An afternoon at Château d’Oex…

So yesterday we went to Château d’Oex, hoping to catch the last day of the annual hot air balloons festival. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to catch the morning balloon show and then realised to our dismay that although we were in time for the afternoon programme, it was cancelled due to poor weather! Arrrgh …

Sad to say, we have not been very lucky at catching the balloons during the festival lah! Despite coming to see the event for the past 3 years, we had only been successful once … and that was last year! Hmmm … maybe the trick was not to wait until the last day to try and see it, do you think? 😉

However, this year had not been a good year for the balloons’ festival owing to unfavourable weather condition. It was reported in the news today that this year’s weather has caused the organiser to cancel some of the programmes. Although the festival lasted for 9 days, only 2 days were good enough for the balloonists to take off to the sky! It must have been a huge disappointment for the balloonists who had come from various countries, hoping to show off their balloons and their skills! And a big disappointment too, for the balloon enthusiasts or admirers who had hoped to catch the balloons taking off to the sky (or even to ride in one or two). But I think the biggest portion of disappointment must go to the festival organisers … as the poor weather caused very low attendance. Only 15,000 people turned up for the 9-day festival this year compared with 62,000 of last year! I feel quite sad for the organisers!

Anyway for next year, to make sure that we will not miss seeing the balloons … I have told the hubby that we need to spend the night at Château d’Oex so that we can be up early to enjoy the day’s programme or even the night programme. Especially since next year will be the 35th edition of the International Festival of balloons … and the organisers are planning special events to celebrate it. I would definitely hate it if we missed the balloons and some of the interesting programmes planned for the event. Luckily for me … the hubby is agreeable to the idea … pheww! 🙂

Now … although I have no photo of the big balloons flying above the scenic Swiss mountain landscape to share for this year (for the 33rd edition, click here), I do have photos of scenic Swiss mountain landscape and snow-covered village to show. So I hope you will like them … 🙂

Making our way up the mountain slope after leaving Montreux railway station. The magnificent view as the train ascends the mountain slope never fails to impress me. Unfortunately as the weather was not very good yesterday, we did not have a clear view of the mountains rising above Lac Léman.

Last view of the lake … as the train climbed higher and went deeper into the mountain valley, before reaching Les Avants. And as you can see … the topography has started to change … there is snow on the mountain.

In fact … there was plenty of snow on the mountain yesterday! And misty, too! Which we knew would spell bad news for our hope to see the balloons … but it made for an interesting ride through the mountain valley. Especially since we were lucky enough to catch the part of the Goldenpass Classic train (namely the restaurant carriage – because of the number of passengers expected on the last day of the Balloon Festival, they usually operate extra trains and therefore have to use all available carriages)!!

The cosy and romantic setting of the classic train restaurant carriage. We loikeeee!! 🙂 Errr … by the way, this couple is not us … but the couple sitting on the table next to us!

Lac du Vernex, a small reservoir that the train passes through on its way to Château d’Oex before reaching Rossinière.

And arriving at the train station of the village of Château d’Oex … with the Goldenpass Classic restaurant carriage that we had taken still on the track.

Another interesting-looking classic train (Moléjon – La Grevire, a train on which cheese fondue is served) was also at the train station in Château d’Oex.

From the train station, we headed down to the village to get to the highest point in the village so that we could have a nice view of the big hot air balloons taking off. But of course, there was none … as the afternoon programme and the closing ceremony were cancelled! I knew that something was not right … when I could not see a single balloon in the air upon arriving at the village …

… except those on display at the windows of shops and the signs on the Tourism Office for the village …

… as well as this metal structure in the shape of a balloon at the centre of the village main road! Haizzz …

Luckily, with all the snow that had fallen in the village and the surrounding area, Château d’Oex is still a beautiful place to spend some time … even without the big balloons filling up the village sky!

The church of Château d’Oex situated on a hill … which can be clearly seen as the train approaches the railway station – no wonder because it was built upon the remnants of a castle strategically situated, over 500 years ago!

There are two ways to going up to this church, either via the staircase as seen on the picture above (a path called ‘Chemin du Temple‘) … or via the slope on the other side of the church as I discovered yesterday.

Because of its height, it would have been a good place to catch the balloons taking off from the plain below … if there had been balloons to watch lah! But as you can see … it was quite misty yesterday which is why the last programme for the festival had to be cancelled. 😦

Still … the view from this hill was worth making the climb, even if one did not get to watch the balloons!

Some of the shots taken of the village and the plain from the hilltop (with an exhibit related to Bertrand Picard’s hot air balloon trip round the world, the first ever such flight non stop on the left).

The wall of the church ground and the valley below. Check out the mist on the horizon!

Some animal statues found near the church … which overlooks the village, part of Parc de la Motte, also called Jardin Sandoz (after Edouard Sandoz, the founder of a famous Swiss pharmaceutical company who had lived at Château d’Oex in his youth).

The village looked really pretty covered with snow, do you not agree?

While I was looking down from the hill … this sight caught my interest … of people (of course mostly children) having fun sledging! Ahhhh … I really would lurveee to do some sledging, too!

And then … as the hubby and I were walking past a small sport shop in the village, we decided to check out the sale items that were on display outside the shop. Nothing in the sale suit me … but one of the sledges that were on display which was not on sale certainly did! 🙂

Made of plastic, it was not bulky and quite light to carry around. So guess what? Surprise, surprise … (or maybe it was not really a surprise lah since I had been telling him often enough for the past several weeks how I would lurveeee to do some sledging! hehehe … ) the hubby decided to buy it for me which was the last piece!

Although I was not really properly dressed for it, he then told me that I might as well enjoyed the rest of our afternoon there by trying it out … which I did! Yup, yup … that was me in the centre of the picture about to slide down the slope where the church is! hehehe … 🙂

Wheeeeeeeeeee … hehehe … 🙂 Suddenly I felt like a kid again! muahahahaaa …

It was a lot of fun. Although initially I was a bit scared as I am actually afraid of height … but more importantly, I was afraid of accidentally knocking against someone down the slope! I did okay. And after a few tries, I was enjoying myself tremendously.

But of course, not all my slides down the slope were smooth lah!

I did take a tumble once or twice … but soon made my way up the slope again! Going down was fun … but I could feel my age when going up the slope! hehehe 🙂 Luckily my sledge is very light! Otherwise …

I would have to either pull it up the slope … or carry it on my head! hehehe … 🙂

Errr … by the way, I am not the only one to have tried out my brand new yellow sledge.

I managed to persuade the hubby to give it a try, too! 🙂 Although he was reluctant initially, in the end he gave in and gave it a slide …

… or two! hehehe …

I believe he enjoyed it as much as I did … except that he was even more inappropriately dressed than I was … so he could not do it as many times as I did!

From the slope near the church, we later moved to the field across the road, called En Glacière, where the hot air balloons took off during the festival.

I tried sledging down this slope several more times before we finally called it a day.

It was interesting to see the contrast between the different parts of the village, as we headed to the railway station along Grand’Rue … in terms of the snow levels!

There was plenty of snow at the train station. And much to our delight, we caught the same Goldenpass Classic train for our return journey … and even managed to get ourselves a seat in the same restaurant carriage, but on the opposite table!

So … although we again failed to catch the balloons at this year’s event … it was not altogether a wasted trip, as far as I was concerned lah! I got to do the snow sledging that I had been so eager to try out … and that,

… more than made up for us missing seeing this! hehehe … 🙂

Other entries related to Château d’Oex/Balloon Festival:

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6 thoughts on “An afternoon at Château d’Oex…

  1. We were in Tuscany in June 2011. Last August, we went to the Dolomites and to Cinque Terre. Beautiful places!

    What a pity you missed the special balloon show because of the missed train… but such things happened. My hubby and I had missed trains just by the seconds, a few times, too! But at least you did get to see some balloons in the air. The first time we went there, we totally missed the show. The balloons that were supposed to go up, in the end did not! It was only on our second visit the following year that we managed to see the balloons. I can see that you also went to the mine in Bex and had some Swiss food while you were here. Glad to know that you had a good time. 🙂

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  2. If you were near Liguria, I suppose you must have been in Tuscany then! Do you have a contact form here? Since I haven’t found it, I’ll just reply here 🙂 We were a bit unlucky with the balloon festival, as we missed the train by 20 seconds (it started moving at the moment when we got on the platform)… so we ended up missing the special balloon show that was scheduled at noon. Due to the strong wind, they stopped flying before 1pm, so we barely saw them landing. But the day was beautiful and we had a good time ( https://picasaweb.google.com/100249735911597559025/AWeekendInBexAndChateauDOex?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJPX_tnQy8G5pAE&feat=directlink )

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  3. Thanks for the get well wishes. I am feeling so much better today, but not well enough to catch the last day of the Balloon Fest, unfortunately! Today’s weather seemed quite nice, as it was yesterday, so I hope you will be able to enjoy the festivity at the Festival and the beautiful village of Château d’Oex , even if you had to miss on the Night Glow. And thanks for the invition, will keep that in mind should we visit the area, although We were not very far from Liguria last summer during our trip to visit my hubby’s Italian relatives.

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  4. It would have been my first time too… and I must go there anyway, since I booked the train trip. Anyway, Sunday weather doesn’t look evil, so I’ll have a walk in Chateau d’Oex. If you ever happen to be in Liguria (http://liguriah.wordpress.com) , give us a shout and join one of our hikes! (from May on it’s better though, if you like swimming)

    For now, wish you a speedy recovery! and congrats for the very well written blog!

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  5. Hi Linguria, thanks for the kind comment and for letting me know that the Night Show tomorrow is cancelled … arghhh! It would have been my first time seeing it if not for the cancellation. But on the other hand, I am down with flu so maybe it is a blessing in disguise. Yup, guess we both have to wait for 2014. I see that you enjoy hiking, like my hubby and I, nice! 🙂

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  6. hi! Nice blog… I stumbled upon it while looking for information on the Balloon Festival and the Glow Show. That is, until I discovered now that the night show is cancelled…sigh! I guess all we’re left to do is wait for 2014?

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