Vicarious Travel Log #6: Switzerland

Sailboats on Lake Geneva from the lawn of the Brocher foundation

Sailboats on Lake Geneva from the lawn of the Brocher foundation

Well what can one say about this little jewel of a country? It is amazingly beautiful – mountains with peaks that are like children’s drawings of mountains – so satisfyingly mountainy – lakes full of sailboats – tiny flotillas of baby sails on weekends when the young are initiated into the yacht club life – hillsides ripe with grapes (who knew the Swiss made wine? 36% of what they consume, very little exported) and apples. The cities are pretty, clean and expensive. We do a lot of what the French refer to as << lèche vitrine >> that is literally licking the windows / window shopping. The merchants are complicit in this activity, neat little signs tell you that that dress is 649 chf (about $649 Canadian) and the lovely bag to go with it may be 1200 chf.

Ray and Denny

Denny and Ray

Last weekend (September 25) our friends Denny and Ray Rees who live in Munich came to visit. Their arrival coincided with the official opening of the villa which is the main building of La Fondation Brocher (www.brocher.ch). It is a 19th century villa that once housed Dr. And Mrs. Brocher. He was a doctor who specialized in problems of the spine (wish he were still around). She was a writer/socialite. Both were rich. With no heirs to leave their huge “domaine” and fortune, they decided to fund a foundation where researchers could come and, in this Eden on the lake, discuss and reflect (and hopefully write papers) on the life sciences in their legal, ethical, and social aspects. (How, you ask, does Michael fit in with his crass economics? Well, he also researches the insurance complications of genetic testing.)

Brocher House

Brocher House

Their house had been totally renovated before our arrival and was being officially opened to the public last Friday (September 25). It rained :( but we stood on the porch and listened to several (a whole lot of!) speeches by mayors, governors of Cantons, and University deans, etc. Then we ate canapés, drank champagne, and visited the house. (Michael had only one flute of champagne as he was on a panel with some bio-ethicists to discuss Obamacare as part of the “celebrations”. Michael didn’t know much about this previous to this “honour” being bestowed upon him, so he spent much of the week searching out details and forming an opinion about their merits.)  I have already picked out my room in the villa. It is huge with access to balconies on two sides. In future, visiting researchers will be housed and fed in the villa.

Our lodgings in Hermance

Our lodgings in Hermance

Now we are in a neat apartment over the garage. It was the chauffeur’s digs. It, too, has been renovated and has 3 bedrooms, living-dining room, modern kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Downside is that we may get a roommate next week. Hope he/she can fit in among all of our junk.

Water Jet Lake Geneva

Water Jet Lake Geneva

Back to Denny and Ray’s visit. On Saturday we set out to circle Lake Geneva / Lac Léman. Our first stop was a little “cave” (winery) where the proprietor took us on a tour of the vineyard, the squishing part and wine vats. Then on to the best bit … the tasting. (It was by then just after 12:00.) We sampled substantial quantities, we liked, we bought, then we filled the trunk and clinked happily on our way. (N.B. The hapless and ever responsible M. Hoy once again had to be prudent and took only 2 small sips as he was doing the driving.)

We stayed as close to the lake as possible and continued (through the rain) through Lausanne, Lutry, Cully, Rivaz, St. Saphorin, until hunger drove us out of the car in search of food. Strangely enough, restaurants in this part of the world stop serving lunch at 1:30 or 2:00. For those of us who got up and breakfasted rather late, 1:30 is too early for lunch. We were faced with finding a restaurant that was 1. Still serving and 2. Had somewhere to park. Luckily in Vevry just near Montreux, we found a large Italian resto that would give us some pasta but not pizza, the ovens being cold. Sounded good to us and we sat down. The big surprise came when I opened my menu. There in the long list of pastas was one called Shania Twain. Now you all know that Ms. Twain is Canada’s first lady of country music (although this fact escaped Ray and Denny to our horror) and that she and her ex (Mutt) have a chateau in Switzerland. Well guess what – we were at her local pizzeria. The waitress even explained that Ms. Twain was often there and she pointed out her favourite dishes. I chose not one of her favourites but a very good “Sicilian” with eggplant and basil and lots of cheese. I told the waitress that the next time Shania was there that she should let her know that I, a fellow Canadian, highly recommended the Sicilian.

Yvoire

Yvoire

We continued on our trip around the lake and, having lunched late and a lot, had cheese and our new wine for dinner. Sunday we set out for France, which is a very small undertaking since we could walk to France from Hermance in about 15 minutes or less. Farther down on the lake is the medieval town of Yvoire. It is a little bijou right on the lake. The local château is still occupied by the Yvoires but they have opened their kitchen garden to visitors and organized it into le Jardin des cinq sens (The Garden of the Five Senses). Birds and water features cater to hearing, various plants provide the fodder for the other senses. I had visited the garden during the week but Denny, who loves gardening, spent a happy hour letting her senses be assailed.

Next week we go to Fribourg where Michael is giving a talk at the University. It is supposed to be a beautiful city and we’ll go to another part of la Suisse. In just 3 weeks we will be on the way Munich. Tempus fugit!

P.S. We have been on our trip around La Suisse. We had a long what in Canada would have been Thanksgiving weekend and even ate turkey once. We visited galleries and museums and ate at great, medium and fair restaurants, saw more amazing mountains and lakes thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Now it is time to wrap up our last visits around here (keeping in mind that Michael spends most of his days glued to his computer) and pack up our growing stock of stuff and think about heading off to Munich.

Michael and the Matterhorn

Michael and the Matterhorn

Maureen and the Matterhorn

Maureen and the Matterhorn

Michael and wiessbier contemplating the Matterhorn

Michael and wiessbier contemplating the Matterhorn

Michael and wiessbier contemplating the Matterhorn

Maureen and wiessbier and Matterhorn

Editor’s note: If you missed the earlier installments of my mom’s travel journal, you can check them out here. My parents head for Munich at the end of this week, so look for one final Germany installment before they’re back province-side (does that work?).  As you can see from the above, they hung out by the Matterhorn and drank some beer, which is in my opinion probably the best way to see it.  It’s definitely the safest anyway.

Share | This entry was posted in living and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Trackback

  1. By eduardo on July 29, 2014 at 2:17 am

    titus@boron.hoppled” rel=”nofollow”>.…

    tnx for info!!…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>