Friday, May 9, 2008

Swiss Vacation - Day 5

Day 5

For day number five I had reserved tickets on the Golden Pass Panoramic Train from Montreux to Chateau d'oex, then on to Gstaad, and finally back to Montreux. Alain recommended that we stop in Chateau d'oex at a place called Le Chalet for lunch and meringue dessert. It is a fromagerie, so if you go at the right time you can even see them make the cheese they sell and use in their dishes. We had a bit of time so we walked around town for a bit first and climbed up a small garden to a temple offering a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

We then went to Le Chalet and I ordered a rotis with smoked ham and Sharon got a croĆ»te au fromage – which is basically bread soaked in white wine and covered in cheese. Both meals were awesome, and of course we had meringue for dessert. This was a real experience. You get two large meringue twists and a bowl full of whipped double cream to dip it in. It was amazing.

Feeing incredibly full and quite sleepy, we climbed back up to the train station to wait for the train. We found some free wireless internet (in the middle of the mountains!) and caught up on email and while we were sitting there an old french guy came up and said in a thick french accent, “ASUS. It is genius, non?”. He then proceeded to pull a small ASUS Eee PC out of his travel bag identical to ours (but with an AZERTY keyboard). We got to talking (him speaking fairly good english while encouraging us to speak barely passable french) and found out his wife had just got back from a trip to Canada. After he corrected our pronunciation of Gstaad, we finished up our conversation as the train arrived and we were on our way again.

We made it to Gstaad, and had another two hours to kill before the voyage back. Gstaad turned out to be a very nice place with all kinds of really expensive shopping, but most of the stores were closed and everything was under construction or shut down. We walked around for a bit but eventually just found a bench and sat down to enjoy the scenery and the quiet until the train arrived for our return journey.

For the journey back I had reserved VIP seats at the front of the train. We had a front row seat for the entire ride back and the scenery was incredible. The only problem was, we had the sun directly in our face the whole ride back, and it was extremely hot. Since we were still full from lunch we actually had a very hard time staying awake! After a long ride back to Montreux, we found Alain waiting for us at the station to take us out for dinner again.

This time Alain wanted to take us to the Wallis region for raclette (and more wine). The restaurant he had in mind was still closed and he eventually found another one in Ovronnaz (La Promenade) that served a Wallis-style dinner with raclette. On the way to Ovronnaz we stopped at a waterfall outside Martigny and snapped a few pictures then drove far up into the mountains again – this time through a series of insanely-steep vineyards – to Ovronnaz. It was an incredible drive and the restaurant once again had a gorgeous view of the valley below.

For dinner we had a really good bottle of red wine from the Wallis region, and a Wallis-specific meal that consisted of dried meat and bread as a starter, followed by a traditional raclette with potatoes. The waiter would fill our plates with scrapings from the wheel of cheese he had heating on a special machine whenever we would run out, until we basically could not eat any more! Half-way through the meal the waitress brought a coup de milieu courtesy of the owner. This was a shot of pinkish alcohol that I thought tasted like grappa. Alain did not want his (as he was driving) so I later turned it into a coup de fin for me! For dessert we had a fruit compote and coffee. Once again, Alain had provided us with a perfect evening. Thanks Alain for all of your help and kindness – you made this vacation extra-special for us!

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