Friday, May 9, 2008

Swiss Vacation - Day 4

Day 4

On the fourth day we left Neuchâtel and headed to Montreux where we would spend the next two days and nights. I had contacted a former Swiss colleague (Alain) who lives in Montreux about how to get there, where to stay and what to do while we were there. He was amazing and offered me tons of advice in the weeks leading up to our vacation. It turns out he also knows quite a bit about boats and recommended we take a boat from Ouchy (at Lausanne) to Montreux, and if we were incredibly lucky we may even get a steam ship on the particular day we traveled as sometimes they swap the steamers into rotation at the last minute depending on the weather and availability.

So first thing we grabbed a train to Lausanne from Neuchâtel and arrived at about 11:25am. Alain had told me in his emails that the boat left at 11:45 from Ouchy. I thought we may be able to find our way there in the 15 minutes we had available, but we could not immediately see how to get there. I eventually decided to call Alain, and he told me we had better take a taxi immediately if we wanted to make it to the boat. We grabbed the first taxi we could see and the driver did not speak any english (up until now everyone we had to deal with spoke very good english so the trip has been great in terms of language). Anyway, we were able to struggle through and eventually convinced him we needed a bateau from Ouchy to Montreux plus vite. We pulled into the boat launching area with about 2 minutes to spare, found out we got on for free with our Swiss Pass (bonus!), and were on the boat just before it launched. Not only that, Alain called us right back to ask if we made it and to find out what boat it was and it turns out it was the Rhone, which was one of the paddle steamers!

We had been treated to perfect weather all week, and it was a gorgeous, sunny day again on Wednesday. Needless to say, we had an awesome boat ride through the wine yard regions between Ouchy and Montreux, hitting all of the little ports in between. It was awesome.

We had intended on seeing Chillon Castle while in Montreux and the final port for the Rhone was Chillon Castle (parfait!) so that would be our first stop. However, we wanted to check into our hotel and dump our bags first. I say hotel, but it was really a bed and breakfast I found online for about half the price of a hotel. It turned out to be a room with a double bed and a private bathroom on the ground floor of the owner's house, and it was directly above, and thus only about a 10 minute walk to Chillon Castle. The owner of the bed and breakfast was nice enough to pick us up from the castle to drop our bags at his house, and we walked back down. We had a very nice lunch at a restaurant across the highway from the castle and then did a tour of the castle itself. Once again our Swiss Pass got us in for free, and we spent a good two hours in the castle. I could write a few pages about the castle itself but I will spare you the details. Needless to say, both of us found it very interesting and it was worth the visit. After the castle, we walked along the Lake Geneva (about a 45 minute walk) into Montreux to meet Alain for dinner. While waiting for Alain we found the Freddie Mercury memorial statue and Sharon took my picture.

Shorty thereafter, Alain appeared and we had a quick drink then he drove us up high into the mountains above Montreux for dinner. We went to a restaurant called the Auberge de Sonchaux that was very close to Alain's parent's house and it had a terrace with one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.

We had cheese fondue and wine and watched the sun set on Lake Geneva, and then Alain drove us back down to our room for the night. It was an awesome experience. Thanks, Alain!

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