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?

Man and woman with a drink and snacks on a pebble beach in Budleigh Salterton, Devon UK.

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 reading outside an open beach hut in a row of beach huts on the pebble beach 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.

View across the cliffs, red sand and blue sea on the South West Coastal Path to Exmouth, Devon England.

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!

Hiking boots and a coffee on a pebble beach in Budleigh Salterton, Devon England.

Keeping warm with blankets and hot drinks in the beach hut. Who says it has to be hot to be beach weather?

 

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 cuddled together in the garden while housesitting in Devon, England.

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 😉

Man holding rope to guide boat through lock gates on River Thames, England.

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.

Five adults having a drink on a patio overlooking the River Thames in Maidenhead, UK.

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, meat, bread and wine on a platter for a typical French lunch, France.

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.

Compilation of cat pictures from housesitting in France.

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 close up with turquoise Lake Annecy and Alps in the background in France.

 

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.

Castle on an island in the canals of Annecy in the French Alps.

 

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.

Row of canal boats with a bridge over entrance to Lake Annecy, surrounded by French Alps.

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.

Sail boats in the turquoise waters of Lake Annecy backed by the Alps, France.

 

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.

Suspended walkway through a tall, narrow Gorges du Fier, Annecy France.

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.

Turreted stone wall with tower at the end in Gruyere overlooking the green hillside, in Switzerland.

 

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.

Blue water running through a gorge surrounded by trees near Gruyere, 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?).

Dam wall in a reservoir near Gruyere, Switzerland.

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.

A European style castle on the edge of Lake Geneva with the Alps mountains all around. Chateau Chillon in Montreax, 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.

Various pictures of stalls at Ferney-Voltaire market, France.

 

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.

Man looking over the Jura Mountains to the view of the Alps and Lake Geneva, France.

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.

Path between rows of trees in a park in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

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.

Four friends and a baby in Spietz, in the Swiss Alps, Switzerland.

 

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!

Grand government building with fountains in front in Bern, Switzerland.

 

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.

White sails of a yacht in Lake Thun, surrounded by the Swiss Alps, 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, view Lake Thun, Switzerland.

Taking in the views…

 

Church and castle in view of Spietz from Lake Thun ferry, Switzerland.

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 in reeds and surrounded by trees in Burnham Beeches, UK

 

 

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.

A cat wanting to share a man's yoghurt.

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 25% 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 25% 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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Find all our Travel Journal posts in one place here.

 

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Claire

Welcome! I love to spend time planning travel and finding new adventures in cool destinations! Together with my husband, we've managed to spend 5 years finding adventures around the world without quitting our full-time teaching jobs in Canada. We have a not-so-strict low budget, we're willing to splurge on basic comfort and amazing experiences while cutting costs wherever we can.

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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