Monday, June 28, 2010

Nyon - Sights, Chateau Up and Rive-side Down

 The Sights of Nyon

Nyon, you have a lovely castle.

This is a small chateau town.  In the 13th Century, Counts of  Savoy began building their castles, and the one here is built atop Roman ruins.  See :// 

Start uptown, for the view,

 At Yverdon-les-Bains, where there is another Savoy castle, we learned that the Savoys liked the square format, and some calling it the Savoy Square. The shape lends itself to various performing arts events.

No-one could easily creep up unseen at this towering site. Now there are nice walkways.

This is a nearby large house (when does it become a chateau?), see it to the left of our top photo, where the eye immediately goes to the Chateau de Nyon, all white. Time for this one to come out of the shadows. Not everyone has replastered and whitewashed.  Good.  We like the ones that show some age.

Get a full walk-around show on Nyon and its streets and buildings at ://

Take the elevator down.

You can also walk the winding way back down to the riverfront area, the Rive. That is where our little hotel was, bless it.

Look closely as you walk the rest of the way to the riverfront, and find Roman ruins - there, a structure, a part of wall. Some columns. Julius Caesar established the colony here and called it Noviodunum,  after he had finished with his conquest of Gaul.

Nyon - Lake Geneva. Respite Spot Yes and Not


The town of Nyon is on Lake Geneva, between other major destination points: Geneva itself, and Lausanne. If you landed at Geneva, and are in your rental car after a long night flight, Nyon is probably too close for a stop. You may want to just drive a while. So use Nyon for your overnight on the way back to Geneva from Yverdon-les-Bains or Murten, on the way out. Who wants to go into a big city in the late afternoon.

See crew shells on the Lake, with the castle and a ferry in the background.

People fish from the rocks by the shore, on the promenade past at the Rive area of town.

You may end up in a room like Guantanamo, however.

And still pay dearly for it - because you left the looking for a room so late ... yes, it is that narrow. Aargh. For that price??

Narrow room in Nyon. But the bawth was clean, as was the room, so chalk it up.

Nyon. Prepare also to be taken.

Scamtime. Switzerland is no different from anywhere else, including the US when it comes to taking advantage of passers-through, but prepare for this one:  an entrepreneur swipes your card, says --uh-oh -- not going through, tsk tsk.  We'll just have to try it again, and swipe.  Still no good, says he.  So you go to an ATM for the cash needed for what you want, no problem, and in the morning they say -- lucky us, the card went through! So you sign for what you had not paid for before, but when you get home, you see the items you paid cash for, added to your not-so-fritzed card.  Luckily, ours were minor.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yverdon - les - Bains - Castle, Baths, Mummies, Celts and Romans,

Yverdun *
At the southern end of Lake Neuenberg (Murten is to the northwest), is an old spa town with surprises in its castle.  See Listen to part of the audio guide there.  "Dun" or a variant of that means fort, or hill fort, from Celtic times.* Find romance also. The chapel at Savoy's castle is still used for weddings. See
Yverdon still is a spa town. Go ahead: find a venerable tub and submerge, partially. Les bains - the baths. Thermal spa, sulphur water, magnesium; come here for healing.  People have for 6000 years. There is some therapeutic value to the soaking, but not the mystical scope as once believed, see :// Relax, revitalize, let impurities begone.

Now think of the poultices and remedies you might try.
This old Savoy Castle houses a manageable museum, that includes geographical and geological exhibits. We like the more modest museums.
At this nice spa town, however, prepare to meet the grave-robbers from centuries ago and not so long ago, and gaze upon the fruits of their labors. Mummies apparently were quite the rage, see  The Yverdon mummy story is at  The artifacts date from the Ptolomaic era and are highly regarded by those who follow these things.
Why mummies here?  Mummies and healing. Use their parts, or grind their parts into a powder. Stir. Mix the powder from the ground mummy with honey and/or wine, apply it as a poultice or drink up.   Mummies were believed to have healing qualities, see  There was a market for parts. Find the history of the travels of a specific mummified hand at Gruyeres castle.  
A Napoleonic expedition in the late 1700's got everyone interested and the craze began. Taking mummies was illegal, so parts were used. Parts were more easily smuggled, but clearly others found their way intact, across and into Switzerland and elsewhere. 
The Swissinfo site says tar was used for embalming. 


Smithsonian, however, describes a drying process preventin decay by using four salts found at the Nile, the combination known as natron.
. Palm  wine disinfected, frankincense perfumed.  See article by Owen Edwards at
Even this site says he looks rather homesick
Can we let him go home now?

The museum also features archeology, particularly Celtic artifacts.
And there is a collection of intricately carved furniture.

I have a vague recollection that this was this a chamber pot chair, where you lift the seat and sit.  No, perhaps not. Fancy chamber pot chairs usually have a panel at the front concealing the pot. 
Noviodunum has become the town of Nyon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Frauenparkplatz; and Where the Buffalo Roam

 Murten and Wise Parking Arrangements

Avoid parking where you must anticipate your time away. Ticketing, and hiding the pay-go ticket machine around the corner so you think the parking is ok on the street where you are (NOT!) is, as here, a favorite municipal pastime.  Lots cost more, but you can enjoy your lunch.

Frauenparkplatz in Murten.  Ladies-only parking. A common-sense safety courtesy:  In Murten's facility, ladies can park cozily on the first level, at the street entrance, lots of lighting and a chance of people around.  With our Sir Daniel Galahad along, however, we happily spiraled downward instead. For any parking garage safety and efficiency in car-retrieval, write down your parking level and identification. Or take a picture at your level and spot and delete it when you don't need it. Before getting in your car, check under and all around, quick in and lock. As anywhere. Walk noisily so you do not surprise someone doing what some do.

Roll down the window and inhale. Aah.  No parking fumes.  But, what the?


Les Buffalo! 

These are not the water buffalo whose milk has a high fat content and is added to some Swiss mozzarella cheese varieties, see ://  These are the USA western plains variety.  Is their milk also used for cheese?

Known:  Their rumps make a nice salted meat product, and those and other parts provide variety steaks and burger, see  

Salted buffalo rump? Air-cured. Bresaola. A new Swiss industry.  From its Italian roots to the Swiss, see ://

Inhale? Are you kidding?

Very fine milk, too.