Switzerland. A bit of history, nature and lakes. (March/April 2019)

March 28, 2019. Stuttgart, Germany to Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

We were on the train again, this time to visit Denis and Martine in Arnex-sur-Orbe in Switzerland. 

The first stop was Zurich, with only seven minutes to make our connection to Yverdon les Baines. 

We failed by 30 seconds. 

The Swiss rail system prides itself on their punctuality and rules. Which is why we got told off by the conductor of the next train, for missing the last one. 

We had a discount fare which only applies to the train you book. 

We got away with it. 

Martine and Denis put on a home cooked meal, which was very welcome. 

Not that we had missed out having had several in Berlin and one in Stuttgart. 


The ages of Charlie

March 29, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

The weather was beautiful. 

Spring had come to Switzerland and the skies were blue, the blossom blooming and the bees buzzing. 

Martine’s mother, who was approaching 100, had had a fall, so Martine went to visit her. Denis had to attend a retirement lunch in Vevey, so we went to visit Chaplin’s World. This is a museum dedicated to the life of Charlie Chaplin (1889 -1977) who spent 24 years living just outside of the city. 

As a result of ‘McCathyism’ in the States, Charlie was exiled to Europe. 

Charlie Chaplin is one of the most important figures in 20th century filmmaking.

He wrote, directed, edited, acted, produced and composed the music for a large range of both silent and talkie movies.

Chaplin was born in London and his childhood was one of poverty and hardship. When he was 14 his mother was committed to a mental asylum and his father was absent. He then began performing in music halls and developed his skills as an actor and comedian.

At 19 he move to America and joined the famous Keystone Studios. There he developed his Tramp character and by 1918 he was one of the most famous actors in the world.

In 1919 he founded the film distribution company United Artist. This bold move gave him complete control over the production of his movies, something many actors of the time, and even now, never get.

The Chaplin Museum is set in his mansion, Manoir de Ban and surrounded by beautiful gardens. 

The exhibition is divided into two parts. The first traces his life, relationships and politics and is situated in the mansion. 

The second section concentrates on his movies and this is housed in a section known as the studio. 

In the evening we went to the Toucan for a meal. 

This is as institution in Arnex and the social heart of this small village. The place was full and bookings are essential. 

It’s not surprising as the food was excellent.



March 30, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

This was a day in the country. 

Firstly to see the wild Jonquils in the forest, not far from Arnex-sur-Orbe. Then onto the small village of Caux to catch the  train and travel high into the alps. 

This was probably the most expensive train ride ever. CHF58.80 ($83) for a 25 minute return ride from Caux to Rochers de Naye. However at 2,042 metres the scenery was spectacular.

It was a fun walk, through the snow, up the mountain. Martine bounded to the top, followed by Denis, while Thea and I struggled in the very unfamiliar conditions.

We then drove into Montreux and had a walk around the edge of Lake Geneva.

Montreux has a close association to Freddie Mercury from Queen. In 1977 Freddie came to the Montreux Jazz Festival to record the album ‘Jazz’ with Queen.

He fell in love with the city and the lake and established his Mountain Studio there. This was the place where he recorded his final Queen album ‘Made in Heaven’. Lake Geneva is even featured on the cover.

There is a very prominent sculpture of Freddie on the Lake Geneva. Created by Czechoslavakian sculptor Irena Sedlecká, it was unveiled in 1996.

That night we had an evening of song. Denis and Marine took us to the local hall to see the Arnex Mixed Choir perform. There was food, booze and lots of laughter, with most of Marine’s extended family also there.

One of the highlights was the ‘Four Lads’ an all male group from another village. They were very funny, even though I did’t understand a word they sang.



March 31, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe, Switzerland. 

It was another day of ‘nature’ as we were off to walk the Circuit de Fontaines. 

This was a river walk that culminated at the 20 metre high Cascade du Dard. 

We walked about 10 kilometres, through the forest and then along the ridge on the return journey. 

The Circuit de Fontaines was first developed in the 19th century. Public fountains were very important as they supplied drinking water to the locals. They were also a social meeting place where women and children met to do their household chores.


04_April 1, Chinese Garden (1993)

April 1, 2019. Arnex-sur-Orbe to Zürich, Switzerland. 

Denis left us in the morning, as he was flying to Australia. In the afternoon Martine drove us the the railway station in Yverdon-les-Bains and we caught the train to Zürich.

I needed a new watch band for my Tag Heuer and Zürich seemed to be a good place to look.

Via the internet we discovered Bucherer on Bahnhofstrasse. 

This was the most efficient store I have ever visited. 

We were greeted at the door and, as a security precaution, had to remove our sunglasses.

After they found out what were there for, we were directed to the second floor, where we were then directed to the repairs department.

After viewing my watch a technician was called to help. He then went off and brought back a range of replacement watch bands. 

All the time we were being chatted to by a delightful young Swiss girl who immediately picked our Australian accents. 

She had a friend who lives just outside of Sydney. 

Once I chose a band the technician went off to fit it. This all took about 10 to 15 minutes and then we were off to explore Zurich. 

We went for a long walk along the Zürichsee, or Lake Zürich, to the Chinese Garden.

Established in 1993 it was a gift from Zürich’s twin city of Kunming and dedicated to the Three Friends of Winter. 

As an inscription described it:

“The Chinese Garden is a holistic work of art combining nature, art, philosophy and poetry.“

There was so much detail in the pagodas, bridges and pavilions. 

Dinner was at Zimmerleuten, a traditional Swiss German restaurant on the river. 

I had Weiß Wursts with Rosti potatoes. It was a good choice for our last night in Switzerland and our last night in Europe. 

Afterwards we discovered a very funky bar, Kleine Freiheit, in a container, just 30 metres from our hotel. 

There I found a wonderful IPA, Bier Paul 10. It was the best draught IPA I’ve had on this trip – so far. 

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