Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Good Day or a Good Story - Montreux

Chateau du Chillon - This place was soooo coooool. Literally - it was cold, built into the rock. Honestly, a very special place and we enjoyed it tremendously. The fireplaces in virtually every living space is a good indication of additional housework prior to central air & heat.
The Chateau - another angle.
Funny musical creatures - these 'band' members and 'dancers' line the beachfront walk along Montreux on Lake Geneva. Montreux is world-reknown for its Jazz Festival which occurs in July. And let's not forget it's tribute to Freddy Mercury (of Queen). He lived in Montreux - they even have Freddy Mercury Day - there's a big statue of him on the Boardwalk - "Another One Bite's the Dust..." Anyway.....
St. Bernard puppies at the St. Bernard Museum in Martingny. They are so cute, so big and so slobbery. Well, actually, our belief is that the ones kept here at the museum had their 'slobber glands' removed. Every other St. Bern. we've seen produces massive amounts of drool - sniffing or not. They can be sitting there in front of a store waiting for their master and wind up swimming away. But not these St. Bernards - they are perfectly groomed and slobberless. Exactly what one would expect in a Swiss Museum.
The wine country between Montreux and Martigny. Absolutely beautiful and the green of Spring hasn't even arrived yet. Must go back later.

OK - Since we moved here, Bart always says about our Expat experiences "It's either a good day or a good story." I don't know that our Friday trip to Montreux qualified for either. It was an extremely hectic day - packing, kid parties at school (not to mention kid stuff for the last week!), everyone trying to get out of School for Spring Break and then getting home so we could take off for Montreux. We chose to drive this trip instead of taking the train so we would have the flexibility of going where we wanted, when we wanted. Enter the TwiLight Zone:
We depart Waedenswil about 4:20 (no leaving early due to kid stuff), take 15 min. to get to Zurich - and 2+ hrs to move thru Zurich(about 3miles hr average)!!! We are creeping thru lights and Bart's thinking he could have worked another 3 hrs and walked over to the car from the office. It was excruciating - fortunately I am driving and Bart can sit and relax - Ha Ha. By time we were on the other side of Zurich, we could have been arriving in Montreux by train. But at least we are moving - RIGHT? Now we encounter lovely road construction going into Basel - stay in the super skinny lane with your oversized European auto. They paint orangey-pink lines to let you know where to go and supposedly there are two lanes - for side by side Fiats. Now it is dark, we just need to get there, eat at the hotel/room service and start fresh the next day. Journey is not over folks!
Between Bern and Fribourg, it begins to rain. As we leave Fribourg, it turns to slushy snow and its getting thicker - sticking to the road. This was not in our weather forecast! We checked! Then emergency vehicles are passing us and we are stopped and creeping along in the blowing snow. Unfortunately there was an accident - maybe due to the unexpected snowstorm? And it snows and snows but finally stops - just as we are descending into Montreux. We find our hotel, we check in and Lo' and Behold - We find ourselves in our hotel room looking at two twin beds shoved together (European standard for a "double room"). Then we are looking at each other saying "the reservation is for 4 persons and we are not all sleeping on that one bed." Technically, we can all fit on the 2 european twins shoved together but we did not WANT to. So Bart went down, they gave us the room next door also (no extra charge :-) ) and I proceeded to look at the menu for room service because it is now 9pm. BUT, I call down to the kitchen and they say "We are sorry but the kitchen is closed, we close at 9pm" AHHH - it's 9:05! Fortunately we had eaten snacks on the way. We ate peanuts/almonds from the minibar and the girls supplemented with another Baby Bell. Then Bart retired with Rachel next door (keep the early risers together) and Kendra and I got some sleep as well. We knew we could count on breakfast the next day.
I certainly wouldn't have qualified that as a good day and I'm not sure it's a good story - But it is definitely a story. And we seem to have had several.
The rest of the weekend went fine and that part of Lake Geneva is BEAUTIFUL. The Chateau is definitely a recommended stop if you are ever close to that area (yeah, we know, just stopping thru). And I would only go to the St. Bernard museum if you are a great dog lover and just happen to find yourself in Martigny (which is great for access to many Alp regions but not a tourist haunt in itself). And we loved the atmosphere along the lake, the surrounding wine country all terraced into the hills and the old towns - some buildings there are 600 yrs old - and people still live in them.
What I did not love was children who fell apart in the souvenir store and asked a gazillion ?'s about when are we done? are we going back to the hotel? when are we going to have our ice cream? Sometimes, the same ? was asked 5 x's in the span of 20 minutes! It was all I could do to not scream at them. Apparently they lost their knowledge retention on the way over in the snow storm. That's all I can figure. And you know, every stuffed St. Bernard in EVERY gift shop in Switzerland is special and the fact they already have one at home means nothing. Tears, drama, pouting - by the end of the trip, I was pouting because I thought maybe I should have hired a sitter for the weekend. (And NO, they did not come home with another St. Bernard - in fact, they came home with nothing but they did get some ice cream. I had better not get any "you're so mean" comments.)
I did get a good chuckle on the way home though. Bart thought he could pass an equally "fat" car in the construction zones - he opted out. And we are glad to be home.


MOM E said...

Ahhh this was a test...and you passed..sometimes the shaky starts are an adventure in themselves! I loved this city, glad you did also... Ours was a drive by visit on the way to "bag the next peak"..I'd love to visit again.

Josh & Sarah said...

Those pictures are gorgeous and your writing abilities are superb! :) Loved hearing about your weekend and smiling about your "adventure."