International Writers Magazine: Swiss Topics
Lies Beyond A Bar Of Chocolate
I thought would give me the perfect reason to stay single...'
Staring at a picture of the Swiss
Alps behind a chocolate bar, I wondered how the real thing would
look like. I imagined a real life Willie Wonka factory, with forests,
meadows, and prairies abound with chocolate. Just before drooling
on my seat, and chewing on the cabin crews arm, she called
my attention and asked me to fasten my seatbelt, for we were about
to land in Switzerland.
After weeks of
going around this country, I discovered what really lies behind a bar
of Swiss chocolate. It wasnt Wonkas factory alright, but
it was so much better than that.
: Chateau De Chillon
"Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar - for t'was trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard! May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyrrany to God"
This has got to be fake!, I continuously told myself when
the cruise ship approached Montreux. A medieval castle built on an islet
facing a spectacular view ushered me to get off.
Snow topped mountains lined the other side of the lake, with its feet
gently dipped in the waters. Sunlight peeked at the sides of the mountain,
caressing the surface of the lake, making the water sparkle. Add that
to the already astonishing view of the Chateau de Chillon (Castle of
Chillon), makes a seemingly fake scene that would make anybody rub their
eyes in disbelief.
This, I thought would give me the perfect reason to stay single, I could
well say that I fell in love with a castle in Montreux. And just like
discovering substance behind a pretty face, I discovered the historical
significance of this place.
This castle was immortalized by the famous poet Lord Byron in his poem
Prisoner of Chillon.
Going down the chilly castle prison with its high ceiling and rocky
floor, I found the place as creepy as it was interesting. Carved on
the third pillar is Lord Byrons name, who was inspired to write
about Francois Bonivards ordeal. Because the latter was in favor
of the reformation, he was kept shackled here for four long years during
the 16th century by the Duke of Savoy. If being tied down to a wooden
post by a heavy metal chain is not enough torture, the chilly atmosphere,
cold stone floor and trifle amount of sunlight pouring in through only
the thin loopholes on the walls of the dungeon, would have driven the
prisoners then, half insane.
Climbing a few steps up the stairs brought me to a totally different
scene. Chambers filled with medieval treasures stood witness to the
lifestyle of the dukes and counts who lived here. Treasure chests, knights
armors, swords and paintings adorn the halls and courtyards. Now
this explains why royal duchesses and princesses looked so slim! No
elevators!, I joked as I and a group of other tourists went up
the endless plights of stairs, leading to the chambers and towers. Imagine
climbing up these staircases everyday in those bulky, heavily embroidered
dresses. Talk about exercise.
From a medieval castle to a medieval little town in Switzerland, I just
couldnt get enough of the interesting lives of Princesses, Knights
and Dukes. The town of Murten has kept its charm and appeal with perfectly
preserved towers, walls, streets, arcades and walkways that would surround
any tourist who would want to walk back in time. You can almost see
knights in horses passing by who would come to any damsels rescue.
Snap back to reality and youd see them in motorcycles, BMW's and
Audis screeching along the age old bricks used in the streets.
Wondering just how strong the brick fortresses are, I kicked the wall
just beside the tower clock. After breaking a French pedicured toenail,
I realized just how stupid I was expecting the structure to crumble
right before my feet. If these have been here since the medieval times,
it could have well withstood even the strongest typhoon, snow storm
and earthquake since those times. Silly me, thinking I was Goliath who
could kick this edifices right off of their feet.
And then I wondered what these structures are made of, and why cant
we, the ultra intelligent, cyber people of the modern times build structures
as strong as these? With all the resources and technology right at our
disposal, equipment we can command with our every whim, still we make
buildings out of pancakes with only syrup holding it together. Come
tsunamis, earthquakes and typhoons these modern buildings would crumble
After a failed attempt to read the bus route and directions in French
and German and getting lost in the process of going back to the train
station, I finally sat on the cozy train. In front of me was a man reading
a newspaper with a red adverstisment on the back about a car show in
Geneva. I then remembered a ticket given to me by my brother as a gift.
Desperately searching through my backpack, I finally reached the bottom
and was able to grab a hold of the red ticket for the Car show. Pulling
it out of my bag, stuff falling out, I held it up and told the conductor
smilingly that Im off to Geneva.
Annual Geneva Motor Show March 2006
with car aficionados running around like kids in a candy store,
I barely was able to squeeze inside the venue. Feeling like a midget
amidst a crowd of tall people drooling over the cars on display,
I decided to join in the frenzy.
From the big muscle cars to the cute minis, they had everything
on display there. Who wouldnt want to drive them all? If these
were pocket sized, I would have brought one home.
The Ferraris stood out, as always, as well as the Lamborghinis
and the uniquely designed model cars. Two entire floors were half
filled with cars and half with ecstatic people, whose eyes were
almost popping out.
to say, I ended that day with a blast, thankful that I sat in front
of the guy with the newspaper.
And so my days in Switzerland ended. I would never look at a Swiss
chocolate bar the same way again. Because beyond the chocolate bars,
army knives and cuckoo clocks, is a country filled with historical
treasures, breathtaking views, exciting events, and people with
the uncanny ability to organize everything and a passion for neatness,
precision, punctuality, and hard work
© Anna Lorraine Balita - May 2006
World Journeys in Hacktreks
more world journeys here
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.