Thursday 9 October.
We cheated slightly today but considered it legitimate as the Cicerone guide gave it as an option. It said that in days of old when pilgrims came to a large obstacle like the English Channel they took a boat, as we did. Similarly when reaching Lake Geneva they sailed round to the other side. We had another couple of reasons, firstly Switzerland is so expensive and trying to find accommodation at reasonable prices is well nigh impossible, so to cut at least ones night in Switzerland is a saving. Secondly we would like to cross the Grand St Bernard Pass and every day's delay at this time of year could result in snow blocking the way. So we took the ferry from Ouchy, the port on the lake outside Lausanne to the Chateau de Chillon. This was as far as the ferry went and it left us a 3km walk to Villeneuve where we were booked for the night. Finally Moira as a teenager had read the 'chalet school' books and the girls taking trips on the Swiss lakes and always wanted to do it, so this was an opportunity not to be missed.
The woman at reception last night had checked the ferry time on the computer and it left from Ouchy at 3:30 pm. We also issued by the hotel passes for the Metro, so after breakfast we decided to take it to Ouchy and check out how long it takes to get to the ferry terminal. We packed up after breakfast and left our rucksacks in reception for collection later then headed for the Metro. The station was close by and the train was crowded when it arrived, it took about 15 minutes to get to Ouchy and by the time we got there most of the people had already got off at previous stops. The tourist information office was just outside the Metro station and we went there first. The woman again was very helpful and told us that there was an earlier ferry at 11:40 am that we could consider. She was able to supply tickets, 56 Swiss francs, and we could use them today on either ferry. She also phoned the Pastor of the church in Martingy about accommodation there for this Saturday. A woman answered who said it would probably be all right but she couldn't make the decision but would phone us or the tourist info once she contacted the Pastor.
Now the ferry was settled we headed back by the Metro to the city centre to do some sight-seeing. The main attraction was the Cathedral which was above the square near our hotel. We climbed up the stairs and thought it was closed when we saw a notice on the door about a funeral being held in the Cathedral closing today, but it wasn't until the afternoon. The architecture was similar to the other Cathedrals we had visited recently, long tall arched centre and side aisles with vaulted roofs. The difference with this one was the stained glass windows, they were so bright and detailed in a modern design the images immediately struck you on entering the church. After a casual stroll round this remarkable place we went outside and there was a view point that looked over the lake and to the high mountains on the other side. The mountains weren't very clear due to a heat haze, today we had a cloudless blue sky and it was very warm even at this early hour.
We weren't sure what else there was to see in the city but decided the view from the ferry would be better and decided to take the early option. We headed back to the hotel, picked up our bags and made our way to the Metro. It was all pretty quick and we had a hour to spare when we arrived at the terminal in Ouchy. We strolled down to the quays to confirm where we caught our boat then went for a walk. It was now extremely hot so instead found a bench in the shade to sit. We had a wonderful view across the lake but still the haze prevented a clear picture of the mountains. I made a cup of coffee and we carried it with us when we went to board. There was a queue to get on and we had to wait for about 10 minutes in the heat before getting on board.
We went up on to the top deck and found a seat with a good view. When we boarded the officer was shouting out about 1st and 2nd class passengers. I suspected that we had gone to the 1st class area. I had a walk about and found that on the deck below at the bow were wooden benches and most of the people were there, that was definitely 'steerage'. We moved down there and got a seat at the side. When it cast off and made its way up the lake it created a breeze which was quite cool, we were also in the shade and ended up putting our fleeces on again. The ferry was a paddle steamer, like the ones on the Clyde when we used to go on Sunday School picnics 'doon the water'. The first thing as kids was to head down to see the engines and paddles. It was like that here with the large pistons and huge rods driving the paddles and the paddles could be seen rotating through windows in the sides.
Back on deck we sat and soaked up the atmosphere of the outstanding views as the boat made it a way along the lake calling in at jetties at some small and some large places that we would have passed through if we had continued walking. When it stopped at a jetty the crew were very efficient, they threw the ropes over the capstans and the boat pulled itself to the dock, the gangway was quickly put into position, people got on and off then we were away again. On the far side of the lake there was the magnificent high peaks still in a heat haze while on the near shore we passed terraces of vines along the hillsides. The woman in the tourist office had told us that they were originally planted and tended by the monks, now the terraces were a World Heritage Site. Each village and town that we passed had its own characteristics, an old chateau or a church with high spires or a building with many pinnacles. It all required photographing and I took plenty. A more modern aspect along the coast was the railways, there seemed to be three lines, one at lake level another midway up the slope and another near the top. Also a motorway ran along the hillside. There were a number of viaducts to accommodate the road and rail lines. As we got nearer to the next big city of Montreaux the high mountains behind became clearer and there were some high ridges and sharp pointed peaks. On one flat top high above the city a turreted castle was perched. As we approached the terminus at Chateau de Chillon everybody was at the bow taking photographs of the chateau. It was a fairy tale castle built on the rocks on the lakeside.
When we disembarked we went to the gardens in front of the chateau and found a seat. I made some coffee and we had bread and cheese for lunch. We were sitting in the sun and it was far too hot forcing us to move to a seat in the shade. Before heading for Villeneuve I went to entrance to the chateau to check the prices for visiting. Even with a concession for pensioners, it would have cost a total of over €20 to go in, we headed along a path beside the lake instead. As we went along there were information boards, at intervals, giving the history of the Chsteau de Chillon and Villeneuve. The views were still outstanding and even the short walk was a pleasure.
When we reached Villeneuve and turned into the town there was the information office in front of us. We requested a stamp for our credentials but she said there was a better one at the religious commune nearby. Then she attempted to get in touch with the Pastor at Martigny for accommodation for Saturday. She got the same woman as this morning who still has to get to OK from the head man. We have to call back later to see if there is any word. Next we found our hotel, the Hotel du Soliel, on the Grand Rue. It was all right but about the same standard as those in Spain that cost €30 for the night not over €100.
Moira checked her Euro card and found that they had deducted the charge for the hotel last night and she had also paid in cash. She was going to get the woman at the tourist office to phone about that as well. I stayed in and worried about yet another problem and added expense. When Moira returned it was all good news. The deduction on the card was just a holding provision until everything was OK'ed then it would be reversed. The other positive was that we are booked into the church rooms in Martigny for Saturday night, the woman had phoned back after getting the go-ahead from the Pastor. Moira also did some shopping at the Coop and we are dining in the room tonight.
One good thing about the hotel was the WiFi, it was excellent. All the hotels in Switzerland have had a strong signal in the rooms,at least we get something for the money. Suzy phoned on FaceTime and we watched Hollie having her dinner, she doesn't half like her food. After we had our dinner it was a relaxing time lying in bed reading and listening to the radio. After a sleepless night last night I was very tired and dropped off to sleep early. I had a very peaceful worry free night and hopefully refreshed for the coming hills.