzerland while we were there.  We had 2 free days between the end of our sit and our flights back to London so we hopped on the train to Bern.
Friends together with the Alps mountains in the background. In Spietz Switzerland.

Two men drinking a can on a train in Switzerland

Reunited and it feels so good….

We crashed their awesome AirBnB for a couple of nights and spent a little time exploring Bern.  While we didn’t get to spend a huge amount of time in the city, it’s charm is obvious from the start.  The river winds it way around the old town and we headed up to the Rose Garden for sunset.  Not already an AirBnB user?  Use this code to get $45CDN in credit!

The palace in Bern, Switzerland with fountains in front.River winding through Bern, Switzerland at sunset.

Lake Thun

For our full day together, we took the train to Thun and then a ferry onto the lake to Spietz.  The views here are INCREDIBLE!  This is the same lake where you can find the very popular Interlaken, but at the opposite end.
Sailboat in the blue waters of Lake Thun, Switzerland.

We wandered around Spietz and found a spot with a view for lunch.  It’s a nice town with a photogenic castle (surprise!) but the showstopper really is the lake and mountains.

Two men and a baby looking across Lake Thun at the views, Switzerland.

Taking in the views…

Spietz, Switzerland from the lake. Turquoise waters and medieval buildings on the shoreline.

The town of Spietz on Lake Thun.

 

England again!

For our final few days of the month we returned to my brother’s in England.  With the cooler weather we didn’t stay on the boat this time.  We were able to relax and catch up.  It’s the most we’ve seen each other in years!  And I got to ride my beloved London Underground to get to them.

Walks through Burnham Beeches, dinner in Windsor and meeting with friends were the highlights.  We also managed to squeeze in some shopping and preparations for our upcoming Iceland road trip in October.
Pond covered with lily pads and surrounded by trees in Burnham Beeches.

 

Becoming a Housesitter

Throughout September, we spent 24 nights caring for cats rent-free in comfortable houses.  We even had use of a car for ten days!  House sitting is undoubtedly the best way to travel for free.

Cat trying to eat Terry's yoghurt on the couch.

You might have to share your yoghurt, but you’ll make some great new friends!!

Want to stay all over the world for free?  Use this link or the code  RAF89690 to sign up and receive 20% off your first year membership.  At $100 CDN (before the discount) booking just one sit will more than pay for the fee. (Note: while you get 20% off your membership we will also receive 2 free months)

If you have any questions about housesitting, don’t hesitate to ask.

 

 

 

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Claire

Welcome! I'm an elementary school teacher who loves to get out of the classroom and travel. Together with my husband, we write about traveling as a couple while keeping permanent jobs at home in Canada. Too old for hostels, we're wiling to splurge on comfort and amazing experiences but cut costs wherever we can. When I'm not in the classroom or traveling, I can be found on a squash court, beach or golf course.

2 Comments

Frank Archer · November 1, 2018 at 5:13 pm

You two are amazing!.What interesting,informative blogs that bring reality,history,geography andbeautiful photos to us couch poatoes.
We look forward to your next visit.You are becoming Elmvale-Barrie’s
version of Anthony Bourdain.
Will have to check out the 45$ credit to Air B&B!
Several photos remind me of my travel days in the 1980..s in England,Switzerland and other European cities. Good reporting and best of luck on your next adventures……Frank …and Pat
PS. I am still sad that you and Pat trounced Terry and I at Canasta

    Claire · November 4, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Thanks! We’re having fun if nothing else. You’ll need to tell us some of your travel stories, I’m sure you have plenty
    of interesting ones 🙂

    You’ve got us hooked on a new game now – although I’m sure we won’t be quite so lucky next time! Thanks for a fun evening.

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