Montreux, Rocher de Naye and Interlaken
Montreux, Rocher de Naye and Interlaken
Rocher de Naye
Montreux, Rocher de Naye and Interlaken all in one day is a treat for someone that loves the alpine scenery and there aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the train ride from Montreux to Rocher de Naye but let’s start with amazing, beautiful, fantastic and then add a few dozen superlatives and, to finish off, just a light sprinkle of scary and we might be close.
This little electric private railway, with cog drive, runs from Montreux Central station to Rocher de Naye, around 6000 feet above, via a whole host of small stops, some (at the lower levels) fairly populous, some literally in the middle of nowhere. Oddly, the lower part of the climb, though less steep, is somehow the most vertiginous. Maybe it’s because it’s more “normal” in
an abnormal setting lower down – once past around 3000 feet, the scenery changes notably and we’re into hard core goat herding territory.
And what scenery! The views down to Lake Geneva are stunning but so they are in every direction. The trip takes around an hour and 30 minutes into it you’re pretty well above the snow line, the landscape becomes sharper, rockier and snowier And the train grinds on and on, taking you through wilder and bleaker places foot by foot.
At the summit of the track, Rocher de Naye, there’s a sizeable cafe/restaurant, a few yurt-like structures, a radio mast, a hotel – so all very civilised, Swiss and efficient. And the coffee in the cafe is first class!
Outside, the weather wasn’t that kind – wet, windy and distinctly chilly. Unfriendly enough to make me consider any path without a barrier guarding against the rather steep and sheer drop-offs not one that I would be taking today. Even in rain and strong winds, this is an exquisite place – the views are superb and the wilderness feeling is exaggerated in poor conditions. I’m sure it’s very much more eye-catching and beautiful in fine weather but also maybe just a little too busy?
An hour leaning into wind was enough and we decided to take the return train. Funny but somehow downhill feels more acute than up A second chance to see what you might have missed on the way up. I highly recommend this trip… go now, this very minute!
Montreux to Interlaken
Over breakfast, I had been reading about the critical flood alerts active in the area and how even a millimetre more rain would cause chaos. The road we took from Montreux to Interlaken passed through Aigle where the river was just about contained and orange coated flood alert wardens were there on every corner! (and bridge). The road climbs steeply and, in parts, was pretty well inundated with torrents of water flowing across and down the roadway – ok in an uphill climb but would have bailed on a downhill drive! For the first few miles, the road twisted and climbed alongside the river and the volume of water, and it’s speed of flow, was almost frightening – in a couple of spots, standing waves a couple of metres high had developed. The water itself was the colour of weak cappuccino!!
Around Saanen, the weather improved enough for a coffee stop!But, overall for the drive, it was a shame that a lovely road passing through beautiful scenery offered so few opportunities for photostops – you can only take so many pics of grey skies and label them “there’s a mountain in there somewhere”! Saanen has decorated its roundabouts with larger than life-size model goats, doing all sorts of goat things , which amused me greatly. This is a rural part of the country and farming (goat, sheep and dairy) seems to be the main industry.
The arrival into Interlaken was a bit frustrating – the clouds had lifted briefly, the sun was out and the landscape was stunning, snow covered peaks and deep blue lake. However, parking/viewing spots for tourists are not a priority on the narrow strip of land available on the lake shore – the railway and motorway take priority and a few houses huddle in where they can. So we had to wait until we had arrived at our hotel (The Hotel Interlaken – a real gem!), dumped the bags and taken a sprint to the lakeshore to have a chance of some camera time. And it wasn’t long before the really big black clouds that had been piling up arrived and precipitated in earnest – it was a damp walk back to the hotel. I was struck by the colour of the water in Lake Brienz – a kind of pale turquoise that I’ve only seen before in Cornwall in the kaolin pits.
Hotel Interlaken is delightful – comfortable rooms, friendly multi-lingual staff (useful as this is now the German speaking area and my German is extremely basic!), prettily decorated, free parking (!!) and a great restaurant. Trip Advisor had recommended the hotel restaurant and, especially given the rain that was now bucketing down, eating in-house seemed sensible.
The food was fabulous – beautiful presentation and lovely flavours! I started with a mixed salad, decorated with nuts and carved carrots and topped with a light apricot and mango dressing. Delicious – had to leave some as I was running out of room. My main course was a smoked rosti topped with onions and calves liver that was cooked to absolute perfection and just melted in the mouth. There was just the tiniest hint of sage in the mix that added to the flavour. But this dish too defeated me – the portions are quite large!
And then to bed… Tomorrow’s trip is a train ride to Kleine Scheidegg to view the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau, cloud permitting!