The Writing Life · Travel

Accidental Trip to Montreux

The plan for today was to hop on the train and visit Lavaux, an area known for its wine. The woman at the tourism center told me that it would be a beautiful walk through the vineyards. I pictured quaint cottages sprinkled along the trail where you could stop at the winery and taste wine — Swiss version of Napa.

I stopped at the tourism center at the train station to find out which train to take, and to get a recommendation on which winery to visit. The woman at the desk explained there weren’t any wineries to visit. It was just a beautiful walk. I was a little disappointed but decided to take a look anyway.

I grabbed a carry-out container of beans and rice that cost me twenty U.S. dollars. It seemed excessive, but I didn’t want to get caught between lunch and dinner like the past two days. I figured I’d eat them on the train, but it turns out the train moved pretty quickly through the stops. I didn’t feel relaxed enough to eat. I kept waiting for a little village or something. But there were only vineyards and individual houses. The vines didn’t have anything on them, which I should have expected seeing as though it’s February.

The woman at the train station informed said my ticket only took me as far as Epesses. The train I was on didn’t stop at that station, and I had already passed it anyway. I decided to get off at the next stop, but there wasn’t a station there. There was no way I was standing on the tracks for a half-hour waiting for the next train. Montreux, a city I had visited before, was a few stops ahead. Even though I didn’t have a ticket, I took my chances. I figured if the conductor came by, I could buy a ticket from him.

Montreux was as beautiful as I remembered. Lake Geneva is more narrow there, so the mountains feel a lot closer. For some reason, there seem to be more snow caps. The sun was out, and it was a lot warmer than it had been. According to the guide I received at the tourism office, Montreux enjoys pleasant and mild microclimates all year round because it’s nestled between the lake and the mountains.

About a block from the train station was an Autograph Collection Marriott. I went inside to ask how to get down to the lake. Standing in the center of the lobby, I noticed a stunning view from their restaurant. I abandoned my expensive bowl of beans and rice for a more formal lunch with a view.

It was easy to get lost in my thoughts because the conversations around me were in French. The voices become a white noise of sort. And interestingly enough, I didn’t feel lonely. I felt more able to be entirely in the moment.

I ordered long-roasted lamb with sage sauce, potatoes, and mushrooms. The lamb was so much more tender than the ribeye I had had the other day. And the mushrooms were exceptional. The potatoes felt unnecessary.

After lunch, I walked down a ton of steps to get to the path along the lake. It was reassuring to see an up escalator next to the stairs. I didn’t want to have to walk back up.

The path along the Lake Geneva was breathtaking. There were lots of people out enjoying the weather. It was a blessing that my earlier plans didn’t work out. The beauty of God’s majesty and variety of His creation was overwhelming. I felt an indescribable sense of peace and calm. Funny, I remember feeling the same way when I visited Montreux in 2017.

There’s a statue of Freddie Mercury on the path that I hadn’t meant anything the first time I saw it. But after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody, I stopped and took a few pictures. I even decided to visit the Queen Studio Experience further down the path at the Casino. It used to be Queen’s studio. It opened as a museum in 2013. It was so cool to see Mercury’s handwritten lyrics on looseleaf paper and note pads. There was also a mixing board where you could try your hand at mixing one of Queen’s songs. I didn’t try it. I took a picture of a spot on the ground where Freddie Mercury had recorded his last song.

By the time I left the museum, it was almost 4:30 PM. I wanted to get back to Lausanne before it got dark. I walked along the street to see if any shops called my name. But when I saw a pair of children’s leggings in the window that cost $245, I realized I could safely head straight back to the train station.

I bought a ticket back to Lausanne, which I’m pretty sure I overpaid for it. But at least this time, I had one. On the train, I sat across from this lovely woman who was chatting with me. I felt terrible because I didn’t even know how to tell her I didn’t understand French. So, I just smiled and nodded my head. It made me think about how awful it must be for people in the U.S. who don’t speak English. We don’t even try to meet them where they are. Perhaps more of us need experiences where we don’t speak the national language.

Michael invited me to join his team for dinner. Unfortunately, I was wearing the same shirt I had worn to our dinner two days ago. I quickly tried to find a sweater or something before I went to the restaurant. But as fate would have it, the stores were all on the top of the hill. On more than one occasion, I almost abandoned the whole idea of buying another shirt. But I pressed forward and found a rather cute sweater from the same store I had purchased the tee-shirt I was wearing. I changed in the dressing room and headed to the restaurant.

It turns out I could have worn something I already had. I ended up meeting Michael back at the hotel before walking together to the restaurant. Oh well!

We went to Café du Vieil Ouchy right across from the lake for fondue. There’s nothing like melted hot Gruyere cheese and bread. I ate way more than I should have. I only stopped because I thought there was a meat course coming. There wasn’t. But it was just as well, because I know I would have continued to eat even though I was totally full. The fondue was amazing!

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