Sunday Sofa Sojourns #21: Montreux, Switzerland

I inadvertently skipped a Sunday. Forgive me. It’s December and we’re almost at the end of the tunnel that is 2020. How are you holding up?

Our hotel in Montreux looked like it popped straight out of a Wes Anderson set.

I loved the hotel’s mango ice cream-colored carpets, its rooms equipped with inner and outer doors, and the thick wooden side table which looked like it used to house a retro radio with knobs and dials (since removed, leaving the table with unexplained holes). My suspicions were confirmed when I leafed through the hotel flyer and discovered it was built in the 1870s.

On the plus side, the hotel was conveniently located next to Lake Geneva, a short walk from the train station and a longer (but still easy) walk to Chillon Castle. The castle is actually a medieval château made famous by Lord Byron in his poem ‘The Prisoner of Chillon,’ which he wrote after a visit to the castle back when it was still used as an actual prison.

Chillon Castle

According to the castle guide, Byron single-handedly kick-started tourism to the castle, which is now one of the most visited historical monuments in Switzerland. A true turista, Lord Byron also graffiti-ed his name on one of the columns in the castle dungeons. Unlike normal-person graffiti though, his is carefully preserved.

The walk back to the hotel from Chillon Castle is dotted with these wire figures performing random sports activities. Here’s one pole dancing.

Random fact — I took a pole dancing class years ago! It’s not as easy as it looks


Our hotel was also located next to the town promenade where a statue of Freddie Mercury stood. From the plaque at the base, I found out that 1) Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on the East African island of Zanzibar (!), 2) he had strong links to the town and acquired a lakeside studio here in 1978, and 3) Montreux was where he did his final work. I savoured these new pieces of trivia and envied Freddie his daily view.


We had lunch with old friends whom we hadn’t caught up properly with during the wedding – walnut pesto, sticky four-cheese pizza, and clams which were surprisingly good (and way better than what the Hub and I had in Nice). Afterward, we had gelato outdoors along the lake. I can’t remember why but the conversation turned to babies. E said she was sure she didn’t want any, she couldn’t stand the fussiness. A said she was undecided. Both had urgent questions for me, the sole mother in the group at that time.

Did I eat fish during pregnancy? Yes, but I had to cut out sushi (which A found acceptable) and alcohol (this, she protested). Could you feed babies water? I replied no.

I shared with A that I didn’t really like being pregnant (“You’re not helping!” said E, who wished for A to get started on the baby-making ASAP). I felt I had to explain so I started, “Don’t get me wrong…” “Hay naku, when someone starts with ‘don’t get me wrong’ that’s where I get concerned,” E said. I had to laugh.

I love the end result, of course. But admitting that one dislikes the process of getting there, the bloat and the bulge and the heaviness, the way your body stretches to accommodate a tiny human (but does not stretch politely back when the human is out, how rude) – that’s an unpopular opinion, it seems. What with the ‘glow’ all pregnant women are supposed to experience (which I call BS on). Anyway, every time I talk about this I always tend to over-explain.

A wall of chocolate at the grocery. No limits on chocolate when you’re pregnant


After our lunch the Hub and I hopped on the GoldenPass Panoramic to Zweisimmen, which after two more train changes would eventually see us in the Swiss Alps, where we planned to spend a few days. The panoramic express was truly worth it – rolling hills, chalets perched alongside said hills, snow-capped mountains, flowing canals, and cows standing on the slopes (how do they do that?!). The scenery was so achingly beautiful that at one point the Hub turned to me and said, “Ganito ba buong Switzerland?” in disbelief. I completely agree – the Swiss lucked out.

The train ride was around five hours long. We passed the time reading, soaking in the Sound-of-Music like fields zipping past, and having intelligent conversations like this (which I faithfully jotted down in my journal):

Hub: “Gaano kaya kataas yung clearing na yun?”

Me: “Mataas.”

H: “Eh yung isang mountain na yun papunta sa isa?”

M: “Mas mataas.”

H: “Eh yung paakyat dun sa may ice?”

M: “Super taas.”

I also people-watched a bit. Next to us sat a trio of women, one a platinum blonde woman in her 30s, one with black hair streaked with grey, and the third an older, smaller woman with thick, all-white curls (I will call her Little Old Lola a.k.a. LOL). LOL told the most stories — her voice full of energy and loud enough for me to hear (and listen to, had I understood French). All three ladies nursed a plastic glass of wine. LOL finished hers well before they got off at their stop.

I could get used to this. Travelling on trains subsisting on nothing but Vittel water and small croissants for weeks. When I’m as old as LOL, hopefully.

Think critically dear readers,