06.10.2016 - 06.10.2016
I remember my mum once telling me about a conversation she'd had with her lifelong friend Audrey. She said "We've done things we never dreamed". That's how I feel after today, and that's what reduced me to tears at Rochers de Naye this afternoon. We'll come back to the tears, but we've a bit to get through first!
We've been watching the weather forecasts with interest, aiming to time our activities correctly, as you do. The forecast for our last day in Montreux was for cloud in the morning, clearing by noon. Those Swiss with their precision - spot on!
One of the great things about our apartment is the view. To get a view like that you need to be high in the town, which means climbing hills to get home. After wandering to the old town of Montreux I decided I had little to complain about. To say there are houses perched on hills is an understatement. It makes for a very picturesque outlook both for inhabitant and tourist, but boy it must be maddening carrying the shopping home!
Our plan for the day was to catch the train to Rochers de Naye, one of the Alps, at just over 2000 metres elevation. This is no ordinary train, but one that runs on cogwheels. There was a sign up in the station saying there was a restriction to the service, with capacity reduced to only 60 passengers per service. We got our tickets (numbers 40-42) and headed to the platform. Two tiny carriages came into view, and we were jostled by those I will politely call the eager beavers as they raced to get a seat.
The take-off was slow, and we wondered when the famed panoramic views would be in evidence. It didn't take long! We'd only been climbing for about 15 minutes when the train stopped at a station where 2 buses were waiting. We were told to get off the train and onto a bus. Not happy! We didn't pay 64 francs to stand on a bus on a very winding road! Thankfully we were deposited at another station and able to reboard the train. We have no idea why the journey was interrupted, but were very glad the bus journey only took about a quarter of the time.
We climbed higher and moved through the clouds. The jeweller we met in Vevey said it would be very clear at Rochers de Nays. There's that precision again. I hope the watch he sold me is as precise! As we got closer to our destination the vista that opened up was extraordinary. Alighting from the train we were keen to look around, and keen too to find the restaurant Plein Roc, famed both for being built into the cliff face and for its panoramic views. I'd read it was accessed via a tunnel, but we struggled to even find that. Finally a more knowledgable visitor took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction. Not the most inspiring of approaches to a dining experience, but thankfully worth it for both the food and the astonishing views.
As we were in the Swiss Alps it seemed only right that we should partake of fondue. Chris and I decided to share, and the bubbling pot of cheesy goodness was delivered with bread, potatoes, gherkins, and tiny onions.
Unfortunately after I'd paid the bill I realised they'd charged us for 2 serves of fondue. At 25 francs a serve we weren't too happy about that and Barbara and Chris queried it. The waitress indicated they'd given us 2 serves, despite us having asked for one to share. She pretty quickly refunded us the extra cost, so our worst dining experience still remains the debacle that was Flash Pizza!
We had some time before our return train was to depart, so we continued to marvel at the extraordinary views. I found myself overwhelmed with the beauty surrounding me. I can honestly say I have never been in a more spectacular location and would never have dreamed of being in such awe-inspiring surroundings. This is where the tears came in. I could have explained it away as the sun being in my eyes, I suppose! I'm actually struggling to find words to express it, so I'll stop trying. Suffice to say it's an experience I know I will never forget.
Having returned to Montreux via train, bus, and train, we walked our way back to our apartment and prepared for our last night in Montreux. We'd decided on Funky Claude's Bar for our evening. Claude Nobs was the founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, and clearly revered here. The bar is located at the Montreux Palace Hotel which is very fancy! From the moment we set foot in Funky Claude's we were smiling. It was very quiet when we arrived at 7:30, after stopping by the lake to view a last spectacular sunset. The service was impeccable, and the cocktails delicious, not to mention the food. Add in a couple of guys providing live music, and our last night was a hit. The walls of the bar are decorated with photos of Claude with many of the musical luminaries who have played at Montreux over the years, from Aretha Franklin to Neil Young and Miles Davis. Funky Claude's was a great way to farewell Montreux. We got to see how the other half live, although to be fair, they were probably recklessly ordering the 350 franc cocktail rather than secreting the leftovers in their handbag!