Posted by: Shireen | November 22, 2008

Palm trees, the french alps and not doing what I am told

What do these three things have in common?

Montreux, Swtizerland, that’s what.

Today was a freezing cold, dull day in Switzerland.  F and I had argued about how I keep saying I want to go home to London (its true, but I need to get over it already) and we had the bright idea of going to Montreux which is about a 45 minute train ride from our town.  The scenery from the train was more beautiful than you can imagine.  The further east we went, the closer the French Alps looked.  They were so majestic and as F said, imposing.  They were dusted in snow and the peaks hidden by grey clouds pregnant with snow flurries.  I do hate anything to do with cold and snow, but these mountains were really something.

Montreux was strange.  It is supposed to be this “magical” town, quaint and pretty.  I found the lake front to be more like a cheesy sea side town than a quaint Swiss town.  I found Montreux cool for other reasons.

First of all, at least twice a car drove by playing loud Arabic music or some kind of hip hop.  What is cool about that, you say?  Well, it is just not a done thing in Switzerland to drive around disturbing everyone with your music.  People are just too polite here.  It was just nice to see people acting a little more chilled out, and I quite enjoyed the music too!

Second cool thing, F found a Moroccan restaurant that had great food!  No offence to the Swiss, but we just can’t find good food here – that is why I dream of Nandos.  That is, until today.  We ate hummous, lentil soup and chicken and couscous to our little hearts’ content.  Yum!  That is where we saw the palm trees, btw.

Third cool thing was that we found a little bar called Jazz Cafe.  We walked into a warm, cosy little place, filled with people from Switzerland, Canada, South Africa and the States enjoying the rugby game, talking and joking with each other, a friendly owner (well, we think he was the owner) and even a resident dog! Loved it!  We found that in Montreux there was a much better mix of cultures than where we live, so it was nice not to be the only brownish people on the street.

I guess what I am figuring out about Switzerland is that I don’t really like what it is famous for (chocolate, snow, mountains, cold weather, cheesy chalet restaurants, bad fashion, shops that are closed on Sundays….) but I am finding some special things about the place that are not really on any websites,  in any guide books or in anybody’s list of suggestions.  Maybe it’s just that I am stubborn and refuse to do what other people tell me to…(don’t respond to that, F)

I’ll keep looking for things to do off the beaten path and by the time you get here, I will have a list of my very own.

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