home thoughts from abroad

Home thoughts from abroad is a new series on Travel Words featuring a single photograph that reminds me of a country visited and showing something that uniquely identifies it as being ‘abroad’.

Our few days in Montreux were very busy. On our first day we caught a bus* to Vevey Funi and took the funicular railway up the mountainside to Mont Pèlerin (no views sadly because of the fog lingering over the water) then walked back along the promenade (Quai Ernest-Ansermet) into Vevey town centre for a look around. From Vevey-Marché (lac) we caught a ferry boat to the Castle of Chillon which is at the far side of Montreux, with the intention of visiting the castle in the afternon before walking back via Quai des Fleurs and Quai Alfred Chatelanat to our hotel (2 miles). A full self-guiding tour takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on how fast you walk and how much reading you do. Castle of Chillon is the result of several centuries of constant building, adaptations, renovations and restorations with excavations affirming this site has been occupied since the Bronze Age.

*free transport passes are provided to visitors by your hotel in many parts of Switzerland on local buses, trams and trains.

Advertisements

CGN: Savoie

The Savoie (1914) is famous for its elegance and rightly considered to be one of the jewels in the Belle Epoque fleet which have been plying the lake’s deep-blue waters for 100 years. It was entirely renovated in 2006, retaining its original steam engine, but fitted with a new, particularly cost-efficient  boiler. I was fortunate to get a ride on this beautiful boat back to Geneva after my visit to Yvoire, a medieval town on the French side of the lake.

A beautiful old boat full of curves: its wooden ceilings painted white, smooth worn wooden decks, the colour of steel where the varnish has been worn away by the constant passage of thousands of feet. 1st class tickets only are allowed on the upper deck where royal blue deckchairs face the mountain views. Benches here have plump foam cushions to make them more comfortable.

Tables in the restaurant are set with white cloths and linen, silver cutlery and sparkling glasses, anthuriums (flamingo flower) with red spathes is the flower of choice. I presume this is for the evening dinner cruise ‘The Chef’s Table’ and I am almost tempted to stay.

Tall ferns stand guard by the curved banister of the stairway sweeping up to the upper deck

where its glitzy bar is just waiting for the cocktail hour to begin.

What a beauty! A truly wonderful and nostalgic way to end to my day.

~wander.essence~ Photography

Postcard from Montreux

September 2009 – “Lakeside Promenade Fleuri”

I am sitting here on a bench overlooking Lake Geneva in the lakeside town of Montreux. Whenever I hear that name it makes me smile and remember a band from my youth, Deep Purple, and their song “Smoke on the Water”.

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time…

The lead singer Ian Gillan was one of only two posters on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager. The other was Robert Plant. It was a very small bedroom.

It is mid-afternoon and the sun is shining on me, though the other side of the lake is shrouded in mist and I can only see vague outlines of the stunning mountains that I know are there. I am on my own at the moment as my husband is still at a conference in Geneva where we have been for the past week. I had decided that after the conference in Geneva we should extend our stay in Switzerland to celebrate my birthday and wedding anniversary in Montreux in a romantic old hotel on the lakeside.

The Hotel Eden Palace au Lac – an old lady right on the lakeside. Cheaper than some of the more modern hotels and a little faded gem. There are no buildings in front of us so our room overlooks the lake. The views will be impressive if the fog lifts. I hope it does before we leave on Tuesday.  It is a tiny bedroom with a disproportionately large chandelier, but it does have a petite balcony with a table and two chairs so we can sit outside and the bathroom has definitely seen better days and is quite a squeeze, but the room is clean which is my main concern. (Our room is behind the letter L in Palace)

After checking in this afternoon I came down to the promenade that runs for 10km along the shore of Lake Geneva, from Vevey to the Château de Chillon. This path is lined with palm trees and exotic flowers, while the magnificent views extend across the lake to the Alps and into Savoy. Have I mentioned the fog? I can’t really see much of the mountains, but I can sense their presence all around me. Continue reading Postcard from Montreux

Plainpalais Flea Market

Old shoes, scuffed and oddly shaped by old feet,
Heels run down, soles flapping.
Miles of dusty pavements
Ingrained in the cracked leather.
For sale?
Surely not.
Electrical items from a bygone era
Pose safety implications for sure.
A VHS larger than any I have seen before.
So much tat.
Chipped and ugly painted vases
Lie amongst broken crockery
And balding teddy bears,
Once loved
Now forgotten.
LPs without covers
More than likely scratched
Causing that irritating repetition
When the needle jumps
And stutters
Again
And again.
And again.
Curiously there is an entire car engine
Rusty and tired
Like the car it once belonged in.
And a motherboard!
I recognise the jumpers,
The switches,
The spaces for the RAM,
And Video cards.
Almost an antique.
Almost definitely useless.
Close by is combat gear
And camouflage clothing,
Rusty saws and axes,
Swords and other miscellaneous evil-looking instruments
Of torture.
Or maybe not.
My imagination is getting the better of me,
they are probably gardening tools.
An elephant’s foot table.
Now that must be illegal to sell.
Or buy.
I grimace.
Indian puppet dolls
Are much more cheerful,
But I don’t stop.
Tables full of coins and clothing, glassware and china.
Bundles of straw which leave me wondering
What one would do with them
In a city.
Like this.
Time for me
to move on.

~wander.essemce~ poetry

On Journey

It was hot. Unusually so for Switzerland in late September. The lake was covered in  a hazy fog as the boat (Henri Dunant) left Geneva at 09:15 and sailed from one quay to another along the Swiss shore before zigzagging across the lake to the French side.

After coffee and a croissant in the restaurant I took myself up onto the deck so I could absorb the scenery. As we approached each town, buildings appeared and disappeared through the mist: church towers and romantic turrets, quays adorned with flowers and queues of people patiently waiting in the soft sunshine, shuttered windows and petite balconies overlooked the lake.

Sleepy boats tied to wooden jettys belonging to millionaire’s houses on the shoreline. Autumnal tints in the trees. A white swan at Coppet. Straight lines of vineyards on the hillside.

The sun broke through as we left Nyon. A yacht lazily passed by, not much wind in its sails. As we approached Nernier on the French shore, the mist revealed a quiet harbour. Covered boats, closed parasols, empty chairs on the terrace of the café, odd pollarded trees.

Departing we got our first glimpse of Yvoire. My destination. The marina and the chateau and the shiny silver-topped church steeple.

I had read about this medieval town famous for its flowers and ‘Le Jardin des Cinq Sens’ (The Garden of Five Senses) and knew that during my brief visit to Geneva I had to try to get there. As the boat left the dock I was eager to depart and start photographing the floral town.

It is rare that I choose to travel by water. I am not a good sailor, but a lake is generally calm and it is not usually a problem plus on this occasion I was drawn a place that I couldn’t easily reach any other way. On the journey back to Geneva I managed to catch one of the jewels in the Belle Epoque fleet – the Savoie – an elegant paddle steamboat which deserves its own post.

~wander.essence~  On Journey