Summer Vacation with Mom: Swiss Riviera

Our Geneva experience was running to an end the following day and I was tired like a zombie so luckily when we decided to head over to the train station to get a train to Vevey it wasn’t such a fiasco. We managed to get out of the busy hostel in time and I checked my e-mails to see if mom’s friend that we were meeting had sent me anything. Who is this woman you wonder, well her name is Carvi and she’s an American woman from Kalamazoo who had married a Swiss man and had been living in Switzerland for quite some time, apparently twenty years. So how does she know us in all of this? Well when my parents got married in Switzerland way back when, my father had kept in contact with Carvi, a woman that he met during his choir tours around the world, and since she was a translator at the time it was perfect for translating the wedding and all supporting documents. So apparently after the wedding my father and her had been in contact via snail-mail and e-mail when it was discovered.

She had since started to work in Admissions at an international bilingual school in Lausanne, and when we sent out e-mails about the death of my father her and her ex-husband Walter had responded and offered accomodations to me at any time whilst I was in France. Also my mother had decided that she wanted to bring some of my father’s ashes to the location of their marriage, so she shot off a bunch of e-mails. Enough of a trip down memory-lane, we got on the train in Geneva headed for Brig, on the way we went through Lausanne on the very interesting Swiss trains. I could swear they belong in America because the seats are huge, and the asiles are massive, big enough for morbidly obese people; I was surprised but never-the-less we arrived in Vevey, the location of our hostel.

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I navigated us through the rainy streets to the water where our hostel was and we checked in and got settled, it was a nice little place, and then we got some tourist information and took a nap. I got hungry so we eventually decided to go in search of food, with the help of the tourist information. The town was so small but so easy to get lost in, especially when we couldn’t find the bloody resteraunt that I was looking for, but in any case we settled on a pizzaria owned by some Italian man and the food turned out to be excellent. I had this roasted egg thing as an entré, and then a white cheeze pizza sans tomatoesm which was wonderful and tasty.

We went back to the hostel, found some American hikers that we shared the room with, and I got some sms from Carvi asking to meet us the following morning at the market towards lunch time. We woke up and went to buy vegitables and fruits at the very quaint market, and I received an sms saying that she was waiting for us early towards the hostel so we rushed over and awkwardly met after thinking that we were some other people. She certainly was a nice woman and we went for coffee to organise what we were going to do. Our original plans were to take some of the trains up the mountains and some of the faniculars of course also to see the moutains but the weather was looking a bit grim. After coffee Carvi took us to a neighbour town on the Riviera nammed Villeneuve which apparently specialised in fondue.

I must say that I’ve never had fondue like this, it was absolutely devine, and I just was polite and quiet mostly as mother and Carvi caught up, as all of the other people in the resteraunt was giving us weird looks for speaking in English. I’d just like to point out that I’m fluent in French, and could have easily had a conversation with any of them, but their looks of distain were turning me off from being social. We departed and she dropped us off at the Chateau de Chillon which we were going to tour. Thanks to our Riviera Card we received a 50% discount on the entrance to the castle and began our tour. Unknowing that they had multiple languages for paper-guides I grabbed two French ones and we went on the tour. I read out the things and struggled to think of odd vocabulary that I’d never heard of.

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From the ouside the castle, you’d never imagine it to be so large but after touring it for a good two hours we realised how freaking large it is and how it truely could house a royal family and guests quite easily. Of course equipped with guards and security measures, including dungeons and royal-bedrooms the castle is complete. During the times of the Helveticans living in Switzerland (the original Swiss people; hence the name Confederation Helvetique) there were many royal families and like most areas in Switzerland they became different cantons and were conquered by others. This particular castle was kept in well shape, even for a tourist location, and was fun to have to duck everywhere becasue at the time, people were much smaller.

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As proof of the midgets that roamed the world hundreds of years in the past, view this bed for the Count or Duke that lived in the castle. I’d say that it’s a Napoléan sized person with a complex, but I don’t want to offend the already perfectionist Swiss people. The gardens were beautifully kept (obviously) and we even managed to follow this old woman that looked like a teacher. She was giving a tour to some school children so I followed her and translated for mom, and it turned out to be quite the educational speech that the woman was giving to the kids, none of whom were remotely interested in the slightest.

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Following the castle, we embarked on a walk back to Montreux (yeah right eh?), mom thought that it was pretty crazy but after having walked Paris I knew that we could make the 4km trekk! Instead what we decided to do was make it to Montreux, which was quite a bit away from Vevey by foot, and take the train to a medieval town of Lutry to see it since the tourist guide said that it would be nice. It was on the verge of raining, but getting on the trains and off we went.

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After arriving
at the train station of course I had no idea where anything was since the map was quite sketchy and without road names. We headed towards the main road, and then smelt garbage and other gross smells until we stumbled on by accident the beginning of the self-guided tour around the village. Saying it was a village is an understatement of the cenutry, as the map made it seem quite large so needless to say we missed some turns due to my lack of judgement. The first thing we saw were these weird stones that looked like Stonehenge gone wrong and Swiss, so we hurried along trying to make it through the village before it downpoared.

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Only really interseting thing to see was the harbour, the church which had a wedding going on, and the really hillarious poop-and-scoop signs that are posted everywhere in Switzerland. Isn’t it cute as shown above? I just about laughed and fell on my bum when I read them; what will they come up with next eh? So with all the stores closing up we were thirsty and I decided that I wanted to get some soda and went to a local shop for that, and asked a stupid question to the woman about numbers and the coins since I didn’t realise that a ½Fr was the same as 0.50Fr. I know I’m a ditz but it was a little unclear especially since they are smaller than the other coins, I thought Swiss money was supposed to be representative of the size; duh apparently not!

We headed back from Lutry to Vevey since Carvi was meant to pick us up in a half our to bring us to her flat for dinner. She lives in a village up the mountain only about five kilometers, so she arrived and off we were to her very cute little appartment where she lives alone since the divorce of her husband. Her daughter Patricia was too sick to attend the dinner, so we just got shown photographs of her which obviously I had no idea about her; I wasn’t even born when my parents got married. In any case, dinner was wonderful conversation and food and we headed back to the hostel to be greeted by a huge 80’s party at the casino next door. I put my headphones in and fell asleep and mother complained all the next day about the apparent loudness of everything. Get over it, is what I have to say. I’ve slept through much worse; and am proud of it.

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The next morning Carvi met us and would take us into the mountains before going to see Walter, the Swiss ex-husband. We went by car about an hour and a half by highway towards the north-west and got a bit lost but managed to find our way to where we were going. The tiny little mountain village (even smaller) Deborence was a tiny little lake within the mountains, surrounded by green hills and snow-covered alps. It was absolutely the most beatiful view I’ve ever seen, and being completely surrounded by the mountains was well worth the scary incline up the mountain, with tiny roads and going through the mountains.  

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The view was so typically Swiss with unfortunately no cows, but little tiny huts and a little resteraunt where we had a drink before going back down. The tiny pondish-lake was at the foot of the mountains, and attracted very few tourists, but the ones who did come there were greeted warmly by a semi-cenile man who was at the café; it was all in good spirits though. We realised that we were going to be late so we quickly went back to the car and headed back into civilisation and to our next engagement.

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Next day we were to meet Walter, the ex-husband of Carvi who lived in Tour-de-la-Péliz which is just a few kilometres away from Vevey towards Montreux so we went to the flat and were greeted by an Albanian woman who was apparently his new wife. She seemed much younger and very high maintenance. We had a paniced moment at the door when mother spoke English and the poor Albanian woman didn’t understand, so I quickly and gracefully came in and introduced everyone in French and thankfully Walter arrived. For an old Swiss man, he speaks English quite well with a thick French accent (which is to be expected). So we chit-chatted awkwardly in the study for some time munching down Swiss choclates provided by the pretty Albanain woman to who’s name eluedes me currently.

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Walter had decided that they were going to take us by car to Lausanne and visit the Olympic Museum, because guess what; Lausanne was the original offices for the Olympics, and still are! Who would have known that this tiny little city would have such a history with so many international sports organisations? Well Walter knew it, and apparently he’s a former national judo player, so he was quite proud to display his Swiss history at the museum. We had some videos taken of us awkwardly, and since he was trying to show off his high lifestyle he even took us into the most expensive hotel in the city, just to show us. He’s a bit of a weird man, but very kind.

The museum was very informative and nice, so we went through a bit rushed and learned a lot and then headed back for some dinner. Walter and company decided to go to a tiny little authentic Greek resteraunt over by the castle, so we gracefully accepted and off we were. On a Sunday evening there weren’t many people there at the hour we arrived, so we had the whole resteraunt, and as it tourned out the wife knew the wife of the owner of the resteraunt who was the hostess so we received absolutely amazing treatment. I’ve never had real Greek food but I was blown away by the amazing tasting food, they kept bringing us more and more stuff, with real wine from Crete. The woman was so kind and warm that it made me really feel good things towards culture from Greece, which really I’ve been inclined to not enjoy due to lack of personal space and the sexual nature of the culture.

Funny moments of the conversation during dinner included talk about how Walter had apparently found the cure for cancer, and it was cinnamin. I humoured him as I realised he was cenile as clear by the expressions of the Albanian woman’s fac
e. At the end of the dinner the hostess came to ask us where we were from and such and we told her, and then she asked something to my mother which obviously she had no idea how to answer, and then I explained that she didn’t speak French at all, so she didn’t understand anything that she had said all night. This is where she laughed and explained that she was wondering why she kept getting blank looks for the whole night, she asked some questions about the area and why we were here and then we were off after a wonderful dinner. Quite frankly the best dinner I’ve ever had; in such a warm place. The chef came out and introduced himself also, explaining that the salad was fresh from their garden on the roof and everything. It was so quaint and nice, so Walter took us home so we could be off the next morning to wherever we decieded to go.

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