Tag Archives: Switzerland

Day 15 – Montreux, playground of the rich and famous

Sunlight on the poppies with the mountains in the background

Sunlight on the poppies with the mountains in the background

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

We were scheduled to spend two days at Montreux on the banks of Lake Geneva, staying in the Montreux Palace, now a five star hotel. We arrived at the lakeside at the town of Vevey, where Charlie Chaplin spent his last years. There’s a statue of him here and several people took photos.

The promenade at Vevey

The promenade at Vevey – picture by PT

Then back on the coach for the short trip to our hotel.

The views over the lake are breathtaking. The mountains rear above the lake, sketching a line between France and Switzerland. The lake shore is a long promenade, encouraging visitors to walk along and admire the view. It seems quite a few artistic types were drawn to this place, like Freddie Mercury. In fact Montreux hosts a music festival. Statues of a number of top performers can be seen in a garden near the lake – Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, B.B. King, Ray Charles. And for some reason known only to the Swiss, Vladimir Nabokov. He did live here, and died in Montreux. But I don’t think he was noted for his music.

Needless to say the local shops boast all the top brands – Armani, Rolex, Givenchy etc etc. We didn’t go shopping. After a quick look around the local restaurants we decided to eat at one of the hotel restaurants, since it wasn’t much more expensive than everywhere else. We would have liked to have pork knuckle with sauerkraut, but the server returned to the table to tell us it wasn’t available, so we had chicken. Beautifully cooked, far too much (but we should have realised) and served with nothing. If you wanted vegetables, that was extra. We had a main course with one ‘extra’ each, Pete had 2 beers and I had 2 glasses of local wine. That turned out to be something like AU$170. But hey -we’re on holiday. The following day we ate at an Italian restaurant – lasagne for me, pretty ordinary spaghetti marinara for him, a glass of wine, a beer. AU$120. Switzerland is a very expensive place.

Anyway, let’s get on with the photos.

Lake Geneva with swan

Lake Geneva with swan

Swan

Swan

They provided chairs set into the rocks so you can enjoy the view in comfort

They provided chairs set into the rocks so you can enjoy the view in comfort

Montreux Palace with statue of Nabokov in the foreground

Montreux Palace with statue of Nabokov in the foreground

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Lounge

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Dining room

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald

Freddie Mercury - his statue isn't with the jazz singers, it's down on the water's edge

Freddie Mercury – his statue isn’t with the jazz singers, it’s down on the water’s edge.

Tomorrow we’re going on two fabulous visits. Come and join us. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.

 

 

Day 14 – Gruyere – mountains, cows and cheese

Gruyere from the bus - before we drove up the hill

Gruyere from the bus – before we drove up the hill

Ah, mountains. And scenery. And grass and animals. There’s no doubt where my heart is happier. We hopped on a bus with thirty-four other passengers and headed for the hills as fast as we could make it. Maybe there are sights to see in Basel, but we didn’t see them.

For me, I couldn’t wait to see the mountains, and I resisted the temptation to take pictures through the windows for quite a while. Pete didn’t, snapping away at every opportunity. I did eventually cave, but really, there’s no point unless the bus is stationary. Even then you’re just as likely to get reflections in your shots. Like that one at the top.

The weather was perfect, the snow-capped peaks glittering in the sun, and the meadows so green they hardly seemed real. We made our first stop around 11am, an impromptu visit to the fortified town of Gruyere, where the cheese comes from. Apparently we were scheduled to visit there the following day, but the guide and driver decided the weather was so good it would be a shame to risk the forecast rain for tomorrow.

The village is gorgeous, perched up in the foothills with a dramatic backdrop of beautiful mountains, Cows came out of their barns to enjoy the lush grass. In the village women dressed in their local costumes made their way to work in the coffee shops and restaurants. And we found a free toilet. (Don’t laugh. You could expect to pay CHF0.50 to use a public loo – that’s 75c Australian)

The view from the ramparts - cows and mountain and spectacular green

The view from the ramparts – cows and mountain and spectacular green

The cobble-stoned central square

The cobble-stoned central square

Towards the town gate

Towards the town gate

Gruyere means 'crane'. We saw them everywhere on the houses

Gruyere means ‘crane’. We saw them everywhere on the houses

The inevitable church perched at the end of the village

The inevitable castle perched at the end of the village

Two churches, two styles

Castle and church

AltIMG_3783hough it was early, we’d been told this would be a lunch stop, so we selected one of the many restaurants and tried to order a meal. It was too early. Lunch orders would not be taken until 11:30. OK. We had a cup of coffee, instead. They serve it black, with a side of cream that comes in a chocolate container, which you then eat. Saves washing up.

When we’d finished the coffee the woman came to us with her money bag for payment. Pete asked if we could order lunch now (11:20) and was told that this was a different person, she only did coffee. Fine. We paid for the coffee and waited for a wait person to appear. We’d cruised through the menu, looking for a sandwich or something. Eventually we decided upon half a quiche with salad, an entry in the starters menu. We were due to leave at 12:30, and the food did take a looong time to arrive, but it was worth it, fresh and delicious, with a Swiss version of a salad.

Serving sizes are HUGE in Switzerland. So pleased we didn’t ask for a main course.

Half a gruyere quiche with salad. It was delicious.

Half a gruyere quiche with salad. It was delicious. The salad is fine sliced curly cabbage, red and yellow capsicum, a radish, cubed beetroot and lettuce wrapped in a thin slice of zucchini

From Gruyere we drove down to Lake Geneva to Montreux, a haunt of the rich and famous. I’ll write about that in the next post.