Monday, March 12, 2012

Deep Purple, Freddie Mercury, Lord Byron and the Golden Pass Panoramic Train


In 1291, modern Switzerland begins officially with the signing of an independence pact against the power and tyranny of the Hapsburg uniting the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden at a historic meeting at Rütli Meadow. Many historians consider the event, and the accompanying William Tell legend, to have actually taken place in 1307.

A bit of a bad day today as I planned my usual Monday sight-seeing trip by buying train tickets last Thursday only to find out at the Lugano scrimmage yesterday that the usual Tuesday Junior practice had been changed to Monday for the rest of the season. There was just no way that I could back in time for practice . . . DAMN!

I was scheduled for a six hour round trip ride on the Golden Pass Panoramic train to the northern Lake Geneva resort city of Montreaux via the incredibly beautiful Alps.

All good road trips start with a pretzel

Brezelkönig sells delicious warm pretzels as you enter the Thun Bahnhof, I opted for the raclette pretzel on the left.

The one on the right is DEFINITELY a Tiger fan!

This is a supposed ad for the Swiss train system but I instantly recognized the hidden meaning, as in all great art, as the girl on the right is sending the subliminal "GO TIGERS" message to all of Switzerland.

I need a sledge hammer.

The trip today started at 9:01 a.m. with a one hour train ride to Zweisimmen. I thought that this ride was as scenic as it gets, was I ever going to be proved wrong.

Once in Zweisimmen, I had a 30 minute wait before boarding the Golen Pass Panoramic train for an hour and 45 minute ride through the Alps. The views were breathtaking to say the least.

Now, my photography guru, Jason Johnson, taught me as a youth that taking pictures from any moving vehicle is a losing proposition which I agree with wholeheartedly.

Still, in the digital age of photography, take a lot of pictures and maybe one or two will turn out.

On the way to Zweisimmen

The Zweisimmen Bahnhof

The Train du Chocolat

This train only runs from May to August and takes you to a cheese dairy, the Gruyéres Castle and, voilá, a chocolate factory. I think Laurie will like the Train du Chocolat.

Bring on the Alpine scenes

Here are the few that I decided to keep from the Golden Pass Panoramic ride through the Alps, and please be sure that you sit on the right side of the train, no captions needed. . .

"We all came out to Montreaux,
On the Lake Geneva shoreline . . ."

Familiar lyrics? We'll get back to them soon.

Brian FitzGerald . . . "COME ON DOWN!!!"

Belle Époque is the In-Style in Montreaux

The Montreaux Gare

Bahnhof in the Swiss-German speaking region, Gare in the French language West of Switzerland. It is a very nice train station.

Montreaux Coat-of-Arms

The first thing on the agenda was to walk along the Lake Geneva shoreline on the Grand Rue in search of the famous, once burned down, Casino de Montreaux.

Table Tennis

The lake was calm and the Sun was bright, why not a quick game of ping-pong by the lakeshore?

Hey, my sign is Cancer, the Crab

Montreaux abounds with
grand hotels like this one

Freddie Mercury

The lead singer of the great rock band Queen, Mercury settled in Montreaux where he bought a recording studio where his last album "Made in Heaven" was recorded.

Montreaux has been a haven for artists and writers since the 1700s.

Freddie and George

Freddie Mercury died in Montreaux in November of 1991.

The Farmer's Market

Big on Fridays, not so much on Mondays.

Inside the open air Farmer's Market

Lunch on the Lake

Blue Meets Blue

"They burned down the gambling house,
It died with an awful sound"

The view of Lake Geneva from the Casino de Montreaux was an inspiration to Ian Gillan of the band Deep Purple on the night of December 4, 1971.

The Rebuilt Casino de Montreaux

"To make records with a mobile,
We didn't have much time,
But Frank Zappa and the Mothers,
Were at the best place around . . ."

On that fateful night, Deep Purple was scheduled to use a mobile recording studio, owned by the Rolling Stones and located in the Casino, but only after a concert that evening by Frank Zappa and his band The Mothers on Invention.

"But some stupid with a flare gun,
Burned the place to the ground . . ."

As the story goes, during the concert, a fan shot off a flare gun in the Casino. Surprisingly, the flare caught the Casino on fire and razed it to the ground.

The Casino has improved their security in the last 40+ years I am told.

A few days later, Ian Gillan sat down and wrote a song about what he saw that evening as the Casino burned and the smoke wafted towards Lake Geneva. The song would become Deep Purple's signature song and soon be prominently etched in rock history.


Now you know the rest of the story.

If you want more on this story, check with Jake, the kid on the TV show, "Two and a Half Men."

Villa Isabel

Right on the shoreline and quite nice.

This is Wine Country

Girl on a Walk

I decided to keep walking along the shoreline towards Montreaux's Chillon Castle. Normally it is a 45 minute stroll but with all of the pictures I was taking, it took me more like 90 minutes.

Rooms With a View

Chillon Castle

Construction began in the 12th century on a rocky little island that offered natural protection.

Sixteenth century events here would one day inspire British writer Lord Byron after visiting Montreaux to write the poem "Prisoner of Chillon."

Turrets are a MUST on any self-respecting castle

As is a BIG clock


Lord Byron was into graffiti

This pillar, in the castle's dungeon, has been written on by many vandals over the centuries but none more famous than Lord Byron who carved his name here where it is lovingly protected to this day.

A Memorial to Lord Byron

He helped make the castle famous with his aforementioned 1816 poem about François Bonivard who had been kept a prisoner in the dungeon by the Duke of Savoy who controlled the area at that time.

Bonivard's crime was "political incitement."

Bonivard's punishment?

Being chained to this pillar
from 1530 to 1536

In 1536, after six long years chained to this ring, the forces from Bern routed the Duke of Savoy's troops and freed Bonivard.

Lord Byron's poem deals with the cruel and unusual punishment that had been dealt to Bonivard.

Gothic Ceilings

Former Escape Route to Lake Geneva

The Castle Keep

The Dining Hall

Flying Cow?

A beautifully carved, ornate chest

The Master Bedroom

A Tribute to the canton of Bern


The Coat-of-Arms of the canton of Vaud

Look close . . .
a Griffin and a Dragon

Two seater latrine

Lone Turret

The view back to Montreaux
from the Castle Keep


Ornate Castle Furnace


If you first can land on the island and then breach the outer wall on the left, you then have to climb this steep, uneven rock wall before reaching the main inner part of Chillon Castle.

Roof With Fungus

The view East from atop the Keep

And the view West

I still had another three hour trip back to Thun so it was time to go back to Helvetica. I didn't get to see Montreaux's Old Town due to lack of time, so I plan to return with Laurie later in the Spring.

Maybe we'll take the Train du Chocolat.

Sunset back at the Zweisimmen Bahnhof

Safely back in Helvetica

Dare I open this small bottle of pinot noir from Chillon Castle's own vinyard?

It is good for the heart I am told.


1 comment:

steveswindle said...

George, that lovely young lady with the Sledge Hammer is actually holding a two in one tool. The upper side looks to be a "maul", used for splitting things. Since Tigers do indeed "maul" their are correct in your assumption of subliminal messaging. Go Tigers!!!!