Lausanne and going cuckoo

Lausanne is reasonably pleasant old town, but didn’t see much out of the ordinary.

As I mentioned everything in Switzerland is expensive, and prices of things do get quite ouchy.

In fact…

That’s name of the southern district of Lausanne, which needs a different (light rail) train to get down to this coastal part.

Theres some great shops to take a look around here.  This place sells all kinds of things Swiss!

Cuckoo clocks!  lots of them!

Shame that they had to tell me off for taking pictures after this one.   Lots of wonderful souvenirs for sale here.

There is also this strange pink castle like hotel too!! (illuminated that colour, not painted)

The boat provides a way to pop over to France, of course, via passing through the building next to it, means you need to have a passport as you are going from a non-EU to a EU nation.

Lastly, off to Geneva…

Vevey antique markets

The block to the right is just around the corner from the youth hostel I stayed at, during the week this car park is full, but on an early thursday mornings, there are some nice markets here.

With France as a neighbour on the other side of the water with an equally impressive set of snow covered alps, this is a rather pleasant place to take a wander around the seafront.

The next day the flea market is here with a lot of distinctly Swiss looking bits and pieces, ie: these cow bells.

As well as antiques here, you can see the vans in the distance are from a farmer’s type market of local food producers.   Its good to know, despite Vevey being the ancestral home of food producing empire overlords Nestle, there is a still space to fit in some local chap selling cheese out of his van! 🙂

Montreux and all that jazz

On the trains again, this time the more common or garden type ones, although with little bits of brief snowy scenery to watch, as I headed to Vevey.

After booking into the hostel there, I took a day visit to Montreux, a city world famous for its Jazz festivals.  Now I am on the French part of Switzerland overlooking lake Geneva, sharing the water with France.  Here  this town has a few other interesting visitors who made this place a favourite….

Close to this wooden building there is a tribute to a rock entertainer Freddie Mercury closeby…

Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, an island off of Tanzania, and has a mixture of Indian and Persian background.   I think he has one of the best voices of any male singer ever.    Perhaps Kevin Max from US Christian rock band DC Talk has some resemblance in his vocals, but no one has ever manage to really come close to this unique legend.

Its now 20 years since Freddie’s death from AIDS and it so happens, that he liked to come and visit Montreux often, which the Swiss has their own Freddy Mercury day.

Here this was a reminder of what an amazing entertainer Freddy was.   I think it would of been great to see overlooking the water and eat cheese fondue with the whole of Queen when they came here to record some of their albums.

I read whilst I was here in a French newspaper that another British artist, George Michael was dangerously ill, who seems unable to give up drugs and getting into trouble with the law for serious driving offences.   I hope George manages to seek the right help and not get lost in destructive lifestyle that has affected so many musicians.

Next: lake side flea market…

Jungfrau – the mountain summit

The scenery abruptly disappeared into a tunnel and then there were two more stops until I could get to the summit of the 3’500 metre Jungfrau, its the highest mountain in Europe, actually there are mountains that 4’000+ its just this one you can visit publicly without any climbing equipment.

The two short stops are more like the halts you get when a train stops at a signal, we got out each stop for about five minutes and there is a glass window in the tunnel where you can see over at the mountains, I didn’t get any pictures of this, as the glass was dirty and pictures wouldn’t look that great.

All change…

Having a station inside the mountain is great!!  its like a evil empire headquarters from a movie, there is a complex collection of tunnels that get you to varied different sights here…

Outside on this side is the ‘Sphynx’ a seperate peak with its weather station and outside platform – I guess the shape of the cliff face is a tiny bit similar to the Egypt statues of the same name.


Out here is a weather station, and the main look out post, which you can see….   er, not a lot.  sky, clouds and snow, and not a lot to differentiate them.

When I came back to this part a little bit later you can now make out the valley tha’ts in between the different peaks.


Some very pleasant white Swiss chocolate against the mountain backdrop.  No, this isn’t some crossword or soduko game, there is a long drop below the metal grid platform I was standing on, which has partially filled up with snow.

Above is facing the other direction, here more exposed to the elements, the weather is something in the region of 16 degrees below zero.

There is a lift that takes you between the middle of the complex, I think its roughly the vertical distance of 10 storey building which takes you to the shops and restaurants.   There is a film where you can watch the history of this place and how the line was built, but I was disappointed I wasn’t able to see this at was booked for group.


‘Falling icicle’  seems to be a translation error I think!  this view is closed because of an avalanche hence the mass behind the revolving door!   The ice art show, the corridors of this maze like walkway are made of polished ice, just like various statues inside…

Later on, I headed back towards Interlaken, actually mistakenly taking a slightly different route back.


Actually this was a pleasant discovery, this small town, I am not sure of the name of, is so charming even the bus stop has a wooden chalet to wait in.   The buses look suitably robust enough to deal with the snow with these chains.

The sign above gives visitors to the slopes a heads up of the weather conditions and what is safe to visit.

Was this worth the money?   probably not, it was great to say I can visited the highest publicly accessible peak in Europe, but due to the huge cost of getting there, and several of the promised places were shut (not just weather but engineering works)   but I am glad I got to do this journey.

Jungfrau – the Swiss mountain train

If you haven’t been following previously, I took a break from my normal charity IT work in Israel to visit my friend in Switzerland and taking advantage of cheap flights that make landlocked central European nation a good stopping point in between coming back to Israel.

The railway that goes to the Jungfrau is an interesting one, not quite as radical as the Funicular railways, but this system is made of a mixed type trains for normal linear track and hill climbing, I walked about 3 miles to this station, and asked in the office for getting to the Jungfrau which is the highest mountain in Europe.   Had to gasp and almost walked away, as it turns out this was the most expensive railway journey I have been on, 186CHF, which is about £130.

This ordinary railway stops halfway up at a stop called Wenger, then you change trains onto whats known as a cog railway, the carriages are quite spartan, they have wooden seats, probably because people are carrying skis and equipment with snow or moisture on them, and the interior of the train has to be durable to cope with this.   The train has a third rail in the middle not for power (this is done by overhead wires) but is actually a ‘toothed’ rack, I think this provides better traction for the train to go up hill.

Second stop, halfway up, is the ski slopes of Grindelwald.

I realise now, was a kind of bit jealous of not being able to do any skiing after seeing so many people having fun whizzing around the slopes here, the path with the blue sign above it, is a slope for new beginners.   It seems that like yachting or owning a horse, skiing is one of those expensive hobbies out of reach of a lot of us, as well extra payment needed for an actual ski pass, the equipment, (renting it, or shlep your own gear around with you) and very necessary insurance as well of course.

There seems to be a helicopter permanently hovering around the slopes with someone keeping an eye out for anyone that could of had an accident.

Normally the Swiss are polite and civilised sort of folk, although I think the driver of this sweeping type vehicle is deliberately clumsy with the spray of excess snow to any tourists not paying attention!

From right to left, a small skidoo (for the kids?), a nice clean snowplough (the Mrs? 🙂 ) and one that’s been out busy! (driven by a chap I think)


A few amusing sites to be found is the teepee shaped bar which I think its fab!! its also nice and warm inside!

On the right, is a place where you can get German style bratwurst sausages, notice the bottles of sauce are upside down attached the chains!   I wondered how concerned the owners is about theft of condiments or people making a mess to have this kind of setup!

To be honest finding which trains and where I needed to change was not at all simple, it was only from asking a chap on the carriage when I left the first station, who was a British gent who comes here every year did I get to understand where to get the right train to get up the top of the legendary mountain.

Right: the Swiss are fun and outdoorsy, but like their peace and quiet in the evenings, this poster is a reminder to foreign visitors I think!

This oddball vending machine lets you lock your skis whilst you pop in for a beer, with a non-refundable 2 CHF coin.

Next: the strange hidden complex of tunnels inside the Jungfrau mountain….

Can we overload prayers to help our Christians brothers and sisters in Iran?

Following recent news that the Iranian Christian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani held in a prison had been sentenanced to death, I decided to email the Iranian embassy politely in the UK to tell them how angry I was with this decision.   Hes been offered leniency if he rejects Christianity and takes up Islam, which he has refused to do so.

A while back the UK embassy in Tehran was broken into and looted.   I don’t know if there are many people in the UK office doing any administration.   Sounds like a tough job trying to do PR for a company that flaunts the ability to destroy another neighbouring country by saying they will “wipe them off the map”.

I looked in the spam folder of my email and saw this today, their mail server rejected my email as their mailbox is full.

I wonder if this means that lots of Christians (or indeed anyone upset by this decision) have emailed the Islamic republic’s UK operations and overloaded their mail system.   Or maybe their IT systems are just are rubbish as their human rights.

Of course, if this many people were praying for this man’s release and safety, without compromising his life with Jesus, you can’t pray too much, my loving God has infinite capacity for requests to him.  I hope all Christians feel compelled to pray to see this innocent man’s wife and children get to see him come home safely.

Rubbish piles up on Jerusalem’s streets

I recently heard there were some strikes from people who work in Jerusalem’s municpality.

Today I forgot all about this until today….

Here with my friend Jessee, there’s one heck of a lot of rubbish in the streets!

As no one has as collected it, theres about 4 times rubbish that supposed to fit it in the bin, looks pretty bad!

I wonder if the owner of this old VW Beetle (actually in very good condition) knew what he what he was in for when he parked here!  Often I see homeless or poor people looking in the bins for bottles, which can be redeemed for cash they have a deposit on them, but here no one wants to sift through this!!

Oddly enough, friends of mine that have visited Cairo, the Egyptian capital says this doesn’t look as bad!!

Anyone who has visited the centre of Jerusalem will know there is thousands of stray cats around, they were brought in to get rid of rats and mice, buts its worrying to think what kind of health risk there is.   One of my local friends told me the garbage collection should start again today though…

I hope some kind of agreement can happen with the government workers, but it seems a strike is not so sensible considering a back log of waste to have to deal with when they get back to work!

Today I was in the shuk and saw lots of extremely cheap (less than 2 shekels a kilo) vegetables that were at the end of their life, they would have to be eaten that day, after getting a knife and hacking out mouldy bits.    Maybe this is an incentive to recycle more, and maybe bad vegetables could be composted or fed to chickens or something.

Funny funicular railways and scaling the steepness with God

Getting around Switzerland on trains is rather jolly, quiet, civilised and very enjoyable.

Given extreme terrain in places, a few more radical solutions are needed to get to certain locations.

I haven’t really heard of a funicular railway before, until I saw this one.   Funnily enough, this one was shut until the evening for some reason.   The other one I saw in Interlaken was completely closed for maintenance.

They look a bit like something from a theme park.   I will be honest, I don’t really like theme parks, they always seem contrived, and don’t like deliberately getting on apparatus to deliberately make myself sick and dizzy.   This is way better though!

Onward to the French speaking city Vevey, the place where milk chocolate was invented, where Charlie Chaplin spent his retirement and the HQ of the global overlord food producer Nestle.  As Montreux is just 8kms or so away, and I thought I would walk as it was a pleasant sort of day.   Is this a bus or a tram?   It seems to be both!!  Just as long as the driver doesn’t steer too far away from the overhead wires I guess it works well.  Look closely and the bus’s signage shows ‘Desert’ which is kind of odd here!!

Vevey, Lusuane and Montreux are the French speaking neighbouring cities on a hill over looking a lake Geneva, so the roads can be pretty steep, needing to be negotiated in a zigzag fashion.  These fruit trees seem quite common in this city, I think they are apricots.   There is a English Anglican church at the foot of the hill which I was surprised to see.

I was quite pleased to find one of the funicular tracks that just goes briefly between two stops;


This completely bonkers mode of transport is great!!  The rail car that goes up is completley autonomous, there is no driver or any other staff, in fact no staff are to be seen at all, my ticket was bought from a vending machine, and there is a large screen with the times, and an alarm sounds when its ready to leave and the doors open and close by itself.   Just a winch and a computer system seems to control the whole operation, probably just one very bored guard somewhere checking over it.   Someone has thoughtfully made the seats in the train heated which is great during the harsh winters here.  I would guess that the trains may have to specially designed for particular gradient of the hill maybe.   The steepest one in Switzerland goes 48 degrees!

Looking back, about half way along, you can see a lovely view of Lake Geneva, the ride is no longer than about 3 minutes, there is another car travelling the other direction, and the single track forks into two briefly and merges back, allowing a simple pass.

The short journey reminded me of some things happening for me at the moment, often we are up against a steep gradiant, with my time doing volunteer work likely to end in the spring, I am keep wondering what I will be doing back in the UK.   I need to find a new job,
new place to live and a new church.  At the moment I enjoy the work I do, the church I have here, the friends from dozens of different countries, I will need to go back to earning a regular wage again, and readjusting to life in post-recession UK and being a single chap in my mid 30s its hard to get an understanding what this year will hold, it all seems massively overwhelming.

My life with Jesus has meant that he has provide me with a way to conquer all kinds of enormously varied challenges so far.  But like this unorthodox transport system this is one of most hardest to try and fathom.  Here if I didn’t see this special railway, I wouldn’t of guess scaling this kind of hill would be impossible, but the Lord seems to provide when no tangible solution is in sight.   Up here you can quickly jump on another traditional railway system running parallel with the other line by the lake.   It was nice that it started to snow up here too, only for a short time though, I just had to stay under this shelter for about 5 minutes.

Jerusalem in fog

Clouds again.  Having this low that makes part of the city invisible was a strange sight to see on the way to work over a week ago on a monday morning.

from Matthew 24 : 30 

And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His [t]elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

Clouds seems like a perfect way for our Lord Jesus to make a stage entrance back to this city, ok it wasn’t the right time last week, but its still quite a bizarre sight and it did mean we had plenty of rain in the last week of January.