It was pouring rain as dawn slowly woke the town, gray clouds swirling the mountain top, the blue sea was green and dark, waves slightly rougher than the day before. Since rain came and went throughout the day, I tried not to make too many plans, allowing the weather to dictate what we would see and do.
Since it was raining, our first stop was to see the Queen Experience, a free exhibit that opened in December 2013 at the Montreux Casino. When you enter the casino, which is very much like any casino—seedy and dark, red carpet and bright lights—to your left on the balcony, 2 lion statues flank an alcove, painted to look like they were in Freddie Mercury’s costumes. A timeline on the black wall begins the story of Queen’s connection to the town of Montreux via Mountain Studio, which they owned for a portion of their time. When you enter the exhibit, a wall of signatures greet you, left by past visitors. Memorable costumes, various album covers from around the world, lyrics scratched on paper, and photos of the band members are encased in various glass cases. A replica of the instrument arrangement is on displayed. The original studio room remains but the 24 track is photographed to look like the studio remained in tack. You can remix a few tracks and listen to other band members talk.
It was a solemn experience, reverent and nostalgic, a time capsule to the success of a band that produced over 15 albums together until the very end.
After leaving the dark room and entering the spitting gray rain outside, it wasn’t much of a spirit lifter. We walked around, mostly in search for Vieille Ville, the old Montreux. We circled up the mountain and found the Musée where a fondue restaurant is situated. Climbing up the town, you will find a sign for Maison Villasinard, an old theater hall, where a classical music playing through its window carried through the rain. The cobble streets grew smaller, old water fountains stood at various intersections and alcoves. Several old wooden buildings remained along the Rive de la Baye, a fast rushing stream running down from the Gorge de la Chauderon. You can find a waterfall from within Old Montreux.
We stopped at a tea room, Tea Room de la Baye, run by a mother and her little son. Crepe and hot chocolate was in order. You could get a view of the lake and the town below, as it situated on a precipice over the river. It was not as expensive for coffee and chocolate which were very good. It felt like being in someone’s kitchen.
As afternoon approached, we made our way back down the hill, down stairs and along the river, down and up a bridge. I don’t think the path we took was meant for tourists but those are the best path; you’ll find the locals taking the same path, looking at you oddly.
My boyfriend was invited to a 140th celebration at this secondary school, Monte Rosa in Territet, the town next to Montreux. We took the public bus as far as Château de Chillon, and walked our way backward as we had a good 4 hours before the event. Instead of taking the main road, we went down towards the sandy shores near the château; some random tourists took photos and ran back up the hill.
We walked along the train path, down to a well manicured promenade along the lake. Other couples could be spotted, but overall, a quiet romantic walk towards Territet.
The celebration for Monte Rose, a private boarding secondary school, was a big hooplah. While waiting at a nearby cafe, Bar Cascade (everything is called a bar), an old friend of my boyfriend showed up. The crowd is jovial and lively. We took a lovely tour of the school with the old friends who were showing off where they snuck onto the girls floor, snuck out of curfew, and a bunch of other silly things. Not much has changed, they told me. It’s interesting and surprising as if their lives were caught in a time capsule.
The event continued with a talk from the headmaster, the mayor of Montreux, and a former student (whose talk was a bit confusing, especially when it was heavily laced with a Swiss/German accent).
After the speech, we snuck out to catch the cog train to go up to Glion to see the sunset over the lake. Sunset came around 840pm at this time of the year. As the train came down, I saw a tiny head. It was a cat! I thought the cat must be the conductor because the train was empty. He was very friendly looking for pets and cuddles. The ride up is very steep and quite scary for me. The view from the top is just breathtaking as you can see the white snowcaps of the Alps in the distant. I considered the ride, hiking The Alps via public transportation. Plus, I also got to ride a Golden Line Pass, also on my list of things to do.
We quickly came back down to bid farewell to everyone before getting a late dinner at a Chinese/Thai restaurant, Emperor, recommended by a local. It was indeed good. The red curry reminded me of roti canai curry. But things do close early in Montreux so if one plans to stay out, one should find a late night bar or the casino but not a restaurant. When we got there, we were informed the restaurant would be closed by 1030PM. Fortunately, I was not planning on staying out late and painting the town red. I prefer a full night’s rest for another day of outing.