Sunday, December 20, 2015

A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 11

I talked Bill into taking the train to Gruyeres, mainly because I knew he was tired of driving.  I figured it would be easier to relax on the train and he wouldn't have to worry about parking.  Having now been to Gruyeres, I can say that it seems to be an easy drive there and there's plenty of what looked like free parking.  However, the train is also a treat.  You go through some absolutely gorgeous, remote, Alpine villages.


The surreal blue lit bathroom at the Vevey train station.  It cost 1 franc to use it.  It was the handicapped stall, which I used because the other stalls appeared to take 50 cents and I didn't have the right coin for them.  


Note the sign, written in four languages...  I guess if you're Spanish or Dutch, you're out of luck.  (kidding!)

Originally, Bill got us second class seats.  He said it was because the lady who helped him didn't speak English very well. I talked him into upgrading when we got to Montreux.  It was no problem, especially since that time, he got a lady whose English was perfect.  I'm not sure we had better seating per se; that's just how we've gotten used to traveling on trains.  We took a six minute train to Montreux, then a GoldenPass panoramic train for the 45 minute trip to Montbovin.  Our car was full of guys who appeared to be from India.  They took pictures the whole way.  I drank prosecco (9,90 francs) and Bill had a large Boxer beer (6,50 francs).  They also had other beverages, including my favorite bubbly, Taittinger, and snacks for sale.  I almost splurged on Taittinger, but even I have my limits on what I'll spend money on.


Bill takes his seat and checks the menu.  I was a little worried we'd miss the train, since he went to upgrade the tickets.  He made it with plenty of time to spare.


The view... pardon my reflection.


Prosecco for me... in a real glass!


Beer for Bill.






The views alone are worth the train ride.





Most of these little towns were stopped in only by request.  I got a kick out of the English version of the announcements on the train.  The woman had an obvious American accent.  I would have expected a British accent.

From Montbovin, there was another 18 minute ride on a very new train with second class seating to Gruyeres.  Then we took a bus to the village.  You don't have to take the bus, though if you have mobility problems, it may be advisable.  Walking there from the train station involves hiking up a hill with some steps.  Hours later, we walked back down when we'd had enough of Gruyeres.

The first thing we did in Gruyeres was stop into a fondue restaurant for lunch.  In retrospect, maybe it wasn't the best idea for me to go there because there were people eating raclette, which is made with very strong, pungent cheese.  I walked into the place and was almost knocked over by the smell of ripe cheese.  Bill didn't notice it nearly as quickly as I did and he thought it smelled great.  I guess the next time I want to turn him on, I'll just dab a little stinky cheese behind my ears.


First glimpse of Gruyeres.  There's a lot to do here, but we were set on the H.R. Giger Museum.


Bill checks things out.




We had lunch at Auberge De La Halle...  


A half liter of Swiss wine went nicely with our lunch.  It also distracted me from the raunchy smell of ripe cheese.  Bill thought it smelled great, of course.


A salad came with my zander filet.


Zander (pike perch) with sauteed leeks in a white wine sauce and boiled potatoes.  The sauce was very buttery and sinful.


Bill had a salad with cured meats and local cheeses.  He said it was excellent.  I tried a little of the ham and I will agree that it was very good.  Maybe we should have had fondue.  It's made with cheese that isn't quite so strong.


Outside of the restaurant.



A Christmas tree.

Once we finished lunch, we headed to the museum.  For those who don't know who H.R. Giger was (I didn't until I met Bill), he was a surrealist artist whose creations appeared in the films, Alien and Dune, among many other works.  Giger died last year, but was very prolific while he was alive.  His museum is full of his very disturbing and brilliant works, along with some from some other artists.  He acquired the Chateau St. Germain in 1998 and his museum has been operational there ever since.


The front door.




Bill checks out the ground... the inside of the museum has the same type of very intricate etchings.  Bill was fascinated by it.

It cost us 25 francs (12,50 each) to see the museum.  Photos are not allowed inside.  Some people were bringing their kids to this museum.  I don't think that's necessarily the best idea, especially for young children. Many of Giger's works are very sexual and violent.  Some kids may be frightened by what they see.  Moreover, there is a part of the museum where kids are specifically not allowed.  Inside, there are graphic artistic renditions of human genitalia, as well as some disturbing themes that may be hard to explain to youngsters.  Bill loved the museum.  I was less interested in part because I never saw Giger's works and partly because the water and wine kicked in as we were looking.  


After our museum trip, we had a drink in the bar...




A mojito and a vodka royale...  The bathrooms, by the way, are across the way rather than in the bar itself.


A little kid came into the bar with his dad and promptly ran out screaming.  His dad brought him back in and he screamed and ran out again.  While we did see a few kids in the bar who were totally unfazed, it's probably best if the kids sit out the Giger museum and checked out the chateau instead.



This little guy is the tip of the iceberg as to what you'll see in the museum.  Some of it is really weird stuff.



View from the village.


We stopped by a gift shop and bought a couple of things for the house, then got some Gruyeres cheese and chocolate.



Bill had a GREAT day.  The Giger museum was a bucket list activity for him; he's been wanting to go for years.  I'm glad I got to be with him when he finally did it.


The trains only come on the hour, so we were stuck waiting for a bit.  I entertained myself with photography.  Later, I entertained myself by trying to avoid cigarette smoke.


Our ride back to Montreux was on an older train.  We probably should have checked out more of the cars because they had a couple that seemed nicer than the car we were in.  Ours was full of rambunctious kids and their annoyed parents.  Nevertheless, it was a speedy trip back.  After being around people and their kids all day, I was ready for some quiet time.  We thought we'd have dinner at the hotel.  More on that in the next post.

Part 12...


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