Day 5: Chateau Chillion

>> Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Tuesday I headed to Lausanne, Switzerland to visit Chateau Chillion. The train ride was about3.5 hours. It was a nice ride despite the length. Honestly this was the first day I got some time to myself and it was nice. I think everyone should go on vacation with themselves at least two to three consecutive days a year. The train ride let me clear my head and the walk around the historic castle filled time in between. I read and looked at scenery.

On the way in I noticed a lot of graffiti and it was kind of sad but through all of it you could see the towns around Lake Geneva in their prime. It seemed the higher you got up into the clouds of the Alps the more charming the towns got. It seemed like a laid back area with lots of gardens and sunflower fields. Rolling hills in between vast mountains.

All along the roads lie these fields with little shacks in them. There are about twenty in each section. The "houses" are surrounded by beautiful gardens and usually people have flags hanging near them. These are apparently "vacation" homes for people. They use them as weekend get away houses. I am not kidding they were shacks. But I can see the romance factor of being on the lake in the Alps. I guess it beats camping.

On a side fashion note. Saw a guy wearing just a windbreak with the chest hair busting out. No shirt just Miami Vicing it but with a windbreaker! haha!

I had to take a boat to the Castle or "Chateau" This is the view from the boat stop. By the way the boats are part of local transportation so the ride was included in my Swiss Transit pass I bought from Rail Europe. The boat cruised me by some of the mountains in the Alps. The Alps might be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

My boat, Viva la France already (French flag)?? This end of Switzerland is predominately French. You hit a line on the train and it immediately all switched to French. It was funny. So now I had to worry about communicating in French and German. Great! I wonder why Swiss does have so many languages? They have German, Swiss, and Italian depending on the region. Is it because they are so neutral and just absorbed their neighboring countries culture. The funny thing is they are one of the only countries not using the Euro. Why take a stand on that when you don't even have you own language. But I think it gives them character.

The Chateau was on Lake Geneva. The most beautiful lake I have every been on by far. The lake was crystal clear and it the largest in Switzerland. The lake is surrounded by little towns such as Geneva. Interesting fact Geneva just got named on of the most expensive places to live in the world. I could not tell based on the little farming villages that lined the lake. Vineyards lined the roads, little houses with Gardens, and small quaint boats. I could reach over a rail and pick right off a grape vine. Of course I didn't dare.

The Captain and his mate

The Alps. It was rainy that day. It drizzled on and off. But the cloud coverage made for an amazing shot.

Approaching the castle

The castle was definitely flying a Swiss Flag

Chateau Chillion...To be honest from the pictures it almost looks fake. Medieval Times? But I promise it is real!

Shots to prove I was there!

The courtyard outside the castle walls.

The castle is actually built on an island of rock. Cool! It helps with defense. The castle takes up every square inch of the island.

I decided to do an audio tour since I was alone and what a good idea. I learned alot of the history. Most of it I won't remember but some it will stick.

For example, this sketch on the castle's prison walls was done by an unknown artist. (Never would have remember the name if it was a known artist!). Prisoners were shackled facing this drawing. It is faded now but still impressive.

Lord Byron stayed at Chillion for a short time and wrote one of is books.

View from inside Castle.

This method was used to set the stones of the castle walls during its construction. When the stones were set the boards were removed. Amazingly these still remained. Although the stones are set I don't think anyone is brave enough to question why these were left in place by trying to remove them.

Scary door into scary hallway that led to scary crypt.

Scary stairs I had to climb to get to crypt. Note: not made for fat people.

Dining room throne chair.

There were marvelous hand carved wood ceilings throughout the castle.

The beds of the time showed how much shorter people were (so my height). This is at least a foot shorter than my bed. They also slept propped up against pillows in an upright position (courtesy of audio tour)

During restoration these beautiful wall drawings (wallpaper of the time) were discovered. This is also a heater (wood burning stove) in the Lord's bedroom. It was fed from the outside room so the servants would not disturb the master. Also the little stairs allowed them to climb to warm up.

More wall drawings

This is the Coat of Arms room where are the nobles CoA were painted on the wall. I cannot believe this stuff is still here!

So then I walk into the Latrines "bathrooms" and they just have holes in the floor basically that go below. Then there is a little museum exhibit that is an interactive activity where you pick up the little doors to read stuff underneath...or so I thought. This is mild porno! And this was the mildest off all the photos. I kinda let out a yelp when I opened this. Funny.

View outside castle window

The chapel. Amazing Wall Art

This is the Keep. You can see three sections of stones that indicate it was built in three stages. This was the safest place in the castle on accessible by ladder or a special walkway. In times of attack the nobles hid in here. The "window" you see in the middle of the wall is the actually doorway you climbed to for entrance. It was equal in height to an eight story building and was the tallest part of the castle.

The view from the top of the keep. I climbed four billion stairs, had a heart attack, and finally got to see the view. The stairs were so narrow you had to wait for people to come up to go down and vice versa. But it was worth it.

View from the keep

View from the keep looking down on castle

The lookout tower from the keep

Good bye Chateau Chillion! I will never climb your scary stairs again. Do I look skinnier after climbing to the top? What is it with this vacation and climbing scary stairs to get to the top of things?

Hello Alps!

This was a great day. A lot of time to reflect. I really thought about my family, Michael, Lily, my goals. It sounds cheesy but it was a good day for it. I really missed Lily that day and looking at all the beautiful things I couldn't help but get a little sad she wasn't there.
I sat there and hoped that one day she would see the beautiful scenes I was looking at and wished she was there to admire the awe of it. As her mother I want to show her all things good and beautiful in the world. It is my duty. Because if we don't know about the good then we don't know how to get through the bad and fight through to the better again. And although I was there alone Michael and Lily were in my heart so in a way they got to see it too. I saw the courtyard and imagined how much fun Lily would have running across it and how she would love feeding the swans. I had an ice cream cone and knew Lily would be pointing at Michael's wanting some and he would give in and not have any to himself. It was nice to think about what our future holds. It is going to hold a lot of good times and that is exciting. I pray that someday when she is older we can experience something as magnificent as what I saw that day together as a family.