The move-in/settle-in frustrationaganza is finally settling down here. There are still a few outstanding To Do Tidbits, but with temperatures in the mid-twenties and the sun high in the sky, it’s time to get out there and see what there is to see in the Swiss Riviera before the grey of winter descends upon us.

Saturday past we decided to give the very touristy funiculaire ride a whirl. It’s a small train car that slowly (and quite vertically) carts you up through the Lavaux vineyards to Mont-Pèlerin where all the toil and trouble of international relocation just disappears …

Yes, there are churches and actual Swiss chalets …

And further down this road you can even find a Tibetan monastery where, on this lovely day, they were having a grand procession to welcome someone of great importance. There were Buddhist monks all over the place, a sea of bald heads and saffron robes escorting other monks in fancy hats to a large ceremony. I say if you are going to spend your life meditating, why not do it in a place as inspiring as this.

Now the funiculaire stops right at the gates of the Mirador Kempinski, a very swanky hotel as you can tell by the name. And when I say swanky, I mean schwankaaay. As in this is the hotel car …

Oh I love a joint that has a Rolls Royce limo at your disposal. The good news is that one of their three restaurants is unassuming enough to welcome Canadians wearing ratty jeans and sensible shoes. We sat on the massive terrace that overlooks the lake and mountains and, in our usual high roller style, we ordered the finest beverages on offer …

That beer was so big that I had to use both hands to lift it. But for a manly he-man like my Neil …

a bucket-o-beer as big as your head is no problem. The very height of elegance and refinement he is. But the beer I call a nap waiting to happen turned out to be a great conversation starter.

At the table next to us sat three men and a woman. They too were soaking up the sun and autumnal majesty and one of the men asked Neil in German something about the beer. We must have looked confused, so he switched to French and he was asking about the quality of the beer, a big topic in these parts. We got to talking (in fact they talked in German, French and English, the bastards) and they proved to be a fascinating find.

Every Thursday they consult the weather for all of Switzerland and wherever it looks the best becomes their destination for Saturday. By 7 a.m. they’re on a train from their home in Zurich to spend the day sightseeing in the country they love so very much. They return to Zurich every Saturday night, a testament to the impressive Swiss train system.

Two of the men were father and son, the elder gentleman an incredibly spry 90 years of age. As soon as they heard we were newly landed foreigners, they opened their backpacks, hauled out their maps and showed us everything we needed to see in Switzerland. They assured us we’d chosen to live in the most beautiful region of the country. I knew I was a genius to come here and this proves it.

So now I’m inspired to try and get out there as much as possible. Every Saturday’s a stretch but still, it’s quite a concept. Lord knows I’m not getting any younger, so I’m checking out discount train passes while Neil checks the beer forecast—clear and cold with a chance of froth.

 

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