Sunday, July 15, 2012

Time for another Sunday Selections ala River again - these were taken yesterday on our day trip to Morges and Vallorbe.  A balmy 23C day meant that we were itching to get out and do something touristy. Vacuuming, grocery shopping and ironing could wait. Milly's ever-growing crop of dust bunnies that like to behind the doors weren't going anywhere either.

The main street of Morges becomes a small market on Saturday mornings.  We eyed off the fresh berries, figs and still-warm breads feeling faintly regretful that we'd all eaten a pretty hearty breakfast a short while earlier.

Sapphire wasn't impressed with the signage. "Why would anyone want to eat there," she wondered. "Aren't they being racist?"  Racist towards themselves, the locals who couldn't read English or Morges residents who only saw Asian-style lettering?  We weren't sure, but seeing as the front of shop was only selling Swiss-made Movenpick ice-creams until 5pm, we didn't inquire any further.  Nor could we afford said ice-cream. For a country that prides itself on its dairy products, ice-cream is on par with saffron for price.

The clanking, almost bell-like ringing of wires and ropes against the masts of many boats moored along Lac Leman lured us away from the stalls.  Breezy weather made it perfect for sailing, but apart from one wizened old guy scraping down his even-older boat, we didn't see anyone out on the water.

Perhaps they were all here, inside the Morges casino, or the larger one further along in Montreux?

A close up of the slightly sneering man atop of the Casino entrance.  He was wearing some subtlely-draped netting and head spikes to avoid any potential pigeon poop facials.

It wouldn't be Lac Leman without a nude or two.  

A small distance away in Vallorbe, a gorgeous drive through forests got us to Fort de Giraud; a farmhouse built by the Swiss army in 1936 to keep the pesky Germans from invading.

Photographs of the interior were strictly Interdit and Verboten, and we climbed many metres down into the hillside and rock through drilled tunnels and chambers, assailed by the musty damp odours.  A complex arrangement of underground tunnels and bunkers housed 130 soldiers, weapons and surveillance equipment with rather beautiful views over to France.  

The guide spoke French and German only, but we got the gist.  The Swiss weren't worried about the French; they just assumed that France would be invaded by Germany and that the Germans would soon be at their border.  They were, of course, utterly correct.  Still, the Swiss remain proudly Swiss as evidenced by the dozens of fondue saucepans stacked in the compact kitchen.

I wasn't quick enough to take a photo of the farmhouse from the freeway but it showed just how innocuous and authentic it would have appeared on top of the hill.  Obviously the enormous painted Swiss cross, outdoor picnic area and international flagpoles weren't in existence during WW2!

A late lunch was enjoyed in Vallorbe (Valley and River Orbe) where it seemed like everyone knew everyone else.  Our waiter, in particular, was very popular, greeting everyone who passed by name and stopped for a brief conversation.  Service was, therefore, slightly on the relaxed side.

Sapphire was intrigued by the young guy wearing a white leather jacket with 'Angel' in pink sequins on the back and 'sweet honey' embroidered along one arm.  With his slicked back pony tail and propensity to keep cycling past us several times on a fold up push bike, was he the only gay in the village?

We were never to find out as I wasn't brave enough to ask our waiter. He told us that he'd spent two decades in Noo Yawk and did a fairly decent impression of De Niro in Taxi Driver.  For all we knew, 'Angel' was his brother and their surname was 'Bickle.'


Andrew said...

The house certainly looks innocuous and apparently the defences worked, didn't they? Icecream is expensive. That blows my mental image of many cows on lush green hills accompanied by some yodelling.

River said...

After reading about berries and figs, I'm thinking you may have to schedule your Saturdays as market breakfast days. Plus, I can't get over the cost of icecreams! On a par with saffron?? You three would have to share one cone between you, then let Milly lick your fingers for her share. Your photos are lovely, the fishing boats look so clean and white in the sunshine and that view is worth driving for.

ropcorn said...

I loved seeing all these photos! Such beautiful landscape there. And what a lovely day. :-) Thank you for sharing!

diane b said...

Those underground bunkers are amazing. It is a wonder they let you inside one. They were very secret affairs when we were there. The Alps are riddled with them,. Some are whole little towns, including hospitals, accomdation and stores, They say that there are places where survivors of a nuclear war could remain underground for a year.

Louise said...

What a fabulous excursion. I got to drive to Bathurst today. Not quite the same.

Louise said...

I forgot to mention the Rong Town thing- I laughed out loud. I think naming businesses in languages other than your mother tongue is rather fraught- I was stopped in my track by Hairkiller in Luxembourg. Killerhair would have been great. Subtle differences of course. But huge. I'd go to Rong Town.

Kath Lockett said...

Still loads and loads of cows around Andrew, just that when their milk gets turned into icecream it must also require crushed diamond dust or something.

Market breakfast Saturdays have featured in our excursions a bit, dear River.

Thanks Ropcorn. It reminds me that I need to get the camera out a bit more. Stay tuned for the next post.

Dianeb, I'm aware that there's a couple of other rather famous 'farmhouses' in Switzerland that are larger and more disguised. Seems very intriguing for a country famed for neutrality.

Thanks Louise. I dunno about that, I've never been to Bathurst so it'd be exciting for me!

I'd go to Rong Town too, Louise and incur Sapphire's disapproval!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

Morges looks like a lovely place.

In Amsterdam, I once saw a Chinese restaurant called "Fook Hing" and had to struggle to stop shaking with laughter as I took the inevitable photo.

Still, I was only 21 - and very immature (even for a 21 year old).




drb said...

A pity your phot of the Rong Town sign board did not have a full view of the chinese characters on the sign board. But from the partial character, I can dicepher that Rong is the pronouciation of the character 荣 ( acommon name for shops) with the meaning of Prosperity and Glory. So, it should translate to Glomour Town.

drb said...

城 = town

Kath Lockett said...

PlasMan, I'd still laugh at 43!

Drb - thanks for that - so it does read as something 'real' ? I'll let Sapphire know - I'm sure we'll see a few classic examples in London too.

drb said...

Yes, it is something 'real', not neccessary just a racist pun, but maybe the pun was intended. Chinese translation is a mixed bag - sometimes people will choose to use pronounciation, others use the meanings. In this case, the owner used both.

"Fook Hing" - luck and prosperity

Fenstar de Luxe said...

ooh thanks for the reminder, I have some saffron priced icecream in my freezer!

Rong Town made me laugh & the rest of your pics are wonderful.