Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 16 - Montreux, Switzerland (2011)

Because we arrived at Le Ralais du Fontany quite late (or I should say too early, at 2am), we had no idea what the surroundings were like. We were more concerned of getting enough sleep to have energy for the next day. But when we woke up the following morning, we were wowed by the place. 

Le Ralais du Fontany. A cozy home turned into a hotel and restaurant.

We got 2 family rooms. One room had double bed and single bed, while the other room had double bed and bunk bed. Each room had private bathrooms so it was convenient.

Stepping out of the hotel for the first time with sunlight, we were surprised by the sight. Last night, the place looked scary because it was dark and we couldn't really see what was around us. This morning though, we could see the beautiful mountain scenery.
there's a playground for the kids

the hotel's back drop - great view of the mountains which turns into a skiing haven during winter

facing the hotel, numerous Swiss cottages of different sizes

we could sit out here all day long, doing nothing but enjoying the view

But we have an itinerary to follow, and it was our first day to explore Switzerland. We didn't head for Geneva just yet. Instead we drove to the east end of Lake Geneva towards Montreux. 

our route for the day

first sight of the Lake Geneva. We had to stop and take a photo of it.

Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Leman, is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. It has a crescent shape (as seen in the map above) and was formed by a retreating glacier.

and with it!

clear blue skies. It's going to be a good day to explore Switzerland.

across the lake is Lausanne

ok, let's get going now, shall we?

we packed some food, and found this place was a good spot to have picnic.

while the adults set up breakfast/snack, the kids were busy playing with sticks and stones

care to take a dip? It looks inviting but we didn't want to suffer hypothermia while on holiday :)

busy bodies....

enjoying their cupcakes while resting. Ok, we actually forced them to sit for a while so they could eat!

After driving for about half an hour, we arrived at Chateau de Chillon. There were parking spaces just in front of the Chateau, along the road, as well as across the road. We parked on the latter, where there were more free lots. When you do park across the road, be careful when you cross the road towards the Chateau as it's a busy street and also a blind spot.

Chateau de Chillon in Montreux
Switzerland's most visited historic monument
"An architectural jewel located in the most beautiful setting imaginable, between the shores of Lake Geneva and theAlps, this monument with over 1,000 years of history, has always inspired artists and writers, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Victor Hugo and Lord Byron, from Delacroix to Courbet."

hubby saw a picture of the chateau while looking for places to see months before our trip to Europe. This specific castle caught his attention and we most definitely had to see it.

taken using a telephoto lens. One couldn't really see how big the castle was in this photo.

zooming out... That was how small we are compared to the base of the castle.

now to get the real picture. We were midgets beside this castle! And we initially thought it wasn't really that big of a castle.

couple moment - both wearing green!

there was this guy who was flying his helicopter armed with a camera.
For a photography enthusiast like hubby, this looked so amusing.

hovering towards the castle
The tourists were amazed by this (including us).

a cruise ship that sails thru several locations around the lake

Chateau de Chillon at Lake Geneva. 

we thought of taking the cruise around the lake. But finally decided to drive back home in a few hours, have late lunch or early dinner outside the hotel and enjoy the scenery.

a small shop near the entrance to the castle

We also didn't go inside the castle (not fans of historical artifacts), just the outside will do. Then drove off to our next destination....

the statue of one of my all-time fave singers - Freddie Mercury

It's really unusual for someone to drive to Montreux to see his statue (around 2 kms from Chateau Chillon), unless you're a big fan....
driving route from Chateau de Chillon to Freddie Mercury Statue

But since it was on the way (around 4mins drive), why not! It was a good location as there was ample parking space (affordable rate) and a market fair during that day. There were several flea market shops selling jewelry, hats, clothes, and local food. There was also live music. We had our lunch here. Guess what we had? Fried rice! Yes, there was a Chinese food stall and the kids were so glad since they don't really eat much rice around here. With good food and local music, plus Lake Geneva and local products surrounding us, we couldn't ask for a better Montreux experience.

After lunch, we did our final window shopping. I bought a piece of jewelry for my close friend. We also bought a bonnet in preparation for colder weather in Interlaken. I was thinking of buying this really nice and cheap big hat (hubby thought I should get one when we were in Singapore). But I already got a hat from my sis-in-law from HK. Some things are really not meant to be :(

breath-taking scenery on our drive back to our hotel

even a highway curve is a scenery in this country. We just had to stop.

couple photo 

I so love the Swiss Cottages

what a bend!!

here we go....

I just had to take photos of the traditional Swiss cottages

pit stop 
The advantage of travelling with a car - we can stop wherever and whenever we wanted to as long as there was a good view :)

careful not to fall into the water...

blowing dandelions


kids splashing around

When we got back to the hotel, we prepared our food (somehow), sat down for a nice chat and just admired the view. What a good way to end our day.

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