At Jungfrau

This was a very short trip that I made during my second trip to Interlaken.
It was June when I was in Interlaken, and it was warm. The temperature was close to 30 degrees centigrade, and while we had been told that we were about to go up to Jungrfau, I was not expecting anything less than a balmy 10 degrees at the top.

Somehow, I did not think too deeply about the snow.
I wonder why? Maybe, it was some sort of deep seated Indian arrogance about our very own Himalayan ranges in the Northern part of India, where it stays cold throughout the year.

Maybe, I was lulled into some false sense of security, with all this talk of climate change and global warming.

Anyhow, we took this little toy train up to the top. The scenery was absolutely fantastic. I took this picture from the train while on the way up. We were quite close to the top when I took this picture with my IPhone. I have shifted to the Samsung S II since then. I have also decided that I will not join this mad rush to upgrade my phone whenever a new phone is launched.

Anyway, the good part of the journey is that there is a train change half way through to the top. This allows you to get a welcome cup of a hot beverage, which we all did. We stood around hopping, on the platform, warming our hands on the cup, before making a dash to the next train.

As we reached the top, dense mist greeted us, and I strode into this like a brave warrior, clad only in my thin leather jacket. Soon enough the leather had frozen onto my chest and shoulders, and I was back into the warm comfort of the heated chambers.

When we walked around, what did I say but, ‘cor, blimey! There, India had arrived on the scene, with some sort of a Bollywood kind of sign on one of the doors. An Indian eatery. Personally, I think that Bollywood movies are the most awful tosh.

Jungrfau is fun. Lots of winter sports. There is not that much sporting activity in summer. I don’t know if I shall ever go there again, but I will damned well make sure that I wear warm clothes!

At Interlaken

I have been to Interlaken twice. Once with my family, and the second time with some customers. I went  with my family in January 2009, when it was nice, cold and crisp. Snow was on the ground, the sun was in the air, and people were sitting outside in the sun drinking coffee, boozing or whatever.

We had lunch at Hooters. My kids were attracted by the burgers, I was attracted by the tight T-Shirts, and my wife had no choice. The T-Shirts were really very nice, as were the women in the T-Shirts!

We did think of going up to Jungrfau at that time, but balked at the price of the tickets. Jungfrau would have to wait another day. We did not have that much time anyway. We had gone up from Basel. Including the changeover, it was a two and a half hour journey one way.

The second time was in June of 2010. For some reason, I had not taken my camera. I don’t know why. I like to think of myself as a keen photographer, and all I had was my I-Phone. While it has a decent enough camera, I really don’t know why I did not think of taking a proper camera.

I took this picture from the room of my hotel, the Victoria Jungfrau. I must say that I quite like the hotel. Nice rooms, nice lobby, nice restaurant. Best of all, it commands a fantastic view.
Amazingly, the room TV actually had an Indian channel – B4U. I thought, “wow! We Indians actually have arrived on the travel scene!”

My companions in this trip were two Indian fellows who could not stand the Western fare that was beings served in the hotel. So, I had to give up my juicy beefsteak dinners to find Indian restaurants. We did! Four of them! There is a market for Indian food everywhere. Think of it. The odds are in favour of it. With over 1 billion people, even if only 5% of us travel overseas every year, that is 50 million Indians traveling abroad ever year.

Interlaken has been largely famous for its Abby, but since 1800, largely due to the paintings of Franz Niklaus Konig and other Swiss landscape artists, it has become well known as a tourist destination.
Franz is largely forgotten, but the reputation lives on. Since the 1990’s as India’s economy has grown, people have traveled. I wonder what will happen in the near future, as India’s economy is not in the pink of health. Yet, travel we will..

Wine At Montreux

Wine making seems to have been some sort of a tradition in Montreux. There is, it seems, an appellation called the Montreux-Chablas.

The red wines grown here are mainly Pinot-Noir and Ganay, and the white wines are mostly Chasselas.

We went up the narrow, timeless lanes of the town, to a winery owned by a Swiss fellow, and guess – Chinese! – wife.

There did not seem to too much of China left in her, but enough for her to converse with the Chinese folk that I was traveling with.

We blew the Swiss horns. Correction. We tried to blow the Swiss horns, and we had some Swiss Cheese and wine.

All was well with the world.

Montreux is old, it seems. The earliest settlements have been detected from the Bronze Age. Many, many skeletons would be buried in this area. If you stand, as I did that summer afternoon, looking down from the wine yard, across the lake and the mountains; you too would realize that this is a very peaceful place to have your bones buried for eternity. Dust they become, posterity forgets you, yet it does not matter to your soul, as it can stay here in peace looking over some of the most beautiful and unspoiled scenery that you will find on this planet of ours.

The ghosts will be at peace here..

Montreaux – Chillon

Montreux, or Montreaux as I always spelled it, was a place of magic and legend for all of us growing up in the 1970’s.

“We all went down to Montreaux….” That was how that legendary song, “Smoke On The Water” starts. Ever since then, Montreux was the stuff of legend for all of us. In our more psychedelic moments, we imagined plumes of smoke and fire rising from the waters of the lake in the dead of night; the fire casting it’s warm and fiery glow on the members of Deep Purple.

When I went to Montreux several years ago, I was sitting in the car, my mind taut with anticipation. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would get to see the burned out studio where Deep Purple recorded their album.

But no, my teenage memories were not to be fulfilled.
Montreux instead was, to me, a pretty but sleepy place. The first stop that we made at Montreux, was at the Castle Chillon. This is a small and rather pretty castle. I quite enjoyed wandering up and down the pathways in the castle, looking out across the lake from the windows that overlooked the lake. As I took the picture of a couple sitting by the window, I tried to conjure up romantic visions of the past. It is  quite an old castle, quite nicely restored. As I learned later, the castle was first mentioned in 1150. It has passed through the Houses of the Savoy, then the Bernese, before coming under the Canton of Vaud.

The part that faces the road is built for battle and defense, whereas the part that overlooks the waters, is shaped like genteel apartments. Nicely planned, or should I say, that it turned out nicely.

I liked the dungeons, as well as the holes strategically placed in the toilets, to allow the residents to defecate directly into the lake! I must say, that the fish would have got a lot of natural food and fertilizer to give them company!

The castle was positioned strategically. This was the pass from North Italy to the rest of Europe. There was no way to escape Chillon, and allowed the residents to block the path and extract a toll on goods passing by the path.

The Castle served an excellent commercial purpose, it appears.

Money has always run through the blood of man. It always will. 

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