Thursday, 19 August 2010

Les Vacances De Monsieur Bus Driver - 8. La Magique De La Suisse

It doesn't ever matter about the weather in Switzerland. Yes the lack of sun and cool rainy weather is a bore, but on the other hand, the views are even more dramatic through the clouds and the mist. Occasionally shafts of yellow sunlight break through, promising better things to come.

Villars-sur-Ollon is still nice, even though there have been major changes since my last visit seven years ago. It has perhaps gone a little down market. The ultra chic seemed to have gone elsewhere and there has been a mass building programme. With the recession there are large numbers of newly built chalets sitting empty. There seem to be many new inhabitants trying to sell, yet holding out for top dollar and refusing anything less.

I met an Englishman who was, without success trying to sell at 30% over market value. He seemed to be hoping that some passing Russian will snap it up. But I fear he will have a long wait as the Russians are feeling the effects of the downturn as much as everyone else.

the girls have been riding in a beautiful riding school. they were treated like adults and spent the day riding, carriage driving, mucking out and grooming. there was not one health and safety notice and there was not one restriction. They were allowed to climb haystacks, walk everywhere and do more or less anything. parents were encouraged to leave as soon as possible so as not to interfere with proceedings.

Not only did you feel they were being well cared for, but they came away exhilarated. The youngest one unfortunately ripped her jeans and would not raise herself in the saddle when trotting.

"Up! Up! Up!" said the stagiere.

"No! No! No!" came the reply.

It is dull to keep waxing lyrical about the differences between Switzerland and England. McDonalds has more interesting variety, more fun places for the children and less aroma of cheap oil frying. They offer packets of pomme frites sauce Manor supermarkets are a piece of art, like Fortnum and mason used to be. Everything is neet and tidy, there is not so much litter and the verges and hedges are cut, like England used to be.

The standard of driving is respectful, apart from roundabouts where they haven't got a clue, sometimes tailgating on the autoroutes and up and down mountains where you are likely to meet a mad Swiss or Italian in a hurry.

The cobwebs were blown away with a walk up the mountain. i felt like puffing billy and was thankful to have stopped smoking cigars for the past three days. It definitely helped me to the summit. The day just "got better with a visit to one of the most magical places on earth (personal view). L'Abbaye de Saint-Maurice is situated against the cliff face, directly under a mountain. Who would have believed that one of the oldest churches in the world is in Switzerland? Everyone has been involved with Saint-Maurice. The Romans, the Egyptians, the Celts, the Burgundians, the Italians and even Swiss railways who built a tunnel almost under the monastery.

The very best are the treasures. The relics, the boxes, the jewelled jugs are worthy of a place in any of the world's finest museums. When the guide takes you in a small group of ten, you get the feeling you are about to see something truly special.

For once in my life I was silent for more than 30 minutes.

The stained glass windows are truly incredible too. Created by the artist Edmond Bille in 1950, he wanted to create a "tapisserie lumineuse". Astounding.

I felt humble.

No comments:

Post a Comment