Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Swiss Excursions

This paddleboat travels from Vevey to Montreux.
So much to see, so little time. As the school year wound down, Bob and I were focused on seeing places in this country that we had yet to visit. Top among these destinations was Vevey, a beautiful town on Lake Geneva, between Lausanne and Montreux. We travelled there twice recently, both times on a Saturday.
Looking through the cowbells at the Saturday market.
The Street Food Festival
On our first visit, we had beautiful weather, a rare occurrence this spring. It was market day, so we first visited the stalls just north of the lake. When we popped into Tourist Information nearby, we discovered that there was a street food festival on this Saturday too. We would not go hungry in this town.
The view through the flowers.
Relaxing by the water on a swivel chair
Like Montreux, Vevey's main attraction is its lakeside walkway. It does not take very long to walk along it, but most people linger as they take in the views to the snow-capped mountains across the water. Two pieces of art draw a lot of attention too. Charlie Chaplin's statue charms, while the fork in the water intrigues. On our return visit, we would explore the museums these sculptures represent.
Charlie and me.

The Vevey fork
Leaving the shore, we explored the town itself. Its status as a resort was apparent since there were many fine shops, although its old streets were much quieter than the bustling waterfront.
These signs were everywhere
A street in the old town
We discovered that Vevey has been a haven for a few famous people, besides Charlie Chaplin, of course: Paderewski, the Polish composer, and Dostoyevsky, the Russian novelist, both lived there for a time.
The Prefecture (old Town Hall)
The old clock tower. 
The town is also known as an art centre; in fact, our NJC art teacher, Christine lives in Vevey and always arranges a trip for her students to the photography fair that takes place there in the fall.
Wall art.
Before we headed home, we returned to the large market square (now empty) and to the waterfront, where swans greeted us. With the spring flowers in full bloom, every corner of Vevey impressed us. It is truly a gorgeous place.
The (now empty) market square.
Flowers, swans, sailboats, clear water and mountains: paradise. 
A few weeks later, we returned to this town to look inside some of its attractions. My colleague, Sarah, had informed us that the Alimentarium–the Museum of Food–would be free that weekend, and Lyn, another colleague, had recommended the newly opened Charlie Chaplin Museum.
The view to the lake from the Alimentarium. You can see the fork and Charlie Chaplin.
The Orthodox church in Vevey
As we exited from the station, we saw something we had not seen anywhere else in Switzerland: an Eastern Orthodox Church. It was closed to the public but worth a picture anyway. As you can see, the weather was not as glorious as it was on our first visit, but we were pleased it was not raining.

Vevey's market
The Alimentarium
Of course, we began our day at the market, followed by a walk along the water before entering the Alimentarium. (The big fork stands right in front of it.) It is a unique museum, very interactive and child friendly. We were pleased to discover that Canada's Food Guide can be accessed there and compared to similar charts from other countries.
Canada's Food Guide 
By jumping up and down, you can move the food though this colour alimentary system.
The displays are colourful, in the case above, relying on technology to tell the story of how food works its way from our mouths, though our systems, and then how waste is eliminated. Another display shows how food is grown, while elsewhere, we learned how people all over the world eat differently. It was delightful to watch so many children enjoying this museum!
Inside the Alimentarium
There is a small garden in front of the museum.
After a light lunch in the old town, we made our way to the bus that would take us to Corsier-sur-Vevey, the small village above the lake where Chaplin lived from 1952 until his death in 1977.  The museum, called Chaplin's World, was a revelation.
Charlie and me
Bob and Sophia
The Museum has two principal buildings. One is Chaplin's manor house into which he moved with his wife and children when he was exiled from the U.S during the MacCarthy era. Here we read about his life, watched home movies and stood alongside a few wax figures of his famous friends.
Chaplin's home
Posing with Einstein
Chaplin, we discovered, was quite a genius. Of course, we all know him for his comedy, particularly as the "Little Tramp", but I had not remembered that he was a musician and songwriter too. His song, "Smile" was Michael Jackson's favourite. As we walked through his former home, we listened to a recording of "Love, This is My Song", which he also wrote.
Watching home movies in Charlie's dining room
The many faces of a genius
His life was fascinating as well. Born in abject poverty in London, he began his career in entertainment as a child; by the time he was fifteen, he was an accomplished vaudeville performer working in New York. From there, he made his way to Hollywood–and the rest is history.
This cabin rocked.
Strongman Bob
In the other part of Chaplin's World called "the Studio", we first watched some scenes from his movies. How charming an actor he was!! Then we followed a path that led us to various sets, where we could play some of the characters that he had made famous. This was great fun. As you can see, Bob loved this part. All in all, I think this was my favourite museum in Switzerland. I kept thinking to myself how much my daughter, Jess, would have loved this place.
The tramp
The prisoner
We took another excursion in Switzerland the day after our first trip to Vevey. This time we headed for Emmental country to a place called Burgdorf. Even our Swiss friends might wonder why we chose such a place. The main reason: it has one of the best preserved medieval castles in the country.

The castle courtyard.
Approaching the castle
We travelled to Burgdorf on a Sunday, a traditionally quiet day in this country. We soon discovered just how quite Sundays can be! We practically had Burgdorf to ourselves!
Rusted iron sculptures adorn the lower town.

Where is everybody?
The town lies on two distinct levels, with a lower town, and an upper town. We first walked around the lower town where we ate lunch in the only open establishment in the place.
The patio where we enjoyed our Italian lunch. 
Climbing to the upper town, we were greeted by more empty streets, albeit ones with lovely architectural details. We headed first towards the church spire but the building was not open.
Burgdorf's church

A corner of the upper town. Note the decorated wall and the fancy shutters.
Eventually, we made it to the castle, the main reason for our visit. It is located at the top of a hill and provides quite spectacular views over the countryside.
The Bern bear adorns the castle wall.

The view from the castle
We decided to tour the interior of the castle. It looked as if it could use our business. Parts of it have been preserved as exemplars of medieval life, while others house other artifacts. For instance, there is a gold museum there, and, on this day, a collection of Japanese royal garments were on display.
The medieval dining room.
Coats of Arms in the castle
In a garret, there were a few costumes for children to put on. Of course, that is what we did! In fact, Bob insisted we do so. I was surprised my head could fit inside the metal helmet, but it did.

Ready for battle
Having made the most of our stay in quiet Burgdorf, we descended to the train station and made our way home.

1 comment:

  1. This post has some hilarious pics! Loving yours and Dad's sense of humour!