Switzerland Day 1: From Geneva to Montreux

NYC to Switzerland
Switzerland?! Now that’s a destination I don’t hear often. Why are you going?

I suppose it’s with natural surprise that I get asked to explain why I am heading to such a destination. It’s not exactly the best season to attend with rain always being forecasted.

Leaving New York on a cold and rainy note, I was glad to get away, as I always find myself feeling every few months I am anchored for too long. My traveler’s soul rears it head, demanding my body to take it on an adventure!

Flying alone out of New York isn’t a first for me. Often I find it’s lonely but at the same time, brave that this little girl can venture out of her own. SwissAir is known for efficiently so I was quite surprised when the pilot showed up almost half an hour late for boarding time. Fortunately, despite high winds and jetstream causing some turbulence, the large plane landed quite safely and soundly in approximately the same hour posted on the ticket.

Entering the EU is a much easier process than the US. Normally, I have traveled to Zurich as the first EU entrance and they are super efficient getting you from one flight to the next. I wouldn’t apply the same efficiency to the US with its additional forms needed to enter the country.

I was to be picked up by my boyfriend and normally, I can pick him out of the crowd. But whether it was due to two weeks separation or the fact that he was sporting a very European haircut and outfit, I was a bit reluctant to walk up to him. In fact, even as I walked near him, he didn’t recognize me either with my hat.

With hugs and kisses and surprises set aside, we bounded for Montreux via train. Switzerland Franks also known as CHF is the currency. A one way ticket to Montreux was 40CHF. That’s roughly $45.50 for a trip that last less than an hour. Mind you, the train is very cleaned and the ride is pretty smooth. I am just shocked because a metro commute from New York to the suburb of New Rochelle, which is 40 minutes is about $15 one way at peak hour.

Arriving at Montreux, the hotel of our sojourn is situated right outside the steps of the station, the Grande Hotel Suisse Majestic, a hotel from the art nouveau period with soft wavy lines and overextended text, you would think Alphonse Mucha had a hand in designing some of the architecture and signage. It was built in the early 1900s. It is absolutely beautiful. Despite the room being small, the view of Lake Geneva, also known as Lake Lécom, sparkled under the beautiful French Alps across the way. The room lights up under the white curtains with gold blue brocades like that of old grandeur. I am a fan of white on white, especially ceiling ogees and etchings around an old light fixture, now with a smoke detector blended in. It’s like living a European vacation on a splendor I normally would not have the luxury to take.

Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic

Since we arrived close to noon, we decided to grab a bite at le Restaurant au Parc. I was starving, slightly sleep deprived, and sensing jet lag. So I ordered a pasta because my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. Rigatoni all’Arriabata. It was definitely an angry pasta with chilies in fresh tomato sauce, my tongue was in fire. It was a great meal but I was a bit overwhelmed by the price of pasta. Actually, I was overwhelmed by the cost of everything in Switzerland thus far. It is by far, the most expensive destination, moreso than NYC.

Lunch at La restaurant au Parc

Down the road from the restaurant, you can find a statue of Freddie Mercury. It faces the lake and can be seen with rosy sunset horizon if you stay out late enough. It happens to be one of the most photographed site within Montreux, and quite popular on Foursquare. It is also situated on the promenade known as the Quai des Fleurs.
Freddie Mercury statue

The promenade is a neatly manicured path where flowers and trees are carefully landscaped. The path is marked with water bubblers, trash cans with free doggie bags, and public artwork. It is almost impeccably clean and a very romantic walk along the lake. Sunbathing chairs are laid out beyond the boxes of flowers, serving as a railing. Pebbles and rocks made up a small beach as sea green and blue water, clear and cold, rippled calmly along the shore.
Promenade quai de fleur

Along the way, you can find small signs to name various trees. And the public art were The Smurfs! Made of straws! They littered the landscape with cute faces and animated behavior.
The Smurfs on the Promenade

Along the promenade, we decided to go to the next town to visit my boyfriend’s high school, Monte Rosa. It was cute that he took me around to show me his old haunts, the cafe he goes often to playing video games, the cafeteria, which all looked the same despite the years. I suppose things don’t often change in the town.
Monte Rosa

We walked back, about 2 miles or so and had dinner at La Rouvanaz, a spot I found on Foursquare that had semi high reviews and one $ sign out of 4. Most places in Montreux do not open up for dinner service until 6pm and if you want to avoid long wait or skip reservation, it’s best to arrive at opening hour. Otherwise, places that have good reviews get full very quickly.

I was craving risotto but was slightly unimpressed by the meal, especially since the price was oh so cher. One dollar sign must mean meals starting at 20CHF. However, the dessert of pannacotta with mango syrup, chocolate shavings, and strawberry and a slice of carambola helped to finish off the night.
Dinner at La Rouvenaz

Of course, by that point, I was really feeling jet lag and hit my head to the pillow as the sun finally settled beyond the horizon around 9pm.