Ticket to ride - all day!

Trip Start Sep 27, 2012
Trip End Oct 12, 2012

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Flag of Switzerland  , Vaud,
Monday, October 1, 2012

We had carefully planned out our trip to Lutry, which is down the coast towards Geneva, but things don't always go according to plan. We were going to take the mini train tour of the vineyards, but it turned out that yesterday was a special day in Lutry, so the vineyard tour departed from somewhere else. Never mind, we lost a ride but gained a festival, and the little town was all geared up for a big day. A costumed band marched around the town, waking people from their sleepy Sunday morning and all the usual stalls and rides were setting up. Parts of the town were closed off and lots of families were arriving.

I decided to use my all day ticket and ride up and down the coast! I love how easy public transport is here; this is what I did today: Train to Lutry, train back to Montreux and the electric bus on to Chateau Chillon, and then to Villeneuve at the end of the line, and then back to Montreux, then a local bus back up the hill to home.  All of that cost just 11 francs because I also have a half fare card.  All of this transport goes along the lake's edge, so the views are lovely and I can rest my aching feet! The lake and mountains look different every time so it is never just the same scenery. I realize that I am slightly dyslexic when it comes to right, left, east and west. So when I have to work out which direction I want to go, then reverse the traffic direction and figure out which side the bus will be on, it takes me some concentrated thinking.  Ah well, you can't be smart at everything.

Chillon Castle is one of the big local attractions and it is certainly imposing, sited on the edge of the lake. It was first mentioned in 1150, controlled by the Savoy family. It was then conquered by the Bernese and then taken over by the State of Vaud in the 18th century.  Compared to the chateaux that I saw in the Loire Valley in December, Chillon is more of a fortress, rough hewn and clearly made for defence, even though it was later used as a residence. Its claim to fame is that Lord Byron wrote a poem called 'The prisoner of Chillon' about Lord Bonivard who was held captive there in the 16th century. I can only imagine that life there was never very comfortable! I actually found it rather menacing and foreboding, and as always in these sort of places, very aware of the people who have been there over the centuries. One uncomfortable feature was the stone floor in the kitchen areas where the stones were laid with the narrow sides upwards!  Why?

Villeneuve, a bit further along the coast,  is a delightful little town with a winding, historic centre which was pretty  sleepy on a Sunday afternoon. I love the little specialty shops - cheese, taxidermy and antiques were a few that I saw. Like the whole of the lake's edge, it is dominated by the towering pre-alps right behind it which have a dwarfing effect on everything else. Today the peaks were shrouded in heavy cloud which is just as beautiful as if the sun were shining.

I can never last too long without Asian food so I was delighted to find a Chinese restaurant open in Villeneuve.  The beef in oyster sauce was absolutely delicious or else I was ravenously hungry! It is interesting to be back in the land of dog- friendliness, and they are everywhere - on the buses in the shops, and in this case, under the next table. One little fluffy white animal bared its teeth and growled at me every time I took a mouthful, which was a little disconcerting! No one else seemed to take any notice of the dogs and the waitress just stepped over them.

I hopped off the bus briefly at Territet on the way home but was running out of steam for any more serious sightseeing.  It was  such a pretty town and the most interesting thing I saw was a rare Anglican church which had a beautiful garden. That was the nearest I came to getting to church today!   I saw some lovely gardens and flower beds today.  Unlike in Italy, where gardens mostly seemed to be greenery, they really love flowers here and although it is autumn, there is still plenty of colour. The area is famous for its flower lined promenade, which goes for kilometres. Today I wandered the stretch near Montreux and marvelled at the colour and variety and the skill in producing this horticultural feat.

When I read about these flower lined walks I wondered whether there would be much in flower a month into autumn but I needn't have worried as the paths were lined with a glorious display. From memory, these were some of the plants I saw: begonias in all sorts of vivid colours, bergenias or prayer plants which I have at home, durantas and lantanas made into standard shrubs, vivd blue cordylines, sunflowers (the Mexican multiple bloom kind), glorious crepe myrtle trees in their late summer glory, lots of coloured foliage plants like coleus, pale blue plumbago, ornamental grape vines in autumn colours, the usual late summer blooms like petunias and marigolds, and even some rainbow chard or colored silver beet planted in with the flowers. They must have plenty of summer rain because lots of these things won't grow in our dry summers without a lot of water.  These plants were in top condition, as if they had been protected in conservatories!  The main part of the quai flueri also has statues in the gardens which is a lovely combination. Anyone who knows me knows that plants make me happy, and I was in heaven!

The sun finally re-emerged in the late afternoon, giving hope of some more scenic experiences over the next few days. I can't help feeling how privileged I am to be seeing such wonderful places - the world is a beautiful place! Better than all that, however, was that finally Peter and I got FaceTime going on our phones even with dodgy wi-fi, and had a lovely long conversation this morning - about time!! We are definitely not used to not being in communication.
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