Switzerland

IMG_0800Friday 13 May

Now that’s a civilised time for travel: 10:45 BA flight to London City with some wonderful views across the Essex countryside as we seemed to take the long way round via the Essex coast North East of Southend.

London City airport has improved considerably since it was first opened with reasonably comfortable seats, nothing too over priced in the shops but still a popular and therefore busy airport.

Delay getting into Geneva due to a rain storm so train journey delayed and we don’t get into the hotel in Morges until half six. Meet up with Martin and others of his group in a nearby bar for some drinks before we head for the crowded local Italian restaurant where we are lucky to get a seat. Large quantity of food and not too overpriced at SFr 55 + tip and we head for bed in a very comfortable and quiet room in the Hotel de la Couronne.

Saturday 14 May

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Morges market

Breakfast in the hotel was SFr 28 each so we had opted for me going out to get a croissant thinking I would have to go some way.

Little did I know that there was a Saturday street market right outside the hotel and the first stall was a bakers.

That’s breakfast sorted and I am back in the room before 5 minutes is up.

We are meeting at Morges railway/bus station at 11am so it is a quick walk in the by now, more crowded market and we come across two of Martin’s friends that we were talking to last night so join them for coffee before our 10 minute stroll to the bus at the station. They didn’t have a meal last night!

Bus journey to St Prex, the next village, not sure what the locals thought of 20 or so Brits and Americans joining their local bus.

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St Prex village

 

Short walk along the “promenade” with it’s perfectly manicured trees to the jetty for our boat journey.  However, Martin has just received a call, the boat has strokes down!  It was the first charter of the season and the engines failed to start.

It was the first charter of the season and the engines failed to start.

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St Prex

No boat trip so we adjourn to a nearby park for our picnic in by now what is becoming a more windy and wet day. There is shelter though under the trees.

The food was prepared by Nelly and Marlese as we later understand the caterer backed out.

Wine was flowing freely, much of it from Morges vineyards.

Our next adjournment was to a local vineyard operated by father & Son, M.Kind.

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Wine tasting at vineyard

Goodness knows how many glasses of wine we consumed – all of it very palatable.  Not sure what happened to the video we were going to see though.

Back to the hotel for a sleep before we meet again at Jameson’s – a locals bar – before setting off on a long haul up a hill ( Sal was not impressed! ) to an Indian restaurant attached to a theatre.

Not a bad meal bearing in mind the numbers they were catering for. Fortunately, the journey back to the hotel was downhill and, taken slowly did not cause too much difficulty.

Sunday 15 May

After going out to a nearby patisserie for croissants, no market today, we settle up and make our way to the station for our next adventure – to Montreux on the train.

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Fairmont Hotel in Montreux

 

Our journey from Morges is comfortable even in 2nd class and we exit into the town I have often wanted to visit but only before managed to pass through or change trains at.

We have indulged ourselves and opted for a few nights at the Fairmont in Montreaux, with lake views and a wonderfully comfortable bed.

The hotel is really only a short walk from the Station so no need to get a taxi; however, not surprisingly, our room is not yet ready – it’s not yet Midday so we leave our bags and walk on the lakeside through the Sunday market stalls along to the Freddie Mercury statue.

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Freddie for a Day

It is Freddie for a Day today and there are look a likes everywhere and music coming from inside the covered market hall.

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Market stalls at Montreaux lakeside

Our room is ready and we have an upgrade which means our room has two windows and is about as big as our living room at home with a settee, desk, bed and the usual amenities.It even has BBC1 & BBC2 on the TV and absolutely splendid views across the lake to the, predominantly, French side.

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Our upgraded room

 

Monday 16 May

A Bank Holiday – Whitsun – so lots of people still around, including families.

After a lovely breakfast with freshly cooked omelettes, we head off with our free Riviera passes on the 210 Trolley bus to Chillon Castle, about 2km outside of Montreux.

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Chillon Castle

We get half price entry and, armed with a guide in English, head into and up the 40+ rooms some of which are still decorated and furnished as if we were still in the 16C when the castle was first established.

A wonderfully preserved castle with so many ancient artefacts to look at including painted ceilings, fabulous wooden artefacts, painted ceilings and a secret tunnel where, presumably, a woman’s lover could escape if required.

Some interactive displays for children but predominantly some very old artefacts with descriptions in both English and the local languages.

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Bedroom inside Chillon Castle

Chillon castle has a very strong connection with Lord Byron, the writer, and spent much time at the castle.

It would be easy to spend more time in the castle especially to read up on some of the fascinating exhibits and history of the castle.

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Inside Chillon Castle courtyard

Before the coach loads of tourists began arriving, we head back into Montreux and the Queen museum hidden away in the Casino.

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A Freddie costume

Not well signposted, only knowledge of it’s whereabouts coming from a few brochures and the internet – there is virtually nothing at street level to show it’s existence.

 

Exhibits from the whole of the life of Queen including many outfits once worn by the late Freddie Mercury and a mixing room where you can adjust the sound for two pre-recorded samples.

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Me mixing

A fascinating museum and well worth the hour or so spent inside.

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Montreux in the dusk

Dinner again in the Jazz club and a walk in the dusk which still managed some interesting photo opportunities across the lake.

Tuesday 17 May

A better day weather wise and we head for St Gingolph on the ferry, just managing to catch the first one of the day.

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Lac Leman paddle steamer

2nd class discounted travel is absolutely adequate and the paddle steamer vessel, Vevey, similar to La Suisse which we saw yesterday, is brilliantly turned out with nicely varnished seating and wood window frames.

We sit outside until the wind gets to us as we head for the Swiss landing stage of St Gingolph via the eastern end of Lac Leman at Villeneuve.

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Where are we?

St Gingolph has two villages, straddling the border between France and Switzerland down the River Morge.

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Where are we?

Not a lot to see on the French side on the main road other than a small supermarket, to stock up on goodies, and the ubiquitous Patisserie but we do find a cafe on the waterfront for a couple of crepes for lunch but there is nothing really to entice the tourist back to the French side.

 

Two hours later and we are back on the Paddle steamer, Vevey, crossing the lake towards the Swiss city of that name.

More crowded now than before on the ferry but warmer with less wind.

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Sal del Castillo in Vevey

Disembark and a short walk takes us through the main square, used as a car park, to the bus and rail interchange.

 

A trolley bus takes us through the Eastern side of Vevey to the terminus of the St Pelerin funicular railway, an unmanned railway to the village of the same that I used back in the mid 1990s when I attended a course at the Mt Pelerin Hotel (now Le Mirador Resort & Spa)

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Vevey from Funicular railway

The route of the railway takes us up some very steep inclines, past numerous hamlets and small patches of land used, predominantly for grape growing.

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Vinyards adjacent to Funicular railway

 

The cafe at the terminus is closed for the day so our plans for a coffee and a look over the lake to France, where we had just come from, were thwarted.

Instead, we take the next car down admiring the view of Vevey, get on the waiting trolley bus at the bottom terminus which takes us back to the hotel.

I venture out to get a pre prepared salad for dinner, saving probably SFr 70 in the process and managing to photograph some of the artwork on the lake front.

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Artwork on lakeside at Montreux

A lovely sunset for out last night in Switzerland on this journey.  We must return!!

 

Wednesday 18 May

A bit of confusion at checkout as we had been told breakfast was included, and we had been charged for it.

Without any quibble, the hotel removed the charges ( SFr 80 per day ) and we headed for the station for our comfortable train journey to Geneva Airport and our return to the Isle of Man via a three hour wait at London City.

Another holiday over and with guests arriving tomorrow we won’t have time to feel tired.

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