Switzerland!

So I took Monday off work and had yet another long weekend last weekend. This time it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing but a long-planned trip to Switzerland with Steph.

We started off in Geneva:

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… where there was a stupid football spoiling the view of the jet d’eau.

We went to the Red Cross museum, and the UN, which caused a few pangs, because I always wanted to work for the UN. I learned that although all of the main organs of the UN are based in New York, 2/3 of UN-related work goes on in Geneva.

For some reason I didn’t take any photos of the Palais des Nations, which was the original base of the League of Nations. But it was pretty cool.

It was so warm that we dined outside!
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On Sunday we caught a train to Lausanne, where we had just enough time to go to the Collection de l’Art Brut. This was possibly the highlight of my trip. Because the website is in French I will quote from the leaflet I picked up: “The Collection de l’Art Brut presents works by self-taught creators who, for varioius reasons, have escaped cultural conditioning and social conformity. Marginalised people entrenched in the attitude of a rebellious spirit or impervious to collective norms and values, those who produce Art Brut include prisoners, inmates of psychiatric hospitals, eccentrics, loners and misfits.”

The current exhibition is sourced from their recent research in Japan, and is absolutely amazing. There is a severely autistic man who draws nothing but portraits of trains, every different kind of train he has seen. Portraits because he only ever draws the fronts of the trains. He squishes them up next to each other on the paper until there are dozens upon dozens of trains. When his pictures were all buried in the Kobe earthquake he just started again. Another man draws incredibly detailed fictional cityscapes. He spends a lot of time just looking out the window. There were also a lot of fibre-related works in the collection. One of the most amazing was a very finely crocheted wedding dress, made by a woman in an asylum who desperately wanted to get married. It’s right up there in my top 5 list of museums now (hmm, that’s a topic for another post).

After eating a picnic lunch on the lakefront, we hopped on a paddle steamer bound for Montreux. We had been looking forward to a nice boat ride in the sun but unfortunately by that stage the clouds had rolled in and it rained quite heavily. I saw some lighting strike a mountain though!

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It was still raining when we landed at Territet, close to Montreux and even closer to our hostel, which was lucky. Soon the clouds cleared though and we walked along the lakeside in to Montreux for dinner.

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Dinner was fondue, and I guess it must have tasted too good for me to waste time photographing it! We were befriended by a local man who insisted on correcting our fondue-eating technique! Now we know how to get the right size pieces of bread, stir the cheese properly, coat the bread properly and avoid drips! He spoke no English so I guess it was a good chance to practice my French!

In the morning we headed in the other direction along the lakeside and visited the Château de Chillon. Byron made the Château famous in his poem The Prisoner of Chillon. As far as castles go it was pretty cool.

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(the dungeon! you can still see the rings the prisoners were chained up to and also Byron’s name scratched into a pillar)

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I love castles!

We walked back to Montreux (it was a good day for walking!) and ended up sheltering in a bar to get away from a little more rain (and more thunder!), until it was time for our train to Geneva Airport, and back to reality.

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