Day 1: Montreux.

Day 1 - Lake Geneva - Rain

It was raining hard all night and into late morning.  So doing the first mountain stage with steep slopes and two difficult cols was almost out of the question.  Besides I would have started too late and without poles.  So after some hesitation and not finding reasonable transportation options, I made a decision to walk to Montreux, Switzerland.  This is kind of backwards - makes it even farther from the starting point.   

Day 1 - Hotel Room

The trails were flat and groomed well.  I walked mostly around the Lac Leman and at some point in the Natural Reserve along the river Rhone. 

It took just over 4 hours to get to Montreux and find a reasonably priced Pension Wilhelm hotel to stay.  The only bathroom on the floor is shared and there is no TV in the room.  But this is luxury compared to the accommodations along the GR5 route. 

Day 1 - Chillon 5 or 6 years ago Montreux was the finish point of the final stage of my Pass Route walk across Switzerland.  It was nice to see again the famous Chillon Castle, the nice flowered embankments along the lake, the various pieces of public art including the statue of Freddie Mercury (We Will Rock You) who recorded his last album “Made in Heaven” here in Montreux. 

Day 1 - Freddie Mercury There are also noticeable changes.  The huge freeway viaduct way above the city was under construction.  Now it is open and there are fewer cars on the city streets.  Some city busses are replaced by trolley-busses (electrically powered).  Last time I did not notice any gambling establishments and now the Casino district is a bustling area not far from the center with dozens of expensive stores around it. The Tourist Information (TI) map explains that the Casino was destroyed by fire in 1971 and the Deep Purple wrote “Smoke on the Water” in memory of this event.  I kind of regret, that I know that now, because it takes some of the song's weirdness away. 

Day 1 - Restaurant Pravda Probably the most noticeable change I found was the incredible amount of Arab looking people, mostly family groups with kids of all ages, women dressed in their traditional dresses, walking along the lake. Maybe this is somehow related to the Casino opening but it is very noticeable in a rather small Swiss town.