Switzerland, while nice, is, as I’ve said, incredibly expensive. And since I’m not sue I’ll ever be back here, I wanted to see this castle which is about 45km from Geneva, just outside the Jazz Festival home Montreux. It’s also where Byron wrote a fairly famous poem, “The Prisoner of Chillon.” about Francois de Bonivard. Evidently this trip was becoming a fair bit about Lord Byron.
The train ride up to the the castle was easy enough, I bought my round trip ticket and castle entrance in Geneva (and saved a few bucks) so I didn’t have to worry about that and the stop was about 100m from the entrance so everything was good. Along the way the tracks hugged the shoreline of Lake Geneva and presented some wonderful views.
The castle itself claims to be one of the best preserved castles in Europe and while I don’t know how accurate that is, this building is remarkably complete. Most castles you visit which are this old are basically ruins with a weather beaten illustration telling you what used to be there. Not this one! Here you get the rooms, with original (if restored) decorations and wall paintings. I again took advantage of the audio tour and so followed a proscribed path around the structure which takes you into almost every room and across the sentry walks and even up into the castle’s keep, which, at 25m, is the highest point around.
The castle is built on an island so it is completely surrounded by water (conveniently creating a moat).
The tour starts downstairs in the dungeon, where you see not only where Byron’s “prisoner” was chained up for four years, but also where Byron himself scratched his name into the pillar. Then through four different courtyards and a multitude of rooms (including the grand ballrooms and the toilets) you get a real sense of the history of the place and all the people who lived there over the years.
After the castle, I walked the 4km to Montreux, a high end resort town (seriously, if I thought Geneva was expensive!) complete with a casino and a statue of Freddie Mercury who, evidently, considered Montreux a second home). Then a quick train ride back to Geneva and a walk through the city center to pick up some souvenirs and enjoy my last night there.
I even avoided eating out and fixed myself pasta with a cheap, watery sauce back in my hotel.
In the morning I discovered I had picked the perfect time to leave. It was gray and overcast and, by the time I got to the airport, was raining.
I met up with Christie and Meg at the EasyJet check in counter and we headed off together to find food and our flight.
It was a great vacation but I was looking forward to getting home. There was a dog and my own bed awaiting me.