Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gstaad, Switzerland

As you've probably heard, the train system in Switzerland is fantastic. From Lausanne, my bike and I hop on an early morning train (6:30) and by 9AM we've been dropped off in the upscale ski resort of Gstaad. I've done this quite a few times--take the train to Gstaad and then cycle home. I ride around the area, grab a lunch and then start cycling down the mountain. It's about 50 miles and I'm usually home in time for cocktails. This photo shows the beginning of the main shopping street.
The main shopping street runs about four blocks and is a car-free zone.
Gstaad just had their annual pro tennis tournament. Roger Federer, who as you surely know is Swiss and gets treated like royalty, was an early round upset victim and don't know if Roger started to cry (he is prone to doing that when he loses).
Workmen are tearing down the portable spectator bleachers put up for the tennis event. In the winter this large space in the town center gets turned into an ice skating rink.

Later in the day this street can really get packed with day-trippers on tour buses.
Some of the many famous residents of Gstaad include actor Roger Moore (James Bond) as well as director, fugitive and rapist Roman Polanski.

Looming in the background is Gstaad's most famous hotel: the five star Palace hotel.
Closer view of the Gstaad Palace Hotel. One time I went in and asked if they had non-smoking rooms.  I was told they had no designated non-smoking rooms but, would "air out" the room a few days before an arrival. Boy, that would really take the stench out of the room.
Some old chalets.
Buying a home in Gstaad is very, very, very expensive. Many of the homes look like this one.
Gstaad has quite a few five star hotels. This is the Grand Park Hotel.
Closer view of the entrance to the Grand Hotel Park.
View from one of the terrace restaurants at the Grand Hotel Park.
Ever heard of Le Rosey? It's is one of the most prestigious AND expensive schools in the world. Located in Rolle, Switzerland (near Geneva) on a 70-acre campus close to Lake Geneva, you'd have to cough up $130,000 a year to send one of your kids there. I've cycled through the campus and it is mighty impressive with their own equestrian complex and sailing center on Lake Geneva. Anyway, what does this have to do with Gstaad? During the winter months students as well as teachers and staff move to the school's winter campus in Gstaad. The student body, ages 7 through 18 and limited to 400, is composed of students from almost 60 countries. Back in the 1990's so many rich Russians were sending their kids to this boarding school that they instituted a limit of no more than 10% of students can come from any one country. 

This picture shows the road leading up to the Gstaad campus as well as two of the chalets housing students.  
Several more Le Rosey chalets. Located on a small hill overlooking Gstaad's town center, this is only the campus for the boys--the girl's campus is ten minutes away. Remember my mentioning how super expensive property is around here? Well, word has it the school is looking to sell this prime 25-acre site to build a new campus. This land is estimated to be worth over $200 million.
Passing a home and chapel complex as I cycle down the mountain.
These farm roads are fun to ride on as they are traffic-free except for the occasional farm tractor.

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