18 May 2010

Vive Montreux!

I've been very busy lately! My mother was here in April and then my brother for 2 weeks. My cousin is arriving later today, so I'm enjoying a 5 minute break! Just about! Anyway, just to say that I've played tourist in the last month or so and really discovered great things about Switzerland. One of them was re-discovering Montreux.

Since my arrival, I've been a regular at the Monteux Jazz Festival. The atmosphere is great, the concerts as well and the view is just splendid! I am now boycotting though as the prices have become just ridiculously high, e.g. Phil Collins' Concert rates at 140/320/380, the first price being the price standing and the others seating. I just don't like crowds, so it would cost for 2 a minimum of 640 CHF for one concert, and then you need to get there, get a hotel room and eat out. Sorry, but for that price, I could get all CDs and DVDs from his concert. Or better get myself to Prague for a weekend!

Anyway, enough motzen, as the Swiss say, and let me get to the point: I went to Montreux last weekend, off Festival season, and discovered a very nice place! I had booked a cool jazzy (whatelse!) hotel called Tralala in Les Planches neighbourhood. I was so surprised to discover the old town of Montreux where it was located!

It was a lovely little village up on the mountain. So cute and quiet! It's small, but very enjoyable. I could not believe that I always had walked the same stretch along the lake and never this typical part of town. I had two restaurants noted down for the evening and the hotel clerk sent me to the first one on my list called Le Caveau des Vignerons (sorry no website!). Nothing fancy, quite rustical actually. We had a breaded tomme cheese on salad as an apetizer and then a big steak that you grill yourself on a hot stone. This was so great! It came with homemade French fries and a mustard sauce. I just saw the second restaurant on my list in the May edition of Monocle (isn't it the greatest magazine ever!), so here you are: Le Museum, famous for Charbonnade too!

On the next morning, we went up Les Rochers de Naye with the train. It's an almost 1 hour up the mountain above Montreux, so you have agreat view in the Lake Léman (or Geneva if you prefer) and behind, direction Jura as well. It's at 2'042 m of altitude and the view is great! As it was May, there was still snow so we could not go hiking around. I would recommend going later in June. Here are some views:

We finished the day with the traditional visit to the famous Château de Chillon. Switzerland is not a country of castles like France or the UK, but this is really THE castle you should visit in Switzerland. It's location is magnifique and it's truly a beauty.

So I hope you will visit soon and enjoy yourself as much as I did!


02 May 2010

A great magazine…. And it’s free!

If you have been in Switzerland for a while, you know that nothing is free. After the first time you were at McDonald’s and asked for ketchup after payment and the cashier asked you for more money for those tiny bags of ketchup, nothing amazes you more than real free things! At least, it impresses me.Le Shop and Coopathome have started sending samples with your order. It was inconceivable in Switzerland just a couple of years ago, but now, it seems to be a new- welcomed- reality here too.

Some years ago, I discovered the Credit Suisse Magazine called Bulletin. It’s released in German, French, Italian and English. They have great themes, among them my favorites to day: north, oceans, breakthroughs and Switzerland (of course!).

They always have a broad orginal approach to their theme. For example, the March/April edition has “Neighbors” as a theme. There were some articles about the Canadian city of Standstead being divided between two countries (there really is a line dividing the city, quite amazing). So far the kind of article you would expect from such a theme. Then there was an article about residents committee in Japan because people were alone and dying unoticed. Further an article about bacteria: aren’t they our closest neighbors? As you can see, they take their theme a step further and it’s always very informative and entertaining. I can highly recommend a subscription. Enjoy!