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…

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.