I explored Southwest Switzerland with Jennifer for around 3 days and our first stop was Montreux which is not far away from Lausanne. One thing that I really miss is how spontaneous things were. At night, we looked at a map of Switzerland and decided on what we wanted to see based on a few Google images and the route that we should take and the next day we got onto the train, got off at the right stop, looked for the tourist office, asked the right questions and saw what we wanted to see. I feel that it was a great way to travel and it makes me feel that there is really nothing stopping me from seeing the places apart from time and, well, money. Anyhow, we decided to do a short round trip over the course of three days – Lausanne – Montreux – Sion – Zermatt – Spiez – Thun – Bern – Lausanne. Things happened, we stayed longer at some places than we originally intended but that is life and I love it the way it is. 🙂
The train trip from Lausanne to Montreux was beautiful. Apparently, that was the famous Lavaux vineyards. There was the blue lake and the mountains on one side and the green vineyards on the slopes of the mountains on the other. It was a splendid sight. The old town of Montreux was quiet and a little boring to my liking. But admittedly, it has a very different charm from the Spanish old towns which are mostly from the Middle Ages. The different bright colours and cute windows really brightened up my day. 🙂
The highlight of Montreux is the Château de Chillon by lake Geneva. Originally, it was built to extract a toll from people and goods passing between Italy and the rest of Europe. Later on, it became a residence for the count. At one point of its history, the segment of history which made the castle famous, the castle served as a prison. The castle was famous because of a poem titled “The Prisoner of Chillon” written by a politcal prisoner imprisoned in the castle’s dungeon – Francois de Bonivard. According to him, he felt as though he was underwater because the position of the window was too high for him to see the surface of the water. That statement, coupled with the random old cravings on the wall, really makes the dungeon feel eerie. Today, the castle functions as yet another tourist attraction and according to the castle website, Chillon is listed as “Switzerland’s most visited historic monument.”I think that the sight of the castle itself by the lake already warrants a visit. For me, it is interesting how one place can serve a multiplex of functions at different points of its history.
Apparently, the castle was strategically placed by the lake so that potential invaders could not enter the castle by climbing up the garderobe – the toilet of the castle. People in the past simply urinated and defecated through this hole into the lake. This is actually my first time seeing a garderobe and it makes me look at Lake Geneva differently.