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Mike & Katie's Alpine Adventures - Days 17, 18 & 19 (Swiss Cheese)

On Saturday 7/29 (day 17) we woke up to an amazing view of Lake Geneva from our hotel in Montreux Switzerland. We loved the Rick Steves tour but felt like the tour didn't leave much down-time. So it was time to take it easy for a few days, unwind, and relax by going at our own pace. We have started each morning (after Katie has her coffee of course) by taking a nice long walk along the lake shore promenade followed by more coffee and breakfast, usually at the hotel. We walk by the Freddie Mercury statue, as well as a bunch of other sculptures, statues and works of art. Montreux has a great history of attracting artists, musicians, authors, celebrities etc. and many of whom have been commemorated by the city.

After breakfast, we decided to take the "Freddy Tour" which was a nice summary of the importance of Montreux for Freddie Mercury and his band, Queen. The tour guide took us around the waterfront to various areas that hold a special importance to not only Queen, but rock and roll as well. We spent a bit of time at the Montreux casino and learned all about it's rich history, including the time it was burned down during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971 and was used as inspiration fo the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water." We also visited what remains of Queen's Mountain recording studio where many bands recorded songs and albums, including David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Yes, Phil Collins, AC/DC, just to name a few. Needless to say, Mike was THRILLED with this tour!! Afterwards, we visited the separate Queen museum inside the casino and learned more about the band and Freddie. After lunch, we took a bus to the Chateau de Chillon castle just outside of town and had a blast exploring the ancient castle. It was interesting seeing all of the different rooms and learning about the construction and purpose of each part of the castle.

On Sunday 7/30 (day 18) Katie had arranged for us to take a day trip on the "Chocolate Train." We began at the Montreux train station aboard a very unique belle epoque style train from the late 1800's - early 1900's. During the first part of the journey we were fed chocolate croissants, coffee, and a few other chocolate treats. After about 45 minutes we were transferred to a bus and made our way to the Gruyeres cheese factory where we learned all about how they make their world-famous Gruyeres cheese and given several samples of their aged cheese. When we were finished there we boarded the bus and headed to the actual town of Gruyeres where we shopped and had lunch. Afterwards, it was back in the bus for our final destination: the Cailler chocolate factory in Brocc. There we learned all about their chocolate making process and took a quick tour they had set up about the history of chocolate, dating back to Aztec times. We then devoured about 70 lbs. of chocolate apiece and did some shopping. Fun fact: did you know that the Cailler brand is the oldest surviving brand of chocolate in Switzerland (dating back to the 1800s)? Neither did we! LOL.

On Monday 7/31 (day 19) after our morning walk and breakfast, we decided to head over to Lausanne (also on Lake Geneva) to check out the city and explore the Olympics museum. We boarded the train and headed out, excited to explore the city. Once we got there we walked down a huge hill to the waterfront to check out what the city had to offer. It was a bit on the quiet side which we thought was a bit strange. We stopped for a quick coffee and discovered that the Olympic museum was actually closed on Mondays! UGH. No worries, our backup plan was the head to Saint-Saphorin and meet up with tour buddies Kevin and Tracey (from Woodinville WA) and have a glass of wine while enjoying a nice view of the vinyards and the lake. We'll try for the museum again tomorrow (Tuesday).

Anyhow, that's about it from the past three days. We have one more day in Montreux and then we fly back home on that means probably one more, substantially shorter, post is yet to come. That's all for now. Au revoir from the lake!!