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Published: August 4th 2009
chateau de chillon
a centuries old castle
The final leg of my first Switzerland trip was going to last less than a couple of days, a chunk of which was taken by this train ride I did from Interlaken to the Lake Geneva town of Montreux. I took the Golden Pass train from Interlaken to Zweisimmen. I had already traveled on this train from Lucerne to Interlaken. These scenic train rides do give you a passing glimpse of the majestic Swiss country side. From Zweisimmen I had the VIP seat reservation to Montreux. That meant one of the 4 front seats in the first car in the train. Nice.
I reached Interlaken train station from my base in Murren after taking a cable car ride to Lauterbrunnen and a train from there. I did not know the Golden Pass departure time from Interlaken so I ended up there about 90 min early! The first leg of the train ride was from Interlaken to Zweisimmen. At Zweisimmen, after a change of trains, I found myself sitting in one of the four front seats of the train with all the scenery coming at me. I was more focused on the front than left or right! I was seeing what
the train driver was seeing and in dark tunnels it meant seeing nothing. Exhilarating experience, I would say. An older French speaking guy sitting next to me was taking pictures like crazy using a point and shoot camera. He was visibly excited just like a kid in a candy store. At one point I thought that an oncoming train was going to crash on to our stationary train! But of course it changed tracks. That’s the effect of sitting on the front seat on a train.
Finally, Lake Geneva appeared on one side of the train. From Montreux, which was the last stop on the Golden Pass train, I took another train to Lausanne where I had booked a room for a night. In the evening, I strolled around in the old towns of Vevey and Montreux. In Vevey, it seemed that I was the only guy with a camera. So I did not click a photo there😊. And no Indian looking fellas or families here, which were a common sight in Lake Lucerne and Bernese Oberland regions!
The language in this region changed to French. Sometimes I was getting an impression that I was somewhere in France
rather than in Switzerland. Lake side villages and towns, people promenading along the lake shores, anchored boats floating around, people sunbathing, old town squares abuzz with people. It presented a different picture than the Lake Lucerne and the Bernese Oberland regions that I had visited before coming to Lake Geneva. Mountains in the distance had been reduced to a silhouette due to hazy conditions over the lake.
Montreux was already abuzz with the Jazz festival which was beginning that day. Hordes of youngsters and others were making a beeline to the lake side promenade in the evening which was lined up with all kinds of vendors selling their stuff. I was wondering if this crowd was there for the Jazz music festival or were the people there just to party the night away. I could not imagine that there would be so many Jazz aficionados in this region so I guess they were there just to have a big open air party. I felt like an odd man out there. Traveling alone, and standing on weary legs and seeing everything with drowsy eyes, I was not going to be standing there trying to appreciate Jazz or guzzle one beer
after another! I boarded a train and went back to Lausanne where my hotel was.
Next day, I walked to Chateau de Chillion, a famous castle near Montreux, and took a tour. It was the last day of my first Europe trip. My Swiss pass had expired so I was not covered for public transportation on this one day. And then I discovered that travel in Switzerland is not cheap. One way ticket from Lausanne to Montreux was about 20 francs. A one hr boat ride from Montreux to Lausanne was 23 francs. I started to wonder about the cost of that 6 hr boat trip I did in Lucerne! I spent the day roaming around the town of Montreux. In the afternoon, I took a boat back to Lausanne. From Lausanne, I caught a train to Geneva from where I had to catch my flight back to US.
After reaching Geneva train station, I started looking for any info that could take me to my hostel. I just had the address and phone number. I tried calling but nobody picked up. A young girl approached me in the phone booth and asked me for a franc! I
gave it to her. She said she needed it to make a call. I was not sure if that was the case! I then started looking for Internet. I asked a girl if there was any Internet available in the train station. With here very limited English skills, she managed to point towards the right direction. But the Internet room was locked. parlez-vous anglais? I asked another vendor. He said, little bit. But he had no idea about the street address of my hostel. I just got out of the station and started walking with my luggage in tow. I finally found an Internet cafe. But the internet in cafe was down! I just asked the guy if he knew where my hostel was located. He replied it was in the back side of this building!
I got a few hours to stroll around Geneva. I saw a few Indian restaurants in the town. I got into an ordinary looking one. I ordered a Kidney beans curry and one naan and rice. Almost $25 for that meal! No wonder Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Later in the night, I saw lots of
youngsters heading to some festival that night. I headed to my hostel to get some sleep. I had an early morning flight. It seemed some of those youngsters had partied all night. I saw them at 5am in the morning at the train station!
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