I vividly remember the first time I laid my eyes upon the Alps. It was my first time out of the US- I was in Nice, France, in January, and it was the first and only fully radiant sunny day of the trip. The Mediterranean sea had set something in my heart aflame, and I wanted to travel along it the entire day. My guy and I decided to rent bikes, and head east toward Monaco on a coastal road. The entire time, I was overcome by the glistening turquoise water. I didn’t think it could get more beautiful, until we rounded a corner and saw snow-capped mountains in the distance. I braked, stopped, and stared in awe- I had never been so close to a mountain before. I was so absorbed that it didn’t occur to me to take photo. It was one of the best days of my life.
I hadn’t thought of the Alps in a long time, but last month as my guy and I went back and forth for weeks about where to take our first European vacation (we are terribly indecisive), something clicked inside, and I abruptly declared that we should take a train through the Alps to the closest country we’d never visited- Switzerland. We promptly booked tickets to Geneva.
I soon realized that the Alps didn’t start as far west as I thought, but on our ride from Paris to Geneva, we were still blown away by the Jura mountains as we sped by. After some research in a cafe, we decided that we would take a day trip to Montreux, a town on the other side of lake Geneva, at the foot of the actual Alps.
Montreux, it turns out, is a very musical place. It’s known for its yearly jazz festival, but also as the place where Freddie Mercury and Queen recorded their last album, “Made in Heaven”. There’s even a statue of him by the lake, and the first week of September of every year, the city of Montreux has a celebration honoring him. Mercury allegedly once said, “If you want peace of soul, come to Montreux”.
Montreux is also where Deep Purple began recording their album “Machine Head” at the Montreux Casino. Their experience watching it burn down inspired the famous song “Smoke on the Water”.
Our train took a little less than an hour to arrive from Geneva-it was sunny and in the mid-fifties! After staring at the lake for a few minutes, we began our ascent through the town, eventually discovering the hillside stairs, making our way onto roads in the town of Glion, which presides above Montreux. We walked through windy roads until we reached a muddy trail toward the town of Caux, rushing to get a clear view of some mountains by sunset. We made it just in time.
No picture can capture the sight we saw as the fog cleared, and we realized just how gargantuan the mountains really were. I was humbled and awed. I found something very freeing about realizing how small I am. It took away my thoughts, my hopes, my fears. We stood, we breathed, we stared. Seeing something like this is a very quick way to experience what the practice of meditation and mindfulness is getting at- total immersion in the moment, and nothing else. We then made our way down in the dark, using our iPhone flashlights, and eventually had an extremely well-deserved fondue meal before catching the train back. Below, you’ll find more pictures of this beautiful place.