A very early morning phone call brought with it very pleasant news: My dear friend Gustav had come to Switzerland in business, and if he had to spend the night he suggested we could get together for dinner at the other end of Lac Léman (or Lake Geneva to give it a more international name). The possibility allowed me to survive a long wait for information at the Russian consulate. I still don’t know for certain, but feel that if I can gather all the documents I have a sporting chance of getting the visa. Here is another catch 22, because I have to produce a “letter of invitation” from a travel agency, detailing all travel tickets and hotel reservations, which I cannot get unless I pay for the trip. So I have to pay a lot of money without knowing if I would get the visa or not! Anyway, let’s forget the subject for the moment and dwell on happier experiences.
OK, Gustav figured that he had to spend the night, so I took the train to the town of Montreaux, on the east end of Lac Léman, and met my gran amigo at the train station. Montreaux is a big tourist destination, and we had a very nice walk along the lake (and a glass of good Swiss wine) before heading upstream of the valley of the River Rhone. The river flows along the bottom of a u-shaped valley carved by a glacier, and the views are truly spectacular (Lac Léman itself is a type of intermontane fjord, as it occupies a deep elongated trough gouged by the glacier).
The high point of the evening was a nice conversation over a gourmet dinner at Le St. Christophe, a non-descript small hotel at a medieval customs building with the most fantastic chef. I had a fois gras (the real thing, not pathé) avec la sauce d’framboise, and Gustav and I shared a thick steak Chateuxbriand, everything liberally accompanied by fine Swiss wines. I may need to change my opinion about the joys of fine dining.