Writing on the Road – Switzerland

Sleepy and Dull? I don't think so!

This is what my Rick Steves guidebook says about Geneva. “Skip the big, dull city of Geneva: instead, sleep in fun, breezy Lausanne.” Well! I loved Geneva, even if I was there less than 24 hours. I loved the view from my window at Hotel le Richemond that overlooks Lake Geneva, though it seemed particularly poignant since the Empress Sisi, the Hapsburg Lady Di of yore, who I am fascinated by (and, as an aside, used to spend up to 3 hours a day having her long hair combed and festooned with stars) was assassinated as she climbed aboard a boat here. A plaque marks the spot. Except I couldn’t find it. But still …

My biggest regret is that the Museum of the Reformation was closed because it was a Monday. Is that weird? Not that it’s closed on Monday, but because that was my number one pick for a tourist site to visit. I suppose I could have gone to the Museum of the Red Cross, but I wanted to learn about Calvinism. I think I liked the challenge of trying to make the reformation a fun and breezy travel article.

This isn't a bad view either!

Then on to Montreux.  I didn’t know Montreux existed until Swiss Tourism sent me here, and now I can’t figure out why I don’t live here. It is stunning, with the hills behind, Lake Geneva in front and a holiday turn of the century atmosphere. I stayed at the Montreux Palace which is one of those hotels that you just can’t believe still exists. The difference is that now conferences are held in the ballrooms and the old Belle Époque roller skating rink is a convention centre.

Montreux and nearby Vevey are spa central and I did my best to see as many as possible. The American woman who showed me around the famous La Prairie clinic said she ended up living here when she came to Switzerland for a holiday and went to a hockey game one night, saw a good-looking man there and thought, I’m going to marry him. And she did. Now that is positive thinking. Hey, wait a minute. I’m going to a hockey game in Zürich. Oh, oh.

I just arrived in Lausanne, and we’ll see if Rick Steves is right after all. It better be fun and breezy or he’ll have steered me wrong. Whether it could possibly be as fun and breezy as the Reformation, though, remains to be seen.

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