Switzerland: Montreux

Lake Geneva, Switzerland

I am currently typing this post from the foyer of the youth hostel in Zermatt, looking out at the low cloud and steady rainfall, waiting patiently for a chink in the gloom. Four days in, this particular trip to Switzerland had started so well.

Zermatt on a rain day
Zermatt on a rainy day

I had arrived in Montreux Saturday morning and booked into the Grand Hotel; I was so looking forward to the Jazz Festival. Those who know their rock history will be well aware of the significance of this hotel, but for the benefit of those who don’t (really, there are some), it was where Deep Purple stayed and recorded their Machine Head album, way back in December 1971, and the hotel was immortalised in the lyrics of “Smoke on the Water”.

My room in the Grand Hotel
My room in the Grand Hotel

Far from “empty, cold and bare” (so it shouldn’t be for the price of a room!), this proved an ideal base to explore the Montreux Jazz Festival, nipping back and forth when it pleased.

My view from the Grand Hotel
My view from the Grand Hotel

The afternoon was sunny, and I wandered the lake shoreline, partaking in a few beers and listening to the Devon Jazz Orchestra in the park.

Music in Park, Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Music in the Park, Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra

Late afternoon, I found an Irish pub a few doors down from the hotel, and settled in for the Belgium v Argentina match. Thankfully, it didn’t go to extra time, and I rushed back to the festival to take my place in the Jazz lab to see Belgian artist Selah Sue.

Later, after catching some of the Netherlands v Costa Rica match back at the hotel, I ventured out at 11:30 pm to see US rock band Heaven and Earth in the Park. Both performances were excellent, although Selah Sue really impressed!

Heaven and Earth, Montreux Jazz Festival
Heaven and Earth, Montreux Jazz Festival

I was back in my room by about 1 am. With a checkout at noon, I had plenty of time to sleep in.

Lake Geneva,  Switzerland
Lake Geneva, Grand Hotel balcony view

I awoke, the next morning, to more sunshine, but I knew all too well this spell was to change as I caught the train to Zermatt.

Montreux Gare
Montreux Gare

Once I had changed trains at Visp and began the approach to Zermatt the clouds thickened and my worst fears were realised; this may prove to be a fruitless journey.

Zermatt, from the Youth Hostel.
Zermatt from the Youth Hostel

I checked into the hostel, and wandered down to the Brown Cow Pub for a beer and food. Hoping to undo some of the excesses of the previous day, I ordered the Farmers Salad, but, while tasty, it was certainly not what I expected.

Healthy salad at the Brown Cow Pub, Zermatt
‘Healthy’ salad at the Brow Cow Pub, Zermatt

With dinner had, and beer drunk, I wandered back to the hostel, for an early night and in hope of better weather in the morning. To be continued…

Published by Moorland Walker

Paul is a backpacker, tor bagger, Bibbulmun Track End to Ender and West Ham supporter. He moved down from London to live in Okehampton in 2016, after realising he was spending most of his weekends on Dartmoor and it just made sense to make it permanent!

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