Saturday, 16 July 2011

Switzerland: “We all came out to Montreux…”

It’s with a heavy heart that I left Zermatt today, especially on such a beautiful one. The horn was looking stunning in a cloudless sky. But I had to be making tracks for Lausanne, where I would be staying for one night, a short hop to the Montreux Jazz Festival.

There is a great positive in travelling alone; you can take decisions without consultation or consideration for others, and today was an example.

When I awoke this morning, I weighed a few things up; the weather forecast, from Sunday, for the next seven days was dire, could I justify the outlay of staying another week given the opportunities for walking were now less, and would the cost of rescheduling my flight prove the cheaper option. In the end, I decided that £213 to change my flight was the frugal one and so I am heading home tomorrow. I don’t regret this decision as I can either save some annual leave or head down to Dartmoor for a few days.

The British pound is in such a position now that travelling abroad is not cheap. This is the first time, in all my trips to Switzerland, that I have been shocked by the prices. They haven’t changed in Swiss Franc terms, you are just getting a lot less nowadays for your money.

Decision made, time to concentrate on the day ahead culminating in me seeing, for the first time, a band that would have a huge influence should I have a soundtrack to my life; Deep Purple. What better place to see them than in the town where they recorded one of their greatest albums - Machine Head, and where they wrote the song “Smoke on the Water” after the events that took place way back in 1971?

Arrived at The Lausanne Guesthouse two hours before check-in, which was frustrating as I was itching to get to the festival given the improvement the day was on last year. Managed to waste an hour having a couple of beers in a bar and then buying my train ticket.

By 4.30pm, I was pulling into Montreux. What a difference some sunshine makes to this festival! Although the food wasn’t up to previous years, there was plenty of live music, both street artists and on the stage in the park. In no time at all, the time came to enter the Stravinski Hall and take my place for Deep Purple, accompanied with a symphonic orchestra.

They didn’t disappoint; running through the old classics in the following set-list; Highway Star,  Hard Lovin’ Man, Strange Kind of Woman, Rapture of the Deep, Woman From Tokyo, Contact lost, When a Blind Man Cries, The Well Dressed Guitar, Knocking at Your Back Door, Lazy, No One Came, Perfect Strangers, Space Truckin’, Smoke on the Water, and for an encore; Hush and Black Night. Quite a show, and when it came to Smoke on the Water, the crowd went wild. You couldn’t help but get caught up in it. What a night, and a great end to my Switzerland trip.

The train had me back in Lausanne by 12.30am. Alarm set early for the short ride to the airport and home.