Day 16 and my second rest day. In stark contrast to the first rest day - which I took in the small French village of Piney after seeing off my personal "cyclepedia " aka Gareth W. - today's pit stop is in Martigny. A small town nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Martigny is gateway to the "four vallys" which include, among others, the world famous Verbier ski resort. As I noted this morning to a very good friend back in Oz - Stephen F. - "Martigny is like Jindabyne (ski town south of Sydney that is also gateway to the Australian ski fields) but a little more refined". His retort was quick and vicious "A toilet cubicle in a Sydney pub is more refined than Jindabyne!". Harsh, but probably true. Martigny on the other hand has been a lovely surprise. The streets are wide and pedestrian friendly with plenty of cafes to sit outside in the spring sunshine and watch the world drift by with spectacular views of the mountains.
Street scene of Martigny ....
The Foundation Pierre Gianadda has invested in setting up a local art gallery/museum and currently has a Mone , Hodler, Munch exhibition on. Whilst I am not a huge fan of art, especially Munch (The Scream) they got a visit from the "Laeman" as he sought to pass some time.
Monet's - La Barque
Munch's - Neige fraiche sur l'avenue
The gallery, like the town itself, is surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains and within the gardens there is a small outdoor sculpture park containing works by Cesar and Henry Moore. A truly stunning setting made more so on a cloudless day.
Calder's - Stabile Mobile
Moore's - Reclining Woman
No visit to this part of the world can be done without a visit to "Barryland". Home to the great St. Bernard dogs which are brought down from the kennels at the Great St.Bernard Pass during the winter months. "Barry" being the nickname given to the dogs. The following photos are self explanatory of the enjoyment had there.
St.Bernard thinking cloud "I think I want to lick that cheek "
St.Bernard action " I will lick that cheek ! "
St.Bernard puppies. Toylike and cuteness personified!
Interestingly, the dogs are bred these days to be more involved in animal assisted therapy, focusing on the elderly, terminally ill and mentally handicapped and less so for the rescue stuff. If you're ever in this part of the world you could do worse than spend some time drawing breath in Martigny. Some random thoughts/observations on Switzerland thus far from "The Laeman".... It's orderly. As Jean Jacques my lakeside lunchtime host said yesterday .... " within every Swiss person there is a police officer ". Swiss take their exercise very, very seriously. There's almost ZERO litter. Swiss drivers don't give cyclists as much room as the French. Switzerland is expensive. Especially when you have just arrived from the impoverished northern French countryside. Yes, basic wages are correspondingly high but, that aside,paying £8 for a pint of Guinness is expensive by any measure. Not all Swiss cows wear bells. Though I am reliably informed that bell-wearing cows wear bells with a sound distinctive to the canton (region) they graze in. And... get this... you can buy a CD of all the different bell tones! Not sure it will be challenging Adele on the hit list anytime soon. There isn't a chocolate or clock or watch shop on every corner. The Swiss are, on the whole, well groomed, neat, polite and seemingly take great pride in their personal presentation. The Swiss Air Force has a ridiculously large contingent of fighter jets for such a small nation. I have been surprised to see kangaroo on a menu not once but twice. AUDI and Volkswagen have a stranglehold on the local car market. Almost everyone speaks SOME English. In fact, how to feel linguistically inept? Come to Switzerland where nearly everyone speaks four languages . In fact, a mildly funny story there ... I walked into a bicycle shop yesterday and the conversation with the middle-aged, conservative looking, male shop assistant went something like this .... Me : Bon-joo Him: Bonjour Monsieur Me: Jay parlay petit fron says Him : D'ou etes-vous ? Me: Eh? Him : (in perfect English) . Where are you from ? Me :(trying to stay linguistic) Jay swee Austra-Lee Him: With a chuckle ..Ahhh G'day maaate ! That's not a knife this is a knife !!!! The Australian film "Crocodile Dundee" has a lot to answer to!