Lookin' Good at 58

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Montreux Switzerland 1988-89

Now we are up to this point in my hospitality career when things are really beginning to get adventurous. After a short stint on the SS Norway and then going to French school , I heard of an exchange opportunity that existed for hospitality students between Canada and Switzerland. Signing up for it and later securing work , I spent the remainder of 1987 living in a furnished room and practicing my French. This brings me up to the time of departure for Switzerland in January 1988.

Keeping in touch with a friend from the Netherlands whom I met on the SS Norway , I chose KLM to fly me to Amsterdam for a week vacation to visit him first in Amsterdam , then where he lived in Nymegen. Another party town I went to was Hengelo which was teeming with students. I always remember the bar we went to that was just getting busy at 5 AM. I couldn't believe anywhere I would see anyone lining up to go anywhere that early in the morning to get into a bar. But this was the Netherlands. He even offered me the occasion to sleep with his girlfriend which was quite thoughtful of him but I had to decline.

Had a great stopover there , then packed my bags and headed from Schipol airport in Amsterdam for a train connection so that I could get into Bern and then transfer for the final run into Geneva where I had before decided to stay in a youth hostel for a week and tour around.

I could hardly wait to check out the hotel in Montreux where I would be working instead of looking at it through a brochure. Remember there was still no internet at the time. When I did get there the brochure didn't do it justice as it was even better than I could have imagined. Right on the bord du lac on Lake Geneva beside the Casino , it was idyllic.

Working as a stagiare the first year on an 11 month contract then coming back for another year as an Assistant Food and Beverage Manager I obtained experience in every facet of F and B operations. From the setting up of banquets , filling in as Maitre'd , purchasing , inventory , receiving , requisitions , waitering and bartending when required , and just about anything else you could imagine. Where I was required whatever time it didn't matter.

Working about 10-12 hours straight through it seemed like a lot of hours but every night I would head out to the bars and nightclubs and come back get some sleep and be up bright and early the next morning. I was called the crazy canuck. I met people from all over Europe and it really did seem like a working holiday.

When I did get the time off I went to the neighbouring countries like France on the fast TGV train , Italy on the Amalfi Coast , Germany to Munich a few times , Austria and the city of Salzburg where Mozart was born , and of course everywhere in Switzerland on the beautiful trains they have. One of them was the ride from Zermatt to St. Moritz on the Glacier Express. Although it is called express it takes 7 1/2 hours to complete the trip because it actually climbs mountains , crossing plenty of bridges , and goes through tons of tunnels. It also stops quite frequently at towns where this is the only means of getting somewhere else.

Wow what a trip for two years working at this hotel. It was always full and they had a beautiful Terrasse Restaurant outdoors which unless you had a reservation it was impossible to just walk in and expect a table.

Except for a brief visit back in 90 I haven't been back since but I would one day love to get back there with my wife and kids to check it out again.

Have a look yourself.

Here is the web site www2.edenpalace.ch

Don't forget the 2 after www

Next week is 1990. Picking up speed aren't we?


Mike the Waiter said...

Sounds like a really wonderful experience. Maybe the earth would be a better place if all people made arrangements to travel abroad and meet their fellow humans....and I guess the eskimos are not the only ones who share their women!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Mike...it seems like just yesterday but now it was 20 years ago. Time flies Mike , doesn't it?