Monday, 26 May 2008

Nuit des Musées de la Riviera

Last weekend was the 9e Nuit des Musées de la Riviera here in Vevey. This meant most of the museums in Vevey were open to the public for free until midnight, so we took advantage of the situation to visit a few of the Museums we had not yet been to.

We went to the Musée historique et Musée de la Conférie des Vignerons, which holds various artifacts relating to Vevey but also to the Fête des Vignerons, which is held only every 22 years, and unfortunately not while we are here. There we also heard a performance of local songs which was quite interesting. We also went to the Musée du Jeu, a games museum which was good fun, and the Alimenterium, a food museum which were were glad to not have paid money for.

It was a beautiful night to be out and about and we got to see a lot of the museums of Vevey we otherwise hadn't gotten around to. We also came away feeling a bit more like 'locals', taking advantage of our situation in the town.

Monday, 19 May 2008

More family visits

Last week Jenni, Oliver and Imogen came to visit Linda and I in Switzerland. They weren't here for long and the weather was grey and rainy but we still managed to get out and see a small part of the country around near where we live.

We caught the little train up to Rochers-de-Nayes (also known as Marmot's Paradise), which is the hills above Montreaux (and would have a spectacular view on a clear day). When we got to the top, at around 2000m, I was surprised just how much snow there was, so we didn't see much of the Marmots or the view but Oliver and Imogen had a great time throwing snowballs at Linda.

Then we went to Chateau de Chillon where Oliver spent his time chasing ghosts, and Imogen chasing Oliver.

After visiting the castle we caught one of the steamboat ferries home and, once back in Vevey, everyone was pretty much tuckered out from the big day out.

It was really good to see them all again, especially since Oliver and Imogen are so young; even a short time between seeing them results in big changes, and I was sad to say goodbye to them on the train knowing it might be a long time before I see them again.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

St. Saphorin

Last weekend we took a car and headed out for a bit of a cruise around the country-side. The idea was to check out a few of the French border towns but in the end the most interesting place we visited was practically around the corner from us at St. Saphorin.

This little town in the Lavaux wine growing area near Vevey is amazingly situated above the lake and amongst the vines.

We had a little picnic there and walked around a bit, and vowed to come back again on another sunny day to explore in more detail.

On the way back from our trip we stopped off on the motorway above Vevey to check out the view of the town from the hills. We found a great place to stop and it really showed off the town of Vevey and its location amongst the mountains and lake.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Interlaken - Part 2

Our next day in Interlaken we headed up the 'other' valley towards Lauterbrunnen.

We stopped in Lauterbrunnen, a very pretty little town deep down in the U-shaped valley, to wander around and check out the amazing Staubbachfall (Staubbach Waterfall).

We caught the little train (somehow much of the Swiss train system looks like a toy train set) up/through the hill to Wengen where we hoped to catch the lift to Männlichen.

Unfortunately the lift to Männlichen was closed for servicing so we had to satisfy ourselves with a view over Lauterbrunnen and up the valley, and a coffee at a local café. The sight of the two workers sitting on top of the gondola as it ascended towards the top station was quite amazing.

We continued up the valley to Stechelberg where we caught another lift up to Gimmelwald, a little rural town that happens to sit on en route to the Schilthorn, our ultimate destination.

A couple more lifts later and we were at Schilthorn, situated at nearly 3000m and overlooking the Jungfrau range of mountains.

I had wanted to take my dad to Schilthorn for lunch for his birthday because the view was meant to be amazing, and possibly also because the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant at the top also doubled as Blofeld's base in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (starring Australian George Lazenby).

Indeed the view was spectacular, and you could see all the way down to the lakes of Interlaken along with the surrounding mountains. We had been very lucky with the weather all weekend.

After lunch we headed back down the numerous lifts to the valley where we had parked the car and began the drive back to Bern where mum and dad would be catching their train to Zurich.

This all went well except for navigating through Bern without a map, and I'm quite sure driving up the cobbled, medieval main street of Bern, with people milling about in front of us and trams queueing behind us is not actually allowed, but anyway it meant mum got to see the town like she had wanted to.

It was really good to see my parents again, after a year overseas. At the very least it provided an excellent excuse to see some of these amazing places that somehow we hadn't gotten around to before.

All of my photos from Interlaken can be found here.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Interlaken - Part 1

Since my parents were flying home out of Zurich I thought it would be a good idea to see them off by visiting Interlaken, which is kind of in between Vevey and Zurich - enough of an excuse to justify the trip.

In fact despite having been in Switzerland for more than 8 months now, and despite Interlaken being one of the top tourist destinations in Switzerland, I still hadn't been there myself - another good reason to go. (Unfortunately Linda again couldn't make it, being snowed under with work).

After dropping our bags off at the excellent Gasthaus Steinbock, we jumped back in the car and headed up the valley towards Grindelwald. It was amazing driving up the valley with the mountains of the Jungfrau rising up ahead of us (mum and dad even got to see some Brown Swiss cows, rounding out their Swiss experience).

Once in quiet Grindelwald (especially quiet due to the May 1st public holiday) we took the train up to Kleine Scheidegg, which is on the line towards Jungfraujoch, the highest rail station in the world at 3454m.

The view from Kleine Scheidegg was amazing, and the weather was clear and calm. We had a traditionally stodgy (and delicious) lunch of Rôsti mit Bratwurst outside looking up at the mountains.

At first I felt justified in not going all the way to Jungfraujoch because it was covered in clouds, but eventually it cleared and we could see the train station perched at the top of the mountain. We even contemplated going to the top but we would have been on the last train up and would not have had enough time to justify the journey.

We caught the little train back down the mountain and drove back in towards Interlaken.

After a brief stop in the town itself, and deciding it wasn't that exciting anyway, we headed back out in the car to drive around the Brienzersee (Lake Brienz).

We had a very nice time touring the circumference of the lake, stopping in the little town of Iseltwald to wander around and look at the amazingly coloured lake.

After all this we were all a bit exhausted and, after stopping to look at the 18th century church next door, we returned to our hotel for an excellent dinner and some well deserved sleep.