Switzerland. Wow!! Gill and I spent four days on the edge of Lake Geneva and absolutely fell in love with everything: the atmosphere, the mountains, the architecture, the food, the man on the street… (Not every man, just one in particular.)
Beginning in Montreux, we headed straight for the tour of Mountain Studios. Queen owned this, their recording home until 1996, and their last seven albums were recorded here. With a plethora of memorabilia and the original studio almost intact, it’s a must for any hard-core Queen fans. We saw them live in Marbella in 1986, so we count! The studio exhibition is free, with a donation to the Mercury Phoenix Trust.
The main reason for our holiday was a trip on The Chocolate Train. Can’t tell you the number of people who thought we meant a train made of chocolate… as great as that would be, the early winter sun was beating down and the heat of our thighs on praline seats just wouldn’t be pretty.
We boarded the vintage train in Montreux and climbed for 90 minutes through thickly forested mountains, being fed a constant stream of chocolately goodies. The tour began at Maison Cailler in Broc, the true home of Swiss chocolate. After a Disneyesque journey through its history, learning about how this food of the devil leads men to do bad things to giggling ladies, we ended up in a tasting room with an unlimited supply to sample. Delicious. Fantastic. Nauseous.
We travelled on to Gruyere, a gorgeous medieval village with an imposing castle, where we ate a traditional Gruyere fondue in the sunshine. As if one dish of melted cheese wasn’t enough, we also managed to put away raclette, tartiflette and a pack of free Gruyere in three matured states, a gift from the cheese factory. (Not all at one sitting.)
A night at the casino produced an extra 200 Swiss Francs to spend on more chocolate before we headed back to Geneva for a couple of days of culture. What a gorgeous city. Hilly though, but the little Petite-Train took out some of the hard slog of traipsing upward to the cathedral at the apex. I’m always happy in a cathedral, and this one had the added benefit of an archaeological exhibition deep underground. Gill was less pleased about that than I was.
From Roman rocks to 21st century politics, our tour of United Nations was inspirational, educating and awesome. We’re both ready to change the world now. (Just need to finish this stash of Swiss chocolate first…)
The aforementioned man in the street was called Michael. I asked him, in a schoolgirl dialect of French that seemed perfectly acceptable to me but was probably shocking to him, for directions to a cashpoint. You’d think in a city of banks that there would be a proliferation of them, but no. Michael replied in perfect east-coast American English then proceeded to take us for a tour of the old city in search of an ATM.
Although he lives in Geneva, he’s starting a business here in the UK – something to do with accounting and property consulting. Interesting… I do social media consulting for accounting and property firms. A fortuitous meeting… Street networking… Helpful, friendly, seemingly successful, very cute and no wedding ring… I quickly handed over my business card and ran a LinkedIn search. Well, who wouldn’t…?!
Back in London and continuing the theme of upping my cultural presence, I attended the ballet on Saturday afternoon. I’d never actually seen the inside of the glorious Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, although I have popped in several times before to use the loo.
It was amazing; its contemporary production of Carmen is passionate, erotic and spell-binding. I loved it!! I did notice a degree of sex discrimination though. Whilst I appreciate the conventions of ballet, why does the prima ballerina receive flowers, but nothing for the leading man? Surely someone should give him something? I’ll volunteer. I definitely wouldn’t mind giving him something…
This has been my favourite Queen song for as long as I can remember, but it’s the one I’d have chosen today anyway. “I’ve been with you such a long time, you’re my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true, I really love you. You’re my best friend.”
I’m back in London for a while now, but wherever I am in the world I’m always here: @WeekendWitch.