Once upon a time in Europe – Part 3 – Chateau de Chillon
Me : I would love to see a castle, you know like one of those that come in the Lord of the Rings. That’s one of my dreams too !
Bro : Sigh ! How many such dreams do you have? Well, there wont be any Lord of the Rings kinda castle nearby. Lets see.
He searched for a few castles in and around Basel and gave me a few options. And I chose Chateau de Chillon
Warning : Too many pics, long post !
Chateau de Chillon is located at Montreux, closer to France and thats why the castle had a french name (Chateau in French means Castle, Schloss is the word in German). The train from Basel goes via Vevey (saw the head quarters of my ex employer- Nestle), Lousanne and finally reaches Montreux.
It was noon already and half way through the walk, I felt hungry. They had all kinds of joints on the way itself. Somehow all those McDs and Pizza outlets were not appealing and I walked further to see if I could get something else (and I wasn’t sure what that something was even). And guess what I found, ‘Sultan’ – an Indian Restaurant !!!
There was this guy who was standing out and greeting everyone with a Bon Jour (sounded to me like Pazhan chor, which in malayalam means old cooked rice). I went up to him, and said Namastey. He got so excited and asked me from where I was and on hearing me say ‘Kerala’, he started jumping with joy. Like they say, you could find a mallu (Keralite) even on the moon !!! The chap, named Tjs, is a Keralite who happened to work there for his Hotel Management interns. He mentioned that no Keralite had ever visited that restaurant. I wasn’t surprised, because I wouldve been the only INDIAN searching for Indian restaurants even on a short foreign trip ! In a few minutes, the owner of the restaurant came and we started conversing in Hindi (Yes, folks and Smita, he was so glad that someone spoke to him in Hindi, if not shudh 😉 ) Apparently, neither the restaurant nor he was an Indian, they were from Pakistan. According to him, if he had put the word Pakistan anywhere in and around the restaurant, there wouldn’t be any one visiting his restaurant and wouldn’t be able to even open a restaurant in the first place. I really felt bad for him and for all those Pakistanis who has to live this way in foreign countries just because a few of them in their country are loonies.
But I guess there is another reason why none of the Indians went there! The food at Sultan was aweful ! I opted for their lunch buffet since I didn’t want Tjs to serve me after all the native talk and bonding we developed. I went through the salad section; they had four different kinds of salads and except for one, the rest had cows and pigs in them ! Got the only veg salad, fed my mouth with a spoonful of it while asking my new friend about his whereabouts in Kerala. Guys, the moment I had that in my mouth, I really didn’t know what to do. I cant spit the food in front of Tjs, and I didn’t want to have it in my mouth either. Tjs looked at me and asked what happened. I showed him the usual gesture for water with my hand and he brought me pepsi (thank God, I mean, thank Tjs). With no second thoughts, I drank Pepsi and swallowed that whatever-was-in-my-mouth along with it, in one gulp. After regaining myself from the torture,
Me : Why is this tasting so horrible ? I was about to puke.
He : Probably because of the fish pieces.
Me (all shocked) : Fish? Where ??
—I looked into the salad again, there were corn, peas, some other vegetables and a white color stuff. I pointed at those and :
Me : “this isnt cheese?”.
—He smiled and nodded his head in disagreement.
Whaat a country ! and they call that a veg salad !
Not wanting to take another risk, I went directly to where the rice was kept had it along with two spoons of dal and a spoon of bhindi masala. So much for my Indian ‘lunch’!!! Took a snap along with Tjs with my stomach growling and my mouth still craving for tasty food !
I continued the walk again, humming my songs, making a few people raise their eyebrows with those songs, standing on the pavement with photographic poses (I mean, there were no one to take my snap, but I just love standing like that !) and finally reached my dream !
The entrance fee was 12 francs, you could also opt for an audio guide (an I-pod with 29 tracks) when you pay for the tickets which is another 6 francs.
I am glad I opted for the guide or else I wouldn’t have had any idea what I was looking at. Btw, do we have these kind of audio help here in India? I havnt been to any of the historic monuments here in India, except for Chennais Mahabalipuram.
The moment I entered the castle, I got transported to the 12th century; the music and the explanation from the Ipod helped a lot.
It was an awesome experience, one of the best days of my life. Here are some of the pics from in and out of the castle :
After returning the audio guide, I went inside their souvenir shop. Found a lot of exciting stuffs inside, but man, they were damn expensive ! I was about to leave the shop when on their shelf, I found a structure of this castle in paper, that looked like one of those foldable maps :
Me : For sale ?
Lady in red : Yes …yes…19 francs
Me : Is it foldable ? Foldable map kind of…?
Lady in red : Yes..yes..foldable…19 francs…good…good..
—I knew she didn’t understand English and so turned to the lady in white.
Me : I will have one of those (pointing to the showpiece)
Lady in white : Here you are…5 days….5 days…
—gosh, even she didn’t know English. But I kept wondering, what she meant by ‘5 days’ ?
On my way back, I preferred the mini cruise, a few snaps taken from where I sat :
Went to the station directly and spent some time over there ‘bird watching’ (I was single back then and I had the rights to.Hmmpphh !!!). I was too excited to open my souvenir and that’s the first thing I did after getting a seat inside the train. And needless to say, I got the shock of my life !! I realized what a fool I was; I shouldve atleast opened it from the shop. Good god, I cant even go back and return it !!
All it had was bits and pieces of paper and yes, a foldable cardboard (so that it fits in the package). Now I am supposed to build the castle on my own right from its foundation stone sticking those papers together !! So much for my folding castle !
There wasn’t even a reference inside to build the castle, except for some numbers on the board and on the papers. Got back to India and with my limited memory on the castle and the few snaps, I worked on those bits and pieces. It took me 4 days and 3 Fevi-sticks to complete that architecture!!! No wonder the lady in white mentioned 5 days…5 days !!! But I must admit, I had good fun doing it, it was like a travel to that wonderful castle once again.
Here and some of the before and after pics :
I reached home pretty late, somewhere around 11pm. My flight to London was at 10.30 am the next day. My bro was supposed to get my tickets to London printed from his office since he was the one who got it booked online. But I guess, I influenced him a lot that he completely forgot about it. Ok, now I am leaving to London at 10.30 am the next day for which I don’t have tickets with me, and I need to get out of the house atleast by 7.30 am !!!
Bro : Don’t oversleep. We would have to go to my office first, get the printouts, catch a tram and then your train, which is at 8.30. Since we have already checked in online, you just have to go directly to the immigration.
Me : and whens the next train ?
Bro : 8.50, which is of no use. Because you would reach Zurich by 9.50 and I don’t think they would let you in for the 10.30 am flight.
Me : Gulp. Ok, will wake up at 6am, that’s enough, na?
Bro : No, wake up at 5 am. You spend a lot of time in the bathroom !
Me : Don’t worry, I wont be late. Will wake up by 6.
Bro : (sigh!) Whatever !!!
After dinner, I checked some of those castle snaps and by 12.30 went to bed quoting Joeys “LONDON BABY” !!!
Next in this series : London (City)