One of the perks of my job is I get to travel between the UK office and our global office in S. witzerland. It’s in a town (or is it a city?) called Lausanne. As it was my first time going in late March, I thought I try and make the most of it by visiting another town nearby. I ended up picking Montreux. It’s actually most famous for its connection with the band Queen. There’s a whole museum dedicated to them and even a pretty big statue of Freddy Mercury in the middle of the town, right by the lake front.
I ended up arriving really late. The host of the Airbnb place I had booked was not very happy. I landed at about 10:30 pm not really taking into account that it would take me an additional hour and a half to get to my destination, Montreux. Luckily the trains were still running, just there weren’t any direct trains. I had to swap trains at Lausanne before making it to Montreux. Getting train tickets, luckily weren’t too hard. The menus are easy enough to understand and are pretty similar to Germany’s train system if you’ve ever been. The only difference being, there’s no need to validate tickets at the platform. I arrived in Montreux some time after 12:30 am. The host was pretty grumpy. To be fair though, it’s not like it was someone’s house this time. She runs the place like a hotel, with business cards, and registered as a business and all. I did give her fair warning before my arrival, and she didn’t make a fuss until the night I arrived. The next morning, there was supposed to be breakfast included but I think she was too pissed to bother. No worries though, it didn’t bug me much since I went out early anyway to catch a train to a mountain nearby.
My original plan was to go skiing when I had arrived. The whole plan was really last minute, so I didn’t have time to really look up places to ski. I figured if I went to the closest lodge I would be able to rent a pair; unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The mountain I went to is called Rocher-de-Naye. It’s about an hour up a type of train called a funicular. It’s essentially a cog train; your typical train but with a cog wheel right underneath it to help it climb the mountain. It’s a slow train but makes it all that much better. You’ll be able to enjoy the fantastical scene of mountains and snow. Once I arrived though, that’s when I found out there weren’t any skis to rent. So that was a total bust. Although, to make up for it I ended up hiking around the mountain. I had my snow pants and a pair of sunglasses so I was good to anyway. There wasn’t too much I could hike safely but still ended up killing a few hours up top.
I made it back in town around 3 pm. I was trying to figure out what else I could do. By the lake front there was an information booth. It wasn’t open but offered flyers and booklets outside the door. In one of them, it offered a self-walking tour of the city. It takes you on for a 2-hour walk around Montreux. I decided to take it and venture off on my own. Before starting though I did stop off to get some food at a kebab shop for some doner meat (shawarma, donair, etc.). The take out boxes are very reminiscent of Chinese take-out way back in the day of chop suey. It was a good way to fill up for a somewhat reasonable price; for Switzerland. I did have a bit of an inclination as to how expensive it was here, but man it was beyond anything I had expected; more on that later. The self-walking tour was well worth it for the scenery. The whole town is basically on a hill, so expect to get a great workout. Being Springtime, it’s an interesting time to be in the area. At the top of the mountain you get snow up to your shoulders but at the base, in the town, you see a lush green town. There are free guided tours by the information centre near the lake, but they’re only offered in the Summer.
If I were to do it all over again, I think I might opt to get a hotel room. I paid around 60 CHF (Swiss Francs) a night. I passed by some hotels and noticed they were only charging 80 CHF. It’s pretty expensive but not a bad premium to pay if you’re here for a short stay. My hotel in Lausanne, for when I had to stay for work, was much more expensive. Luckily that was paid by work. I only spent a day in Montreux and to be honest that’s all you really need here. If I do come again, I’ll be sure to bring my skis along with me. I spent the next few days in Lausanne since I had work at the office there on the Monday and Tuesday.
In Lausanne, I only really had the Sunday to explore and see what was around. Compared to Montreux, this city was a lot more alive with people. There was definitely more food choices to have too. Switzerland is most famous for cheese fondue and grilled cheese sandwiches that have cheese grilled on the outside. Though, I’ll admit I didn’t have either of those. Not a huge fan of cheese fondue. That combo’d with wine isn’t exactly the best combo for me; those who know me best will know why. I do like hard cheeses though. But, after coming back from Italy so soon, it was hard to justify buying any cheese at all here. Switzerland does have some surprisingly good burger joints though. I, of course, had to try the McDonald’s. They have Big Mac Chickens! They should probably have that everywhere. Their McCafe also takes after France with a fancy selection of desserts. Holy Cow is worth a visit. Ignore how much you’ll paying because it’s pretty painful to think about it. A combo will run you about 20 CHF. But the food quality was decent. It’s a bit like London here when comparing the food culture. If you want something nice, special, decent, you need to be ready to empty out your wallet. A semi-decent pasta dish will run you about 30 CHF. It’s pretty easy to spend over 60 CHF if you want a 3-course meal. There’s always the kebab shops which will run you 10 CHF but even that’s hard to justify when you’re not on a Swiss salary.
I mostly walked around the city randomly. I visited their main square where you’ll find the “Palace” which is also called Palace Square. I probably spent around 4 hours walking around. By this point, my legs were so exhausted from all the hiking the previous day. You can pretty much split up the city into two parts. You have the North side of town where you’ll find most of the restaurants and typical shopping areas with markets and clothing stores. Then there’s the South side of town which is close to the lake where you’ll get a pretty awesome view. Nearby in the South side you’ll also find the Olympic Park of Lausanne. When I first entered I was pretty impressed with all the statues and museum. But, I soon realized it was pretty small and a lot less impressive than the one I saw in Seoul. That aside though the area had a lot to do. There were a lot of restaurants and even a few carnival style rides. It’s seriously a massive work out walking anywhere in Switzerland it seems. The area, like Montreux, was so hilly!
It was a relatively short trip, as the next two days I didn’t really have much of a chance to see anything because of work. I did take a bunch of photos though, so have a look and enjoy! I’ve been to a few other places which I’m getting around to writing about. I’ll get those up before the end of the month. Thanks for reading!