My friend, the 201

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

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Flag of Switzerland  , Vaud,
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flushed with the success of my peripatetic adventures yesterday, I decided to go out with my two new best friends again today - electric bus no. 201 and the all day ticket!! Knowledge is power in a strange city, and feeling good after another 8 hour sleep, I set off confidently to the ticket shop, practising the little French transaction in my head as I walked.

Before I went anywhere, I had to take care of a little problem that had become more pressing. On the plane trip I noticed that I had a little chip in a front tooth from a previous repair and I was increasingly worried that it might become a bigger problem. Nothing was open over the weekend, but I noted a dental practice over the road from the information centre and decided that I needed to try to get it fixed this morning.  I realized that the chance of being seen without an appointment was slim but I wanted it looked at, and prayed that something would work out. The place was on the top floor of a hotel and the receptionist spoke no English at all and I was about to give up when Pascale, the dentist, came out and said with a charming smile, 'Maybe you need to talk to me'! He said that luckily he had a cancellation and could see me immediately, so within half an hour it was fixed and I was on the 201 bus again, although slightly poorer!! I told him that he was an answer to prayer and he seemed pleased about that.

So now I was on my way to Vevey, another coastal town near where the conference will be held later this week. I love the way the bus wends its way through all the coastal villages, always with the lake in sight and always with vineyards on the mountain slopes. I had printed out a walking tour of Vevey to follow and found it to be a fascinating place., as are so many of these towns, the 'vieux ville' or old town is the interesting part - cobblestones, wells and courtyards, narrow houses and picturesque views around each corner.  I was able to do a circuit which included the Vevey section of the flower promenade - once again, a blaze of colour and beautifully kept flower beds with lawns, fountains and statues. 

There is a famous statue of Charlie Chaplin by the water. I didn't realise that despite his immense popularity with the general public, he was under close watch for his leftist political activities. In 1952, Chaplin and his family went to London to promote his new film, Limelight. The anti-Communist commission headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy jumped at the opportunity to cancel Chaplin's visa and prevented him from returning to America so the Chaplin family chose Switzerland, north of Vevey with a view of the mountains and the lake. He died there and has been honoured with a square and a statue. In the water near there is a huge installation of a silver fork and I have no idea why it is there! All along the rocks at the water's edge there are white plastic chairs installed - obviously there are serious fishermen around here.

My little printed tour guide recommended a restaurant upstairs in a department store called Manor, which looks a bit like Myer, so I tried it out for lunch.  Simply amazing!  It was the ultimate help yourself cafe and there were hundreds of people there.  Every possible kind of food was on offer - make your own pizzas, meat that could be grilled to your liking, risotto bar, every vegetable you could think of, a huge salad bar, freshly squeezed juices, and a spectacular patisserie.  I watched for a while to figure out how to do it and it really was just serve yourself and take to the cashier, which I duly did. I had a full meal for less than a restaurant main and it was all fresh and delicious. Now that is what a serious tourist needs for lunch!

I had delayed as long as I could, hoping the sun might break through before I headed up the funicular train to Mont Pelerin, which is all about the view. There was a little patch of blue so back on the faithful 201 which terminates at the 'Funi Vevey'. The bad news was that I wasn't quite so smart as I thought about the all day ticket, because Mont Pelerin took me into another zone; the good news is that I at least understood what the heck he was talking about and added an extra CHF2.50 to get the proper ticket.  The franc is almost at parity with the Aussie dollar, so that makes life easier. It is challenging enough to work out which coins and notes you need without doing serious maths at the same time.

The ride up was  brief (most funiculars are because they go straight up at a crazy angle) but simply stunning. This little train is actually used by locals (not a bad idea if you live on the side of a mountain, and almost everyone here does), so it stopped and people got on and off with shopping trolleys and dogs. You generally don't exchange greetings with tourists but all locals say Bonjour - there is a pleasant courtesy. The lake, Vevey and Montreux disappeared below into the distance and you get that feeling of a new perspective on life when you are so high above everything. There was a restaurant but I wasn't hungry for some reason! Just wandered around the village, breathed the fresh air and unwound. There was hardly anyone there. There is a transmitter tower further up with a glass lift but I decided against walking any further as it looked like about an hour of total uphill and it would still be the same view!

As I returned on the 201 it began to fill up with school children going home. No uniforms, very casual clothes, lots of expensive sneakers and every single one with a device in their ear! That's our modern world. A quick trip to the supermarket for supplies and the 204 took me home. Vicki and I spend our evenings making a simple dinner (so good to have the apartment and be able to cook), researching for the next day's adventures and, of course, catching up with social media!
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